Why are my diapers leaking? It's a question we hear from time to time. Diaper leaks can be frustrating. Although cloth diapers are known for holding their own against even the biggest of blowouts where a disposable would have failed, sometimes leaks do happen. The trouble with leaks is that finding out why your having them isn't always straightforward... do you have a heavy wetter? How often are you changing him? Do you think your diapers are repelling? 

leaky diaper

Since there are several reasons why diapers may leak, I've broken this post down into two parts.This week we will discuss easy fixes and next week we will look into the more in depth reasons why your could be having leaks with your cloth diapers

Problem:  Prepping Required

New diapers need to be properly prepped to be able to fully absorb. Typically synthetic fibers can be washed once and be ready to use, however natural fibers require more prep work. Natural Fibers such as cotton, hemp, and bamboo contain natural oils that must be removed before the diaper will be fully absorbent.  

diapers in washer 

Solution: More hot washes! For natural fibers, most prepping intructions recommend washing with in hot water with a bit of detergent at least 3-5 times prior to use, drying in between washes. However, the diapers may not be fully absorbent until 7-10 washes in! The good news is, although you should prep them separately from your synthetic fabric diapers, as long as you use the same detergent don’t use any fabric softeners you can wash them with your regular laundry such as towels. Of course you will want to be sure to wash with like colors so you don’t get any color transfer to your diapers. While synthetics are much easier to prep, sometimes it does take a few washes for them to be fully absorbent as well.


Problem: Improper Fit

If you are experiencing leaks with your diapers after properly prepping, it could simply be a fit issue.


Solution: Check to make sure your baby is within the weight range recommendations. Even then, what fits one baby may not fit another at the same weight. All babies are made different, from long and lean, to short and chubby. Check to make sure there are not any gaps at the legs or waist. Change your baby’s position from sitting up, to standing, squatting… while it may look there are not any gaps while lying down, that may change when your baby starts to move about. Although you want the diaper to be snug, be sure it’s not too tight. Diapers too loose OR too tight can cause leaking. (Plus diapers that are too tight can obviously be uncomfortable for baby.) If your diaper has rise snaps, try changing them to the next size up or down and see if that improves the fit.   


Problem: Not Enough Absorbency

Some babies are just HEAVY wetters. All diapers (even disposables!) should be changed about every two hours or when you notice that baby has wet or soiled them. If you notice the diaper or insert is fully saturated when you change your baby’s diaper, you may not have enough absorbency.


Solution: Try adding a doubler. Hemp and bamboo inserts are trim but very absorbent-- upping the absorbency without a lot of excess bulk. If you have a super heavy wetter, you may also want to consider changing your little on sooner than every two hour to prevent leaks.


Problem: Overstuffing

While trying to combat leaks, especially at night, some moms and dads try double stuffing, even triple stuffing their diapers. If you go a little overboard on stuffing you may experience leaks. Overstuffing your diapers can cause gaps between your baby and their diaper allowing liquid to escape.


gaps from overstuffing

Solution: After stuffing your baby’s diaper, put it on and reposition him or her to check for gaps. Depending on the type of insert and how many you use, they may cause too much bulk, raising the center of the diaper too high creating gaps. Try adding trim hemp or bamboo inserts for added absorbency.

You may also consider trying fitted cloth diapers. Instead of just the middle soaker part of the diaper being absorbent, with fitteds, the entire diaper is absorbent. Fitteds do require a cover to be waterproof. While PUL or TPU covers work great, wool is a very popular cover to pair with fitteds. Many mamas will tell you, fitteds and wool are a bulletproof combo and the answer for many with night time leaking trouble.


Problem: Shifted Inserts

Sometimes leaks are caused by an absorbent insert not staying in place. Whether it wasn't stuffed in all the way in or your baby’s movements shifted it out of place, a little bit of absorbent material can make its way out of the diaper and wick moisture to whatever it's touching.


shifted insert

Solution: When stuffing your diapers, make sure the insert is flat and in the correct position. After putting the diaper on your baby, check the waist and legs to make sure all the absorbent material is tucked in. For trouble with tummy sleepers, make sure there are no gaps at the waist where wetness could escape. Diapers with elastic in the front are a great option to help keep wetness in for tummy sleepers.


Problem: Diaper Cover Needed

 If your diaper leaks through, you may have a type of diaper that requires a waterproof or water resistant cover.


Solution: Fitteds, prefolds, and flat cloth diapers require a waterproof or water resistant cover to contain wetness. This may seem like common sense to cloth diaper veterans but, to some newbies, fitteds with closures and their adorable prints can look like a complete diaper. There are different choices, such as TPU and PUL covers which are made from polyester fabric with a waterproof polyurethane coating, or water resistant wool covers.


Some parents opt to allow their kiddos to run around coverless around the house in their fitteds, prefolds, and flats to help air get to their bottoms if they have a rash, or  while potty training, changing baby as soon as the diaper starts feeling damp. If you want to keep baby's clothes or sheets dry, you'll want to cover these diapers with a waterproof shell. 


Stay tuned till next week when we discuss causes of cloth diaper leaks that aren't so easily seen. If you need immediate help troubleshooting cloth diaper issues, join our Facebook group, TGN: Help a Mama Out! There are many experienced cloth diapering moms in that group who would be more than willing to help.


*Although I am compensated for my time writing, all opinions are 100% my own.






 Stephanie Beck is the mother of a dinosaur expert, a set of twins somehow born 13 months apart, and a wild baby boy. She enjoys being outdoors with her kids, going on walks, swimming, fishing, and yard saling with her hubby. She started her blog,Apron Strings Attached, because she wanted to share her experiences with raising kids, breastfeeding struggles and success, and cloth diapering. She now enjoys blogging about life in cloth diapers for TGN, and also helps out with TGN’s twitter, so if you want to chat about cloth diapers, or just want to say “hi”, go ahead and send her a tweet!