There are only 3 reasons that a cloth diaper will leak…ready for it?
#1) Improper Fit
Look at the fit of your diapers on baby. Is it too loose or too tight? The diaper should fit snugly around the waist and legs with no gaps. Move baby’s legs up and down, side to side. If you see any gaps, you’re going to get leaks, so check the adjustment. Fit issues are seen most commonly with newborns (who tend to have skinny legs) and after baby has a growth spurt. Chubby thigh babies who suddenly slim out when they become walking toddlers can get leaks if your diaper adjustment hasn’t followed suit. Don’t be afraid to tighten diapers well. You won’t hurt baby. Elastics in cloth diapers are nice and stretchy. Note: If you are using FuzziBunz One Size specifically, sometimes parents will over tighten the leg elastics thinking that the snugger it is the better the leak protection will be. However, this is usually in fact counterproductive, contrary to what was said above. If this sounds like you, try loosening the legs slightly to see if your leaking situation improves. Also, if you are using a two piece diaper system such as prefolds or fitteds with a cover, ensure that all of the diaper is tucked into the cover so prevent wicking leaks.
#2) Repelling Issues
If the fit of your diapers is good, the next thing to consider when your diapers are leaking is a repelling issue due to buildup on your diapers. Are you using a cloth friendly detergent in the correct quantity for the type of washing machine you are using? Have you used rash creams or ointments that got onto your diapers? Has daddy, grandma or the sitter used a rash cream that got on the diapers? Have you pre-washed your organic cotton or bamboo diapers properly? Are you using dryer sheets in the dryer? Too much detergent or other unnecessary additives in the wash without adequate rinsing? Toddler put a wax crayon in the dryer that you didn’t see? Do you have hard water? All of these can be factors in repelling issues. If this sounds like you, consider stripping your diapers. You will know you have a repelling issue and not an insufficient absorbency issue if when you go to change the diaper, the insert is still dry or there was clearly more capacity to absorb, but the diaper wasn’t able to.
#3) Insufficient Absorbency
Do you have a Heavy Wetter on your hands? If the diaper is leaking and you notice that it is fully saturated when you change it, then the leak was due to over saturation. Solution? Add absorbency (think booster) or change more often. Baby should be changed aprox. every 3 hours during the day or whenever they are dirty. Every baby is unique, and some are just heavy wetters. If your baby needs more absorbency, and you are using pocket diapers, then use two liners in the pocket or a combination of one bamboo and one micro fleece liner in the pocket. Or add an additional liner on top of your prefolds. Adding an extra bamboo insert can work wonders without adding bulk. This is especially helpful for naps or nighttime when baby goes longer without a diaper change.
And remember, change your baby often. Babies are not meant to sit in a wet or soiled diaper for many hours at a time and frequent changing will help prevent diaper rashes too 🙂
Some rare causes of diaper leaks that don’t fit the factors above
Not every leak fits the common ones above though, so here’s a few others that might apply to you:
– If you have a boy, make sure the penis is pointed down between the legs at diaper change time. Pointing up or to the side can cause leaks.
– Compression leaks – some synthetic fabrics like microfiber and minky need some compression to begin absorbing. Newborn baby on their back = no compression=pee that flows quickly to the side instead of into the insert (natural fabric diaper or a natural fabric booster on top next to baby is the solution here). On the other hand, a fully saturated insert that gets squished with a car seat buckle for example may also spring a leak.
– Manufacturing defects – usually covered under warranty and would be present very early on with a new diaper.