Picture this - your little one is looking so fluffing cute in their cloth diaper and BAM!
The diaper is leaking and makes a mess everywhere.
How did this happen?
What did you do wrong??
Don’t worry - we’ve all been there.
In fact, I’ve been there more times than I can fluffing count.
That’s why today, I’m giving you 11 tips that I have learned on how to improve the absorbency of your cloth diapers.
Let’s jump in!
1: Get a Fit Check
You’ve done your research and just KNOW you’ve got the diaper on correctly.
I’m here to tell you ever so lovingly that even veteran cloth diaper users *cough cough* me *cough cough* don’t always get it right and certainly struggled at the beginning with the right fit.
If you are experiencing any sort of leaks, this is the first place to look.
Do you have leg gaps?
Belly Gaps more than two fingers wide?
Excess fabric? Droopy Wings?
Just an odd-looking diaper?
Grab a birdseye view picture of your child in a cloth diaper and head to the Nicki’s Diapers Chatter Group, or send an email to the Nicki’s Diapers Customer Service Team.
We’re always happy to help you tweak your fit.
2: Evaluate Your Cloth Diaper Wash Routine
Even if your routine has been serving you well for weeks, months, or even years, it’s always worth the time to see if there’s something in your wash routine that is contributing to leaks or the dreaded repelling.
If your diapers were absorbing fine before but aren’t now, that’s almost always a clear indication that your wash routine could use a tweak or two.
Don’t let that scare you.
Most often, it’s adjusting the amount of detergent you’re using or adding a water softener like Calgon.
If something looks amiss, reach out to our Customer Service Team, who can help guide you through the process and deep dive into any concerns you may have.
3: Adjust the WHERE
Ensuring the fabric covers where you need absorbency is often overlooked.
If you have a belly sleeper, for example, you’re going to want to make sure that the absorbent materials cover the entire front.
We often see many questions of where to place inserts, flats, and prefolds on boys and girls.
The truth, for the most part, is that gender doesn’t play a role.
A girl can still pee more towards the front or back, and so can a boy!
It’s really the luck of the draw.
Note where the leak or absorbency is and try to place your absorbent materials heavily in those areas.
4: Play with the Cloth Diaper Folds
When I was initially coming up with this list, I won’t lie and say I thought I’d only be telling you about flats and prefolds, but inserts can and should be folded too if laying them straight out isn’t working for you!
Lalabye Baby is a great example here.
They have two soakers, one small and one larger.
When you receive these great bamboo prefold diapers, these inserts are stacked.
While this may suit some children, I get the absolute best leak protection when I fold the large insert in half and use the smaller insert flat.
This tip can be applied to every diapering system.
Fold in the middle if you need to increase some absorbency.
Working with flats? Perhaps the origami fold?
Play around with the square piece that you have folded.
Maybe you end up folding it into four instead of three or fold down an edge to give you even more layers.
Have FUN with it! It’s like a science experiment!
5: Layer Effectively
Different sustainable fabrics offer different absorbent properties!
Layering them in your favorite cloth diaper in absorption rate order is always always the way to go!
Stay true to this order:
- Microfiber (make sure it’s not directly touching skin!)- this is the fastest absorbing fabric
- Cotton - this absorbs almost as quickly as microfiber
- Bamboo - middle of the road in absorption rate, but holds quite a bit.
- Hemp - the tortoise in the race in absorption rate but holds the most.
For example, in a pocket diaper, I would have microfiber closest to the baby and hemp or bamboo most relative to the outside.
6: The Flooder
Suppose your entire cloth diaper is sopping wet after being completely dry two seconds before you’re likely experiencing flooding!
This phenomenon is quite common as babies age into toddlerhood.
Their bladders are becoming more efficient.
Way to go, bladder!
The fix is quite simple but may require some new diapering materials.
Say it with me, MICROFIBER.
I know you may not be a fan of anything synthetic, but as microfiber is the fastest to absorb, it’s your best bet.
Still not wanting to embrace the microfiber? Try some cotton!
7: The Belly Sleeper
I don’t know how your kiddos sleep, but mine like to curl up like a snail, and there’s a lot of pressure going on towards the belly.
This can cause countless belly leaks, which are such a colossal pain in a$$.
The sheet changes...stripping diapersand the beds...just no.
No one has time for that.
The solution is to pack your absorbency heavily upfront and ensure that all of your absorbent materials are fully covered with your cloth diaper cover, pocket, etc.
The reverse is true for leaks happening when your baby is still laying safely flat on their back.
Newborns tend to leak toward the end.
Combat that by adding in a bamboo doubler closer to the back top of your diaper.
8: The Ultimate Overnight Solutions
This is a loaded question, but I’ll run through what we have used with success.
My kids have all been a bit different in terms of their absorbency needs, so I think I should have a solution to suit your squish—the Holy Grail for Super Soakers - Twinkie Tush Night Night Fusion with a wool or PUL cover.
I did still need to add a layer of microfiber for days.
I know they drank more closer to bedtime, but we RARELY have a leak with these, and if we do- it’s user error.
If this still isn’t enough for you, an Imagine XL Pocket stuffed with a hemp insert, flat cloth diaper, or the included insert over your favorite fitted packs quite the punch!
My second favorite super heavy wetter fitted is made by Sloomb!
Check out their Overnight Bamboo Fitted if you can’t swing a Twinkie Tush.
The Middle of the Road - A Geffen Jersey Hemp Flat in your favorite pocket diaper or cloth diaper cover holds around 20oz and locks on to moisture.
Bonus that this is a pretty inexpensive overnight cloth diapers setup.
If you need a touch more absorbency, the Bamboo Fitteds from Imagine Baby Products and Nicki’s Diapers hold just as much as the Geffen.
They are easily boosted with a Geffen Super Absorber if you need to.
The Light Wetter - Rejoice. You have one of the most comfortable babies known to man.
I have only had one of these unicorn babes, but even so, we needed to use, you guessed it- Geffen!
A Geffen Fladdle or Flat will hold up to light wetters.
Not wanting to deal with all that? Most bamboo all in ones with a booster, such as Geffen, will get you through the night.
9: Embrace the Sheep
You’ve tried everything, but your PUL is still soaked.
Or, your solution is just too fluffy, and you’re having a hard time covering up your overnight solution; think woolie thoughts.
Wool is antimicrobial, breathable, temperature regulating, and SOFT while being able to pick up some of the absorbency that your PUL solutions can’t.
While wool is only as good as underneath, it can lend a hand and wake up to dry sheets.
We’ll chat more about wool in a future blog post so stay tuned!
10: Check Your Absorbent Materials!
This ties into the wash routine but can be a pretty good indicator if something is amiss.
None of your cloth diapers should feel slimy.
Okay, not like slime, but they’ll have a coated feeling.
You’ll know. It’s almost waxy, and it’s not a very lovely sensory experience.
If your diapers don’t feel normal, evaluate your wash routine!
If you’re using Microfiber and no longer feel or look as fluffy, they’ve likely lived their best life and are ready to be used for other things around the house, like washing windows.
Microfiber tends to have a lifecycle of one kiddo.
If you’re nearing the end of 2 years or somewhere in between, remove those from your rotation and treat yourself to some new inserts or upgrade to natural fiber.
11: Check your PUL
Before I tell you to check your PUL, I feel compelled to warn you about one teensy tiny detail.
DO NOT LOOK AT WET PUL!
Y’all - that’s what nightmares are made of.
Wet PUL will absolutely look terrifying, and you won't truly be able to gauge if it’s been compromised.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way.
Look over the exposed PUL on your diapers.
Flip pockets inside out if you’re using those, and look for cracks, nicks, and delamination.
Delaminated PUL will look like a layer is pulling away.
Cracks will be deep, and you’ll see the polyester layer underneath-same with nicks.
If your PUL has been compromised, check your washing machine for any sharp edges and evaluate your wash routine (some additives can shred PUL - ask me how I know).
Small nicks can also be caused by washing wet bags in your stash, which is why we recommend washing them inside out.
There’s not much that can be done to save PUL damage.
Yes, some sources say you can try xyz, but none are “baby safe” and haven’t been tested.
I have successfully used damaged diapers by merely increasing absorbency and knowing that I will have to change more frequently.
If you’re using Best Bottom Diapers and your PUL is experiencing any of the above- never fear!
Best Bottoms have two layers of PUL, and the first layer of PUL damage won't result in leaks
Conclusion - Tips to Improve Cloth Diaper Absorbency
Absorbency issues can always be troubleshot and fixed!
Join our Cloth Diaper Chatter Page, email customer service and keep reading this blog - to get all the information you need.
On top of all of that, we just launched The Official Nicki's Diapers TikTok!
On the Nicki’s Diapers TikTok page you will be able to find cloth diapering how-to’s, shenanigans, and much more!
If you haven’t found the absorbency tip, you desperately need to be sure to reach out!
We’d love to hear from you so we can not only help you but help others who may be experiencing the same absorbency woes.