Updated: Nov 12, 2021
Let's preface this guide with - If it doesn't leak and your baby is happy the fit is fine!
and it's ok to make mistakes!
If you're having issues or are just the kind of person that would like to know this stuff, read on:
Below is a description of how to fit a cloth diaper.
If you'd rather watch videos - here's a playlist of how to fit different types of diapers:
One Size Fits Most Diapers usually have rise snaps that adjust to baby's size. Some have adjustable elastics (Green Line Diapers, Fuzzibunz, Charlie Banana). Adjust these before putting the diaper onto your baby. Generally you will find what setting to use for what size online for each brand or just trial it and adjust if needed.
As a general rule cloth diapers sit a little lower than disposables, a bit like hipster jeans as opposed to high rise jeans (=disposables). So when you put your diaper down and your baby on top the back elastic should be just above their bum and under their belly button.
The next important step is to keep the diaper leg elastics in the crease where the underpants would usually sit. For some babies and/or diapers this isn't so crucial (for example Mother-ease Unos, Duos or Airflow wraps), others can't get a good seal without this. Leg elastics should fit snugly around baby without gaps or absorbent material poking through. Some people achieve this by squishing the diaper so it fits nicely in the crotch area as you put it on your baby. Some people just run their fingers around the elastics after closing the diaper and push in the elastics into the underpants crease. You will find your own way.
The best way to bring the wings to the front and close them is to pull slightly upwards first, almost as if towards you're baby's underarm, and then over to close the diaper.
Gap in the front
You should be able to comfortably fit 2 fingers into the front of the diaper - so don't make it too tight. You can play around with this to see what works best. If you get leaks out of the front, try a bit tighter. If you feel your baby is uncomfortable, try looser.
You don't have to have snaps symmetrical. Our bodies aren't a mirror image, so sometimes you will find one leg is chunkier than the other. That's ok.
Where you have 2 rows of snaps - you can stagger these so the tummy has more room but the legs are tighter or vice versa. Hook and loop can be more tailored as you don't have to fit within the given snap placements.
When you take the diaper off, you may see marks where the elastics sat. These should disappear after a while, just like sock marks. Different brands use different elastics and not all work with every baby's sensitivity.
Marks should not look red for long periods or angry/inflamed.
Some diapers have 3 snaps on each wing (some have even more). Usually there are 2 in the same row and then an extra one further back a.k.a. the hip snap. This extra one can help the diaper stay in place better because the front part of the diaper or wrap can't move up or down so much.
You will find tons of other guides that highlight different ways of fitting. There really is no rule, though. Some guides insist that you push up the extra fabric that is created when you snap down the rise buttons. Sometimes this can help achieve a tighter seal around the legs. Sometimes it may work better to push it down. In some diapers or wraps (Flip wraps for example) we've found the fabric just moves back down naturally as baby moves around.
You will soon find what works for you and remember - there is no cloth diaper police - do what works for you and your baby!
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