"Wick"ing - When something dry touches something wet, the moisture wicks from the wet to the dry. In the cloth diaper world, we call this wicking. One common cause for wicking is not having all of the prefold or fitted diaper tucked inside the diaper cover. Another cause is when the stay dry lining of a pocket or all-in-one diaper rolls out. A diaper's tag sticking out of the diaper can have the same effect. Make sure to have all parts of the diaper covered by the PUL to help prevent wicking. Also make sure baby's clothing does not get tucked inside the diaper. For example, t-shirts getting tucked inside the top or little girls' bloomers getting tucked inside the legs can both cause wicking.
Compression - When something wet is compressed, moisture leaks out. Compression leaks are often caused by a heavily saturated diaper being squeezed by a car seat buckle, baby carrier, or even a hug. Changing more often easily remedies the problem. I have also seen tight fitting onesies and blue jeans cause compression leaking.
Repelling - When moisture is unable to be absorbed into the diaper due to some type of build-up on the diaper itself, the diaper is repelling. I usually tell people to think of waxing a car. The wax on the car repels moisture the same as any build-up on the diapers. The best way to tell if your diaper is repelling is how wet it is once it leaks. For example, if the insert inside of the pocket diaper is barely wet and the diaper leaks, you have repelling. To prevent repelling, stay away from diaper creams, fabric softeners and certain detergents. See a previous blog post about diaper stripping to remedy repelling.
Fit - The fit of the diaper greatly effects its performance. Many parents are tempted to buy diapers a little big for growing room. However, if there is gaping at the legs or waist, leaks will occur. The same goes for diapers that are too small. Once the rise becomes too short, poo leaks will become more prevalent. Also, smaller diapers have less absorbency (less surface area!) than the next size up.
Absorbency - A diaper can only hold so much! Like I mentioned above, if baby is soaking through the smalls quickly, it may be time to size up to mediums. However, some baby's just need more absorption power! A general rule of thumb: natural fibers, like hemp and cotton, hold more with less bulk than synthetic fibers like microfiber. By adding a natural fiber insert or doubler to your diaper, you can easily add more absorbency with little bulk. Please remember that cloth diapers do need to be changed about every 2 hours.
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