Using Cloth Diapers - Why are my cloth diapers leaking?

Several issues might cause cloth diapers to leak. You will need to consider a few things when you discover leaking. Is the leaking immediate (as soon as your baby pees) or is this after a short while? If the leaking is immediate, this could be a fit or repelling issue. If the diaper is absorbing some liquid, and you are going at least an hour before you get a leak, this is likely another issue entirely. If, when you change the diaper, the diaper or cloth diaper insert is completely saturated with liquid, it's most likely you need more absorbency or you need to change the diaper more often.

Below are the most common reasons cloth diapers are found to leak.

Loose fit. If a diaper is too large, you will usually get leaking immediately. Check to make sure that the waist and leg elastic are snug (not tight) and secure. Lift your baby’s knees toward his chest and look for gaps in the leg elastic in the back. Make sure the waist is right below or at the belly button. If you are using a one-size diaper, you may need to adjust the rise.


If the diaper is too large, it's possible you may need to wait for your little one to grow into it. Do note that not all styles of diapers will fit all children. We highly recommend purchasing only one diaper of each style you are considering to ensure fit and function before investing in an entire system.


Infrequent diaper changes. This is a very common problem, particularly with parents that are used to using disposable diapers which make it difficult to know when your baby has wet. Both cloth diapers and disposable diapers should be changed often - usually every 2 hours. If you have a heavy wetting baby and you find the cloth diaper is completely saturated in 2 hours, you may have to change more often than this. Soiled diapers should be changed as you are aware that your little one has soiled one.


Frequent diaper changes is important to prevent the growth of bacteria, a common cause of diaper rash. Urine is also highly acidic and it is not recommended that a wet or soiled diaper be left on or near a baby's delicate and sensitive skin. There is also evidence that infrequent diaper changes can increase the risk of your baby developing a urinary track infection. Remember that with disposable diapers urine remains in the "gel" within the fibers of the diapers so while a diaper may not feel wet, the moisture, urine and warmth of a baby's bottom make an ideal breading ground for bacteria (hence the reason for a general rise in diaper rash since disposable diapers have been introduced).

One more note on frequent diaper changes: We have been made aware of a few recommendations to not change diapers as often (particularly disposables) due to the fact that "wiping" can be harsh on a baby's bottom. Using cloth wipes are much gentler on a baby's bottom when compared to the common disposable wipes on the market containing irritating dyes, fragrances and alcohol. Fresh water and a gentle wash cloth is all that is required to wipe a baby's bottom clean.

Insufficient absorbency. When you find yourself changing a leaking cloth diaper, how wet is it? Is the diaper completely saturated? If you are chaning often enough, it may be that you have a heavy wetting baby and simiply need a more absorbent system. Also, the average newborn only urinates ½-3 ounces every ½-2 hours, but the average toddler can urinate 8-16 ounces every 1-4 hours. Consider your baby's age and development, and adjust over time. An older or growing baby will need a larger diaper to adequately absorb. If the absorbent layers of your cloth diaper are fully saturated when you change the diaper, then you will need additional absorbency. Try to add a cloth diaper doubler to your system for more absorbency, or it may be time to go up in size.


Contact with clothing. Check to make sure no clothing is accidentally tucked into the diaper. Conversely, make sure all absorbent layers are tucked securely into the waterproof cover. Any clothing that can reach the diaper area can cause "wicking" of liquid outside of the diaper.


Forgotten insert for pocket diaper. If you are using a pocket diaper, make sure to use an insert. This is especially important when someone else is caring for your child. Leave a sufficient number of prestuffed diapers for your child's caregiver, and show them how to stuff the pocket if they run out of diapers prepared by you.


Diapers repelling instead of absorbing. If the diaper leaks but is not saturated, then some or all of the diaper is repelling moisture. This means the fibers have been coated with something that prevents them from absorbing or allowing the moisture to pass through. Residue from detergent, minerals from hard water or diaper creams/ointments are common causes of diapers repelling moisture. Your diapers will require "stripping" to remove the coating.

Please ensure you are using a detergent that is appropriate for cloth diapers. Avoid any additives. Diaper creams should also be avoided, and in many cases, the use of a diaper cream will void any warranty that may come with your diapers. Consider bio-liners or fleece liners as an alternate to diaper creams.


Back to Tips & Tricks