The Nighttime Diaper Dilemma: Part Three

Several months ago I shared that my dark diapering secret online.  Even though we only used disposables at night, I hated having to toss the waste into the trash. Since my son out-wet our cloth diapers, it seemed there was no other option. 

Thanks to our wise readers’ comments, I tried pocket diapers with him a few months later and was thrilled.  No more wetting in the night!  This also meant no more trips to the grocery store to haul home disposables.  The sky was brighter, the birds sang more sweetly, and our garbage was delightfully emptier. 

Then Roscoe started to develop yeast infections on a regular basis.  We tried creams, giving him “naked time,” and sunlight, but the infections persisted.  Finally, in desperation, we switched back to disposables at night and Roscoe’s redness completely cleared up. 

I then tried switching back to pocket diapers, only to have the yeast infections return.  Intermittently I experimented with prefolds, all-in-ones and again with pocket diapers, only to find that he got yeast infections with every single option.  He bathes just before bedtime, so it can’t be a hygiene issue.  What would people do years ago before disposables were invented?  There must be a solution.

For now, we’re sad to say that Roscoe’s back in disposables at night.  Does anyone else struggle with yeast infections at night?  If so, have you found anything that works on a long term basis?  Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us!


  1. I look forward to reading responses. we’ve been doing prefolds at night & we just recently started having yeast issues as well…

  2. We’ve recently been having the SAME problem! He actually wakes up in the wee hours of the morning and I’ll go in to change him only to see a light red rash starting. And the one morning he didn’t wake up, the rash was redder and definitely yeasty smelling. I had to forego cloth for almost a week. The only thing I can think of is I couldn’t get to Walgreens to pick up the seventh generation detergent I normally use, so I just bought some ALL free and clear at the supermarket. Is this the problem? I don’t know for sure but I’ll find out later this week when I make it back to the store for the goos stuff.

    I’m totally checking back though to see what others say!!

  3. No Yeast infections yet, but I my LO can wets thru a large and two infant inserts in her BG’s! I simply can’t fit another in there. I was just thinking that I may need to do sposies at night and it is making me sad. She is such a heavy wetter at just 5 months that I am not sure that it will get better with time. I would love suggestions and am interested in the answer to the yeast problem as you can never have enough info. 🙂 I hate having to put dipes in the landfill, but also feel defeated when we spent so much money on cloth only to have to spend more on sposies. I know that we are still doing a great thing though. It is always about balance isn’t it! Good luck with the answer to the yeast rash. 🙂

  4. I add essential tea tree oil into our homemade wipe solution (just water & tea tree oil, actually, and sometimes a little lavender), and into the washing machine load. We’ve never had an issue with yeast since. 🙂

    Hope you find something that works for you!

  5. I just thought of an interesting idea. You could stuff a pocket diaper with its normal insert, then place a g-diaper pad on top of it. Then the disposable part would be next to the skin, which seems to prevent the yeast infections, but you’d be disposing of much less every morning. If you composted the insert, you wouldn’t be contributing anything to the landfill. You also wouldn’t have to buy the gDiaper starter kit–you’d just need a refill pack.

    We just use two prefolds + a cover for Audrey at night, and she’s never had a problem. I know you already tried that, though, Joy!

  6. I also use cloth diapers for my 14 month old son. We tried out so many different diapers for his nighttime use and ended up just biting the bullet and using huggies overnights. They are a miracle.

    I also have the same problem of using the diapers and throwing them away…but somehow I can justify it that it’s 7 a week and not a million more!

  7. Donielle – you may have hit something – for us atleast…we use all F&C…of course we always have..but, maybe it just got too built up (I’m stripping dipes as we speak! lol)

    also, doesn’t yeast thrive on warm conditions? I wonder if dressing our son in warmer PJs lately has contributed?? (since starting cloth at night, he’s always been in shorts & a t-shirt. w/ cooler nights, we’ve moved to long sleeves & pants… & that’s when I started seeing the yeast….) hmmmmm

  8. My heavy wetter is currently 1.5 years and we’ve been using disposables and night for a LONG time. Always a red spotty yeast rash if we try cloth overnight. For a while I was even changing her once (thankfully she didn’t wake all the way up!) before I went to bed, too! I’m so glad to know I’m not alone in this dilemma. I’ll be back to see if anyone has any solutions!

  9. My daughter had horrible yeast infections for her first couple of months (born in November last year). After doing some research I took a multiple prong approach, which seemed to work the best. First, wash the diapers with vinegar on cold to kill the yeast in the diapers. Second, when you wipe down Roscoe’s bottom, use water that has baking soda dissolved in it. The ratio is 1 tbsp baking soda to 1 cup water. For good measure, we dried off Scarlette’s bottom with a clean rag before putting the clean diaper on. The drier you keep their bottom the better. We also used Weleda’s daiper cream with calendula in it to help with the rash, and I also made her knitted daiper covers which let her bottom breathe better. She hasn’t had a rash now for 5 months now and she is a much happier camper. I hope this helps.
    I love your blog btw. I decided early on that I wanted to be less wasteful in my life and this blog has great tips to help with that. Thank you very much.

  10. We’ve been fighting something like this lately, too. I think we are starting to get a handle on it, although his really nasty rash is still healing, so I can’t be absolutely sure. I changed up our diaper washing some. We use Allen’s, and I’ve always followed the directions to only use two teaspoons in the wash. Now, I wash on cold with a full scoop, with vinegar in the rinse. Then, I wash again with nothing on hot with an extra rinse. We’re using an antibiotic cream on his bum, alternating with Burt’s Bees diaper rash cream (as our dr. told us to do to help the rash heal). It seems to be working out all right. The true test will be if it comes back, but I’m hoping we’ve licked it. If it does come back, I’m gonna be boiling diapers.

    Oh, and we use BG 3.0s at night.

  11. If the yeast is living in the diaper you should consider bleaching and/or boiling your diapers to kill it before trying again! Also, you might try putting a little Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) to wipes solution, and maybe consider a product like Better Butt(er) Cream from Northern Essence that contains GSE for yeast rashes. Good luck! So far prefold diaper + doubler or smaller 2nd diaper works for us at night, although it’s VERY wet in the AM.

  12. I don’t have a child, but I do know that tea tree oil works on grown up yeast infections. Might be worth a try, but be sure to dilute it.

  13. we’ve never had this problem, and we cloth diaper at night. we wash with charlies soap and before that sun, and throw in some sun oxygen cleaner and biokleen’s bac-out for good measure–i don’t know if it’s good luck or that system that prevents skin troubles.

    i got a wealth of great info from karen over at

    ask her–i bet she can offer some tips. good luck with your sweet boy!

  14. That’s so odd. My kids got yeast infections and we used disposables. I think some kids, if they get a diaper rash, it just immediately turns into a yeast infection. I always put lotrimin on it which cleared it right up. Also, use the whitest, stickiest, zinciest diaper cream you can find. Usually, the cheap store brand is the best because the nicer ones wipe off too easily. I think Anna might be right that you need to kill the yeast in the diaper and then use a really thick barrier cream. Our pediatrician always said that most people don’t use enough – you need to really glop it on.=)

  15. I’m so glad to be getting all this feedback! So, the weird thing about Roscoe’s yeast infections is that they ONLY occur when he’s diapered with cloth at night. He hasn’t ever gotten them when he’s been in cloth for long spans during the day.

    How would you add the tea tree oil to the diapers in a front loading machine and in what quantity? It would be great to try and come up with a solution that works!

    Thanks so much for all the input!

  16. Joy – I don’t know where the soap goes in a front loader but if there is a way to get a liquid fabric softener into them, I’d use a mix of vinegar and tea tree oil in that bit instead of fabric softener.

    Also, just thinking out load here and don’t know if it would work but how about grating some tea tree oil soap and using that in the wash?

  17. Hi…I am not a parent but have been doing lots a green baby research over the last month and have been told by lots of green moms about this problem. I think someone already responded like this in an earlier comment but try using a gbaby insert as a doubler in a pocket diaper…it’ll keep it from being SO wet for that period of time until you can change him/her in the morning.

  18. You can buy a little bottle of tea tree oil at Trader Joe’s for just a few dollars. I wonder if you could put some in a little spray bottle and dilute it with water. (You need just a drop or two of oil to make a pretty strong solution!) Then you could spray the diapers when they come out of the wash, before you hang them to dry or put them in the dryer.

  19. What about trying a gDiaper at night? I doubled the padding since LO is a heavy wetter and she did so great. In fact the second pad only had a bit of wetness. I know they are expenxive, but Amazon will sell them for around $11 a pack if you subcribe. You can even pick the amount and time of delivery without shipping fees. Just a thought and more landfill friendly than reg sposies. 😉

  20. I have not had this problem yet so I haven’t tried it but I was reading about raw silk liners. They are supposed to have antibacterial properties and also help to wick the moisture away from baby’s skin. Here is the description I found on mom’s milk boutique – they are out of stock there but maybe you can find them somewhere else?

    “bumGenius Raw Silk Liners
    Price: $2.50

    Silk is the only 100% natural wicking material able to help keep little bottoms drier. Silk has natural anti-bacterial properties that may keep yeast and diaper rash at bay. “

  21. OMGOSH!!! I am so glad I read this. We have been battling yeast for a month now. Her bottom got so red and raw and when she pooped her poop got into it and it turned into a staf infection. HORRIBLE! We, just yesterday finished her antibiotic cream on her bum. She has been in disposies all week. I just spent SIX hours last night washing, washing and washing and stripping her cloth diapers to get rid of any bacteria and detergent build up. I am nervous to try her in cloth tonight, but we will see. If she is even slightly pink in the morning she is back in disposables at night. When I stripped mine one cycle I put like 10 drops of tea tree oil in a large load during the rinse cycle. Another load I put 1/4 cup of vinegar and finally in the last load I just did plain hot water and a cold rinse where there were no bubbles or film in the plain water. My diapers have never smelt fresher or cleaner. They must have been pretty built up since they were starting to really stink if they sat for even a few hours. I am new to cloth and just found out that if they have a strong amonia smell then that means there is a serious build up issue. So as soon as they start to smell you need to strip them again.
    Sorry for the book… 😉 I just couldn’t believe that other people are experiencing the same issues. It is so frustrating, since I love cloth, but those bleedy diaper rashes are so awful for mom and baby. Especially if bacteria builds up then they can be contagious to the whole family. SCARY.

  22. I have never used cloth (daycare won’t allow it) but I know when I was a kid yeast infections were very common. My mom discovered I was allergic to almost every laundry soap and most definately Downy. (think 70’s) My kids have very senstive skin and I only use the free & clear formulas. In addition I always use about 1/2 the recommonded amount, no matter what I wash and add about 2 TBSP of baking soda to all my wash. For rinse cycles I only use white vinegar. This is wonderful stuff for removing all sorts of odors (especially underarm t-shirt smells).

    I agree you need to kill the yeast that is growing in there. Boiling or soaking them in super hot water before you wash them will help but sunshine works the best. If you have a clothesline I would recommend hanging them out to dry in the good ‘ol sunshine. I also read somewhere that a hot iron will kill the yeast as well so as 60’s as it sounds – try ironing your diapers.

  23. I recently converted to cloth for my one-year-old. I also had night-time diapering problems initially and have researched lots of options. Now I use a bumgenius at night with an unbleached regular prefold wrapped around the long BG insert, all stuffed into the pocket. It’s bulky, but absorbent enough, and in the morning, my baby’s skin is usually dry. He still nurses at night and is a very heavy wetter.

    I agree that sensitivity to detergent, detergent build-up and wet skin could all be contributing to yeast. Jillian’s Diapers (where I got my diapers) recommends stripping diapers regularly with Sensiclean. THey also told me that BG recommends using bleach on diapers about once a month. Does anyone know a good bleach/disinfecting alternative? I have read that bleach is MOST eco-unfriendly and would like to do something else. Also, I have read that synthetic microfiber is much more prone to holding onto stuff, which is why they can stink more easily. Lastly, have you tried slathering on the cream at night? You can do this without harming your cloth diapers if you use a disposable liner between the diaper and the baby’s skin (and rash cream). Instead of switching to disposables when the baby has a rash, we just use lots of cream with a liner. My boy has sensitive skin and has always been rash prone and this has worked for us. My last suggestion is a more breathable cover, as others have suggested. Jillian’s Drawers recommends a fleece one called the Stacinator I think or a wool one. That’s something else to try. Line drying in the sun also seems like a good idea, which I should be doing more often to kill all kinds of things.

  24. One more thought.

    Joy, since it’s only at night, maybe it’s the pocket diapers, and not the cloth in general that’s causing the problem. After all, the pocket diapers are synthetic, unlike cotton prefolds, and they hold on to odors and other materials more. Maybe try a prefold wrapped around a hemp insert or other absorbent insert, and maybe even a silk liner (or something else to help the skin feel dryer). I’ll be interested to hear what works as I may someday be facing similar issues.

  25. You all have provided me with so many excellent tips! This week I’m heading off to New York on Wednesday to go to a media conference so life is a bit hectic around here. But, I promise that when I return (and recover from jet-lag) we’ll renew our night time diaper experiments with renewed vigor! I have a whole new set of tips to try!

    Betsy: The best eco-friendly alternative to bleach I’ve found is Bac-Out. It is a lime-scented natural disinfectant cleaner that works well on diapers. We used bleach in the beginning of cloth diapering just because we didn’t know any better and found that it was really hard on the diapers. Of course, that made me wonder how hard it was on baby’s skin. If people are dead-set on bleach, several eco-friendly brands now make a chlorine-free variety that’s at least a bit better for the environment.

  26. Wow, you’ve certainly gotten a wealth of advice already… but here is my two cents. We had the same problems that you are having, our little guy was wetting through too and what I finally found that works for that is using our BumGenius one size diapers with the small insert and two Joey Bunz hemp inserts. This has worked perfectly for the wetting through and the best part in that the hemp inserts aren’t as bulky as the micro terry.

    We have also had the same problems with the yeast rashes, we battled them for some time. I was rinsing with vinegear until I found out that BG doesn’t recommend using vinegar. With talking to the owner of the local store that sells cloth diapers she said to bleach them, to be sure to make sure that the yeast was out of the diapers. Perhaps the diapers we re-infecting him. I know I know bleach is terrible for the environment but a yeast rash is terrible too so I did went ahead and bleached them according to BG recommendations of 1/4 cup of bleach in the wash cycle and KNOCK on wood we have been yeast clear. I would be sure to check your manufacture dirrections before using the bleach and be sure that you don’t have anything pretty in the wash (like a wet bag, mine is slightly paler now *grin*) I bleached the inserts as well as the covers.

    Good luck, sorry for the long post.

  27. You may have to sanitize your diapers since yeast is very hard to kill. It could be the same bacteria getting to him over and over.
    Also, I’ve noticed that if my daughter’s buns are a little pink before bed I put her in a prefold and a wool cover over night and it’s clear by morning. What types of covers are you using? Maybe he needs natrual fibers or something that breathes better than the usual PUL covers. Instead of using a disposable doubler like one out of a gDiaper, maybe you could try using the rice paper liners instead-I believe they are flushable and are made up of less ‘stuff’. Or even put some barier cream on him and use a liner to protect the diaper.
    I used Arm & Hammer F&C on my diapers and never had a problem. I switched to All F&C a few months ago after reading somewhere that it was better for cloth dipes. I do add a capful of Calgon water softner to my wash every month and do an extra rinse to keep build-up down and it works wonderfully. I only line dry my diapers too so maybe that helps as well.

  28. I cloth diapered, and while I think we had a total of one bum rash, we did have wetting issues…and I used up my postpartum pads (since I drank enough nettle tea that I didn’t need them for myself, as I barely bled) by using them as diaper liners. Still disposable, but less material than a diaper, and I already had purchased them.

    I second the comment that most people don’t use enough diaper barrier creme, when it’s needed. I suspect that contributed to our relatively rash-less diaper experience (that and what I later learned is EC, although at the time was just what my 82yr old English grandmother and my own common sense offered up as “normal”)

    I used to compound (mix up) a diaper cream for yeast when I worked in a pharmacy, using cortisone cream, nystatin cream, and zinc oxide paste. It was rx’d often, but I no longer recall the specific quantities of each. You could ask at a compounding pharmacy if they have heard of it.

    Try a pocket diaper during the day and see if you get similar rashes?

  29. We have had terrible yeast infections as well with cloth diapers; my pediatrician recommended putting our son on a probiotic, which we got at a local homeopathic pharmacy. They gave him Florajen 3 (because he was under 6 months), and said it was fine to give him 2 times a day. We’ve never had a problem since using it. We just mix it in with his morning cereal (he’s now 9 months) and he’s getting all those good bacteria to clear it all out!

  30. Any update Joy?

    I agree with Betsy, it could be the synthetic fabric in your pockets.

    To test this you could use your pocket diaper and lay a hemp insert on top so that the natural fibers are against your baby’s skin. If that works you know it’s the synthetic material. I’ve heard of babies who don’t do well with synthetic fabric diapers.

    For those who have heavy wetters and are using lots of inserts in their pockets try hemp inserts or doublers! Hemp is way more absorbent than plain cotton.

    A great night time diaper is Organic Cotton/Hemp prefold plus Organic Wool cover. The wool cover allows for better air circulation than those diapers than contain pul.

  31. Have you tried Gensian Violet? I used it for thrush and it worked.
    In my country we use to treat chicken pox — we put a few drops in a bathtub filled with water and bathe ourselves. The water turns purple but not the skin, only the chicken pox dots. You can find the GV in small / natural drugstores. Don’t be afraid to use. Maybe you could dilute a few drops in water and apply to baby’s button?!
    Good luck!

  32. Hi –
    I don’t remember where I heard it from, but a great alternative to bleach for stripping diapers is washing in machine with only dish detergent. I do this once a week, using about 1 tbs for a small load. My diapers never smell and I have never had issues with yeast or rash. I also line with a viva paper towel instead of “diaper liner”.
    I do remember reading that Arm & Hammer seems like a good idea, but it still has too many detergents. The best cheap brands are Xtra and Wal-mart brand, believe it or not! They don’t have all the extra junk that builds up on cloth

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