Leaking diapers are no fun. Unfortunately, most parents will face a leaking diaper (or two) whether they use cloth or disposables. Leaking cloth diapers can be particularly frustrating though, if you've just shelled out a couple hundred dollars on diapers. Leaking diapers are a sign that something is amiss with your diaper or method. Here are some factors to consider when trying to find the cause of your leaking diapers:
New diapers-If a new diaper has not been prepped properly, it can leak. Natural fibers must be washed and dried several times before reaching full absorbency. They should also be washed separately from other diapers until the natural oils have been washed away. PUL diapers and covers should be put into the dryer to ensure that any sewing holes are properly sealed (I haven't always found this to be necessary, but if you're having some leaks around seams, it's a good idea to give it a shot).
Too small-Frequent blowouts with disposables are a sign that it's time to size up. The same idea is true with cloth diapers. If a diaper that previously worked is suddenly leaking, check the fit. It may be getting too small!
Too big-Diapers that are too big will gap around the legs and can easily leak.
Not enough absorbency-Heavy wetters need a lot of absorbency. You'll also need extra absorbency during naptime and overnight (previously discussed in linked post). Doublers are a great way to add absorbency as they are often a little trimmer than inserts and can be used with prefolds and fitteds. If you find you want to add an insert without adding bulk, hemp inserts can be a great way to go!
Overstuffing-It seems counterintuitive, but overstuffing a diaper, particularly a pocket diaper, is not a good thing. Overstuffing can change the fit and shape of the diaper, causing gaps around the legs, which can promote leaks.
Wrong insert-Using an insert that is too narrow for your diaper can also cause diapers to leak. Make sure your insert fills the crotch of the pocket diaper.
Repelling-You put a diaper on your child, only to see a leak 5 minutes later. After checking the diaper, it's almost dry. Why the leak? Your diapers may be repelling (rather than absorbing). This can happen by using a rash cream not made for use with cloth diapers. You can use rash cream (see previous post), just make sure it's safe for cloth diapers.
Detergent build up can cause leaks, as well as using the wrong detergent. Getting down a laundry routine for cloth diapers can be tricky, but it's worth a check to make sure you're using the right amount of detergent.
Poor fit-A diaper that does not fit your child well can cause leaks. Make sure the diaper fits snugly around the waist and legs without being too tight.
Clothing-As I discussed in an earlier post, onesies can sometimes cause wicking or leaks.
Hopefully some troubleshooting will help to resolve your leaking diaper problems. Every kid is different though, and some diapers just don't work on some kids. If nothing seems to help, it may just be a diaper that doesn't work for your little one. Before you give up on the diaper, consider keeping it for another baby, or after a growth spurt. Some diapers will fit your child better after they begin to walk, slim down etc. A diaper that is not a good fit today may work later on!