Coping With Reusable Nappy Leaks

baby laying on his back underneath a wooden climber wearing a reusable nappy

Reusable nappy leaks⁣? Ok, so they DO happen. Yes, cloth is better than disposables for this and yep you won’t experience a poonami with them BUT they are not magic and I really do believe that some people think that they shouldn’t ever get a leak from reusables and once they do, it gets blown out of proportion. My first child wore disposables and if I spent all my time posting into groups every time he had a nappy leak, that would be all I’d spend my time doing! Honestly, we had nighttime leaks, we had day out leaks, we had pressure leaks and we had far too many poo explosions for my liking.⁣ ⁣

I started to cloth bum my second child and in comparison to disposables

we’ve not had as many leaks and I’ve had zero poo issues. Thank goodness! But of course, there are times when reusable nappy leaks do happen.

The reasons? Well they can range from baby to baby but most include:⁣

– Incorrect fitting⁣

– Teething (extra dribble, extra thirsty etc) ⁣

– Increased feeds during growth spurts ⁣

– They are ill⁣

– Drinking more that day/week⁣

– Not the right brand for your baby⁣

– Pressure from car seat or pushchair straps⁣

– They’ve been left too long in that nappy ⁣

– Detergent build-up in the nappies which affects their absorbency⁣ ⁣

And for each of these, there is usually a solution…



Finding a brand that fits your baby’s shape is key and we are really lucky that there are plenty of brands to choose from now and all of which really vary in size, styles, thickness, materials and so on. Not all disposables suit all babies and the same goes for cloth. 

To prevent your reusable nappy leaks from happening you want to ensure that a few things are happening. Firstly, that the leg elastics sit snugly around the groin area and tucking them under plays a key part in this. You also want to check for gaping around the waist, too much can allow urine to escape but too tight can cause it to be pushed out of the nappy. It needs to sit comfortably and allow your baby to move freely. Having a play with risers can actually also help to prevent against leaks. Some people are too fast to move up to the next stage and find leaks begin. If the nappy fits your child nicely don’t be too quick to make changes and at the same time don’t feel it is going back a step by going smaller, sometimes it just works for your child’s body shape.

You may also need to look into boosters for your nappies especially if you know they are drinking more during the leaking period. There’s no set rule for boosting, you can mix and match your brands/materials and find a combo that works and it’s also worth bearing in mind that you cannot boost a disposable, this is a great tool that you can only do on a reusable nappy!

baby wearing a reusable nappy climbing his wooden climber



One of my other favourite topics and I have plenty of blog posts on it too. Teething can cause a wide variety of issues and excess dribble is a common symptom. This dribble doesn’t just go down the front of them, it will also be swallowed and that can go on to cause more acidic urine, upset tummies, hiccups and increased thirst. With all of these factors taken on board, it makes sense that they will start to be heavier wetters and the main step you can take here is to just change them more often and boost appropriately. You may also experience a teething nappy rash during this time so increasing how often you change your baby, allowing nappy free time, boosting those nappies and using a liner will all help.

Increased Feeds

Babies will go through a lot of growth spurts especially in that first year and no matter if you breastfeed or bottle-feed you will most probably end up increasing and feeding on demand quite often. Don’t forget that breastfeeding is also a huge comforter so if they are ill or teething or just upset, they will look to you for that boob and suckle away. If they do this throughout the night, you will most definitely find you will need to change your baby more often (and this goes for disposables too). It is just a natural process and you have to go with the flow here. There’s no need to worry about them weeing more, you just need to react to it in the appropriate way. Choose a nappy and a wrap, choose a good combination of boosters, keep extra nappies close to your bed, change them just before a feed maybe? Do what works and what helps you. Leaks here are going to happen regardless of whether you use disposables or reusables, all that fluid has to go somewhere!

love breastfeeding on the beach


When a baby or child is ill they can become more thirsty and of course, the one thing you are told to do during this period is to keep their fluid levels up. Again, if reusable nappy leaks occur just follow as stated above. They need the extra water or milk during this time and it shouldn’t last too long.


Just because a brand works perfectly for your friend’s baby does not mean it is going to work for yours. As I mentioned above, fit plays a huge part in this problem and every nappy is very different. Some are slim, some are more bulky, some are microfibre and others are cotton and bamboo. The best way to figure out what you like and what works is by visiting a nappy library and borrowing a selection to try. You could also ask friends who use cloth and see if they would allow you to try from their stash. There is no right or wrong, it is simply about finding that brand or combination of brands that will see your baby through.

a mixture of popper and velcro cloth nappies on a white background

Left Too Long

Easily done, don’t feel guilty, we’ve all been there and I have done this in both disposable nappies and reusables. It’s just one of those things and I can tell you now, it will happen more than once! 

Pressure Leaks

Pressure leaks are a pain but there’s no real getting around these except to maybe change your baby right before you go in the car or pushchair.⁣ You could also boost their nappy or try a more absorbent nappy and add a wrap over the top, something like a Totsbots Bamboozle with Peenut wrap is perfect. Don’t feel that you need to start loosening straps, those still need to do their job.

Detergent Build-Up

For detergent build-up you’ll need to perform a strip wash which I go into more detail in this post about washing cloth nappies.

Most of these will be short-lived problems and with a little adjustment to your routine or by altering what nappies you use, you should be able to fix your reusable nappy leaks quite easily. Have a play with brands and boosters, ask the brands for their own advice as they know their nappies the best and just remember that illnesses, teething, growth spurts etc. don’t actually last that long (even though it may feel like it!) and soon enough those heavy wetting periods will be over. Please, please don’t give up on reusables. Just because they leak from time to time doesn’t mean they aren’t good and, from my experience, they are far better than disposables.

If you are experiencing any other cloth nappy issues I have you covered here:

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