Cloth Diapering: Overnight Leaks

Monday, November 7, 2011

It has been nearly a year since I've done a post about cloth diapering! HOW? How is that possible?

I guess it's because once you start, nothing really changes. It's a routine, and honestly, we still love it. I'm so happy that we decided to go with (and stick with!) cloth diapers. And for the most part, we've had a relatively easy time of it. A few small challenges here and there, but nothing that we haven't overcome.

Our latest challenge, however, has been a bit more... well, challenging.

As Nora has grown, we've faced a few absorbancy issues. Suddenly, she'd start springing leaks on a regular basis, so we would know it was time to do something differently. We'd make adjustments to the sizing (since she wears one-size, adjustable diapers that can "grow" with her--see more on that in this post). Or we'd change the inserts with which we were stuffing the pockets (more on that in this post, too). But we've always been able to find a solution that was relatively quick and painless for all of us.

Nighttime cloth diapering is a whole 'nother animal. Up until recently, we've been able to fix leaks the same way I mentioned above--sizing, stuffing, etc. But over time, her nighttime diapers had grown to be HUGE. Like, so big in recent weeks that I could barely zip up her pajamas over the enormously stuffed diaper. We've tried numerous combinations of inserts, different size settings, and Nora was still waking up at 4-5 a.m. (TOO EARLY!) due to a soaking wet diaper. After some trial and lots of errors, I believe the problems are two-fold.

First, let's talk about inserts. Frankly, the inserts just cannot hold the amount of pee that Nora apparently eliminates in the 12-13 hours overnight. When she was smaller? Sure. But now that she's a heavy-wetting toddler? Not so much. We've tried triple stuffing, using three microfiber inserts. No luck. We tried triple stuffing, using two microfiber + one combination microfiber/hemp insert. No dice.

Part of the problem with needing to stuff so much into the pocket is that you start to affect the fit of the diaper. By overstuffing, you start to create gaps in the legs of the diaper, which can cause leaks, too. So, if we weren't getting leaks due to oversaturation of the inserts, we were getting them because the diaper was ill-fitting due to overstuffing. I tried backing down the number of inserts I was stuffing with, trying just one microfiber + one combination microfiber/hemp insert, and although the diaper fit better, the inserts didn't offer enough absorbancy.

A week ago, after a number of nights in a row of Nora waking up crying and soaked at 4-5 a.m., I broke down and put her in a disposable. And, we've had her in disposables overnight ever since then, while we work on figuring out what we're going to do longer-term. The problem now? The last three mornings, Nora's been waking up wet again, even in the disposables.

It might be time to call in the heavy artillery: Huggies Overnites.

Up until now, we've been using our regular, cheap-o disposables that we keep on hand for the grandparents, or travel, or the occasional severe diaper rash (always caused by acidic foods!). But since they're not cutting it, we hear that Huggies Overnites are the way to go. And I already have them in my Amazon Mom cart, y'all. (Do you all know about Amazon Mom? Amazing!) But I am still hesitant to hit "submit," simply because I would ideally like to find a cloth diapering solution!

In reality, I'm probably going to go ahead and order a package of Huggies Overnites to use in the short-term, but continue searching and experimenting with cloth diaper overnight options. Like, I've had a few cloth diapering mom friends suggest trying pre-folds in the pockets. I need to figure out what size and order a few to try out that theory. I think I also need to experiment with our different brands of cloth diapers. We've almost always used Fuzzibunz dipes as our overnights, but who knows--maybe the bumGenius or Blueberry diapers we have will fare better.

At some point, I'm sure we'll be cutting back her liquid intake before bed, but she's still pretty young to do that. After all, she likes to have her milk before bed, and it's a way for us to nourish her before bedtime to help keep her full until morning. Until then, I guess we will have to stick with disposables just for nighttime, or, hopefully, find the answer.

Are there any other cloth diapering moms out there who have conquered overnight leaks with a heavy-wetting toddler? What is your solution?

If you're new(er) here, you may not have even realized Nora is cloth diapered!
Curious about cloth diapering?
See all of my cloth diapering posts here.
Read about our decision to cloth diaper here.
See my starter stash (and links to some cloth diaper resources) here.
Read about the start of our cloth diaper journey here.
See how we transitioned to pocket diapers (and explanation of one-size, pocket dipes) here.


Ashley November 7, 2011 at 12:18 PM  

I don't cloth diaper ( wish I had ) but we do use Huggies overnights, and have NEVER had a problem with leaks. My best piece of advice though is to go a size up than you would usually. My son is usually a 4-5 Huggies during the day and overnight is a 5 ( and could probably do fine with a 6).

Bethany November 7, 2011 at 12:19 PM  

We use thirsties duo fab fitted with a cover...but heres a great resource

Hope this helps!

diana November 7, 2011 at 12:44 PM  

My son is 7 months and I don't know if I'd consider him to be a heavy wetter or not. Our overnight solution is a Flip diaper cover with an Flip organic prefold insert trifolded. These inserts seem to be the most absorbent of any I have tried. He had serious diaper rash after some antibiotics, so I started stuffing the organic insert into a BG 4.0 pocket diaper and that works really well too.

You might try an organic insert tri folded with a stay dry microfiber insert or hemp insert in a cover. I don't know that a pocket diaper will be able to hold enough inserts and still fit right. Or just use the pocket diaper as an cover and lay the inserts inside with a stay dry layer or natural fiber against the skin.

I hope you can find a night time solution. Also, try They have a Q and A forum that has a lot of help, and many posts about night time solutions for CDs.

Shauna,  November 7, 2011 at 1:34 PM  

We use a cheap disposable under a double stuffed (1 hemp, 1 microfiber) BG 3.0. Never a leak! Just make sure that the disposable is completely under the CD or you will have wicking. I'd rather not have the expense but this is the only thing that has worked for us.

Catherine November 7, 2011 at 4:58 PM  

My son is just about a year old, and has always been a heavy wetter. We've explored similar solutions - doubling with hemp liners, a wool diaper cover, etc. While we usually have success with a hemp liner, a full size microfiber insert AND a newborn insert, it does get to be a bit much and we still battle the occassional leak. And of course the leak always happens on the worst day when you don't really have time to change sheets and all that nonsense. Our current solution is to use a cheapo disposable diaper and a pocket diaper over it with just one microfiber insert, which makes the whole thing very slim fitting and holds just about anything.

I actually got the idea a few weeks ago from here:

Since my son suffers from diaper rashes from acidic foods as well, this option made total sense for us since we often are stuck putting cream on at night anyway.

Catherine November 7, 2011 at 5:01 PM  

Lol..just saw Shauna's post after I submitted my comment. I'm guessing this is THE Shauna from the blog I JUST referenced!

E @ Oh! Apostrophe November 7, 2011 at 5:41 PM  

We have this same issue and I JUST tried the Huggies overnight diapers last week. We've had fewer leaks for sure, but almost every morning I find the little gel beads from the diapers have leaked out onto my son's skin :( I'm just not okay with that, whatever chemical it is... so we're back to fooling around with different inserts. The best luck I've had is with a hemp insert (always UNDER the microfiber since hemp is apparently a slow absorber). I'm using a small size and should probably be using a large size so I'm going to try those and I'm really hoping they work! I also think that sizing up on the overnight diaper makes a definite difference, and a wool cover has helped a bit as well. It's frustrating to have problems with cloth, but overall we have really loved them as well!

erica November 7, 2011 at 6:19 PM  

I'm about to be a first time mom here (T-9.5 weeks...) so I don't have any advice to offer but just want to say a HUGE thanks for all your posts about cloth-diapering. My husband and I plan to use them on our new little one when he arrives (ok, probably more like 2 weeks into newborn-hood), and I so appreciate all the details and advice you have offered. Good luck in your current challenge! :)

Catherine November 7, 2011 at 8:20 PM  

Forgot to add about the wool cover. The blog - Mama At Home (Kristal) did a post awhile back that I bookmarked. She has some info on wool covers, and I actually bought my wool cover from the same place she did.

Krystie November 7, 2011 at 10:24 PM  

I dont have a kid to cloth diaper yet but two of my faaaaaav blogs talk heavily on cloth diapering. One mom in particular is a cloth diaper queen and seems to have all the answers. mama at home blog
( kristal!) is amazing. And then julia over at my life in transition has a few posts. maybe check those out!

Heather November 8, 2011 at 10:38 AM  

Thanks for all of the suggestions, everyone. We will do some experimenting, but for now, she is in the Huggies Overnites... and woke up dry this morning! Hooray!

Kelly November 8, 2011 at 3:27 PM  

This post could not have come at a better time! We just started dealing with this same issue! We have been putting so many liners into Xander's cloth diapers that we laugh ourselves silly at his big 'ole nighttime booty!!

Rainbocow November 9, 2011 at 1:00 AM  

I have been having a similar problem with my 10 month old. For the past few months she has woken up soaked in pee. Clotbes, bed, etc. We tried Huggies overnights, and while they did HELP, they didnt fix it. Next I tried pairing those with the plastic training pants but they were uncomfortable and she cried until ai took them off. And auper noisy too. Next I tried those cloth training pans that are basically absorbant undies. No help at all. I hqve been considering buying a cloth diaper cover and adding an insert on top of the huggies overnights but was afraid it would be too much and that I wouldnt be able to zip her pjs. Someone suggested I try pull ups and I am glad I did. I know as she gets bigger this will be a problem again and I dread it. Goodnights are more absorbant but onlt start after 30lbs. My ten monyh old wont be 30lbs any time soon I hope. Keep us updated when you figure out what works for you!

Kristi November 10, 2011 at 3:12 PM  

Drybees Fleece Diapers!! You don't need to "over" stuff them and they work amazing! Soft too :)

Natalie November 16, 2011 at 2:58 PM  

hemp fitted and wool cover - INSANE absorption

Jess July 16, 2012 at 9:17 AM  

I second the DryBees fleece, we use a super-do insert with an extra hemp in the middle, or with a pre-fold... the only solution that worked for our super heavy wetter. Good luck

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