Why are my diapers leaking?

An occasional leak here or there can be easily written off, but if you’re finding you need to change outfits multiple times daily, something is going wrong with your diapering. The vast majority of the time, leaking diapers are attributable to one of two causes: either more absorbency is needed or the fit needs to be tweaked.

The first thing to pay attention to when you have a leaking diaper is whether the diaper is totally saturated, top to tail, and leaking - or if it seems like the pee is escaping the diaper but there are still parts of the diaper that are dry.

If the diaper is totally saturated, you likely need more absorbency. Consider adding a doubler or two (a strip of fabric that provides additional layers of absorbent material). Alternately, you may need to change diapers with more frequency. For newborns, we expect diapers will be changed every 1-2 hours, more or less. Another consideration is whether the diapers are on the verge of being outgrown. Diapers that are larger will, by default, have more absorbent material in them, more square inches in which to absorb, and if baby is at the higher end of their current (leaking) diapers, then you may find that moving to the next size helps with no additional doublers necessary.

If the saturated and leaking diaper is happening only (or mostly) at night, try using a fitted diaper, preferably one made from bamboo, for the trimmest, most absorbent option. Some fitted diapers are absorbent enough to allow 6+ hour stretches at night (unless they are pooped in - in which case, you’ll need to change it!).

If the diaper is leaking but not saturated, a proper fit has not been achieved. The most common issues have to do with the diaper not being up close enough to the groin. To get a better fit when putting the diaper on, fasten one side, then with the open (other) side, take the elastic and “floss” it up into the crease of the baby’s leg at the place where the leg attaches to the pelvis - the groin crease, pulling the diaper up firmly and fastening it high and snug at the waist. This should ensure that all the “thigh chunk” is on the outside of the diaper, and it will likely be up several inches higher than the quickly fastened side. Then, go back to the first quickly fastened side, unfasten it, floss that elastic into the crease on that side, and pull it up to match the other side. This accomplishes three things - 1) the center of the diaper will be flush to baby’s groin, allowing their body weight to push the liquid through the top layers of fabric and into the absorbent part of the diaper rather than having it dangle with space for the liquid to roll around before it can be absorbed 2) the leg of the diaper won’t gap under their thigh, so there won’t be room for liquid to get out and 3) you’ll be fastening around their waist, rather than hips, and their waist is smaller than their hips, so everything will be able to be snugger - and taller so nothing escapes out the back!

NOTE: Very rarely, leaking can be due to detergent build up, necessitating “stripping” the diaper to remove the excess. However, far more folks jump to this conclusion and think they need to strip than actually do. If you are having no other problems (odor, persistent rash, etc.), it’s unlikely that a laundry issue is causing the leak, and far far more likely to be an absorbency or fit issue. If you’re having odor or rash issues, please check out our other FAQs for suggestions.