We have a long history of leaking diapers in this family. Well, not very long, since Lukka is only 5 months, but it sure does feel like it's been forever, with all the leaks we've had.
I've researched all I could about leaks, tried many different solutions, and I think I've finally discovered the culprit.
Some common reasons behind leaks are:
- over saturated diaper
- bad fit
- fabric that doesn't absorb liquid fast enough
- fabric pores clogged by residue (could be build up from pee, soap, rash cream, fabric softener, etc)
- unprepped diaper
It's sad to say that we've had leaks ever since we started cloth diapering Lukka. I mentioned here that the first diapers we used were bumGenius 4.0, and they have always been the most leaky diapers for us. I'll explain why, because I've finally found out why!
The main reason for leaky diapers, and the one you find more reference on, is build up. This happens mostly on pocket diapers, or diapers that have stay-dry fabric on them, and also on microfiber inserts, in other words, synthetic fabrics.
There are certain oils that clog the pores of synthetic fabric, that's why you can't use certain laundry products and baby products on cloth diapers. What happens is that these oils start accumulating inside the fabric, up to the point where instead of absorbing liquid, liquid just "skates" on the surface of the fabric. The liquid then, which is pee, runs free looking for a surface to absorb it, since there is none inside the diaper, it ends up leaking and being absorbed by the baby's clothes, pajamas, sheets, etc.
The products that often cause this are regular laundry soap, fabric softener, rash creams, and even pee if it's not being properly rinsed off the diapers. Fabric softener is a big no-no for dirty diaper laundry, even dryer sheets have to be avoided. As for laundry detergent, there are many cloth diaper safe options out there, that are more gentle on our babies' skin. I've used Charlie's Soap, Country Save, and am now using Rockin Green. There are many more options out there, just go onto a cloth diaper store website, and look at the options, even the main cloth diaper brands have their own soap now. And what about rash creams? There are also cloth diaper safe options out there, you just have to find the perfect fit for your baby and your diapers. I've used Grandma El's, and have now switched over to CJ's BUTTer.
When build up happens you have to "strip" the diapers. There are many ways you can do this, if you do a little research on the web, you'll find some people soak their diapers in boiling water, with or without detergent, some scrub their diapers with original Dawn dish soap (because it takes away the greasiness), others wash diapers with Dawn, etc. I've soaked, washed and scrubbed, but I think scrubbing was the option I liked the most, not because it's the easiest (because it's NOT, it's the most time-consuming one) but because I feel like the build-up is really getting removed.
The other reasons for leaking diapers I've mentioned above can be more easily remedied.
Over saturation can be resolved by changing your baby more often (Lukka is a heavy wetter, so we change him every 2 hours).
Bad fit can be resolved by finding a brand that fits better on your baby. Lukka is very chubby, so not all diapers fit him well. The best fit for him, and I'd guess for any other baby with fat thighs and a round belly, are: RagaBabe (longer velcro tabs and larger leg opening) and Kawaii (longer rise). We have many other brands, some fit better than others, but these two are the total leak proof ones because of the fit.
Slow absorbing fabric (like hemp) can be paired with a fast absorbing one. For example, a pocket diaper can be stuffed with a hemp insert topped with a microfiber insert. Or you can simply switch to a more absorbent material.
Unprepped diapers, or under prepped ones, can be prepped. Prepping means washing the diapers or inserts prior to using them. This is usually necessary with natural fibers like hemp, bamboo or cotton. You'll need to wash them in hot water at least 5 times, some require more time to become really absorbent! And dry between washes. I had a really bad experience with my Grovia soakers that I washed more than 10 times and were still leaky.
You see, I've addressed all the issues above, and I make a point of stripping all our diapers once a month, and yet... we still deal with leaks daily!
So, what's causing our regular leaks?
I believe it's a combination of two things. First, that Lukka pees too fast and since he mostly wears pockets or all-in-ones that have stay-dry fabric, the stay-dry fabric doesn't absorb pee fast enough. He can't wear prefolds or organic cotton diapers too often because his pee is too acid and causes irritation, that's why he needs the stay-dry fabric. Second, he pees upwards, so if the diaper has a strip of PUL on the inside touching the baby's belly (bumGenius does! thus, the answer!!!), the pee hits that waterproof part and slides to the back of the diaper, causing it to leak when Lukka is lying on his back.
Going with pocket diapers means having to deal with leaks, at least for us, but I look at them as challenges that I have to conquer and understand. Makes cloth diapering more fun instead of stressful.