Replacing Elastics in bumGenius Cloth Diapers (Tutorial)

By April Duffy •  Updated: 06/05/24 •  8 min read

BumGenius is a longstanding and trusted brand of cloth diapers, but by far the #1 complaint cloth diaper parents have about them is that their elastics wear out faster than other brands.

Thankfully, it is possible to save your diapers by replacing old elastic, and in this post, I’m going to give you the information and resources to help you do so, but first, let’s make sure those elastics do need replacing after all.

How to Know If Your BumGenius Diaper Needs New Elastics

In general, there are three things to look for when checking diaper elastic to see if it needs replacing. If you find any of the following, you’ll want to replace the elastic immediately:

  1. Crunch. If the elastic feels hard or brittle, or if it crackles and crunches when you stretch it.
  2. Roll. If the elastic is folded or rolled rather than laying flat inside the seam, the
  3. Stretch. If the diaper doesn’t stretch anymore or if it doesn’t pop back well — a new elastic will stretch and snap back a good two inches or more when you pull one end of the elastic.

Usually, a bumGenius diaper will have problems with stretch, meaning it will simply lose its stretch and not snap back anymore. A bumGenius leg elastic should measure about 4.5.” Anything larger than 5-5.5″ should be replaced.

Here’s a comparison of what new and old elastic looks like:

Old elastic and new elastic replacement in bumGenius diapers.

Why is Replacing Elastics So Important?

The number one cause of cloth diaper leaks is a poor fit, and the number one cause of poor fit is leg elastic gaps.

Properly fitting diapers have the leg elastic sit flush inside the bikini line crease, with no gaps.

For this reason, using a diaper with stretched elastic will lead to fit problems and diaper leaking.

What Kind of Elastic Do I Need for bumGenius Cloth Diapers?

Thankfully Cotton Babies, the manufacturer of the bumGenius brand of diapers, offers a repair solution: bumGenius Refresher Kits

These refresher kits will repair Their one-size pocket style diapers (the current model is the Original 5.0, but the kit will work on older models as well), the Elemental, and the Freetime diapers.

If you’re in a location where you can’t buy one of the refresher kits, you’ll just want to buy some 1/4″ braided elastic (this generic one from Amazon works just fine).

How Long Should the New Elastic Be?

If you’re using your own braided elastic, you can pre-cut your new elastic pieces to the following measurements:

What Other Tools will you need to change your Diaper Elastic?

In addition to the refresher kit or some new elastic pieces, you’ll want to have the following ready:

What Is the Difference Between the Freetime and Elemental All-In-Ones?

bumGenius Elemental (right) and Freetime (left).

Both the bumGenius Freetime and Elemental are all-in-one diapers that are very similar in cut and have the same snap placement.

The main difference between the two is the inserts, both in the material used and in how they’re attached.

While the Freetime diaper contains microfiber and has a polyester stay-dry lining, the Elemental contains 100% organic cotton.

The two inserts on the Freetime are only sewn in on one side each, leaving them as flaps at the front and back of the diaper, while the inserts on the Elemental are fully attached at both the front and back.

The bumGenius refresher kit will work on both the Elemental and Freetime all-in-ones as well as the bumGenius pocket diapers, but the process is a bit more complicated for the all-in-ones, so we’ll cover each below.

How to Repair Elastics on the bumGenius Pocket Diapers

Whether you have the Original 5.0 or an earlier pocket diaper, the elastic replacement will be roughly the same.

You can find a quick video from MrsDoSomeWork taking you through the steps of replacing elastic in a bumGenius pocket diaper here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97Nt-OeURO4

Here’s the step-by-step:

  1. Access the leg elastic either by going inside the pocket
  2. Use seam ripper to work one end of the elastic out a bit so you can grab it
  3. Cut the elastic, as close to the end as you can get, right next to the PUL (but be extremely careful not to cut the PUL!)
  4. Use a safety pin to overlap the old elastic you just pulled out and your new replacement elastic, with the head of the pin facing the diaper
  5. Push the head of the safety pin into the elastic channel
  6. find the opposite end of the elastic and use your seam ripper to grab that side as well, just as you did with the first side.
  7. Carefully pull the old elastic out, which will pull the new elastic in as you go. Be careful not to pull the new elastic all the way into the diaper, as you’ll need to attach it to the PUL. If your old elastic breaks during the pulling, use the safety pin to continue feeding the new elastic through.
  8. Cut the remaining end of the old elastic off the diaper, right next to the PUL (again, being extremely careful not to cut the PUL!)
  9. Use Magic Clips to hold the new elastic in place and sew them to the pul in the same place as the old elastic was
  10. Flip your diaper back right side in and enjoy!

How Do You Change the Elastic on bumGenius Freetime and/or the bumGenius Elemental?

The steps to replace the elastic on the Freetime all-in-one diaper and the Elemental will be pretty much the same as the pocket diaper, which one small change: you’ll need to rip the seam along the top of the diaper to gain access to the area between the lining and the pul.  Be very careful to cut only the stitches not the PUL , or rip the seam enough to reach the inner elastic.

You’ll need to do this because, unlike the pocket diaper where you can reach the inside of the diaper, these all-in-one diapers have their elastics completely sewn in.

Here’s a link to an older video by BolderCDmomma showing you how to replace elastic on bumGenius diapers. Though she is also working on pocket diapers, she is using ones that have the elastic completely encased, which is similar to what you’ll be dealing with when replacing elastic on the Freetime or Elemental.

How to Repair Elastics Without Sewing (Temporary Fix)

If you need to use your diapers before you’re able to repair them with a refresher kit, there is a hack out there that will give you a temporary fix.

Note though that this is a temporary fix because those elastics will continue to stretch out and degrade, and the fit will get worse and worse, eventually causing diaper leaks and/or uncomfortably tight leg creases for your baby.

But if you’re in a pinch, this hack, which YouTuber Shawna Rae shows you how to do in this video, will work: https://youtu.be/OoqfszqgHbg

Here’s the step-by-step:

  1. Access the leg elastic either by going inside the pocket
  2. Use seam ripper to work one end of the elastic out a bit just so you can grab it
  3. Pull out enough so that you can cut elastic about two inches from the side and still have room to hold the other side.
  4. Tie the two ends of the elastic together as much as needed for the elastics to shorten to a normal size.
  5. Flip the diaper back right side out and use as normal, remembering they still won’t function as well as fully elasticized elastic would.

FAQ

How Long Do bumGenius Diapers Last?

In general, your bumGenius diapers will last a long time, if you don’t include the lifespan of the elastics because without a doubt the elastics of bumGenius diapers do not last as long as other brands.

With that said, if you’re open to replacing elastic regularly, you can get many many years out of your bumGenius diapers, which are otherwise very well made. In other words, the other components of your bumGenius diapers nappies— the PUL, inserts, lining, etc., — should last you through several babies over many many years.

BumGenius is a solid brand of diapers that also makes a lot of good accessories; bumGenius Flannel Baby Wipes and Bottom Cleaner, bumGenius Stain Odor Remover, bumGenius diaper liners and many more other bumGenius accessories are worth the look.

April Duffy

April is the founder of Cloth Diapers for Beginners and author of The Cloth Diaper Wash & Care Handbook. Since 2015, April has helped well over 75,000 parents and caregivers cloth diaper their children through this website, her book, her YouTube Channel, and the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook Group.