Unfortunately, cloth diapers aren’t quite as forgiving as disposables. With a disposable, you just have to get it on and cinch it down with the handy velcro straps. It will do the rest. With cloth, you have to be a bit more specific with how you put it on, or it will almost certainly leak. Don’t let that deter you, though! The good news is once you figure it out, you’ll be set (until the little one grows, and you have to adjust…).
If your diaper is leaking, it usually indicates one of two things: improper fit OR over-saturation. If it’s over-saturation, that’s a simple fix: change more often! Since cloth diapers don’t have the handy “wet indicator” that disposables do, it can be tough to know when to change. With newborns, I usually recommend changing every 2-3 hours. With older babies and toddlers, most parents figure out their schedule and can change based on that. Our son is currently 18 months old, and his schedule looks like this:
- Wake up (approx. 7:30 a.m.), new diaper
- Bowel movement (approx. 10 a.m.), new diaper
- Nap (approx. 12 p.m.), check diaper and change if wet
- Wake up (approx. 2 p.m.), change right away if not changed before nap, otherwise leave
- If not changed after nap, change at approx. 3 p.m.
- Change before supper (approx. 5 p.m.)
- Bath (approx. 6:45 p.m.), disposable overnight
Certainly, it’s not a perfect system, but if you have a general idea of the schedule, you can plan accordingly.
If the diaper is leaking, and it’s not due to over-saturation, then it’s an improper fit. If the diaper is too loose OR if it’s too tight, you’ll have leaks. Finding that perfect fit is the key!
- With the little one on their back, place the top of the back of the diaper just above their butt.
- Pull the front between their legs, being sure to get leg elastic snugly into the crevice between their leg and groin (this is KEY!). Stretch the elastic some here but not to its extent. That way when you get the front in place, it will stay snug into that crevice. *If the leaking is around the legs, it’s because the leg elastic isn’t snug in this crevice.
- Lay the front of the diaper flat across the little one’s tummy, about an inch below the belly button. Getting it flat with no extra bulk is also important to a snug fit. *If the leaking is at the top of the front, it’s because this isn’t flat.
- While holding the ends of the front flat along the little one’s side, pull the back of one side up and over the front, so the front ends are hidden under the back. See the photo below.
- **NOTE: I do steps 2, 3 , and 4 together, one side at a time. I start with the side closest to me and do steps 2, 3, and 4. Then I move to the other side and do steps 2, 3, and 4.
- When you have a good, snug fit around the waist, make a mental note of how many snaps are left undone, so you can repeat it next time.
- Lift the little one’s legs up, and use your fingers to ensure a snug fit around both legs. Remember to also ensure the leg elastic is up into the crevice and not down farther on the leg.
If you’re using an all-in-ones, it’s also important to be sure the flaps on the inside are lying flat and fully within the diaper shell. If they’re sticking out even a little, they’ll leak.
I know it might seem a bit daunting, but as I said before, once you get it figured out, I promise it becomes muscle memory, and it’s super easy! As your little one grows, you’ll of course need to make adjustments from time to time. Sometimes, you’ll even have to go down a rise setting but up in the waist size! Good luck!