Before my daughter was born, I knew I wanted to cloth diaper her, even if we were only able to do it on a part-time basis once I returned to work. I remember my mother using cloth diapers with my baby brother (prefolds, pins, and vinyl pants) and I was confident I’d be able to figure it out. Seriously—how hard could it be?
And, early on, it wasn’t hard at all. We waited longer than I had planned to start because Charlotte ended up being much more of a peanut than anticipated and I wasn’t really prepared to cloth diaper a 6 pound baby, having listened to the “don’t buy newborn stuff; your baby will grow out of it in 30 seconds” advice. But once we purchased some appropriately sized extra-small Thirsties covers to put over our prefolds or fitteds, we were good to go.
Alas, the one thing I have learned as a parent is that just when you get comfortable, the rules will change. Which is what happened with our night-time diapering routine.
I went back to work when Charlotte was 12 weeks old. For me, it was terrible. But Charlotte seemed to take day care in stride—except for a couple of notable changes… Prior to my return to work, she slept through the night—well, from about 8:00 to 4:00, which, all things considered, was not bad at all. After she began day care, she started to wake once in the night, then twice, until I found myself in possession of a full-fledged reverse-cycler. On the one hand, it’s very nice to be needed and to know that my baby would alter her schedule so that she could nurse when I was home. On the other hand, sleep? What’s that?
Also, when a baby eats several times during the night, yes, they pee more. LOTS more! Suddenly, the prefolds or fitteds and PUL covers weren’t working so well any more. Charlotte would wake up at 2:00 AM screaming for a change. Or, once we began co-sleeping I would wake up at 2:00 AM screaming for a change.
The first option we tried was using doublers with the diapers we had. It made the most sense, and we could start by stuffing her premium-sized prefolds with infant ones. This solution works for a lot of people, but not for us. Charlotte’s jammies would be dry in the morning, but she would soak through the diapers and doublers, and that, combined with the PUL covers would leave her little bottom red. She also cried when I put the huge diaper monstrosity on her in the evenings. No fun.
After a short hiatus from night-time cloth diaper experimentation (yes, we resorted to disposables for a few weeks while we regrouped), we decided to try our luck with pocket diapers and, after a few nights on the learning curve, found a solution that works for us right now. We currently use Smartipants stuffed with three (3!!!) microfiber inserts. This gets all of us through the night with no changes until morning.
The only problem with our current arrangement is that we have maxed out the diaper. We may try using some hemp inserts to see if that adds some longevity, but it is entirely possible that we will find ourselves in the position of needing to try something new before too long.
The great thing about the cloth diaper world, though, is that there are still options for us to explore. Our next ventures are likely to include wool soakers, hemp diapers, and/or hemp and/or bamboo inserts. I have great faith that there will be a product that meets our needs as long as I continue to ask questions along the way, and I’m looking forward to the journey.