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Cloth Diaper Problems and Troubleshooting

Building the Best Overnight Diaper

By Amalah

Hi Amy!

I recently stumbled upon your response to a question about wool covers and I’m in need of some help so I thought I’d reach out.

I just got two Disana covers and am trying to use them exclusively for nighttime. I have an 18 month old, who ONLY sleeps on her tummy for 12+ hours a night. Our original solution (pocket with 1 microfiber and bamboo insert plus another cover) was leaking so we tried disposables, which worked for a month but are now also leaking.

I lanolized both wool covers once for about an hour. I the first night I used a large prefold, bamboo insert, and a flour sack towel (FST) under the wool, but the shirt and pants jammy combo was wet in the morning (I don’t think I used enough absorption). Last night (our second night), I used the large prefold, bamboo insert, and replaced the FST with a receiving blanket which I tried to place more up on her tummy to absorb more. The receiving blanket wasn’t all the way soaked in the morning. Then I put her in fleece footies, but they were wet in the morning where the wool was and the wool seemed more damp all over this morning (instead of just damp in the belly area). The sheets weren’t wet though, which was my original problem.

I just don’t know what is “wicking” and what means I need more absorption and what means I need lanolized again. Is it okay that the fleece pajamas are damp? Can I air dry them and use them again tonight like the cover or is that unsanitary?

I know there can be a learning curve with wool, but I’m really determined to make it work! Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated!


I’m admittedly pretty rusty on cloth diapers at this point, having potty-trained my youngest…four? five years ago? Goodness. It doesn’t feel that long ago, and I do miss talking about this topic so I figured I’d give your question a shot. At the very least, our intrepid commentariat should also be able to toss out some suggestions and advice.

The most important question here is whether your baby’s skin seems wet and irritated in the morning, or if her sleep is getting interrupted because she feels uncomfortable in the wet diaper. Wet pajamas are annoying but not necessarily the end of the world, provided the sheets stay clean and dry and your baby and her skin aren’t bothered. If she’s sleeping fine and her skin isn’t wet/irritated, then the wool and your stuffings are doing their job — they’re absorbing the moisture and wicking it away from her skin.

Obviously the dream is to have ALL the wetness contained within the diaper itself, with no leaks around the legs or waist. For super heavy wetters who are sleeping through the night, this isn’t always possible, no matter what you’ve been promised by the diaper companies OR the cloth diaper diehards online. For me, I was generally pretty happy if my baby’s skin was rash-free and the sheets didn’t need to be changed. The pajamas just got tossed in the hamper anyway.

I would NOT recommend re-using wet fleece pajamas — it’s a synthetic material thus prone to horrible stubborn stinkiness that can be difficult to get rid of once it sets in. If the fleece is wet in the morning, just wash it. (Though air-drying it afterwards is a good idea if you notice the smell of urine has stuck around.)

You might want to try adding a second bamboo insert, or look into anything  specifically described as doublers or boosters. It’s kind of a dance between adding as much absorbency as possible while not adding an insane amount of bulk. But I liked wool covers for exactly this reason: They can accommodate a LOT of bulk. And the high waists and extra long bits around the leg holes help prevent the kind of leaks you’ll get with other covers that are being stretched to their limit with too many inserts/doublers/nighttime extras.

You’ll need to re-lanolize the wool once you notice it not air-drying thoroughly or a persistent smell of urine. I always lanolized new covers a couple times before using them, so you might want to give it another go. But overall this MOST LIKELY sounds like an absorbency problem rather than a wool problem. Try stuffing some more…uh…stuff in her diaper at night. At least one more extra insert or a booster/doubler positioned near the front of the diaper. I never used FSTs but I do know they aren’t lot of people’s favorite choice for an overnight diaper, but are better during the day. I personally preferred (sometimes several) extra layers of bamboo or hemp paired with a prefold and wool cover at night. But it took lots of experimenting to build the best overnight diaper! I’m sure you’ll figure out something good (or just good enough) as well.


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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