The Cloth Nappy Overnight Omnibus is now available in a video series from your Cloth Nappy Doctor.
Apikali Night Time Cloth Nappy Omnibus Part 5 – Liners
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, the midnight cries of a cold and wet child and the inevitable rashes that develop. Perhaps you have resorted to disposables overnight, or even shied away from cloth overnight completely. The phrase “Once bitten, twice shy” applies even if you have the best intentions to move away from disposables completely.
What Matters in a Night Nappy:
There are three things you need to consider when choosing or putting together a night cloth nappy:
1) First is fit. It must fit well with no big gaps around legs or the belly. Not tight, you should be able to comfortably get 2 fingers under the elastics.
2) Absorbency. 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) Wicking properties. 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.
Step One in the Process:
Examine your nappy stash and find out:
- What are the outer covers?
- What absorbency is there in the nappy?
- What fabrics are used in the nappy and in which order are they layered? This is significant as different materials have different wicking/absorbency properties. Also consider prefolds and boosters in your stash.
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 – Getting the Absorbency Right:
This step does involve some experimenting. Some babies wee most at night, some not. Some have all their liquids after 4pm.
Here are the layers to start playing with from top down or closest to the skin.
Layer zero?? (The Liner): If Layer One (below) hasn’t anything to keep the microfibre off baby’s skin, then use a layer of some description to be a buffer and prevent a red and sore bottom. More to come on this in Step Four – be patient!
Layer one (The Suction Layer): Microfibre (possibly 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 .
Layer two (The Holding Layer): This layer goes beneath the Suction Layer (microfibre). It has the ability to hold a lot of liquid and not suffer from compression leakage. Materials wonderful for this layer are cotton, hemp or bamboo. Bamboo is the most absorbent and is the most common material included for boosters or dedicated night nappies. The booster should be a trifold booster like Baby Bare, Baby Beehinds or Bum Cheeks.
Layer Three (The Additions): If you find that a layer of microfibre and a bamboo booster is not enough, then you have a wealth of additional options to try. Here they are listed for you, along with some brands that offer them:
– a small cotton newborn prefold (Bummis Grovia).
– a single layer bamboo booster (Bumboo or a Baby Beehinds insert).
– a hemp booster (Biobums or Punkin Butt)
Layer Four (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 Layer Three just are not working you can try replacing Layer Three with a wool booster or even putting it in as a whole extra layer.
Assembling the Layers: When you layer the boosters it should go, top to bottom ( with ‘top’ being closest to bub’s bottom – confusing?):
- Liner (if used),
- Suction Layer (Microfibre) which quickly grabs the liquid,
- Holding Layer which pulls the liquid from the Suction Layer,
- Additives for extra holding of wee overnight, and
- Wool booster for the Motherload.
The wool booster in particular, but also the holding layer and additives, drinks up all the good stuff, dragging all the moisture from the microfibre and away from baby’s skin. The result? A dry bottom and a saturated nappy…but minimal risk of leakage.
Step Three – Wrapping it up:
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 barrier between the wet boosters and the dry pajamas & sheets. This could be a separate outer or part of a regular All-in-One/All-in-Two nappy. Whatever you use you want to make sure the nappy is large enough to fit in all the layers and provide a good fit around the legs.
– A wool cover or wool soaker which has been lanolised. This cover provides a water barrier AND sucks up the liquid, acting like the Motherload layer! But better as it covers the whole cloth nappy. Super old-school, and a lost secret of cloth nappying.
– A fleece cover or fleece soaker which has an extra layer of fleece in the crotch. Fleece is a polyester material which is great at wicking moisture away and staying dry at the same time. But it is not an absorbing material, it is used to keep all of the moisture in and is extremely good at it.
Step Four – Choosing and Using a Liner:
We’ve already covered a lot of options, but this bit helps to determine the very first layer that goes between baby and the absorbing layers listed in Step Two. Here are your options and when to use them.
– Microfleece or Suede or Microchamois are used to wick moisture away from the skin. It is a polyester material and is excellent if you don’t have a child who wees a lot in one go. The fleece is not good at sucking up a large amount of liquid, unlike the microfibre Suction Layer, so if you currently have a baby who is wet at the edges of the nappy but the inserts are not completely soaked it is likely because bub is weeing so much in one go, that the liquid can’t penetrate through the fleece liner into the microfibre layer fast enough and so gets spread out to the edges of the liner and into the unprotected edges
– Cotton, hemp or bamboo are all natural materials and feel lovely on the skin, but they don’t provide a stay dry barrier like the microfleece layer. However some babies need this natural layer as their tushy is very sensitive, like my little Ali. So you can put a layer of microfibre under your natural material top layer. The natural layer keeps bub’s bottom nice, and the underlying microfibre draws moisture from the natural fiber above it keeping bub’s bottom dry. By way of example, if you are using a Baby Bare cloth nappy with the suede lining, add a hemp booster or single layer bamboo on top. Alternatively if you are using a Baby Beehinds night nappy, place a cotton booster (such as the Grovia boosters) on top and a microfibre layer under that into the nappy.
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 all 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.
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. When this is placed in the nappy, the absorbency is in the regions needed.
Always wet, no matter what:
You need a fitted cloth nappy with the right layers of absorbency AND a fleece or wool soaker.
At Apikali I don’t believe you need a specially-marketed ‘night nappy’. There are many out there, but all they are doing is playing around with all of those layers I have described above. So if you have a great stash, look at your boosting system before going out and buying the $30 to $40 night nappies. Sometimes your Nanna can just knit you a wool soaker with a 4-buck ball of wool.
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 the Cloth Nappy Overnight Omnibus information helps you get through what can be a stressful and testing period of cloth nappy use. It isn’t impossible. 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!