All babies are different, even when it comes to diapering. Some babies seem to poop on a schedule, some will go days between bowel movements worrying their parents. Some babies will wet every 30 minutes, and then there are the classic heavy wetters.
How Do I Know If My Baby is a Heavy Wetter?
If you’ve ever muttered, “Not again,” after noticing the wet marks on your little one’s pants, and taking off yet another sopping wet diaper after less than an hour, you may just have a heavy wetter in your hands.
If you’re using more than two good quality inserts and you’re baby is less than five months old, you may have a heavy wetter on your hands.
If nap times and overnights are stressful because it’s pretty well guaranteed the diaper is going to be full and you’re going to have a leak, you might just have a heavy wetter on your hands.
In general, if you’re thinking you may have a heavy wetter, you probably do, and you’re not alone by any means.
Ok, I Think I Have A Heavy Wetter, Now What?
So, what do you do if you think your baby might be a heavy wetter? First of all, don’t panic, and don’t give in to the frustration you’re likely feeling. Cloth diapers are great for heavy wetters, but only if you’re strategic about what kind, and material of cloth diapers you’re using.
What are The Best Cloth Diaper Inserts for Heavy Wetters?
Cloth diapering a heavy wetter is all about absorbency: having enough and having the right kind.
The Right Kind of Absorbency for a Heavy Wetter
If you have the standard, inexpensive pocket diapers, that come from China with only three layers of microfiber, you definitely do not have enough for your heavy wetter, and even double stuffing the microfiber inserts will likely not help.
I’ve written about microfiber before (you can read all about it here) but the gist is that microfiber absorbs quickly, like a sponge, but just like a sponge that’s squished after it has been filled to capacity, microfiber lets the liquid leak back out easily, especially when it’s saturated. Even worse, microfiber can absorb less liquid pound for pound than other types of diaper materials like cotton, bamboo, and hemp.
Here’s a good reference for the absorbency of each of the common types of cloth diaper materials.
|Insert Type||Absorption Amount||Absorption Speed|
As you can see microfiber holds the least but is able to absorb liquid the fastest.
Charcoal bamboo, which is usually a combination of microfiber and fleece or microfiber and bamboo (often light on the bamboo), can usually hold a little more than straight microfiber. While that sounds good, that extra absorbency is because charcoal bamboo inserts are just larger and thicker (bulky) in general. Charcoal bamboo is still prone to compression leaks though it absorbs and compresses a little slower than plain microfiber.
Cotton can hold quite a bit and still absorbs fairly quickly. It’s a good middle of the road workhorse.
Hemp and true bamboo are able to hold the most liquid for their weight, though they absorb slightly on the slow side. Hemp usually outperforms bamboo slightly as far as how much it can hold, but it does require much more prep to get it ready for use (you can read all about prepping new diapers here).
Special Note: If you’d like me to email you a free PDF one-page cheat sheet like this one, to show you how much each type of insert absorbs, how much it holds, and how to layer it, click here to tell where to send it.
So, what’s the right type of absorbency for a heavy wetter? I recommend steering clear of microfiber and bamboo/charcoal, and using inserts that are made from cotton, bamboo, hemp or a blend of those materials.
Some of my absolute favorites for heavy wetters are the Thirsties hemp inserts. If you’re looking for a more cost-friendly option, Wink also has a good-quality hemp insert, which you can find on the Wink website here. There you can use the Coupon Beginners30 to save on any purchase you make there, making them much more affordable than the Thirsties.
Enough Absorbency for a Heavy Wetter
For older babies especially, simply swapping out a three-layer microfiber insert for a three-layer bamboo insert will still not be enough to soak everything up. Often you’ll need a few natural fiber inserts and/or boosters to hold everything in.
Ultimately, when dealing with a heavy wetter, it helps to accept that bulk is your friend. Bulk means absorbency.
Thankfully cotton, bamboo, and hemp are not only more thirsty, but they’re also less bulky than microfiber and charcoal bamboo inserts. That said, you’ll never get a heavy wetter-worthy diaper to be as thin as a disposable. It just won’t happen. Embracing that extra-fluffy butt will help you put leaks in your past.
You’ll know you have enough absorbency when the inserts are wet through, but not dripping wet when you change baby, and of course, no leaks.
What’s the Best Cloth Diaper Style for Heavy Wetters
In order to accommodate all that absorbency, heavy wetters are going to do best in a diaper style that allows for a lot of customization.
Styles that Don’t Work for Heavy Wetters, and Why
All-in-one diapers are clearly not very customizable and therefore aren’t great for heavy wetters. With an all-in-one diaper, what you see is what you get. All of the absorbency of the diaper is sewn into the shell and often there isn’t enough room inside the diaper to add more inserts without making it hard to fit around baby properly.
Here’s a video where I go over what all-in-ones are, and compare them to the other styles, to give you a visual of what I mean here.
Pocket diapers do have a little bit more customizability than all-in-one diapers for sure, but they are still limited by the size of the pocket fabric. Stuffing too many inserts, or inserts that are too large, into the pocket of the pocket diaper can lead to the leg elastics not being able to sit properly in the creases of the leg, compression leaking, etc. They are just too limiting for heavy-wetters, especially at night.
Styles that Will Work for Heavy Wetters, and Why
Any diaper system that lets you put customized absorbency under a diaper cover is going to be your best bet for your heavy wetter. This includes fitted diapers, prefold diapers, and flat diapers, all of which can be combined and placed under a separate diaper cover.
Fitted diapers are by far the best option for heavy wetters, though they are also the most expensive of the three best systems for heavy wetters.
They are so good, because they take advantage of the whole diaper area, spreading absorbency from side to side, wrapping it all around baby’s waist and from belly button to bum. Fitted diapers are also customizable enough to allow for additional inserts to be placed inside them.
Daytime fitted diapers are usually made from cotton, which as we know is a good material for both absorbency and speed. Nighttime fitted diapers are usually made from bamboo and hemp and are often the only thing to work for a heavy wetter at night. I’ll cover night time fitted diapers below.
For daytime fitted diapers, there are two brands that really stick out in my mind as the best: the first is Green Mountain Diaper’s workhorse diapers, which you can find on the Green Mountain website here, and the second is the OsoCosy cotton fitted diaper, which you can find on Amazon here.
It’s important to remember that fitteds need to be placed inside a diaper cover to work as they are not waterproof.
Prefold diapers can be made into fitted diapers, with some folding and a snappi (I have a video below in the night time diaper section to show you how to do this). Granted it is much more work than a nice fitted diaper that’s already done for you, but the results are just a good, and just as customizable.
Prefold diapers are very inexpensive, which makes it easy to get enough to diaper your heavy wetter effectively.
I really like the OsoCozy prefold diapers from Amazon, which come in two types: “Traditional” and “Better Fit”. The traditional prefolds are best for making into a fitted diaper syle. The better fit ones are perfect for pad folding (just folding them in three) and laying them into the diaper (you can see some instructions on pinning and pad folding of each on their company page on Amazon here). For a heavy wetter, you might actually want both because the pad folded better fit size make great inserts to bulk up your diapers when you need it, and the price makes it an option.
If you have the budget for it, Thirsties does make a hemp prefold that could be paired with a cotton one for a super absorbent yet thinner option. You can get those on Amazon here as well, or if you need sezzle they are over at Cloth Diaper Kids here as well (Canadian retailer so prices are in CDN, but ships to the US).
It’s important to remember that prefold diapers need to be placed inside a diaper cover to work as they are not waterproof.
Flat diapers are also very customizable and great to work with on a heavy wetter. There’s a reason your grandma used them!
Most flat diapers are made from a single layer of cotton fabric that’s nice and big and can be folded and made into a fitted diaper or used as an insert, just like a prefold.
You can find flat diapers like those made by OsoCozy on Amazon, or you can also save some coin by getting some flour sack towels (called FSTs in the cloth world) from the kitchen section of your local Walmart or Target.
For even more cost savings, repurpose some of those receiving blankets you got at your baby shower, and use them as flat diapers as well!
One product I do not recommend are Gerber flat diapers. While these are widely available, they just aren’t very good quality, absorbing little and often falling apart. You’re better off getting some flour sack towels than these for the price.
An important reminder that flat diapers also need to be placed inside a diaper cover to work as they are not waterproof.
What’s the Best Cloth Diapers for Overnight for a Heavy Wetter?
Overnight is oven the first hurdle for heavy wetters as parents learn very early on that a double or triple stuffed pocket diaper won’t cut it, whereas it will for other folks.
For overnights, the options for a heavy wetter that will work are limited, but I have three for you:
1. Ecoable Hemp Fitted Diaper
My first choice for a nighttime diaper is the Ecoable Hemp fitted diaper. As we learned earlier hemp is the most absorbent fabric used in cloth diapers and fitteds are the most absorbent style of diapers. So it’s no wonder these fitteds are amazing!
These come with two snap-in hemp diaper inserts. The material is made from a 55% hemp, 45% cotton blend. Though the hemp needs to be washed multiple times to reach full absorbency, once it’s there, you’ll be impressed with its capacity!
2. DIY Cotton Overnight Fitted
If fitted diapers of GroVia O.N.E’s aren’t in your budget yet, but you have some prefolds at your disposal and some good inserts, or can afford to purchase some (I have my recommended ones above in the prefold section) you can make a DIY overnight solution that should cut the mustard.
The trick is to put a hemp insert, or a infant prefold or a “better fit” prefold trifolded, inside of a large prefold that is then snappied around baby, thus acting like an overnight fitted.
Here’s a great video from newandgreen showing how to do the two different ways to put a prefold on a baby. For this overnight diaper option, you’re going to do both if you’re using just prefolds (do the second fold, a pad fold, and layer it inside the first fold, the snappi fold) or lay some hemp inserts inside the first fold, which is the snappi fold.
Using two prefolds like this, one small one padfolded and placed inside a larger one that’s wrapped around baby, will give you something that acts like a fitted. Though it will make your baby’s bum roughly the size of Texas, it should get you through until you’re able to move on to some overnight-worthy fitteds. Don’t forget that, just like fitteds, prefolds must be used under covers to work.
3. The GroVia O.N.E
This is the least absorbent night time option I have for you, but I include it because you are still able to add a bit of absorbency to it to make it work well, and it’s the only option I have for you that comes with it’s own cover attached.
The GroVia O.N.E has a TPU shell, with sewn-in absorbency on the inside. It also comes with two snap-in soakers.
The materials used are:
- Hidden Inner Layer: 100% Polyester Microfiber
- Outer: 100% Water Resistant Polyester TPU
- Soaker: 100% Cotton topped with 100% Polyester Microfleece
- Body Lining: 100% Polyester Microfleece
- Outer: 100% Water Resistant Polyester TPU (Exclusive of Trim)
One of the best things about the O.N.E. Diaper has to be the “Outlast Closure.” The Outlast Closure is a converting strip that lets you turn the snaps into Velcro! So not only do you not have to choose between snaps or velcro, but if you love Velcro, and it wears out, you can order a replacement, though it’s not as likely to happen, because you can remove them before washing. It’s so smart!
The Outlast Closure is so cool that it’s actually a big part of how the diaper got it’s name. The O.N.E stands for Outlast closure, No prep, and Easy to use.
It’s true that you don’t need to prep the O.N.E diaper, and it fits babies from about 10 to 35-plus pounds. It’s also very well made, and GroVia is a good, longstanding US-based brand, so you can’t go wrong.
For older babies that are heavy wetters you may need an additional insert with these, but you won’t need too much.
What are the Best Diaper Covers for Heavy Wetters?
As you just read, fitteds and DIY fitteds are great for heavy wetters at night, and fitteds, prefolds and flats are also great for daytime.
The problem is that all of these options need a diaper cover.
For heavy wetters I recommend a good quality cover like Thirsties. For daytime the Duo Wrap is great, but for nighttime and fitted diapers, something that can handle the larger bulk is needed.
For these larger diapers, I recommend the Thirsties Diaper Cover, which is roomier than the Duo Wrap. The downside is that it’s a sized cover. This means it doesn’t adjust at the rise, it only gets done up around the waist.
As you can imagine, this loss in adjustability means that you need to buy additional sizes. The Thirsties cover comes in four sizes: x-small (6-12lbs), Small (12-18lbs), Medium (18-28lbs), and Large (28-40lbs).
That means you may need a few more over the span of your cloth diapering career to cover baby from birth to potty, but what you get in return is a diaper that fits great, and can easily accommodate big bulky nighttime fitteds that become so necessary once a heavy wetter is a bit older.
Another option, and the one I recommend for EXTREME heavy wetters, is wool covers. Wool covers are a bit different in that you aren’t washing them often, usually only every few weeks or when soiled, but you do need do lanolize them.
The process isn’t as difficult as it sounds, and it does come with a big payoff, in that wool covers keep everything contained by both repelling water and absorbing it. It’s strange, but it works like crazy.
Green Mountain diapers has some excellent information about caring for wool covers here.