How to Put on A Diaper so It Doesn’t Leak


Putting on a cloth diaper is different than putting on a disposable diaper. This can be a problem as not putting on a diaper correctly is the most common cause of leakage (though there are a few other causes of diaper leakage to watch out for).

With that said, it’s not as complicated as it may seem. Putting on a cloth diaper is often just as easy as a disposable one once you’re used to it. Below, you’ll find some information and videos to show you quickly how to put on different styles of cloth diapers, as well as how to tell if it’s time to change a diaper.

For the sake of comparison and since there are many part-time cloth diaper parents, I’ll also go over how to put on a disposable diaper so that it doesn’t leak.

How to Put On a Cloth Diaper to Prevent Diaper Leaks: All-in-Ones, Pockets, and All-in-Twos

Here’s a good video from How To’s & Reviews showing you how to properly put on a cloth diaper, but if you are rocking your little one to sleep or something right now, I also have the steps written out below it:

Step 1: Put the back of the diaper under baby, keeping it low, almost to their bum crack.

Step 2: Pull the front of the diaper up and around to baby’s tummy, but as you do, make sure the leg elastics of the diaper are firmly inside your baby’s leg creases.

Step 3: Lift each side “wing” on the back of the diaper up high and out, then draw it around to snap it (or secure it with Velcro if it’s a hook and loop diaper) into the front of the diaper.

Step 4: Snap the hip snaps (the third snap on the wing, closest to the hip) if the diaper has them.

Step 5: Lift your baby and check the fit, making sure the leg elastics are snug around your baby’s legs inside the crease (no gaps, but not too tight) and that the waist of the diaper is not drooping but is still loose enough to fit a few fingers in.

How to Put on Flat and Prefold Cloth Diapers to Prevent Diaper Leaks

The great thing about flat diapers and prefold cloth diapers, is that they are fully customizable, allowing you to fold them up in a ton of different ways to help you prevent diaper leaks.

Some folds place the absorbency in the right spot, others create barriers to contain messy bowel movements; whatever your baby’s diaper needs there is a fold to help.

I have instructions for several prefold diaper folds here to help you out; though they are shown with prefold diapers, to do the same folds with flat diapers you just have to fold your flat in four to get a small rectangle shape first.

No matter what fold you use, the steps to putting on a prefold diaper properly is the same. Here’s a good video from newandgreen showing you how to put on a prefold diaper both with a Snappi and without. Once again I will have instructions below the video written out for you as well.

Side note: If your goal is to prevent diaper leaks, I do recommend using a diaper fastener, like a Snappi or Boingo, in order to get a better fit and keep the diaper in place.

Step 1: Choose your fold and fold your prefold or flat according to the instructions, securing it with a diaper fastener if needed.

Step 2: Place the diaper cover under the folded prefold or flat, making sure it’s slightly above the fabric.

Step 3: Pull the front of the diaper cover up and around to baby’s tummy, but as you do, make sure the leg elastics of the diaper are firmly inside your baby’s leg creases.

Step 4: Pull each side “wing” on the back of the cover up high, then pull it around your baby to snap it (or secure it with Velcro if it’s a hook and loop diaper cover) into the front of the diaper.

Step 5: Snap the hip snaps (the third snap on the wing, closest to the hip) if the cover has them.

Step 6: Lift your baby and check the fit, making sure the cover’s elastics are snug around your baby’s legs inside the crease (no gaps, but not too tight), and that the waist of the diaper is not drooping but is still loose enough to fit a few fingers in.

Step 7: Make sure to tuck any fabric from the folded flat or prefold inside the diaper cover to prevent diaper leaking from wicking.

How to Put On Fitted and Contour Diapers to Prevent Baby’s Diaper From Leaking

Fitted diapers are the best choice for those wishing to cloth diaper at night and so having a leak can mean frustrating mornings changing wet sheets and pyjamas.

Luckily putting on a fitted diaper or a contour diaper (a fitted diaper without snaps) is much easier than some other styles like prefolds and flats (which I cover below) whether you’re using hemp fitted overnight diapers or simplier cotton daytime fitteds.

Step 1: Put the back of the fitted or contout diaper under baby, keeping it low, almost to their bum crack.

Step 2: Lift the front of the fitted or contour diaper up and over to baby’s tummy, but as you do, make sure the elastics in the legs of the diaper are firmly inside your baby’s leg creases.

Step 3: Lift each side “wing” on the back of the diaper up high and out, then draw it around to snap it (if it’s a fitted diaper) or secure it with a diaper fastener (if it’s a contour diaper) onto the front of the diaper.

Step 4: Do the same steps with the diaper cover, snapping it in place over top of the fitted diaper.

Step 5: Lift your baby and check the fit, making sure the cover’s leg elastics are snug around your baby’s legs inside the crease (no gaps, but not too tight), and that the waist of the diaper is not drooping but is still loose enough to fit a few fingers in.

Step 6: Make sure to tuck any fabric from the fitted or contour diaper inside the diaper cover to prevent diaper leaks from wicking.

How to Put on a Disposable Diaper to Prevent Diaper Leaks

Since disposable diapers aren’t adjustable, it’s very important to make sure you’re using the right diaper size.

Not having the right size diaper for your baby will cause leaks and the diaper may even have a “blowout” (a term to describe when poop escapes the diaper and leaks all over your baby’s legs and back), so make sure to choose the diaper size that fits closest to your baby’s weight, sizing up if they are getting close to the weight limit of a given size.

Here’s a good video from Doula Sam Schaefer showing you exactly how to put on a disposable diaper carefully to prevent diaper leaks. Once again, I will post the written instructions below in case you need them.

Step 1: Put the back of the diaper (the side with tabs) under baby, Placing it high, above the belly button.

Step 2: Unfold and pull down one side “wing” of the front of the diaper and hold it against baby with one hand, while pulling the back tab on that side up and over it to stick it onto the front of the diaper. Making sure that front “wing” is completley unfolded and flat against baby is something often overlooked, that can cause diaper leaks, so don’t neglect this small step. Repeat on the other side.

Step 3: Lift your baby and check the fit. The waistband fits snugly and the diaper sits just below the belly button, and the leg cuffs wrap securely around your baby’s legs and bottom. Make sure the cuff ruffles are out after putting on the diaper. Leaks are often caused by cuffs being tucked inside the diaper.

How to Tell it’s Time to Change a Diaper

Now that you know how to pay attention to all the little things that can cause diaper leaking when you change a diaper, let’s briefly touch on when you should be changing those diapers, as changing your baby in a timely manner will not only prevent diaper leakage, but it will also help prevent diaper rash.

After using cloth diapers for a while, you’ll get good at figuring out when they have been wet or soiled. Babies often fall into a rhythm and you’ll soon be able to predict when they are going to dirty their diaper as well.

But while you’re getting used to cloth diapers and your baby is getting into their routine a good trick is to simply feel the diaper regularly.

A cloth diaper becomes stiff when it’s wet. Take a second to feel each diaper when you put it on by pinching or poking it on the outside in the center crotch area. While you’re prodding, make a mental note of how soft and squishy it is. When diapers get wet, the fabric inside stiffens and when you poke that same diaper in the same spot you’ll be able to feel the difference.

You can click here for more help with learning how to tell it’s time to change a cloth diaper and why changing immediately is so important.

FAQ

Does Putting a Diaper on Backwards Prevent Leaks?

Not usually. Some folks like to put diapers on backwards for belly sleepers, but most cloth diapers can be customized to place the absorbency in the right spot while also putting the diaper on normally and not compromising the fit.

Should Diaper Ruffles Be in Or Out?

Whether you’re using a disposable diaper or a cloth diaper with ruffles (like AppleCheeks or AMP) , the ruffles should be pulled out to prevent leaks and blowouts. Make sure these edges are pulled out by running your finger around them.

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