Overnight cloth diapering can be a challenge with any baby. And when your “baby” in question is a third grader headed to a slumber party, it gets even trickier to find a solution that keeps kids dry all night without making them feel like they’re wearing a diaper. While disposable pull-ups work for many older kids, some families prefer to seek out reusable cloth options for bedwetters.
Volume of urine: The older a child gets, the larger a volume of urine their body produces, and the harder it is to find a diaper that can contain it. While many children have small, sporadic nighttime accidents, others are very deep sleepers who urinate multiple times in a single night without waking up.
Appearance: By the time children hits preschool, they often doesn’t want to wear anything resembling a baby diaper — and don’t want their friends to know that they still wet the bed. The older kids get, the more important it is to them that the pull-up looks as much like underwear as possible. This generally eliminates typical overnight options like flats or fitted diapers.
Areas of absorbency: Most overnight diaper combos, such as flats or fitteds, provide absorbency all the way around the hips and belly, rather than just in the wet zone. But many cloth pull-ups focus absorbency only in the wet zone. This can lead to leaks out the side.
There are several cloth pull-ups that are designed for older bedwetters. The good news is that the options listed below have consistently good reviews and success rates. The bad news is that none of these products work for all families. While one brand may work fabulously for one child, another child may wake up in a lake after a night in the same brand of pull-up. For this reason, we recommend trying one out before buying and prepping 5 of the same pull-up.
Take the extra time to measure your child and follow the size charts, as poor fit may contribute to leaks. Additionally, you may want to customize absorbency by adding in extra inserts. Regular cloth diaper inserts, flats, and prefolds all can be used to customize absorbency in bedwetting pants.
Trainers: Most training pants are made to contain small daytime accidents, and don’t have enough absorbency for heavy bed-wetters. If your child only has sporadic accidents, or generally wakes up as soon as she starts urinating, cloth trainers may be an option. But if your child urinates multiple times each night without wakening, trainers probably just won’t cut it.
GoodNites Tru-Fit ($18 for starter pack): GoodNites Tru-Fits consist of two parts: A water-resistant shell that looks exactly like a regular pair of underwear, and a disposable insert. Rather than using the disposable insert, many families will use a cloth insert, such as a padfolded flat. Tru-Fits come in two sizes and fit from 34 – 100 pounds. Because they are trim and look so similar to regular underwear, these may be a good option for kids who feel self-conscious about bedwetting. However, it may be difficult to stack in enough absorbency. Layering two inserts, such as a microfiber insert under a hemp flat, can help increase absorbency. (Note: make sure that the microfiber can’t touch the child’s skin.) Additionally, fleece pajama bottoms worn over Tru-Fits can help control leaks.
Super Undies Bedwetting Pants ($30): Many families report success with the Super Undies Bedwetting Pants. These come in several colors and are designed to look like briefs; however, they are somewhat bulky. Anti-pill fleece lining around the legs and waist help prevent leaks, and you can add additional inserts into the pocket. Super Undies bedwetting pants come in four sizes and typically fit 3 – 13 year olds. Correct fit is important with this brand.
Mother-ease Bedwetter Pants ($28): Mother-ease Bedwetter pants are made with a white PUL outer and cotton terry inner, for an absorbency of 21 ounces. This pull-up style overnight option comes in three sizes fitting children from 30 – 65 pounds. Like the Super Undies, fit is important with these, and sizing up can cause leaks.
Fleece pants: Pajama pants or shorts made out of heavy anti-pill or blizzard fleece can be work over any of the above options to provide an extra layer of moisture protection. Additionally, for children who have small or infrequent accidents, fleece shorts may be enough to fully contain the urine. While it can be hard to find fleece pants sized for older kids, many independent companies, such as those found on Etsy, are happy to make custom sized fleece shorts at fairly low cost. Additionally, there are many simple free patterns online if you want to make your own.
As children get older and eat a more adult diet, their urine gets stronger and produces more of an odor. Make sure you’re following a good wash routine with the pull-ups. If you have other children in cloth diapers, you can wash the pull-ups in your cloth diaper laundry. Check out our wash routines for HE machines and non-HE machines, and make sure you’re using an effective detergent.
If you’re not washing any other cloth diapers, you can simply wash the pull-ups with regular laundry. However, if you find them developing an odor, you may want to soak them in hot water first, or run a prewash with just the pull-ups.
If leaks happen, it’s easy to wash pajamas, but it’s harder to wash a mattress. We suggest protecting the mattress with a waterproof mattress pad or cover. This is useful even after a child outgrows bedwetting, protecting from spills, stomach viruses, etc. You can also buy disposable mattress pads to make cleanup easier.
If your child has an accident and soaks the mattress, here are several tricks to clean up stains and remove urine odors:
- Spray with vinegar and water, and let soak in. Sprinkle liberally with baking soda and let sit for several hours, then vacuum off.
- Mix Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and a few drops of dawn dish soap in a spray bottle and spray on the stain.
- Use the upholstery attachment of a carpet cleaner.
- Try an enzyme based pet cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle urine destroyer.
Other bedwetting solutions
Bedwetting is normal and common, and isn’t generally a cause for concern. Children should never be made to feel ashamed or guilty for wetting the bed, as they generally can’t control it. Here are some things that you may be able to do as a family to reduce bedwetting. As always, if you ever feel concerned, check in with your pediatrician.
- Restricting fluid: Some families find that they need to restrict a child’s fluid intake in the evening hours to reduce bedwetting.
- Waking to urinate: Some families wake their child at night to use the restroom.
- Constipation: Daytime accidents and bedwetting often are linked to constipation, even when the child seemingly has regular bowel movements. Talk to your pediatrician if you think this may be the case.
- Bedwetting alarm: Though it’s not a quick fix, many families report success using a bedwetting alarm. These alarms clip to a child’s underwear, and upon sensing wetness, they make a loud noise, vibrate, and/or flash lights. They slowly train children to wake up to the sensation of needing to urinate.
- Medication: In certain cases, your pediatrician may suggest a medication to prevent bedwetting.
- What about chiropractic care?: We were not able to find clear peer-reviewed evidence that chiropractic care helps reduce bedwetting. However, some families anecdotally report success. We suggest doing your own research to determine if this is a treatment path you want to pursue.