Help! Why is my nappy leaking?!
Updated: Mar 29
Leaky cloth nappies can be incredibly frustrating. You’ve made a significant investment in your nappy stash and it’s important to get them working! The good news is that there’s often an easy fix if you know what the problem is in the first place. Our handy guide to leaks should help you figure it out so you can continue happily on your cloth nappy journey!
1) Prep new nappies
If your nappies are new, wash them several times before using them to build up their absorbency. Absorbency will improve the more you wash your nappies.
2) Check the fit
A nappy may leak if it's not put on your baby correctly. The leg elastics should be right up at the very top of the leg, at the knicker line. If your baby has red lines on their thighs from the elastic, you need to push it right up to the groin. Also, cloth nappies should sit lower at the back than disposables do. If you're getting leaks at the front, especially on a little boy, try to bring the front of the nappy higher by pulling it lower at the back.
If the nappy is leaking around the legs, but is not soaked through, it may be too loose. This can be easily corrected by adjusting the size of the nappy. A birth-to-potty nappy will need to be on the smallest setting for the first few months - even on a big baby. If it doesn't seem big enough, it's probably too high at the back.
3) Increase the absorbency
As babies get bigger they will wee more and you may need to add boosters to the nappy. If the nappy is leaking because it is sopping wet, try adding an extra booster. For little boys, it can help if one of the boosters is folded in half and put at the front of the nappy. If you are using a pocket nappy, you may just need an extra insert or, if your inserts are made from micro-fibre, a bamboo insert may help.Check out our range of boosters & inserts.
Always remember that any new nappy, insert or booster needs to be washed several times before it achieves maximum absorbency.
4) Loss of absorbency
If your nappies don't seem to be as absorbent as they used to be, it may be that you have a build-up of detergent in the fabric, caused by using too much detergent or inadequate rinsing. Modern washing machines are very economical with water and you may need to do an extra rinse after washing your nappies. Nappies that have lost their absorbency due to detergent build-up can sometimes be a little bit smelly too. If you think you may have a problem with detergent build-up, a strip wash may be needed (guide coming soon!).
Barrier creams and nappy balms can also build up in the fabric over time and can cause the nappy to leak. If you are using a cream on your baby's bottom, add a liner to prevent it coming into contact with the nappy.
5) Compression leaks
This is particularly common in micro-fibre nappies and/or boosters and you will probably find that the source of the leak is around the leg area. Tight fitting clothing may squash the nappy and prevent it from doing its job properly. Compression leaks can be very easily solved by using bigger vests or a vest extender.
Another common cause of compression leaks is baby wearing. If the sling or carrier is creating a pressure point on the nappy, you may find that it will leak quite rapidly out of the legs.
6) Faulty or damaged waterproofing
If you can see wet patches on the outside of the nappy, coming through the actual PUL, the nappy or wrap may be damaged or faulty, or just getting very old. This is the perfect excuse to add to your cloth nappy stash!
7) Are you changing enough?
The answer to this question will vary greatly from one baby to another. As a general rule, younger babies should be changed approximately every 2 hours (unless they have done a poo, in which case change as soon as possible) and older babies & toddlers might need changing every 3-4 hours. If nappy rash threatens, you will want to change nappies more often, at least until the redness clears.
If you need further advice on making the most of your cloth nappies, please get in touch!
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