Emily, my oldest (11), wants to try a reusable pant. She is only wet a few times a month, and thinks it’s silly to throw out a dry disposable most mornings. She is also worried about the environmental effect.

She doesn’t have any psychological aversion to cloth. When I was a teenager, I initially had an instinctive revulsion: It’s a diaper, for goodness’ sake! I am not a baby! But I was secure enough in my maturity and practical enough to understand that I wasn’t an infant and that cloth was the only adequate protection. Emily is mature enough not to have that reaction at all.

The main argument for disposables – convenience – isn’t that big a difference. A little more laundry (in a household with plenty of hot water whites to wash) is no more burden than disposing of disposables. There’s no need for the stink of a diaper pail if I launder wet things the same day. That’s what I did when I was a teenager, and I’d do that today.

My main worry is the capacity. The bedwetter pants my siblings had in my childhood wouldn’t be capable of holding Emily’s floods. I’m afraid that an adequate product would be the sort of diaper I had to wear.

So I gave her the project to research it.

Jake, my son, hasn’t wet in a long time. He still wears a pullup to sleepovers, out of his own choice. He’s not so much worried about the likelihood of an accident as he is about the consequences. If Emily goes to a reusable pant, perhaps he could wear one when he goes on a sleepover.

Emily’s project has seemed like such a logical idea that I’ve even thought of trying cloth myself when I get runs of dry nights. I’m not going to tell her to include my size in her research, but availability in my size might be a factor in the ultimate purchase.

My main reason for not wearing cloth is discretion. I don’t want my kids to see a big diaper in the laundry. I don’t want my kids or J to see (or hear) me wearing a diaper. The pads I wear are so thin and quiet that no one would notice. That isn’t true of an adequate cloth diaper and plastic pant.

The disposables are also more comfortable than I remember cloth diapers. Even the hourglass diapers Mom made me were a more uncomfortable bulk between the legs. Also, the quality disposable products keep urine away from the skin. That is not only more comfortable, it also reduces the risk of rash or irritation.

I’m not convinced of any ecological or other advantage to cloth. Cloth advocates do a good job of isolating only some of the benefits and costs without taking into account the entire range. Suffice to say that costs of manufacturing, use and disposal are well enough integrated in all forms of protection that I am skeptical that there is any hidden advantage. However, the equation changes if one is throwing out a dry disposable most mornings, and not having to launder a dry reusable.


8 thoughts on “Cloth

  1. I found your blog while researching bedwetting for my teenage son. This is something he has always struggled with since early childhood. About a year ago his bedwetting started to slow down and he had a almost complete dry spell lasting about 6 months. More recently he has started having accidents again and although they only happen about once or twice a week, they are very distressing for him. He gained a lot of confidence during his “dry spell” so I think it is definitely harder for him every time he has an accident. I think he felt as though this particular struggle was finally over which does not seem to be the case. We have been to the GP, urologist, have tried alarms, medications and even chiropractic to try to cure his bedwetting. We both are at a loss about what to do next. This issue is so distressing for him that I just want to find a solution. He has even been to a therapist and has been prescribed an anti-depressant. It is the therapist’s opinion that my son is now suffering from depression stemming from low self confidence because of the bedwetting.

    I was very young when I had my son and in the past few years I have gotten married. We now have a three year old together (who is out of both daytime and nighttime diapers) and I am newly pregnant with my third child. I am wondering if it could be all the changes in our life that is contributing to the bedwetting. My son is a very gifted athlete and I do not think his friends would be very accepting of his issue if they every found out which just adds more stress to the whole situation. Any advice on how to manage or deal with this issue would be greatly appreciated and thanks for the awesome blog!

    • Thank you!

      As you can imagine, I feel the deepest sympathy for your son. I’ve been there.

      This is very difficult. It’s easy to say to him – and almost impossible for him to hear: This is not who you are. Do not let this define you. Live your own life as if this was not happening. Relax. This is really not a big deal. Just toss that wet thing in the trash and get on with life.

      I can say all those things with conviction. I have been exactly where he is. I can personally tell him that he is who he makes himself; he is not what his body might fail him. It doesn’t require heroic effort (I certainly am no hero). It requires a little hard-headed self-analysis and confidence. You can be an honors graduate of an Ivy League university, be a very successful entrepreneur, be very happily married to a wonderful person and have wonderful kids. Maybe a read through this blog will help him understand that.

      One important thing: If he’s had a dry spell of six months, and he’s wetting less than three times a week, he’s almost certain to outgrow it.

      I am very tied up right now, but will send more when I have a little time.

  2. Your reply has literally almost brought me to tears. He is so desperate for any type of help or advice that I know this will help him cope. Your advice is so valuable because you have been through the same things. Even talking to the therapist, he could not give useful coping strategies that pertain to specifically bedwetting so your advice in invaluable. I have searched the internet and have found lots of disturbing “fetish” sites or sites targeted to help younger children deal with this issue. I am so happy to get true and genuine advice from someone who has been there. Although i sympathize with my son in a deep way, I myself cannot talk from experience so your feedback is so helpful. I am planning to show my son this site and i know it will bring some type of reassurance. I cannot thank you enough for your advice and transparent take on the struggles you have faced while dealing with this issue. God bless and I look forward to following you blog.


  3. Having also first hand experience with the cloth diaper and plastic pant I can equate to what you mention regarding their adequacy. Yes they were bulky when they were being worn. The only good alternative available to older bedwetters at the time and parents felt that getting a good nights sleep was of the utmost importance and wanted to insure that we got it. They were not a vanity item that’s for sure.

    As for differences between cloth and disposable protection, disposable wins hands down. As you wrote they are thin, quiet and unnoticeable. As for cloth protection there are those of us who consider ourselves eco-mom’s and want to do our part to protect the environment and so we will use cloth and are at peace with our decisions.

    As for bedwetter pants we’ve found what does work for us and are happy with the end result, being dry bedding. These worn at home are probably a little more bulky than a disposable product but they work and that’s the important thing.

    Another thing I’d like to point out is that there are many stories to the bedwetting issue as you know and your blog is a very good attempt at showing this.


    • Thank you, Sheryl.

      Your comment is thoughtful and on target, as ever.

      It’s great to hear from a mom who’s facing this issue compassionately, calmly and rationally, and who is at peace with her decisions.


  4. Pingback: Cloth 2 | Bedwetting Mom

  5. Have you ever encountered kids who don’t seem to care that they wet the bed?

    Hubby and I have seemingly tried everything for our 12 year old twins, and it’s not getting better. Now, we literally cannot afford to keep buying underjams and mattresses and laundering bedding. Everything smells. We’ve had to throw out rugs, pillows, re-paint, etc.

    EVERY morning they say they “don’t remember” if they peed, argue and refuse to shower, toss their underjams like worn socks, have to be told many times to strip their beds.

    I can’t count the number of times they’ve gone to school smelly b/c they deny it won’t shower. They don’t mind inviting friends over, whom I have to shoo away b/c my kids haven’t picked up the pee bedding. They don’t care that someone just sat on their pee bed!

    It seems that trying to manage the bedwetting has caused the kids to think this is fine and normal and that I am the one with the problem. They even argue and complain when hubby and I wake them up at night. I’m exhausted, overworked, and am getting panic attacks over this.

    Why don’t they care?

    Thanks for any thoughts, insights.

    • No, this is not a problem I have encountered, or even heard about.

      You have a discipline problem, not a bedwetting problem. When I argue that you should tolerate what a child can’t control, I’m not arguing that you should tolerate things a child can control. Your kids may not be able to control their bedwetting, but they certainly can and should control the consequences. It may not be their fault, but it is their problem. Pretending it didn’t happen, or not cleaning up the bed, the room or themselves, is neither fine nor normal. They shouldn’t be allowed to think that it is.

      I’m a tough, conservative disciplinarian. So was my Mom. She was adamant that we had to take care of our wet things, and do it right away. Our rooms never smelled, even with two or three chronic bedwetters.

      You need to take yourself (and your husband) out of the issue, particularly if it is causing him and you angst. You shouldn’t have to get them up at night, shouldn’t have to clean up after them, shouldn’t have to get their things in the laundry. Your involvement should be limited to running the washer and dryer and making sure that the kids have protection.

      I don’t understand the physical damage. You should have a plastic cover on any mattress that might get wet. If underjams are inadequate, get something that is adequate. There are briefs (disposable diapers) in all sizes. The pads I use are very easy to use – no tapes, just slip them in underwear – and come in various sizes and capacities. If that’s not enough, reusable diapers and pants can be built up to any absorbency.

      You might try reusable for another reason: The wearer will know immediately that it is wet. I can’t tell until I get up whether a disposable is wet. The kids certainly won’t be able to claim that they didn’t know a cloth diaper was wet, and, speaking from experience, they won’t want to sleep in a wet diaper, either.

      My other suggestion: Get alarms that will wake them when they wet. You shouldn’t be getting them up at night. And the alarms will give them the discipline to take care of the problem right away.

      I’m surprised that a 12-yeear-old would have a problem with personal hygiene, particularly at school. I suppose that it’s a self-regulating process: Once they notice the opposite sex, they will want to smell like Old Spice or Shalimar, not like pee.

      Good luck,

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