One of the most common frustrations for cloth diapering parents and one of the most common reasons we know of why parents decide to quit cloth diapering is leaks.
But leaks are fixable – and often easily so. Read on for a checklist to see how you can keep your baby AND his clothes dry.
Typically, leaks happen because of issues related to fit, size, absorbency, or because bits of the diaper are peeking outside the diaper cover.
Also, leaks commonly happen when a baby is “in between” sizes or when a “one-size” diaper is too big on an itty-bitty newborn.
Let’s look at each of these scenarios by itself:
FIT: Each baby’s shape and size is different. Some babies are long and lean and some have those lovely rolls of baby fat around their thighs. Thus, even though two babies may be the same weight, the same diaper will fit them differently. Basically, just make sure that once your diaper is on that there are no gaps anywhere around the thighs or back of your baby. Everything should be tight, snug, and secure (and don’t worry – it’s difficult to get a diaper too tight.)
A second, though less common, “fit” issue is with how a diaper is sewn in the legs. On some babies, certain diapers will tend to “roll up” at the thighs and this can cause liquid to wick out. If you see any “inner” part of the diaper showing, such as fleece or cotton, try to roll it or tuck it back into place.
SIZE: It may seem obvious, but make sure you’re using the right size diaper. If the diaper is too big, there will be gaps around the legs or back where pee and poo can escape. (Gaps may be obvious or not. Basically, if you can easily fit more than one finger in between the elastic of the diaper and your baby’s leg, liquids will have no problem getting out.)
Likewise, if the diaper is too small, the elastic around the legs and back may get stretched too much and they can’t do their job of containing everything. Often diapers that are too small also have a very low rise over the crotch. Especially with boys, this can mean there’s just not enough diaper where the liquid wants to go and the leaks will happen at the front.
The fix? Check for gaps, over-stretched elastic, and your diaper’s rise and adjust which size diaper you use accordingly. If you are “in between” sizes, where a “small” is too small and a “medium” is too big, consider adding a bit of bulk, such as a doubler, or changing the brand or type of cover you use, which often fit differently, to get you through those two or three interim weeks.
ABSORBENCY: As a baby goes from a newborn to toddler, the amount and frequency of the baby’s wetting changes. Typically, as a baby grows she will pee less often but with a greater quantity. Thus, make sure you are using a diaper with adequate absorbency for your baby. If you need to increase the absorbency but aren’t ready to switch to a different size, add a doubler or two. Also, if you use pocket diapers, consider adding an entire prefold or flatfor night time leaks.
“TUCKAGE”: This one is especially easy to fix and is incredibly common, even among experienced cloth diaperers. “Tuckage,” while perhaps not even a real word (darn!), merely refers to the times when a bit of the diaper doesn’t get tucked into the cover during the diaper change. Especially when you’ve got a wiggly baby, it can be difficult to remember to check that everything is tucked securely inside the cover, but this one step will make sure everything stays dry!
BAGGY ONE-SIZE DIAPERS ON NEWBORNS: One-size cloth diapers can be real budget-savers and a great way to only have to buy diapers once in your baby’s diapering lifetime. However, they can be too baggy in the newborn days. In this case, we recommend adding a hemp/cotton cloth wipe folded in half. This will add some bulk, but it will improve the fit until your baby fills out the diaper a bit more.
Here are a few products that seem to excel at keeping frustrating leaks at bay:
FuzziBunz UNIQUE one-size cloth diaper
Bummis Super Brite covers
Tots Bots Easy Fit All in One cloth diaper in Hook & Loop or Snaps
Have you solved your leaking problems in a creative way? Please let us know! We’d love to pass your advice on to other parents.