Cloth Pull Ups and Night Potty Training A Preschooler

I love cloth diapers, and have used them since my four year old’s infancy.  Unfortunately, we had problems early on with nighttime leaking and yeast infections with cloth diapers. Finally, we reluctantly switched from cloth to disposables diapers for bedtime.

It made me so sad that I frequently revived my nocturnal cloth diapering efforts—with the same results.  Now my son is four, he is nowhere near potty training at night even though he was day trained at a little over two years old.  When we try to wake him to go to the bathroom, he begins to scream and flail and doesn’t seem to be able to rouse enough to use the toilet. After the whole ordeal he wails and flails for fifteen minutes before falling asleep.  We quickly decided that this isn’t going to work.

Most tips I’ve found on the Internet suggest that some children don’t night train until six years of age.  Ugh!  That’s a long time!  Plus Roscoe has started wetting out of his huge diapers and we’ve had to switch to pull-ups.  Has anyone had success with cloth pull ups? We’re worried about the yeast infections becoming an issue again.  Any tips?  I don’t want to be buying disposable pull ups for the next two years!


  1. Have you looked into the alarm systems? They have a wet-sensor that goes on the underwear, that goes off when it is wet. It takes a while (I think the manufacturer says up to 6 weeks) but the point of it isn’t to stop leaks, but to teach a kid to get out of that super-deep-sleep where they can’t wake up from it. I think in the first few weeks you are the one responding to the alarm, and waking the kid up, but after a few weeks they learn to respond to the sound of the alarm. This may make for some wet underwear, but not a huge mess, and then eventually they learn to wake up on the sensation of needing to go to the bathroom, before the alarm even goes off.

    My son isn’t old enough to potty train yet – but i’m bracing for it b/c I know my husband had the same issues where he slept really deep – and he had accidents until he was 6 or so. It runs in his family, and when our nephew stayed at our house we ran into it as well! I’ve seen the buzzers work on my brother – he is mentally impaired and was adopted when he was 4. He was wearing diapers full time then, and when my parents worked on potty training him, they were the only thing that worked with him. Granted, they took much longer with him than I would expect them to with a able-minded child.

    I guess its pretty normal – and much more common for boys – to sleep so deeply that they don’t wake up when they need to go.

    The other things I’ve heard are to keep a clean pair of underwear/trainers and PJs right by the bed so that when the child wakes up and goes to the bathroom, they can change their clothes and go back to bed on their own. I’ve also heard of people who double-sheet the bed (a sheet, a waterproof pad, and another sheet) so that in the middle of the night it is really easy to pull of the top sheet and the waterproof layer. I think this is more of a time-saver for the parents though!

    Anyway – this ended up being a longer post than I meant it to be! Hopefully you can find something that works for you!

  2. Manufacturers don’t recommend alarms until the child is around 6 years old. My son didn’t stay dry until we used an alarm at age six. I found someone on ebay who custom made (from my sons measurements) cloth diapers/pull ups and we used those.

  3. I have a similar issue with nighttime potty training. What has worked for me is putting a pad underneath Emily while she sleeps at night and putting her in underwear. It’s a commitment that is tough to keep (and there are good weeks and bad ones). Mostly, I make sure she pees after brushing her teeth and right before bed. Then at 11pm on the dot (or midnight if she went to bed late) I wake her up by holding her upright and helping her walk to the toilet and sitting her on the potty. I have nightlights on all the way to the potty. If she falls asleep and doesn’t go potty I turn the light on in the bathroom until she pees. Then I put her back to bed.

    It’s been a long process and during the weeks where she seems to pee herself every night or I get tired, I’ll put a pull up on her but I keep up the routine of waking her up and walking her to bed. I hope that helps

  4. we are having this issue too. my son is over 3.5 and never has a dry night, or even a dry nap. he is an extremely heavy sleeper – has nightmares, and conversations with me in his sleep. we tried waking him up before we went to bed and/or early in the morning, but had the same issues as you. not only was he already wet anyway, but he became hysterical about us waking him. his screaming would wake up his 5 year old sister and worse, his 6 month old brother who shares a bedroom with him. we couldn’t get him to stop crying and pee. we gave up using the big cloth trainers because they leaked no matter what we did. we have been using disposables too. even those leak i lot more than i’m happy about! i was a a bedwetter myself, old enough that i remember quite well, so as he gets closer to 4 with no improvement at all… it’s probably safe to assume we’re in it for the long haul with him.

  5. I struggled with potty training my son. He finally trained at 3yrs 1 month. I tried to train him since 18 months. He is completely trained–yes at night too. I am in shock but I still just put a tri-folded prefold and a flip diaper cover on for “Just in cases” (that is what I tell him).

    I am not sure how much your son goes at night so that would determine how much absorbancy he needs. If he goes to the bathroom before he goes to bed it should be less then what a non potty trained child would be. Maybe because of that cloth diapers will work. I would just give it a shot. Maybe put a fleece liner in the diaper to keep him dry. Or maybe a good fitted with wool longies.

    Well good luck I hope you find a solution soon.

  6. This seems so obvious but have you tried just underwear? Seems like he would wake up night after night, and yes, you would need to change the sheets and all (several alternating layers of waterproof matress pads and sheets might help there) but it seems like it woudn’t take too long for him to learn to wake up, use the potty, and go back to bed. Definitly having a child’s potty in his room for that should help.

    But then again, this seems to me like it would be something to try early on so I’m probably not helping…besides, I haven’t gotten there yet anyway as my son is only 18 months.

  7. Does anyone know a good cloth pull-up? My son (3) has been potty-trained days since he was 22 months, and he’s pretty-well trained at night. Sometimes he stays dry all night, others he wakes me to bring him to the bathroom and others he wets. I try to limit drinks before bed, but lately he’s been coughing a lot at night (either from a cold or allergies) and he asks for a drink. So those are the nights he will need to pee. If he does wet it seems to be a lot, so I don’t want to go with just underwear with a waterproof pad just yet. If I put a cloth diaper on him he is more likely to wet it because he knows he can. I’d really like to have a cloth pull-up so it will contain accidents until he’s a little older. I had some for a while but they were terrible and gave him rashes, but it did help when we used them because we called them his night-time underwear and they pulled on like underwear so he didn’t think of them as a diaper that he could pee in. But if he did have an accident, it wasn’t a huge mess like it would be without. If anyone has a good cloth pull-up please let me know!

  8. My 6 year old is still not nighttime trained! I am really frustrated but I have heard bedwetting can continue until age 10! I haven’t invested in the nice training pants because I am afraid to make the investment and then have him not need them anymore. I have been holding onto this false hope for over 3 years now.

  9. I wish the term night trained would go away. Day trained and night trained are 2 entirely different things. The body has to be physically and neurologically able to have night dryness. Not a thing in the world you can do to rush or “train” that. The body has to produce a hormone that aids in night dryness. And physically the child has to be able to either hold urine all night or wake to go. For most children that is around age 5 (and up to 6). At around age 6 the child can then be evaluated to see if the hormone is being produced and alarms can be tried.

    It won’t helpt to wake them (as many people have seen-you get a very upset little one), or put them in undies-just get a very upset and wet little one in the middle of the night.)

    Have you checked out AntsyPants? They look like a good cloth pull-up option

  10. My son is a deep sleeper (it runs in our family), so though he wore underwear since before he turned 2, he still wets the bed at night and is now 5. I won’t sweat it for now, and hope he will grow out of it. It is common (20% of all 5 year olds wet the bed at night). I wish I could offer you advice, but all I can say is that I know how it feels. I have noticed that my son has more & more dry nights as time goes on, so I know eventually it will stop.
    Would you mind telling me who makes the trainer you have in the picture above? I can’t find any good cloth trainers that don’t have pul in them.

  11. gretchen palmiter says

    stay away…far away….from antsy pants pull ups. I tried them at night for my daughter who is 2 1/2, they leaked terribly and soaked through her pj’s and soaked the sheets. Antsy pants web site has 30 day garentee but it took me 4 months and MULTIPLE e-mails and phone calls to get my money back, terrible customer service and terrible product. Have not found a cloth night time pull up yet, however I do use nature babycare pull ups, they are at least compostable and dont have any chemicals in them!

  12. gretchen palmiter says

    Who was the person on ebay who custom made the pull ups?

  13. viviana chacon says

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned using a wool cover. My 2 1/2 year old is a heavy wetter and we use cloth every night. I use an Organic Bamboo Fitted diaper from paired with their wool longies (winter) or wool shorties (summer). I have never had a leak and the best part is no redness either (the wool breathes so well). In disposables she would leak and wake up from discomfort, but in this diaper she is sound asleep till morning. I have tried a lot of different ones and this one is the best.
    good luck.

  14. We have 2 bedwetters, boy age 6 and girl age 4. Nightimes used to be a hassle with pullups as they seemed to leak somewhere a lot of the time. I switched to cloth. They both wear a fitted with a PF folded inside. Dappi nylon pants are worn over the diapers. In the mornings they can be damp or soaked, but their beds are dry. It tok awhile for me to convince myself to try cloth, but once I did I kicked myself for not doing it sooner. Have had no rash problems and everyone gets a good nights sleep.

Speak Your Mind