Why Are My Cloth Diapers Leaking?

Why are your cloth diapers leaking?  Find out here with simple steps to fix the problem.   There are generally only 3 reasons why cloth diapers leak:

#1) Poor Diaper Fit
This is the most common reason why we see diaper leaks with our clients.  Are the diapers too loose or too tight?  Try adjusting them a little differently to see if it makes a difference.  The diaper should fit flush all the way around the thighs with no gaps and snugly around the tummy so that there is no drooping even when baby is in motion.  Don't be afraid to tighten the diaper well.  The elastics are made to stretch, it's very hard to 'over tighten' a cloth diaper.

Thigh elastics should sit roughly where underwear would.  Pinch the diaper in the middle as you pull it up and over baby to get those elastics sitting in the right spot for the best leak control.  Once the diaper is fastened, move baby's legs gently up and down and side to side keeping an eye out for any gapping around the legs. 

Also, look for 'Plumber's Crack'.  If you can see baby bum crack when baby is standing OR squatting, then the rise of the diaper is not high enough which will invite leaks up the back.  Let out a rise snap if you are using one size type diapers or size up to the bigger size on sized diapers to fix this. 

If you're using a prefold or fitted diapers with a cover on top, make sure that all of the diaper is tucked into the cover.  Any parts of the diaper peeking out from under the cover will wick moisture onto clothing resembling a leak. 

TIP #1: For boys, always point the penis down, centered between the legs.  When they point up and/or to the side it's an invitation for leakage.

TIP #2: Newborns pee a lot, but not with very much force.  If you're using diapers for a newborn with a stay dry top (like microfleece), sometimes they don't pee with enough force to get wetness through the stay dry layer to the absorbency underneath.  This results in leaking over the hip and up the back as newborns spend a lot of the day reclined.  Because of this, natural fabrics are preferable for newborns as they absorb more quickly.  If you have stay dry diapers and you think this is the issue your newborn is having, never fear, simply put in a natural fabric booster, flannel washcloth or other natural fabric liner between diaper and baby.

TIP #3: If you are using onesies that snap at the crotch, they will often compress the cloth diaper between the legs and cause leaking around the thighs creating wet spots on the pants.  Your solution is to size up on onesizes so they snap without putting pressure on the diaper, or simply don't snap the onesie and tuck it into the pants instead. 

Sometimes though, certain diapers just don't work for some babies.  Generally, the better quality brands will fit the most baby body types.  Super cheap diapers generally fit very poorly, despite an attractive price point.  

#2) Lack of Absorbency
If the fit of your diapers seems okay, then consider the absorbency that your diapers offer.  When you change the diaper is it soaking wet?  Is baby being changed frequently enough?  Newborns pee a ton and should be changed every 1-2 hours around the clock and older babies every 3-4 hours (unless they poop) whether they are in cloth diapers or disposables.  If your diapers are reaching capacity and leaking between changes your solutions are to either change more frequently, add absorbency (in the form of additional inserts or boosters) as long as they don't compromise proper fit or switch to a more absorbent diaper. 

*Nighttime leaks - a note about nights...the diapers you use successfully during the day will rarely continue to work overnight once baby begins to sleep longer stretches (roughly 6+ months).  For nights, a fitted diaper with a PUL or wool cover is what you need.

#3) Repelling Issues
If you are sure that that fit and absorbency of your diapers is adequate, then your issue might be repelling.  Repelling is due to buildup on your diapers and usually happens after you have used them successfully for a while. Buildup can be from hard water mineral deposits, too much detergent that isn't being adequately rinsed out, non cloth diaper friendly bum ointments or dryer sheets.  Usually classic repelling is also accompanied by smelly diapers or a rash and an adjustment in detergent and/or wash routine is in order.  However, repelling can also happen with natural fabrics like cotton, bamboo or hemp that haven't been properly pre-washed before use. 

Manufacturer Defects
Very rarely, your diaper may have a defect from factory that causes leaking due to poor fit, poor sewing, delaminated PUL etc.  Often issues such as these are under warranty for a period of time after your purchase your diaper.  Contact the manufacturer to rectify situations such as these.


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