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Cloth Diaper Tips on Leaking

Sentuhan Bayu : Attention Malaysian Cloth Diapering Mom! This is really good article. Pls read On.

Why are my cloth diapers and/or diaper covers leaking?!?
Dear Catherine;
Help! My diapers and covers are leaking...
With a good quality cloth diapering system, you should be experiencing almost no leakage. As a matter of fact, even "disposable" diapers are not leakproof - many parents find themselves trying several brands of "disposable" diapers before they find the one diaper that fits their baby best - to prevent leakage.
However, if you are experiencing leaking problems with your cloth diapering system on a daily basis, something is wrong. Below is a list of things to check, that should help solve the problem:
QUESTION: Did you wash your new cloth diapers before using them for the first time?
New fabrics have a special chemical finish on them that gives them that "new fabric" smell and feel. This finish is water-repellent, and must be removed by machine washing before use.
Make sure to wash your new cloth diapers several times to remove this special finish on the fabric, before using them to diaper your baby. This also fluffs the cloth diapers up and brings them closer to their proper size. (Cotton shrinks 5-10%.)
Your cloth diapers will not reach their most absorbent state until after three complete wash/dry cycles.
QUESTION: Is the leakage mostly around the leg openings of your diaper covers?
Leaks in diaper covers often occur due to improper fit, especially if the cloth diaper inside doesn't seem that wet. The cloth diaper and diaper cover need to fit snugly (though without leaving red marks) around your
baby's legs and waist to prevent leakage.
If your diaper covers are leaking, your baby may have outgrown it or the cloth diaper inside - are either of them too small or tight? Time to move up to the next size!
On the other hand, sometimes parents buy overlarge cloth diapers and/or diaper covers, in hopes that their baby will get longer use out of them and save a bit of money as well. But if the cloth diaper and diaper cover cannot be pulled snugly around your baby's legs and waist, the resulting gaps will allow leaking. If your interest is saving money, it would be better to purchase quality diaper doublers (such as All-Terry Doublers) as well, for use as small or newborn diapers until your baby fits into the bigger cloth diapers. These diaper doublers can be used again when baby wettings get heavier.
If both fitted cloth diapers and diaper cover wraps (with elastic at the waist and leg openings) are used together, this will allow for the best adjustment in the fit around your baby's legs and waist, and offer double protection from those messy leaks.
Some brands of cloth diapers and diaper covers may just not fit your baby well. Tall skinny babies will not fit well into the same diapers and diaper covers as short, chubby babies. If you can, try out a few brands before you invest in a new cloth diapering system.
Read my article on diaper fit - How to Measure for a Perfect Fit!
QUESTION: Is any of your baby's diaper sticking out of the diaper cover?
This is the most common reason for leaking cloth diapers. Make sure to carefully tuck all parts of your baby's diaper securely inside the diaper cover, or moisture will wick out on to your baby's clothing. Even one tiny corner of the cloth diaper sticking out of the diaper cover can cause leaks.
QUESTION: Do you think your diapers are absorbent enough?
The second most common reason for leakage is that the cloth diapers you are using just aren't absorbent enough. How do you check the absorbancy of your diaper? If you have a food or other type of weigh scale that measures in grams or ounces, try this:
Weigh one of your cloth diapers dry and write down the weight. Soak the diaper in at least 1000 ml. (4 cups) of water for one minute. Remove the sopping wet diaper and hang to drip-dry for 15 minutes. (Do not wring!) Now weigh the wet diaper. The absorbancy capacity is calculated by subtracting the dry weight from the wet weight.
(i.e. wet weight - 250g., dry weight - 150g. Then the absorbancy capacity of your diapers would be 100ml.)
Weight of 1 ml. of water = 1 gram,
31.25 grams = 1 oz. approx.,
250 ml. or grams = 8 oz. or 1 cup approx.
Your cloth diapers should offer almost double the absorbancy capacity of your baby's average wetting.
An average newborn-6 mth. baby wetting is 60-110 ml. during the day or at night.
Average 6 mth.-1 yr. baby wetting - 110-140 ml. during the day and 143-182 ml. at night.
Average toddler wetting - 130-160 ml. during the day and 195-240 ml. at night.
You could also try weighing your baby's cloth diaper after a diaper change to see how much your baby wets.
You don't have to replace your diapers even if you should find they are not absorbent enough. Just increase your diapers' absorbancy by adding a second (or third) layer of flat or prefold diaper or using (one or more) diaper doublers or night liners. If you run out of diaper liners late at night, a folded washcloth makes a great emergency substitute!
However, watch for gaps around the legs and waist of your diaper covers if you are double (or triple) diapering. You may need to use a diaper cover in the next size up, to make sure the diaper cover will completely cover the bulky cloth diaper and still fit snugly around your baby's legs and waist.
If you are using a Diaper Service, try asking them if they have a heavier-weight diaper. I remember complaining to my Diaper Service about leaking diapers (way back when!), and they started to send me the Toddler prefold diapers instead - which were 4-8-4 ply, while the Infant prefold diapers I had been using were only 3-5-3 ply. This really made a big difference to the diaper's absorbancy capacity.
QUESTION: Are you using fabric softeners and/or Ivory Snow® in your diaper washing?
The use of fabric softeners or Ivory Snow® pure soap can actually make your cloth diapers water-resistant, due to the build-up these products can create on your diapers.
Fabric softeners leave a coating on your cloth diapers' fibres that decreases its ability to absorb moisture. They can also be the cause of skin rashes.
Ivory Snow® works well in soft, hot water - but if used in hard water it can leave fatty deposits that will make your cloth diapers less absorbent. Cloth diapers have become practically water-repellent because of the waxy build-up of soap residue. If you feel the need to use this soap anyhow, add 1/2 cup of washing soda (i.e. Arm & Hammer washing soda) with your soap.
Drying your cloth diapers in your clothes dryer will make them soft, but be careful not to overdry. This makes cloth diapers feel hard and is hard on the diaper fibres. If you have just a few thicker cloth diapers that take a longer time to dry, such as All-in-One diapers, hang them up to finish drying rather than running the whole load for a longer time. If you prefer to hang your cloth diapers up to dry, putting them into the clothes dryer for 10-15 minutes will help to soften them up.
Or add 65 ml (1/4 cup) of vinegar to your final diaper rinse for a natural fabric softener that removes all trace of detergent and ammonia from your diapers and lowers the pH level - which helps to prevent diaper rashes. It even helps to whiten your diapers!
QUESTON: Is your leakage problem mostly at night, because your baby is sleeping through, or you are avoiding changes to keep baby (and mom!) sleeping longer?
I have never had to resort to "disposable" diapers, and my babies tended to wake several times at night to nurse - so they wet a lot! I only changed them in the morning, once they stopped pooping with every feeding.
I would sometimes triple-diaper with flats or prefolds, or add at least two extra night liners for absorbency if using fitted or all-in-one diapers. I really like the new All-Terry Doublers. With three layers of thick and thirsty 16 oz. terrycloth, these liners should get even the most heavy-wetters through the night.
If your baby is waking up in the night simply due to the feel of wet diapers, you could try using a stay-dry liner, which is a water-permeable non-absorbent material that keeps wetness away from your baby's skin. Some diaper doublers come with this type of stay-dry liner attached.
QUESTION: Is your baby wetting through everything - with a totally saturated diaper, wet cover, and wet clothing?
First, check the absorbancy capacity of your diapers, as suggested above.
Do you change your baby often enough? Some "disposable" diaper users boast about only using 3-4 diapers a day, but your baby really does need to be changed more often. Imagine how it must feel to your baby's tender skin to sit in a wet, clammy diaper for hours, brewing with bacteria and causing friction every time your baby moves. Frequent changes, even with "disposable" diapers, are important to the health of your baby's skin
Infrequent diaper changes make it difficult for your baby's skin to protect itself from the many causes of irritation in the diaper area. Frequent changes will help to minimize the effects of all irritants.
Newborns often need to be changed every 1-2 hours. They can wet frequently (i.e. 8-20 times a day) and in small amounts.
Even an older baby needs changing every 2-3 hours until they begin to hold their urine for longer periods of time. At one year, babies may wet 7-10 times a day, but in greater amounts.
At two years, your child will need a greater absorbancy capacity in your diapers, but may only need 5-8 changes a day.
If you are only changing your baby every 4-6 hours, the diaper may become so saturated the wetness has nowhere to go but out!
It may seem like a lot of work at first, but soon you will get into the rhythm of frequent changes. If you keep your changing supplies well organized and choose an easy-to-use cloth diapering system, your diaper changing can be FAST. With practice, you can change your baby in less than a minute - well, until they become mobile and run away!
Enjoy this short time with your baby. You won't believe how fast this time will go - until it is already gone. Every diaper change offers opportunities for making eye contact, playful interaction and bonding with your baby - reciting nursery rhymes, making up silly songs or stories, identifying body parts or that funny thing called a "belly button", etc.
QUESTION: Are you using a waterproof diaper cover over your cloth diapers?
One reason for leakage (that has totally surprised me!!) is that some moms didn't realize that they needed to add a waterproof cover (either a diaper wrap or pull-on pant) over top of their cloth diapers. So much simple information has been lost in this "throw-away" world! If you are avoiding waterproof diaper covers because you are concerned about diaper rashes or breathability - there are several excellent breathable diaper covers available in breathable nylon, polyester, Gortex®, cotton or wool. Just ask your favourite cloth diaper company!
QUESTION: Are you using the right type of diaper cover?
If you are changing your baby's diaper fairly soon after baby wets, you can use most any type of diaper cover without leakage, including the natural fiber breathable styles. But if you find yourself changing less frequently and experiencing problems with leakage, you may need to use the most waterproof cover possible (like Babykins poly-coated nylon covers).
I used an assortment of diaper covers. I diapered with my most waterproof covers at night because we used a family bed and less frequent changing at night - and a dry bed was of utmost importance to me. During the day I used more breathable covers in an effort to combat the difficult rashes my severely allergic children kept getting.
Breathable diaper covers need to be "cycled". This means, hanging up one diaper cover to air out while you use another. Then, at the end of the day, put all your diaper covers in the wash or hand-wash them in the sink in warm water, and hang up to dry. This type of cover actually benefits from using Ivory Snow® because it helps to maintain the waterproofing.
QUESTION: Are you using diaper wraps to hold your baby's diapers in place?
If your diaper cover wraps are too big for your baby, they may not be holding the cloth diaper in place as your baby moves about. This can result in leakage, as there may no diaper in the place that it is needed.
If your baby's cloth diapers are ending up all twisted inside your diaper covers, you may need to use smaller diaper covers; wraps with mesh inside, which helps to hold the cloth diaper in place; or fasten the diaper more securely with diaper pins, Di-D-Klips or a Snappi Diaper Fastener.
Well, these are my suggestions to solve your leaking diaper problem - after diapering nearly a dozen babies over a 26 year period of time. (See article Diapering Expert Shares Secrets) I hope you have found an idea that helps!
I would be pleased to hear your tips on preventing leakage, or any other diapering hint you would like to share. I would be happy to help you sort out your diapering problem if the above hints don't help.

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