How Long Can You Leave a Cloth Diaper On?

By April Duffy •  Updated: 05/21/24 •  3 min read

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 your 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 a Baby’s Diaper at Night?

The first two or three months after their born, a newborn generally is awake for food every two to three hours even in the middle of the night. Your baby will be awake so frequently at this time that changing your newborn’s diaper at night is usually not your most pressing concern – sleep is! But don’t worry, this is not a forever thing and they will sleep, eventually.

So, when they do sleep for longer periods during the night should you wake them up for a diaper change? You can, but why would you want to? At night, sleep is more of a priority than a clean diaper, so let them sleep if your baby’s diaper is just wet but you must change your baby every time they soil a diaper as soon as they soil it to avoid diaper rash.

So, When Should You Change Your Baby’s Diaper at Night?

If your baby has a wet diaper and does wake up either because of the wet diaper or for feeding, absolutely change your baby’s diaper at that time as well.

If the diaper is just wet and the baby is sleeping peacefully, it’s ok to avoid nighttime diaper changes that can wake them up, 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. Unlike disposable diapers, cloth diapers don’t have that nice blue line of chemicals to tell you when they are wet, but you can get a feel for when it’s time for a diaper change

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.

April Duffy

April is the founder of Cloth Diapers for Beginners and author of The Cloth Diaper Wash & Care Handbook. Since 2015, April has helped well over 75,000 parents and caregivers cloth diaper their children through this website, her book, her YouTube Channel, and the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook Group.