Thursday, January 17, 2013

Myths and Misconceptions: Cloth Diapers Always Leak

I've decided to do a series of blogs all about common myths and misconceptions about cloth diapering! If you have any ideas feel free to comment here, share on my twitter, or post to my facebook page any myths or misconceptions you have heard, especially ones that really drive you nutso!
Myth #2: Cloth Diapers Always Leak
Today we are going to talk about another myth of Cloth Diapering. That they always leak. This is simply not true. Yes, cloth diapers can leak. They can also repel liquid, but if you are taking proper care of your diapers, cleaning them correctly, changing as often as is needed, and getting the right fit, you shouldn't experience leaks.
An Improper Fit
One of the leading causes of leaks, and what I would look at first when troubleshooting leaks, is the proper fit. You want the diapers to be snug enough to keep the contents in while loose enough to not leave marks on baby's legs and waist. You should take notice of when and how much the leaks are happening, and where they come through. For instance if I don't use the correct snap setting on my son, I will get leaks out his belly and legs. If I am using the proper snaps but not the proper hip snaps on diapers with hip snaps, I get leaks out the legs because while the waist is the proper fit, the legs are too loose causing leaks. Sometimes some diapers just will not fit right on a baby's body. This is one reason I don't suggest stocking up on one brand or type before baby gets here, or buying only one type to try. I suggest trying many different brands and types of diapers because what works on one child may not work for another. Even what works on your first cloth diapered baby won't always work on your second or what did work for your first few cloth diapered children won't always work for the next. Also, as your child grows and change you may find you get different fits from diapers that did fit well or didn't fit so great before. If you think fit is the issue, try experimenting with the fit, how tight or loose you have it, the rise, how long it is, etc. They try experimenting with different brands or types.
Repelling happens when something is introduced to the diaper that causes it to repel. This can be caused by hard water buildup, where the minerals in the water build up in your diaper, making them not as absorbent. This can also be caused by detergent buildup, when you are using too much detergent, not the right detergent, or not rinsing enough and the detergent builds up, causing the diapers to not be as absorbent. It can also be caused by using non cloth diaper safe rash creams or too much of any diaper safe rash cream which can also cause your diapers to become not as absorbent. If you think repelling may be your issue, try taking a clean, dry diaper, and pouring some water on it. If it rolls of, you have repelling issues. If it's absorbent, it could be either starting to repel, or that may not be your issue. If you think repelling may be an issue, try striping the diapers. If you think it's because of a rash cream, use liners in your diaper when you use cream. If you think it may be a detergent issue, try switching your detergent, using less, and/or rinsing more. To strip I recommend GroVia Mighty Bubbles, which you can find at Mama's Emporium. You can also find flushable liners at Mama's Emporium, I suggest EcoSprout flushable liners. I also suggest using CJ's BUTTer rash cream and EcoSprout Detergent, all of which can be found on Mama's Emporium. If you think hard water buildup is the problem, try using GroVia Mighty Bubbles to strip once a month. I have VERY hard water and that is what I do. LOVE it!
Not Enough Absorbency
Another issue you can run into is that you don't have enough absorbency for how much your child is wetting. Some children are light wetters, others are medium/normal wetters, and others still are what I call super heavy wetters. My son is a super heavy wetter. He eats a lot and is very hydrated, so he pees a lot. Therefore, I need extra absorbency in his diapers. You might try adding a booster to your diaper if you suspect this may be the problem. Anything made of natural fibers like bamboo and hemp works great and can be right next to baby's skin. Synthetics like microfiber should not touch baby's sensitive skin. Any type of diaper can have a booster added for extra absorbency. Pockets are especially easy to add absorbency to though, you just stuff more or less depending on your needs. I like to stuff my pockets with an OsoCozy Better Fit prefold. If I need even more absorbency like for nap times, I add a bamboo insert or two either inside the pocket or inside the diaper. For my GroVia AI2s I found my son was too much of a heavy wetter for them, so I added two GroVia boosters and it did the trick! You can find all sorts of boosters to add extra absorbency here. When in a bind, anything can really be added. You can always add a prefold, flat, receiving blanket that has been stripped, flour sack towel, etc to give your diaper the extra boost.
Not Changing Enough
One thing that can be a little difficult to get used to when switching to cloth is how often you sometimes must change your child. Depending on the child, you may need to change as often as every hour and a half to two hours, or as little as every four. I encourage you to pay attention to when your child wets or soils the diaper and change as soon as possible. Just because the baby isn't uncomfortable and the diaper isn't completely full, doesn't mean a rash cannot occur, or that it's good for your little one to be sitting in that. Even with disposable diapers, just because it's not full doesn't mean it doesn't need to be changed. I am of the belief that no child should have to sit in a diaper for 6 hours or more unless they are asleep. It just cannot be comfortable or healthy, in a disposable or cloth diaper. I know sometimes if my son sleeps a little longer than usual for a nap, he will leak. If you don't change the baby soon enough, they will eventually leak. Obviously this makes a mess for you but is also not very good for the poor baby. So if you think this may be your issue, try to change your little one a little sooner. If it's happening to the point of you needing to change every hour or less, I would suggest adding more absorbency because your baby is probably a heavy wetter. You should still change after every diaper is used, but this will keep it from leaking out.
Bottom Line
The bottom line is if you do run into leaking issues, there are ways to fix them. Try troubleshooting before you give up, and do not let the fear of leaks keep you from trying. Cloth diapering can actually prevent blowouts and other leaks as long as you are using them correctly. Find and use a good wash routine and detergent, use liners when you use cloth, strip if you think there is buildup, change your baby often enough, use the right absorbency,  and experiment with fit, type, and brands of diaper until you find what works best for you and your little one. Leaking doesn't have to ruin cloth diapering for anyone!


  1. That is a VERY thorough post!! You've hit on SO many myths that so many parents have believed..and honestly, one or two that (ahem) may have kept me from using cloth diapers when mine were young!!!

    It's amazing how much great information you've packed in there!

    Sandling All Day

  2. Very good post! I hear that myth all the time and this really explains the possibilities! I'm going to share this with my cloth diapering friends!

  3. Thank you guys! I try to be as informative as possible! Sometimes I'm worried that my posts get really long but there is so much info that I want to share! I would love it if you could pass it on!

  4. I have had leaking issues with my daughter at nighttime (common, I know), but I am bound and determined to fix it! I actually think I might have found a solution with hemp. It is my new best friend! And you are absolutely right. There is always a fix! Also, one of my favorite things about cloth diapers is that they contain the "poosplosions" soooo much better than disposables!

    1. I hope them hemp works for you! I would also suggest trying Fitted Diapers. My favorite are OsoCozy fitted, that is the only thing that works for us at night! I am a firm believer that pretty much any issue you have with your cloth can be fixed, even if it takes some thinking out side the box! I had SO many blowouts with my oldest in disposables and I have NEVER had poop leak out of a cloth diaper.