Best Diapers to Use at Night (Hint: It's NOT Disposable!)

Best Diapers to Use at Night (Hint:  It's NOT Disposable!)

Are you expecting a baby and wondering what diapers are best to use at night?  Or, maybe you're experiencing leaks at night and are researching what might be a good option to switch to.  It might surprise you to know that the best, leak-proof diapering option available is NOT a disposable diaper.  It’s wool!

Marvelous, magical wool

Wool has been used for millennia as a protective cover for cloth diapers.  Your baby wears the water-repellant wool cover over an absorbent layer, such as a cotton fitted diaper or other cloth insert.

Why is wool the best choice for nighttime diapering?  Let’s dive right in:

Extra absorbing power

All diapers have two basic parts:  A waterproof outer layer to keep both liquid and solid waste contained and an inner absorbent layer to soak the liquids up.  The outside of a disposable diaper is made of a waterproof plastic topsheet and the absorbent part is made of superabsorbent polymer gel. 

The absorbent layer of a cloth diaper is usually cotton, bamboo, hemp, or microfiber.  Many modern cloth diapers have an outer layer of PUL, a synthetic waterproof fabric, but wool can also be used as the waterproof outer layer. 

Unlike plastic or PUL, however, wool has both water-repellant and water-absorbing properties.  Wool absorbs about 30% of its weight without feeling wet, giving you a protective boost beyond the cloth diaper underneath. This ultra-absorbing power rivals even the thickest overnight disposable diapers!

Powerful Leak Protection

Wool is hand-washed with lanolin, the natural waterproofing oil in sheep’s wool.  Because wool both absorbs and repels, any “spillover” from your inner cloth layer will get absorbed by the wool.  In other words, no leaks!  

The longer you use the wool, the more “coated” the fibers become from repeated lanolin baths.  This, plus the natural felting that occurs with the friction of use and washing, makes your wool cover powerfully protective against leaks.

Natural and Eco-Friendly

Let's face it:  Disposable diapers are wasteful and place a strain on the environment.  Even if you use disposable diapers during the day, you can reduce your environmental impact by switching to cloth at night.  This is a win-win choice, too--see the amazing properties of wool above!

Unlike synthetic cloth diapers, wool diapers are extra eco-friendly because they are naturally derived and require minimal processing to manufacture.  They use very little water to wash and no electricity to dry.  Since they're made from such high-quality material, they will almost certainly last for all of the children you choose to have and might still be in good enough shape to sell second-hand when you're done.  Once they're too worn out for continued use, the fabric is biodegradable.

Isn’t wool complicated to wash and use?

Wool has a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it’s even easier than using regular cloth diapers.  It’s also simpler and cheaper than running to the store to buy disposables!

A unique property of wool is its resistance to odor and bacteria.  The lanolin breaks urine down into mineral salts and water, which then evaporates quickly as the wool dries.  This makes your wool very hygienic!  In fact, it can be hung to dry in the morning without washing for up to four weeks. 

Yes, you read that right.  Wool only needs to be washed ONCE a MONTH.

At that point it will need to be hand washed with lanolin again (lanolized) to replenish the fibers with lanolin.  Additionally, if any poop escapes the diaper underneath the wool cover and ends up on the wool itself, you'll want to immediately rinse and hand wash the stain with wool wash.  This is fairly rare in my experience, though, as my babies usually didn't poop at night.

Isn’t wool itchy?  Or hot?

Nope!  Unlike your grandma’s sweater, wool diaper covers are soft and cozy.  Wool is also both ventilating in the hot summer months and insulating in winter, making it an ideal year-round choice.

Okay, I’m convinced that wool is a great nighttime choice.  What style should I get?

The main thing to consider when answering that question is this:  Are you doing Elimination Communication at night or not?

If you’ve never heard of Elimination Communication (EC) before, start here immediately because you’re about to learn the best-kept secret to simplifying cloth diaper laundry. 

In a nutshell, EC means you offer the potty to your baby at key times or when you notice he needs to go.  Most parents do part-time EC while using a diaper backup and mostly aim to catch poop and easy pees (like right after a nap).

Some parents who do EC don’t bother with it at night, while others do.  For some babies, offering the potty at night disrupts their sleep.  Other babies toss and turn when they need to go potty or hate being wet.  In those situations, offering the potty improves sleep for everyone. 

Whether or not to do nighttime EC is a personal decision that varies from baby to baby and might evolve with time.  This decision will affect which cloth diapers are right for your unique situation, as follows.

Option 1:  You’re doing EC at night

If you’re doing nighttime EC, you need a diaper that opens easily in the dark while you’re half-asleep.  You also don’t need the absorbing power you would if your baby was peeing in the diaper all night. 

The best choice is the Flappy-Nappy Merino Wool All-in-Two Diaper Cover and Belt.  This cover gives you the leak protection and extra absorbing power of Merino Wool in a buttery-soft wool interlock cover.  It also employs the patent-pending belted design of all Flappy-Nappy cloth diapers, meaning it pops open like a flap from the front or back when baby needs the potty. 

Since your baby uses the potty at night, you probably won’t need more absorbency than the Standard Snap-in Pads.  But if you need an extra boost, you can grab a pair of Insert Adapters to use with an extra-thick prefold or flat diaper.  The adapters will keep your insert in place while baby uses the potty, so that it doesn’t shift during sleep or slip out when the diaper opens.

Option 2:  You’re NOT doing EC at night

If you’re not doing EC at night, you may want more all-around protection, especially if your baby is a heavy wetter.  In that case, the Disana Merino Wool Diaper Cover may be a better choice than Flappy-Nappies.  This diaper cover gives full coverage for your baby, including the upper legs and lower torso.  When properly lanolized, it is the most leak-proof option I have ever tried (including disposables!).

Pair the Disana with a Workhorse fitted diaper and possibly some booster inserts if your baby tends to be soaking wet in the morning.  This setup will be good to go for years, until your little one starts waking up dry or you introduce the potty at night.  At that point, switch to the Flappy-Nappy wool cover described under Option 1 for easy potty access and excellent backup protection.

That’s It!

Do you use cloth diapers and/or EC at night?  Let us know your experience in the comments!


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