How to Tell if Cloth Diaper is Wet?


In January of 2020, Pampers, a part of Procter & Gamble, released the world’s first smart diaper. Called Lumi, the device attaches to their disposable diapers (with Velcro) to detect when it’s soiled or wet and sends a notification to the parents through an app. You can read more about it all here. It’s actually pretty neat because it also tracks sleep and prepares a chart over time to help you establish a sleep routine. 

The problem with Lumi, and the traditional color change strips is that they’re only available on disposable diapers. How do you tell when a cloth diaper is wet? Well, you can tell when a cloth diaper is wet by feel. And no, I don’t mean you have to touch pee! As I like to say, a stiff diaper is a wet diaper.

What Does A Wet Cloth Diaper Feel Like?

The best thing you can do to understand what a diaper feels like when it’s wet, is to feel it when it’s dry. When you first put on the cloth diaper, take a few seconds to get a sense of how fluffy and squishy it is from the outside.

Continue feeling the diaper every 10 mins or so, and when you notice that it feels stiffer when you poke it (gently of course), or doesn’t squish so well if you pinch it between your fingers, you can guess that it’s wet and open it up to see.

After you do this for a day or two, you’ll start to get a feel for it and will be able to tell with a simple poke.

Do I Need to Change After Every Pee?

Yes. Unless we’re talking about a few drops, you’re going to want to change baby after every pee to keep the moisture and bacteria away from their delicate skin and prevent diaper rashes.

Keeping the diaper area dry is also key in helping prevent yeast rashes. As this Healthline article explains, “Yeast thrives in warm, damp areas, so keeping the area dry can help stop the spread of the yeast.’

How Often Do Babies Urinate?

So, if you’re aiming to change after every pee, how often can you expect it?

Newborns pee a lot. You can expect to be changing a newborn about every two hours, with some babies even wetting more often than that for a few weeks. They just have tiny bladders and are always eating.

As baby grows, that number will slowly decline, with the average toddler going about 6-8 times per day. Every baby is different, but most fall into a rhythm and if you can get in-tune with it, you’ll be able to predict when that diaper will feel stiff.

How Do I Know When a Cloth Diaper is Soiled?

I don’t know what it is, but a poop in a disposable diaper smells about 8,000 times worse than one in a cloth diaper (excepting of course those occasional vile poops that make you think back to what you fed that poor child yesterday).

With a cloth diaper, the smell of that number two may not be present until after you take off the diaper, so doing a visual check or watching for the signs of a bowel movement happening is usually your best bet.

The Poop Face

As you marvel at your baby’s beautiful face for many days, weeks, and months, you’ll start to know your baby’s poop face. Often it will look something like this, especially when baby is straining a bit.

via GIPHY

Obviously, this will be a clear and hilarious indication that a diaper change will soon be needed.

Visual Check

If you didn’t see the poop face, but it’s been awhile and you’re thinking you should check, doing a quick visual check by looking into the back of the diaper works just fine.

Just remember, you’re looking not feeling because, as this meme suggests, you never really know what you’re gonna find in there:

More Info

If you want more information about how many diapers you’ll need for your baby, I have a full article on that, with a cheat sheet, here.

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