Getting the overnight cloth nappy ‘thing’ can be difficult. Perhaps you’ve tried it and given up in frustration over the wet sheets and clothes each morning, the extra laundry and bed making, and the midnight cries of a cold and wet child. The phrase “Once bitten, twice shy” applies even if you have the best intentions to move away from disposables completely.

After four children and cloth nappying at night, I too have occasionally gone for the ‘easy’ option. Then I would start the process again and found the right overnight nappy/combination for long term success. This is our guide to getting it right. It may take some trial and error (doesn’t everything, though?), but we assure you it is worth it – for you and your little-un.

There are three things you need to consider when choosing or putting together a night cloth nappy:

1) It must fit well with no big gaps around legs or the belly. Not tight, you should be able to comfortably get two fingers under the elastics.

2) It must be absorbent enough that your little one is not sleeping in a pool of wee over- night. This means, when they wake up in the morning there are no wet clothes or sheets.

3) One reason for a baby’s red bottom in the morning is not enough absorbency and/or there is no material present to wick away the wetness.

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Here are 5 easy steps to get started to find the perfect night cloth nappy for you and little baby.

Step One – Save money from the start

Start by examining your nappy stash and find out what outer covers do you have. What absorbency is in the nappy already and what potential booster can you alter between nappies? Take a very good inventory, as you progress through the steps, you may be able to see where you can use what you already have.

Now think about the problems you are encountering:

Where is your baby leaking? Up the back, the front, out the sides or EVERYWHERE?

How does your baby sleep? Tummy, side or back (upside down or ‘not at all’ are not valid responses!)

And do you have a boy or a girl?


Step Two – Absorbency

This step does involve some experimenting. Some babies wee most at night, some fast, some slow. The idea is to play around with the layers to see what works best. I recommend doing a combination test 2 nights in a row and tweaking as needed.

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Here are the layers to start playing with, from top down or closest to the skin.

The Liner: If the Suction Layer (below) is microfiber, you need a top layer to prevent it touching the skin. This is also the stay dry layer where you can use suede cloth or microfleece.

The Suction Layer: Microfibre (with a top layer of material to protect your babies bottom) has an amazing ability to suck up moisture. It suck up liquid quickly but it is not good at holding it, which is a common reason for ‘compression leakage’ whereby everything goes smoothly until your bub with a full nappy sits on the microfibre only to have the contents squeezed out and onto their PJs and sheets . Cotton is a fabulous alternative to microfiber, especially in the form of prefolds. Its also natural and does not require a top layer.

The Holding Layer: This layer goes beneath the Suction Layer (microfiber/cotton). It has the ability to hold a lot of liquid and not suffer from compression leakage. Materials wonderful for this layer are organic cotton, hemp or bamboo. Bamboo is the most absorbent and is the most common material included for boosters or dedicated night nappies. Usually a trifold booster in addition to the usually daytime absorbency is enough for average wetters overnight.

The Additions: If you find that a layer of microfibre and a bamboo booster, in addition to normal day time absorbency, is not enough, then you have a wealth of additional options to try. Here they are listed for you:

– a small cotton newborn prefold,

– a single layer bamboo booster,

– a hemp booster.

The Motherload or for the serious piddler: A very last layer to consider is a wool booster. These are able to hold a lot of liquid and not suffer from any compression leakage. If the boosting options presented for the Suction Layer just are not working, you can try replacing the additions with a wool booster or even putting it in as a whole extra layer.

The most powerful style of cloth nappy for heavy wetters is a fitted cloth nappy, as the entire nappy is absorbent. Find a fitted cloth nappy with a wide gusset to allow more boosting if required.




Step Three – The Wrap

What about the covering of the cloth nappy on baby at night? Again here are your options and when to consider using them.

– A PUL cover if you have a light to medium wetter or you have several changes in the night.

– A wool cover or wool soaker which has been lanolised. These are fabulous for heavy wetters or movers and groovers while sleeping.

– A fleece cover or fleece soaker which has an extra layer of fleece in the crotch

Step Five – Position in Perspective

How your baby sleeps and their sex can determine where to put the boosting.

Boys and tummy-sleeping girls:

Place majority of your boosting at the front of the nappy. Even experiment with folding the booster in a third to get more boosting at the front. For example take a one layer booster and fold the top over one third and place at the front of the nappy.

Back-sleeping girls:

Put your boosting to the middle slightly towards the back. Consider taking a newborn prefold, fold in thirds or fours lengthwise so that the most absorbency is right in the middle.

Always wet, no matter what:

You need a fitted cloth nappy with the right layers of absorbency AND a fleece or wool soaker.

Finding the perfect night solution is about knowing your child and being informed about material options and properties. With the increased use of disposables over the last few decades this knowledge has been almost lost to us, and up until now has been scattered around the far-reaches of the internet. I hope this information helps you proceed through what can be a stressful and testing period of cloth nappy use. It’s absolutely possible. Just like daytime cloth nappies, it is about finding the right system that works for you and knowing there is more than one option.

Good luck and let me know how you go!

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Tennille Graham is The Cloth Nappy Doctor and her team are a group of mothers with one passion … To provide mothers, at any stage of their cloth nappy journey, with practical advice and products to assist them to discover new ways to thrive during our years of being a mother. We bring together an extensive range of cloth nappies across brands and cloth nappy styles that will assist parents to save time and money, and to live with simplicity. Each cloth nappy has a place and a purpose at Apikali.