Are your cloth diapers leaking? These are the most common causes of cloth diaper leaks.
If your cloth diapers are leaking then you came to the right place. Don’t worry though, most likely with my help and a little troubleshooting you’ll be able to adjust your cloth diaper routine and get rid of cloth diaper leaks once and for all.
The following are some of the most common reasons your cloth diapers might be leaking.
I mention delamination first because it’s best to rule this out before you go on to the following troubleshooting tips. If your diapers are leaking due to a faulty waterproof outer then none of the following tips will help.
Cloth diapers do wear out over time, especially diaper covers, pocket diapers and all-in-ones with a built in waterproof exterior and some are found to have been manufactured with defective PUL on occasion. Worn out PUL and delamination can cause the waterproof material to leak straight through. If you suspect your PUL is the cause of your leaking issues please visit these posts here and here for pictures of cloth diaper delamination and worn out PUL or consult the diaper brand in question for reassurance that your PUL looks as it should and is functioning properly. This post also tests ways to relaminate and try to salvage your delaminated leaking diapers.
Fabric softeners and some mainstream rash creams are not cloth diaper safe and can build up on your diapers causing them to repel. Repelling is basically a greasy buildup on your diapers, that you may or may not notice, which can cause leaks via repelling and can also lead to odor issues. When your cloth diapers are repelling this means that the stay dry liner inside your pocket diaper is not allowing moisture to pass through into the absorbent core and if your inserts have buildup on them as well then it’s a double whammy. I recommend this post for more info on repelling and how to get rid of it.
Fit is a big issue and can be even for experienced cloth diapering families. All diapers fit a little bit differently. Make sure the rise is adjusted properly, the hip snaps are in use properly and that the elastics are in the baby’s groin creases and not lower down on the inner thigh. If you suspect you’re having a fit issue and you can’t seem to remedy it yourself then I recommend you contact that diaper brand’s support team.
Boys vs Girls
It’s very true, cloth diapering boys is different from cloth diapering girls. In my experience, girls need a bit of a closer, better fit compared to boys. Imagine the tip of the penis pressed against the inside of the diaper. When the baby urinates the urine is forced, with pressure, through the stay-dry liner and into the absorbent material. With girls there tends to be more open space in the crotch area which creates a bit of a pocket. When girls urinate, depending on how they’re sitting, lying, crawling, etc. the urine can pool and leak out the sides before absorbing as it’s supposed to.
Similarly, boys whose penis is facing up when the diaper is placed on, assuming it stays in that position, are prone to leaking at the waist and rashes on their lower abdomen. Pointing the penis down (if possible) when putting the diaper on is recommended if leaks or rashes are ocurring on your baby boy.
Need for added absorbency
It can take a lot of trial and error to find the right absorbency for your child’s needs. Age can have a lot to do with it. Younger babies who have less control of their body’s functions tend to go much more frequently in smaller amounts. The older the child gets the more they “hold it” and then when they do go they urinate in much more volume which can easily flood a diaper that’s not properly suited.
Don’t get stuck on the idea that just because a pocket diaper came with one insert that it has to work with that one insert. Try new things. Add a prefold and insert, two inserts, a doubler, something with natural fiber like bamboo or hemp and don’t be afraid to mix brands.
Experiencing leaks overnight? Try a wool or fleece diaper cover over your child’s fitted diaper or prefold and if you have a really heavy wetter then you can even put it on over a pocket diaper or PUL cover. Both wool and fleece are water-resistant and will keep the moisture contained and the sheets dry until you’re able to change the baby.
Need for more frequent diaper changes
Often moms who make the switch from disposables to cloth are unprepared for the adjustment to more frequent diaper changes. Disposable diapers contain chemicals and absorbent gels designed to hold tons and tons of pee until they quite literally burst. Personally, I don’t think anyone would want their baby to stay in a soiled diaper for hours and hours just because it hasn’t leaked yet.
With cloth diapers, depending on the style you’re using, you can expect to have to change diapers at different lengths of time.
Prefolds are not stay-dry, which means that the moist and/or wet material is right up against baby’s skin. Leave them on too long and you’ll have rash issues. Their economical so you can plan on changing, or at the very least checking, a prefold, fitted or flat cloth diaper every couple of hours as needed.
If you’re using pocket diapers or all-in-ones and your diapers are leaking, check to see if the inserts or absorbent core is soaked. If so you will need to increase absorbency or change the diaper more often.
While over-stuffing seems to be a great solution to leaks, depending on the style of the diaper and it’s fit on your child, it can be a huge culprit for leaks. Over-stuffing can stretch the leg elastics preventing it from creating a seal around your child’s groin/legs which can cause the moisture to come into contact with clothing or simply leak right out, especially for side sleepers.
Wicking can be a common issue with cloth diapers but I don’t feel it should be considered leaking. Wicking is caused when a fabric such as onesie, blanket, sheets, shorts, etc come into contact with the moist core of the diaper. Diapers on the brink of needing to be changed will often start to get wet around the legs first because that’s where the stitching is and also because that’s where the lining or absorbent layer meets the outside waterproof layer.
If wicking is an issue then onesies and bloomers might not be the right choice for you. Any outfit that meets the diaper in the groin is likely going to start to soak up some of the moisture from the wet diaper.
These are my troubleshooting tips for leaking cloth diapers. I hope these help you perfect your cloth diapering routine. If you have a question please feel free to comment. Thanks!
I’m Julie, a former cloth diaper retailer who discovered a passion for the industry. Now, instead of selling cloth diapers, I advocate them and promote small businesses I love who sell and manufacture them.
I’m the wife of a fireman and mother of three. I have a daughter and identical twin sons.