Sunday, February 10, 2013

Common Reasons for Diaper Leaks

Diaper leaks can be a huge source of frustration for users of cloth and disposable diapers.  Sometimes figuring out the reason for diaper leaks is easy, and other times it takes some sleuthing.  Here are some helpful tips for solving a problem with leaky cloth diapers.

Um, your cloth is showing...

Absorbent diaper material needs to be contained in a waterproof diaper cover.  If you are using prefolds or fitted diapers and you see cloth material poking out of the diaper cover, that cloth needs to be tucked back inside the diaper.  If that absorbent material gets saturated with liquid and it’s not contained in a diaper cover, clothing will wick moisture and become wet.  This is also something to remember when using pocket diapers- keep any excessive fabric or diaper lining tucked into the diaper.

Getting a good fit

The most common cause of leaky diapers is having a diaper that wasn’t put on correctly or that doesn’t fit correctly.  Make sure that diapers are fitting snuggly around the legs and waist.  This doesn’t mean diapers should be put on so tightly that they leave red marks on your child.  A diaper that is put on too tightly can cause leaks as well.  You can test that you’re getting a good fit if there aren’t gaps around the leg openings or waist openings.  Consult the weight guidelines as a starting point for sizing your one-size diapers.  Even if you size diapers to fit your child’s weight range, you might need to adjust sizing depending on if your child is skinny or chunky in the legs.  Here is a nice video with a demonstration and some good tips for putting on a pocket diaper:

Adjusting the absorbency

As your child grows, more liquid is going to come out of them.  This means that the amount of absorbency you used for a newborn isn’t going to work well for an older baby or toddler.  You may need to double the absorbency of your diaper if your child is a heavy wetter, or is sleeping long stretches at night.  Adjusting the absorbency could be as easy as adding a cloth diaper “doubler (aff link)”.  This is simply an extra layer of absorbent material placed inside the diaper. You might consider using a different style of diaper for bedtime or naps. We use BumGenious 4.0 diapers with added absorbency for bed time. They have a waterproof band in the front of the diaper that helps prevent leaks for stomach sleepers.  Cloth diapers typically need to be changed every 2-4 hours during the day time, so be aware that an overly saturated diaper is likely to leak.

Look for cases of repelling

No one likes to think it could happen, but over time mistreated diapers can build up a good case of repelling.  If you are having a repeated problem with the majority of liquid going out of the diaper rather than into it, you might have a case of fabric that is actually repelling liquid. Repelling isn’t something that starts immediately, it might be six months before you notice an issue with your diapers.  If you suspect repelling you may need to strip your diapers to remove build-up.

Repelling issues tend to crop up more easily with synthetic fabrics (like the fleece shown here on the inside of a pocket diaper), rather than in natural fibers such as cotton or hemp.
Cloth Diaper Blog Hop 2013


  1. I just started this week, and I have had some leaking. This post has been helpful to getting a good fit and the right absorbency. Thanks.

  2. i started cloth diapering late in the game. My daughter is 21 months and we dont have any leaks through the day and she doesnt pee at night she pees in the morning when she wakes up ( you would think we would have her potty trained haha) however she sits Indian style when she wakes up and i dont know if she creates the perfect gap or what but she leaks. but it never leaks from the outer layer of the diaper so i am assuming that is what is happening . ive tried making it a smaller diaper and the snap undo since it to tiny ( were using free time bum genius)

    1. It sounds like you might be ready to start potty training. I would set an alarm to wake up before she does and take her to the bathroom. I could suggest some other diaper styles to try, but it sounds like you may only need them for a month or two!

    2. I wish that was the case but when she pees on her potty she cries :/ and will stop peeing haha so she still nervous about it even though she sits on it without a diaper every time i go potty so she can have toilet paper. I really need to start waking up before her and taking her to the potty so that is def correct assumption there. What are some other diaper styles you suggest? I am having another little one in january so i will still need them haha.

    3. I would suggest either some inexpensive prefold diapers, or fitteds. These seem to fit tighter and don't create any gaps where moisture can sneak out. There are some great one-size fitted diapers available if you think you might use them for a second child. Otherwise prefolds are only about $1.50 each and they have many uses. Good luck and an early congrats on the new addition!