DIY fleece liners to keep your cloth-diapered baby dry at night

Guest post by Lindsay Wilhelmi
Lindsay's daughter Cadence rocking her fleece liners!

Our sleeping-through-the-night sweetie recently went through a week of the opposite. Granted, it seemed like she was going through a growth spurt, so her 2:00 a.m. wake-ups were likely due to the fact that she was hungry (certainly seemed so, since she would eat like she’d never been fed). But I also noticed that she was SOAKED each time she awoke, needing a new diaper before she’d go back to sleep. This was as new to me as the midnight snack; she hadn’t demanded a diaper change before morning since she was 2-3 weeks old.

Although she used to make it through the night without needing the change, I think her “output” increased along with the additional meals. And goodness knows our girl HATES feeling wet, so she was not tolerating the soaking diaper … especially since her usually deep sleep was being interrupted by hunger.

Those of you who cloth diaper your babes know that one of the big “cons” of the more economical systems (i.e., not an all-in-one or pocket system) is that there’s no “stay-dry” layer between your sweet baby’s skin and the wet prefold or fitted diaper.

Those of you who cloth diaper your babes know that one of the big “cons” of the more economical systems (i.e., not an all-in-one or pocket system) is that there’s no “stay-dry” layer between your sweet baby’s skin and the wet prefold or fitted diaper. For babies who hate being wet, this means committing to changing them as soon as they’ve “gone.” Which is usually perfectly fine by me, because I don’t like the thought of Cadence sitting in a dirty diaper. BUT, I also would rather get a full night’s sleep, if she can be kept feeling dry. And, guess what? I found a solution! There’s no need to waste money on expensive stay-dry liners or a new diaper system when it’s such an easy DIY fix.

It turns out that fleece has this great property which allows liquid to pass through without being absorbent. Meaning that once the liquid has passed through, it pretty much feels dry against the skin (even if there’s a wet layer beneath!). It also just so happens that you can often find bolts of fleece on sale or clearance at your local fabric store. You might even have some laying around the house, waiting to be re-purposed. The latter was my case.

Here’s what I did:

  • I found an old hand-me-down fleece blanket of Cady’s that we weren’t using (she has PLENTY of blankets!)
  • I cut the blanket into strips slightly larger than a tri-folded small prefold diaper (roughly 14″ x 5″)
  • To assemble the nighttime diaper, I laid out my cover of choice (below, I’m using a GroVia shell), followed by a small prefold (folded in thirds), and finally topped the prefold with the homemade fleece liner.
  • I then fastened the diaper around Cady as usual.

The first night I used this “stay-dry” solution, Cady still woke up to eat during the night, but didn’t demand the usual diaper change, which meant I could “dream nurse” her and put her right back down after she had her fill. The following night, she was sleeping through the night again. Perhaps her growth spurt was over, perhaps she felt drier and wasn’t upset (and woken) by a sopping diaper. Maybe a little bit of both. Either way, her skin was MUCH drier upon waking, which makes for a happy baby AND a happy mama.

Not only is this a great way to recycle unused articles of fleece, but it also allows one to use the tiny prefolds babies so quickly grow out of; you may not be able to fasten them around baby’s waist anymore, but they fit perfectly laid down the middle of a shell!

Not only is this a great way to recycle unused articles of fleece, but it also allows one to use the tiny prefolds babies so quickly grow out of; you may not be able to fasten them around baby’s waist anymore, but they fit perfectly laid down the middle of a shell! This is also be a good solution for the parent who needs to run quick errands with a cloth-diapered kiddo like Cady who hates being wet. It’ll get you and your fluffy-bummed babe from CVS, through the gas station, to the bank, and home without the typical “I’m wettttttt!” meltdown.

Cady gives this night-time stay-dry solution her fluffy-bummed seal of approval.

Comments on DIY fleece liners to keep your cloth-diapered baby dry at night

  1. Word! My son doesn’t sleep through wet diapers — and we recently had an issue with ammonia that has killed our progress with sleeping all night. <3 We're stripping and using disposables for a couple days, and now we're back to sleeping.

    And fleece is AMAZING. <3<3

  2. A fleece blanket cut into liners is what saved my early cloth diapering experience from being discarded. I couldn’t afford pockets at the time (which have a stay-dry liner) so we were using prefolds but I needed to change my daughter every time there was a dribble of pee (which was a couple times an hour for a newborn!).

  3. I love my fleece liners! There were a couple of weeks when my son would wake up with an awful rash from sitting in a wet diaper overnight.
    I love that you don’t have to sew after you cut, so even the most uncrafty (me) can make the liners.

  4. Yay! I need an overnight option for my babe too, because I change her in the middle of the night, not because she fusses, but because I hate the idea of her sitting in a wet diaper as well. But, when she gets changed, she wakes up and is hard to get back to sleep, vs only nursing her. I am going to have to do this asap!

    • Totally agree; changing a nighttime diaper completely disrupts the sleep cycle (of both mom and baby). At least when I wake to feed her, all I have to do is pop a boob into her mouth. Requires no thinking, and I can just doze while she sleepily nurses.

  5. I’m so glad some of you have found this tutorial useful! I am not exaggerating when I say that this has totally changes our sleep routine (we’ve been doing it for about a month now). Now, even if she wakes up to nurse, I don’t have to completely disturb her by changing her soggy dipe.

    This being a totally no-sew solution (as Conniebird mentioned) makes it a super accessible project for everyone, too!

    Here’s a link to a picture of the liner/diaper assembly, for those of you who are visual learners. 🙂

    • Oh, how I wish I knew how to knit! Sadly, I’m a sewer when it comes to crafting (and in this case, a no-sewer!). 🙂

      What about upcycling wool sweaters? Any idea how one would go about making a wool cover from old moth-eaten sweaters (of which, I have a surplus)??

      • Felt the sweater in the washer then cut it the same way as you would the fleece. The felting will shrink the sweater and bind it so that the raw edges will not ravel. (This only works with real wool though.) Run it through a full wash cycle with detergent with the hottest water/the most agitation you have. When it gets to the end of the wash cycle, check and see f it’s getting thick and fuzzy. If not, turn the knob back and run it through another cycle of agitation.

  6. lol, my friend JUST told me about this very trick yesterday afternoon. In addition to the fleece liner to keep the moisture away from the baby’s skin, she also recommended a hemp liner for extra night-time absorption. (The hemp goes in between the diaper folds so it doesn’t touch skin, since it’s very rough.)

    • Thanks for bringing that up! We do usually fold up a booster that looks like an extra-long maxi inside the prefold for extra absorbency.

      Man, that dipe is HEAVY in the AM. But her skin is dry! 🙂

    • I’m pretty sure any type of fleece would work, with the possible exception of polar fleece (I think that might actually repel liquid?). Microfleece would make a very thin stay-dry layer, which would cut down the bulk. I just cut up a fairly thin fleece blanket for mine; the type of blanket you’d find rolled up on sale at JoAnn’s or similar.

      Fleece is a synthetic product made of polyester fibers… so they won’t appeal to those who wish to use only natural cloth diapering products (e.g., cotton w/ wool).

  7. Good ideas! We started using disposables at night because if the same issues. I just hate looking at a pail full of stinky garbage diapers after a couple of days. It’s much more satisfying to be able to wash everything.

    I want to know more about wool covers! Does the wetness soak through them to the clothes/bedding? Do you need another waterproof layer? Does it have to be a certain quality of wool?

  8. I also wanted to mention that the fleece liners have other benefits, too. They prevent diapers from staining so much, provide a protective layer between baby’s bum and the diaper for times you might need to apply diaper cream (many types are no-nos for cloth), and makes clean-up/disposal of poopy diapers easier! Much less hassle to shake/dunk a thin liner in the toilet than deal with the whole dipe!

  9. I must make some liners for my bamboo nappies! I’ve tried wool covers over the bamboo fitteds and they work really well. They do take a little maintenance though. You have to “lanolize” them every week or so to keep them waterproof. Not hard though. They do keep the moisture in without an extra waterproof cover, they look really cute, and they’re really breathable. I haven’t had a go at making my own though. I reckon 100% wool sweaters with a fairly tight knit would work well though. You could experiment with felting them a bit by washing them in hot. Check out cloth diapering websites for lanolizing instructions.

  10. I’m due in July and bought 7 cloth diapers to try out. I am definitely going to buy some fleece and cut up for liners… my question is, the liners don’t bunch up or move around though when the baby does? Keeping the baby dry is a plus but I really want to keep the diaper as soil free as possible to keep them new looking.

  11. We started using a pack of Bummis fleece liners a couple of week ago on our 3.5mo. We had switched from the stay dry insert in her Flips to a prefold and while she wasn’t waking up to be changed, I noticed she was getting a little red. Those have seemed to work great so I went to the fabric store and picked up 1/4 yd of each of two different fleece prints. I do hope that I got the right type. (Polar fleece has the different feel to it on the inside, right?) We just tried one of those out last nite for the first time so we’ll see. She did sleep thru so hopefully it worked and there won’t be any leaks. Then I’ll cut up the second 1/4 yd. 🙂

    @ Samantha – the liner doesn’t move but it will narrow between the legs a little, just like the insert. Hasn’t seemed to affect anything though. But my girl is still EBF so I’m not worried about solid poop yet.

    • I am registered for Flip diapers and was wondering how they worked for you-
      do you just use the covers and not the staydry liners they come with since there are redness issues?


  12. Is it okay to put them over microfiber inserts as well? I know microfiber can’t touch baby skin, so I’ve been cutting fleece and covering them that way and using them with covers. The microfiber inserts have been cheaper for me to buy, so I’ve been doing it that way… is that okay? -I’m new to cloth diapering. =P

  13. I JUST finished cutting up some fleece for cloth diapering! This will be the first baby I cloth diaper with so I’m in for some learning. Due July 7th! My older kids are 15 and 12. I’m glad I found your blog! Bless, Leslie

  14. Good idea but I have a suggestion. Take you fold it in half aand sew the edges together to make a sort of sleeve to slide you prefold into. This is great during the day for a stay dry feel. Only you need to take the fleece out when, you start potty training so they can feel the wetness. Helps them train faster

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