How to Tell if a Cloth Diaper is Wet? (This Trick Works!)

By April Duffy •  Updated: 04/30/24 •  5 min read
FAQ

The one big advantage that disposable diapers have is that little yellow strip that turns blue once the diaper is wet. Reusable cloth diapers for babies just don’t have that.

So, 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! A stiff diaper is a wet diaper, so pinching the front of the diaper to see when it goes from fluffy to firm will tell you when your baby’s diaper is wet.

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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. You’re going to have 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 Dr. Garbi told me in my interview with her about diaper rash, “Yeast rashes are caused by wet and damp areas, that’s where yeast like to grow in.”

There are some exceptions of course, including overnight. For the full picture on how long you can leave your baby in a cloth diaper, click here.

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 your 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.

I have more information about how many diapers you’ll need for your baby here, with a cheat sheet for you.

How Do I Know When a Cloth Diaper is Soiled?

I don’t know what it is, but poop in a disposable diaper smells about 8,000 times worse than one in a cloth diaper (except 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 a while 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 you never really know what you’re gonna find in there!

Conclusion

Feeling and checking your baby’s cloth diaper regularly will help you get a feel (literally) for when it’s wet and/or soiled, and soon you’ll find that you and your baby fall into a rhythm that makes that blue line unnecessary.

Just make sure to change your baby as soon as they wet during the day to avoid complications.

FAQ

Do Babies Feel Wet in Cloth Diapers?

Using cloth diapers allows your infant to experience wetness against their skin (and learn to recognize potty time) but there are some “stay dry” measures you can take, like using fleece liners, to keep your baby more comfortable and unaware of the wet diaper.

Do Cloth Diapers Hold More Pee?

Unlike disposable diapers that hold what they hold, Cloth diapers can be customized to hold more or less to meet the needs of your baby. This means if you need them to, and use the right products, cloth diapers can hold more pee than disposables.

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.