Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Adventures in Cloth Diapering: Some Thoughts on Nighttime Diapering and Flexibility

As a classic perfectionist, I struggle every day with an "all-or-nothing" mentality. If I'm going to do anything, it has to be 100% or I feel like I failed. "Almost" doesn't cut it for me. I've been like this for as long as I can remember. It's exhausting. (At least I'm not alone -- check out this great article if you're a perfectionist like me. Such good advice. I need to read it daily.)

That was how I approached cloth diapering once I made the decision to do it. If I was going to spend the money getting a supply of cloth diapers, if I was going to make (ahem...have my husband make) a diaper sprayer for the bathroom,  if I was going to hem the edges of a bunch of homemade wipes, there was no way I was going to go back to disposables with my baby. I would use cloth diapers no matter what, even if it was tricky at night like everyone said (with the exception of vacations and camping trips, of course. Even the perfectionist in me balked at the idea of long road trips and days at Disneyland with cloth diapers.).

This all-or-nothing approach to diapering was my thinking before we had the baby. This was before I tried to change a diaper bleary-eyed at 2 AM, only to find that my newborn's pajamas and bedding in the bassinet were completely soaked. By the time his diaper was changed, his pajamas changed, and his bedding clean, he was wide awake. That's when I started weighing my options. I had to be flexible with cloth diapering at night or there was an excellent chance I would go completely bonkers.

If I remember correctly, we went with cloth for the first month or so with my baby. Then, sometime in the second month, the cloth diapers leaked at night -- regularly. And even when they didn't leak, I just couldn't manage the cloth diaper changes at night. Those first few months are rough. I remember one night  I was so tired, I was changing him in the dark and putting his diaper on inside out, while getting so frustrated with the closures ("Why won't these work? What is going on?").  The next day I went and bought a package of disposables. What a relief it was. It was so easy to change him at night and there were no leaks. Then in the morning, I would put him right back into cloth diapers.

So we went with disposables at night, on and off, for my baby's first year. Whenever we'd run out (I always bought the small bags of disposables that only had 30-ish diapers in them), I'd re-evaluate if we still wanted to go that route. I would put him to bed in some sort of cloth diaper combination as a test: two inserts in a pocket diaper, a hemp insert added (more on those later), sometimes with the diaper cover we used for the prefolds on top of the pocket diaper. There were nights when poor little Jonah's bottom half could barely fit into his pajamas. Cloth diapers are bulkier than disposables anyway, but the get-ups we had him in at night were ridiculously bulky.  Sometimes our cloth combinations worked and we would go with that for a while, but if they ever started leaking in the middle of the night regularly (once in a while was no big deal, but I couldn't handle every. single. night.), I just took the easy out and got disposables. It wasn't the route I wanted to go with, but it worked. I was so tired. I needed sleep. Getting disposables saved me from getting burned out.

So how do we diaper our little guy at night now?  He's in cloth every night and we haven't had a problem with leaking for months now. What changed? Once I weaned him about a month after his first birthday and he wasn't nursing at night anymore, he didn't wet his diapers nearly as much at night. Around that time, I would change him in the mornings out of his disposable diapers and they'd be barely full. That's when I decided to switch back to cloth at night. I put him in a pocket diaper with one of the regular inserts in it plus a hemp insert.  It's been working well and there have no significant leaks since.

The key, in my humble opinion, is the hemp insert. These things are amazing! They're made from a cotton/hemp blend (55% hemp, 45% cotton) that is super absorbent.

(This picture shows one of the inserts folded in half. It's not that short.}

One thing I love about them is that they're not thick at all, especially for how much moisture they can hold. They're made from six layers of fabric yet they're only a quarter-inch thick. This makes them more comfortable because they're less bulky (at least, I imagine they're more comfy. That giant diaper we used to put him in at night looked annoyingly bulky to me). One caveat to their awesomeness: they do take longer to dry (which is sort of good, in a sense, because it shows that they work really well at holding moisture in). At night, I stack the microfleece insert on top of the hemp insert (since the hemp insert absorbs slower it's better to have the microfleece on top as the first line of defense) and stuff them into the pocket diaper. You don't have to use them just at night, either -- if I know that my little guy is going to be in one diaper for a prolonged period of time (like when I know we'll be in the car for a while), I use a hemp insert in addition to the regular one.

So, basically, my advice for nighttime diapering: flexibility.

Was going with disposables the ideal route? No, probably not. The perfectionist in me hated buying them.  Looking back, whenever I cloth diaper a nursing baby again, I'm going to look into wool diaper covers (I've got a couple of them on my Ravelry list of projects). But what's done is done. I feel no guilt (what a silly thing, anyway, to feel guilt about diapers!) in "copping out" occasionally with disposables at night. It made my life a little bit easier and I got a little more sleep. Heaven knows, a well-rested mama is a happier mama.

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

{This post is linked up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Homestead Barn Hop, Frugal Fridaysand Little House Friday.}

1 comment:

Anne said...

I nearly could have written this article myself. Exact same experience. And those hemp thirsties inserts ARE the way to go. Absolutely have to be flexible, diapering needs change all the time.

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