The root cause may be that the baby is more sensitive to wet diapers, and therefore holds back. Cloth diapers generally feel more wet than disposables from the same amount of fluid; disposables are designed to draw all the moisture away and bind it in gels.
There are probably only a few options, none of which seem really great to me:
- Go back to disposables. I don't really like this on a personal level, I'm pro-cloth — but only so long as it's working for the parents and child, and it seems like the baby isn't a fan of cloth.
Look for a different cloth diaper. The "traditional" cloth diaper (also called a prefold) is just a cotton cloth folded around the baby's bottom. These make amazing burp cloths, but they will very quickly feel damp and cold once wet. Some other cloth diaper designs (fitted diapers or all-in-one diapers) still use the same basic design, but with integrated snaps and elastic for easier fit (and less leg leakage) — they'll still feel wet quickly.
It's possible that a pocket diaper, which has an absorbent cotton insert covered by a fleece lining, would provide enough of a buffer that the baby wouldn't notice (or wouldn't be as bothered) when she's wet. There are also different brands of pocket diapers, one of which might be "dryer" than others.
The downside is that cloth diapers are expensive and buying a different brand may not even solve the problem. An interim experiment could be to sew a light fleece layer into one of the cloth diapers and see if that makes any noticeable difference for the baby.
- Consider potty training. Baby seems ready, there are less diapers to wash, and every other mom will be jealous ;) However, it's more work with a child who's too young to even sit up easily, compared to a toddler who can crawl or walk to the potty and is able to help remove pants.... and you did say options besides potty training! Consider this the option of last resort.