Nappies leak - that's just the nature of nappies in general!

So nappies leak, they always have, they always will. 

All types of nappies can and do leak at times! 

I've worked as a nanny in a few different countries, I've worked with children ever since I left school, I'm an oldest sister, I've worked in long day care, in the babies room, right through to 3-4 yr olds. I have 3 children of my own and nieces and nephews and friends with babies. Lucky me!

What all this means is I've changed tens of thousands of nappies! All sorts of cloth nappies, all sorts of rubbish (single use/disposable) nappies, they all leak at times. Why? Generally its just the nature of dealing with liquids! But there are some reasons and some things that can be done about it, so lets have a quick chat about why and what you can do :) 


Often nappies leak for 2 main reasons - 

1. They are full

2. They aren't fitting properly

Lets look at these 2 main reasons in more detail. Then we'll have a look at some "other stuff" to consider as well. 


Some quick questions to help you trouble shoot any "leaks"  

1. Does the nappy leak almost straight away? - Yes? - check the fit 

2. Did it seem to leak before you even picked up your baby? - possibly weed whilst nappy free mid change, in stealth mode ;)

3. Is the nappy saturated? Yes? - Add more absorbency --- No? check the fit

4. Does the nappy leak on the same side all the time? Yes - Is your baby a boy? Yes? - Did you point him down? Yes? - Did you check if pointing straight down was moved whilst putting on the nappy? No? Check again after the nappy is on, things can move while you stretch across the nappy to do up one side or the other.


They are full

If you put 10 litres of water in a 9 litre bucket, it will over flow. The same goes for a nappy of course! This might mean the nappy is saturated all through the nappy, or it might just be that the nappy is "full" in the wet-zone and the liquid is not getting to the other parts of the nappy before it is over flowing. Ever seen a toddler in a disposable that has been left on them so long it is hanging down between their knees? That's a quick way to understand where the wet-zone is. 

Boys and girls tend to have slightly different wet-zones, this also changes for sleep times too of course. 

Generally speaking boys tend to need more absorbency towards the front than girls. 

Tummy sleepers need a lot more absorbency towards the front and even up the front of their nappies.

With cloth nappies absorbency location can be customised. More absorbency can always be added to ANY type of nappy at ANY time of day or night. With bambooty nappies you can target the absorbency without adding more absorbency, by folding 1 or more flaps towards the front of the nappy instead of laying them all flat. Alternatively you can add in a mini booster in the wet-zone to target any extra absorbency needed in the nappy. For boys, towards the front, girls more in the middle of the nappy, sleep times, maybe at the back of the nappy or right up the front for tummy sleepers. Larger night inserts can also be added in at any time of day or night as well. 

While most people will use our nappies with the white, stay dry "suede-cloth" fabric on-top, you can also target the absorbency better if needed, by placing the absorebncy flaps the other way around and having the bamboo fabrics next to the skin in the wet-zone. As babies/toddlers get older and start holding onto their wee longer, they often start to flood the nappy all of a sudden rather than in smaller more frequent wees. This can cause problems for nappies trying to absorb quickly enough in the wet-zone. Having the bamboo fabric on-top in these times can be very beneficial. Bamboo on-top can be achieved by using the flaps already contained in (AIO) or provided with the nappy (AI2) or by using mini boosters or night inserts and laying them on-top instead of underneath the existing absorbency.

Frequency of changing - how frequently you change your baby's nappy is up to you of course. How much absorbency your nappies will need will depend on how frequently the nappies are being changed. Time of day can make a difference too. Here are some guidelines for you. 

The Mayo Clinic states, "Whether you use cloth diapers, disposables or both kinds, always change your baby as soon as possible after he or she wets or soils the diaper to keep the bottom as clean and dry as possible."

Childcare experience - when I worked in long day care, we changed or checked nappies every 2 hours to meet adequate hygiene standards for accreditation. 

Bambooty suggests - aiming for 2-3 hourly changes, for a balance of best practice in terms of frequency of changing and being practical about daily life in a family! Although we believe the very best thing is for mostly nappy free time, but that is long story. (and you thought this was a long blog post).

Personally I used to aim for 2 hrly changes, making a mental note in the morning of when they would be during the day, based on the timing of the first change of the day. I wouldn't wake a sleeping baby to change though and with my children's wetting habits, in the morning I needed to boost the nappy, by the afternoon a nappy could be almost dry even after 4+ hours. (by accident)

Dispoables tend to leak due to being full. The design seems to focus on speed of absorption rather than a fit for containment. If disposables are leaking they usually need changing more frequently, or for night times when that isn't possible, adding a cloth nappy absorbency booster will help :) Mini boosters or night inserts depending on how much more absorbency is needed and how much will fit inside the nappy. 


They aren't fitting properly

If nappies don't fit properly they can easily leak. Gaps are highly likely to let liquid out of the nappy before it can be absorbed. 

Tweaking the fit of a nappy can sometimes take a few goes or more, usually once a good fit has been found, as long as a nappy isn't left on too long, (ie: isn't full or over flowing) they usually don't leak. Hooray! 

Fit tips - We have a few different blog posts on fitting different styles of nappies, generally speaking though, once the nappy is on, run your fingers around the legs to check the fit isn't too loose or too tight, if you can't get a finger inside fairly easily, it is too tight and needs loosening. If it is too loose you also need to adjust the fit. Either way, try to move the leg elastic as high up the legs towards the hip crease as possible. This makes it more comfortable for baby and better for containment.

Other fit tricks include, adding in a mini booster or similar, this can help a nappy size to fit a bit earlier if it was slightly too big. Some bambooty nappies come with cross over snaps and One Size Options and Easy One Size have hidden hip snaps that can also be used to tweak the leg fit if necessary. 

Tummy gape with a snap closure nappy? skip a snap across the tummy. See a demo here.

Easy Dry stretching the rise - see check out these demos to see how to stretch out the sizing of your Bambooty Easy nappies. This can and should be applied to all our easy nappies. Easy Dry, Easy Nights, Easy One Size and One Size Options too. Stretching out the shell of the nappy helps to get a great fit on your little or not so little one, as the case may be. 

Demo 1Demo 2

To fit your Easy One Size or One Size Options nappies with the newborn setting, here are some clips for you. 

Quick instructionsReal demo (5 week old baby) 

For tummy sleepers, we recommend higher rise nappies such as our Easy One Size, One Size Options or XL Easy Nights. Moving as much abosrbency towards the front of the nappy (without compromising the fit) and having the natural fabrics next to the skin. 

Boys need to be pointing down of course. Check this again after the nappy is on. If you have a baby boy who's nappy is leaking on the same side all the time (cloth or rubbish nappies) tripple check this!

Please do trial and error your own situtation and fix too! While we have a lot of expereince with lots of types of nappies, we aren't there with you, so don't feel nervous about trying something new! and let us know how you get on if you find a neat tip or trick, we love hearing from you all! 


Usually tweaking the fit and/or figuring out the absorbency requirements fixes most issues, if not, then please do read on :) 

Other Stuff

Other stuff can include factors such as potty training readiness. This happens at varying stages for all children and varying beliefs on being ready to go no nappies! Exciting stuff, unless you will miss your cloth nappies, in which case my condolances, however this is a positive milestone for your little person, so we'll focus on the positives ;) 

Day time - potty training. 

When our little ones get ready to potty training they can start to hold onto their wee longer, thus flooding their nappy very quickly. This makes it challenging for a nappy to absorb quickly enough to meet the rush of liquid thrown at it. Sometimes this can cause leaks. As mentioned above, putting the natural absorbency next to the skin will help the nappy to absorb faster and therefore reduce leaks. You may also need to add in boosting with mini boosters or night boosters as the case may be. 

Side sleepers - tricky! 

Side sleepers tend to pose similar problems for a nappy that the potty training stages can also cause. Flooding the nappy quickly. This is particular for side sleepers as the part of the nappy that needs to absorb super quickly is the narrowest part of the nappy. Again having the natural fabrics on-top (next to the skin) helps the nappy to absorb as quickly as it possibly can. Making sure any night or nap time boosting is appropriately positioned as well. It can go on-top if that's easy :) 


While it is fairly hard to damage your nappies with your washing, the obvious things to avoid, bleach and fabric softener, will both obviously reduce the nappy's ability to function, both in the short term as well as the long term. They can deteriorate the fabrics, elastics and PUL, plus leaving behind unwanted residues. These are to be avoided! Or just cope with the consequences if you choose to use them anyway I guess. If you have used fabric softner, you'll need to thoroughly wash them again at least once to remove it. How many times that will take is a bit of trial and error, it isn't the end of the world though :). Washing is one of the harshest environments that a nappy goes through, that and being soaked in urine for hours or days at a time. For the urine, we suggest in our care/washing instructions to rinse them asap after changing, this dilutes the urine so increases the lifespan of the nappy. Also washing every other day to thoroughly remove the urine from the nappy. For the general washing factor, there isn't much that can be done about this, as of course they need to be cleaned! But keep it realistic. Start with some detergent and a regular wash with a prerinse, if this is not clean enough for you, then by all means wash for longer or warmer water or more detergent until you find what you are happy with, just keep in mind even the gentlest washing does impact the lifespan of the nappy's absorbency in particular. Which is how this is relevant to the leak factor.

PUL delaminating

Thankfully this is not a common problem for bambooty nappies hooray!! :D If it has happened, there isn't much you can do about it unfortunately. Contact the retailer you purchased the nappy from if it is within a reasonable time frame. Eg: If your knickers lost their elastic or got a hole in them after you'd been using them for a year or so, would you contact the retailer to complain? I doubt it. If this has happened, the shell or cover is relatively useless and has reached the end of its lifespan. Keep any absorbency from the anppy before you bin it though, snap in inserts are obvious, but even for our AIO nappies, I suggest cutting out the absorbency flaps, they may be useful in other nappies as mini boosters. 

Old nappies

As we can see with old towels, other underwear, jeans etc, clothing does wear out. While hopefully your nappies will last at least 1 child, if not more! They aren't going to be perfect for more than 2 years and then suddenly die when you don't need them anymore. Over time they will become ever so slightly less absorbent due to natural deterioration. Mostly you won't notice it from 1 week to another, but you might start to notice it over the years of use. Snap in nappies can easily have absorbency replaced within them. AIO nappies can also get new absorbency easily enough by cutting out the suedecloth flaps and laying in or sewing in more abosrbency. The shells are the most expensive part of the nappy and they usually last for many years, with a bit of TLC. The absorbency can easily be replaced or added to with boosting so you can have reliable nappies for many many years! We have some customers who have used their nappies on 4 babies! Believe it or not, we love hearing this :D :D :D 


How tight or loose is the clothing that is getting wet? Sometimes clothing such as onesies can tuck themselves into the edge of a nappy (any type) and wick or draw the moisture out of a nappy. This may appear like the nappy is leaking however it isn't. The clothing has assisted the wee to get outside of the nappy. This can also happen for example with loose tees etc touching the insde of the nappy at the back or tummy of the nappy, especiallly for tummy sleepers. None of these are a problem of course! Just keep in mind this could be happening. If it is, try to be aware of it, change a bit earlier or pop a mini booster in the wet-zone, a nappy with more absorbency in it is less likely to have the liquid wicking to the outside of the nappy. 


If you are still having troubles, please don't hesitate to get in touch. We're always happy to help :D 



Back to blog