How Long Can You Leave a Cloth Diaper On?


Cloth diapers are very different than disposables and so parents who aren’t used to them often don’t know how often they need to be changed. So, how long can you leave a cloth diaper on? Whether you use disposables or cloth, your baby should be changed every time they wet to keep baby’s skin healthy and keep leaks from happening. Many cloth diaper websites say this is about two hours to give you a rough guideline, but this will vary from baby to baby, and the length of time a baby goes between wetting will stretch as they grow.

How Often Should You Change Baby At Night?

Of course when I’m asked, “How many hours can I leave my baby in a cloth diaper before changing?” And I reply, “Until you feel they’re wet!” The next question parents have is, “But, what about at night?” And then they usually go into a rant about how they barely sleep as it is!

I hear you! I’ve walked down that sleep-deprived path myself and would rather do anything than wake my baby up just to change a diaper. So, how often change cloth diapers at night? At night, sleep is more of a priority than a clean diaper, but you should change baby every time they soil a diaper as soon as they soil it, or if they wet a diaper and wake up either because of the wet diaper or for feeding.

If the diaper is just wet and the baby is sleeping peacefully, it’s ok to leave them until they wake, but do change them ASAP after they wake because the longer they spend in a wet diaper, the more time bacteria and yeast have to grow.

To learn more about how wet diapers left on the skin can lead to diaper rashes, including yeast rashes, you can check out my interview with Dr. Garbi, a pediatrician at Blueberry Pediatrics, here.

Wait, How Do You Know When a Cloth Diaper is Wet?

Of course, knowing when a cloth diaper is wet is also a little bit more difficult than a disposable, since they have that nice blue line of chemicals to tell you when they are wet, but it can be done.

I have a whole post with tips and tricks to help you figure out when a cloth diaper is wet or soiled, which you can read here.

How Many Diapers Will You Need if Changing Every Wet Diaper?

If you’re concerned about how many more diapers you’ll be using if you’re changing every time baby wets, it’s actually not that often once the newborn stage is over.

To work out how many diapers you’ll need for your baby, more information about how many diapers you’ll need for your baby, I have a full article on that, with a cheat sheet, can be found here.

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