How to Prevent Diaper Blowouts: A Mom’s Guide

Want to avoid diaper blowouts? Follow these tips to prevent blowouts up the back, leaking out the leg, diaper overflowing, and fitting a diaper properly. A diaper blowout happens when the diaper just can’t contain all the poop or pee. I’ve summarized these diaper blowout solutions step-by-step below. Or keep reading for detailed instructions on preventing diaper blowouts.

To prevent or avoid diaper blowouts, first make sure the diaper is on properly: pulled up to the child’s belly button, the leg ruffles should be pulled out, and the tabs should be fastened straight and snugly. Second, the diaper should be the right size. Your diaper may be too big or too small. For blowouts up the back, check the elastic or try a brand for active babies. If the diaper is overflowing, try going up a size, overnight diapers, a diaper insert, or using a cloth diaper cover over top of the disposable diaper.

If you are in a hurry, here’s a link to the cloth diaper covers I recommend. Those have saved me from several leaks and blowouts because they hold the diaper on more snugly and prevent leaks.

Like a good engineer, I’ll start with fixing the root cause before moving on to the specifics of which brands are best for containing diaper blowouts and leaks.

Diaper blowout solutions

Tips for putting on a diaper

First, it’s important to understand diapering, or putting the diaper on properly so that no leaks can happen. When putting a diaper on your baby, the back of the diaper should be about even with the baby’s belly button. With baby boys, ensure the penis is tucked down before fastening the diaper to reduce leaks. Ensure the outer diaper ruffle around the legs is pulled out. This elastic ruffle prevents leaks around the baby’s legs. Fasten the diaper snugly with the tabs, from back to front. You should be able to fit 1-2 fingers inside the waistband.

General tips for preventing diaper blowouts

Now that the diaper is properly secured, let’s talk about other ways to avoid all types of leaks and avoid diaper blowouts. Diaper size is key. Diapers typically come in ranges of overlapping sizes. For example, Size 1 diapers typically range from 8-14 pounds and Size 2 are 12-18 pounds. So if your baby is 12 pounds, wearing size 1 and experiencing blowouts, try moving to size 2. Many diaper brands have an indicator on the front showing when it’s time to go up a size.

A larger size diaper has more room and more absorptive material, which will prevent leaking. However, going up in size too soon may mean the diaper is too big and leaks will occur if the diaper doesn’t fit the baby well.

I didn’t realize some diaper brands are marked to help you know when it’s time to go up a diaper size!

Huggies website explains: “The Size Up Indicator can be found by identifying the “button” graphic. A good fit would mean that the tabs land on or over the “button”. If the tab does not reach the “button” comfortably it is time to consider transitioning to the next size diaper. ”

Second, the diaper needs to be fastened properly. The tabs should be fastened snugly around the baby’s waist, and you should be able to fit one finger between the baby’s waist and the diaper, and the baby’s legs and the diaper cuffs.  

I found I wasn’t always fastening my daughter’s diaper tightly enough, which caused lots of blowouts! I like to fasten the tabs, then go back and pull them a little tighter for a snug fit.

Do you have an active baby?

Is your baby moving around a lot when a blowout or leak happens? Brands like Huggies Little Movers and Pampers Cruisers tend to be extra sturdy and flexible to make sure the diaper stays in place while your baby is moving around.

How to prevent diaper blowouts up the back

What do I do if the diaper is leaking up the back? Most disposable diaper brands have an elastic band that goes fully around the back of the diaper. Check the fit of the elastic. It should fit snugly. You should be able to fit one finger between your baby’s back and the back of the diaper.  The diaper should completely cover your baby’s bottom and fit tightly.

Again, fastening the diaper tabs snugly is key!

Huggies waistband has a little pocket to help prevent diaper blowouts up the back!
Huggies waistband has a little pocket to help prevent a diaper blowout up the back!

Pampers Swaddlers tend to be taller than Huggies, which prevents poop from going higher up the back. But Huggies Snug & Dry have great, stretchy elastic around the top, where Pampers are more open. And Huggies have a pocketed waistband, which may help catch a blowout.

Huggies Little Movers and Pampers Cruisers have better elastic fittings to help diapers stay on with active babies. Both of these diapers are available in size 3, so once your baby is large enough, these are good options to  prevent a blowout.

Tightening my daughter’s diaper helped some, but sometimes at night, she poops a ton and I really don’t want to have to change her pajamas and sheets! Putting a cloth diaper cover over the disposable diaper may help contain the blowout and save you from having to do some extra laundry! I’d rather wash one diaper cover than change my baby’s pajamas and sheets!

Putting a cloth diaper cover over a disposable diaper may prevent a diaper blowout from leaking all over your baby’s clothes or sheets!

Even though this is a cloth diaper cover, just put it on over the disposable diaper. No need for inserts or any of the other stuff for cloth diapers. The snug elastic waistband will prevent a diaper blowout up the back!

Diaper leaking out the leg

How do the leg cuffs fit your little one? This is the main reason diapers leak out the leg. Check that the leg cuff is correctly positioned outside the diaper, around your baby’s leg. Parents who leave the cuffs tucked in often see leaks around the legs.

Note the leg cuff is pulled out to help contain leaks (blue arrow). Source.
The ruffle of the leg cuff should stick out, like the one on the right. Source: Pamper’s guide on How to Change a Diaper

If you notice redness or chafing around the leg, it is likely the diaper is too small. If the cuff seems loose and you can fit more than one finger between your baby’s leg and the cuff, then the cuff is too big.

Another common trick for reducing leakage around the leg is to change your diapering strategy. Roll down the top of the diaper so that the leg cuffs end up tight and close to the thighs. This can be helpful if the diapers you are using are too tall for your baby.

If those tips aren’t working, try different diaper brands. Each baby has different proportions and you may find that one brand of  diapers fits your baby better than others. Different brands have cuffs made of different materials, which may fit your baby better than others. For example, Huggies have very stretchy elastic, so seem to fit a wide variety of babies well. Honest Company and Babyganics diapers tend to run small, so if your baby just doesn’t fit into the next size up of diapers, perhaps a different brand may work better.  

Finally, try using a cloth diaper cover over a disposable diaper cover (mentioned in the blowing out up the back section above) may help prevent leaking out the leg. The cloth diaper cover has great elastic bands around the waist and legs to avoid leaking.

Diaper leaking through

Another common problem is diaper leakage from too much pee. A diaper that is too small can leak because there isn’t enough absorbent material for the volume of urine. A larger size diaper will have more absorbent material and be able to handle a larger volume of urine. As mentioned earlier, check to see if your baby is at the upper end of the weight range of the diaper size they are currently wearing. Many brands, like Huggies and Pampers also offer an overnight version that has more absorbent material than the normal version.

Funnily enough, I actually bought a cloth diaper cover to put over my baby’s disposable diaper because she kept blowing her diapers out the back while she was asleep. The first night I tried it? She didn’t have a blowout. She soaked through the disposable diaper, but the cloth diaper cover held everything in!

Diaper leaking when your baby sleeps on their side

A diaper leaking out the side is often a combination of the two sections above, a diaper leaking through because it is too small, and a diaper leaking out the leg when the leg cuffs do not fit your baby properly. Try going to a larger size diaper with more absorbent material, and checking that the leg cuffs fit properly. Again, overnight diapers may be a good choice, as they are extra-absorbent.

What is the best diaper for diaper blowouts?

The best diaper for blowouts depends on your baby. Every baby is unique, and the fit of the diaper depends a lot on your baby’s size and shape.

Best diaper for skinny or tall babies:

Pampers Swaddlers, Huggies, Luvs, Up&Up (Target’s store brand), Earth + Eden, and Honest Company tend to be recommended for tall, skinny babies.

Best diaper for small babies:

Honest Company and Babyganics diapers tend to run small. If your baby is wetting through diapers, but is too small to go up a size, these may be worth a try. Many brands also offer overnight diaper options, which may cost a little more but have more absorptive material.

Best diaper for babies with skinny legs and Best diaper for babies with thick or chunky legs:

This may seem backwards, but Huggies gets good all-around reviews for being great for babies with skinny legs and thick or chunky legs! Huggies is noted as having great elastic on their diaper legs and back. This tends to contain more blowouts, while fitting babies of different sizes.

It may not be the diaper! Some babies just put out a lot of volume. If your baby pees a lot, especially overnight, try adding a diaper insert like a Sposie Booster Pad to soak up more. These absorbent pads fit in any diaper so it can hold more pee. While it won’t help with poop-related leaks, it may help you avoid changing wet pajamas or bedding!

Disposable diaper liners like Sposies, available on Amazon, help avoid overnight urine leaks. Source: Sposie’s guide on Why do Diapers Leak.

Learn more about different diaper brands I’ve reviewed here!

Always be prepared for diaper leaks!

There are always unknown and unplanned variables, so be prepared! Stock the diaper bag with extra clothes, wipes, diapers, and outfits for both the baby and parents! I was leaked on twice before my baby was 6 weeks old! Since then, I’ve lost count of how many blowouts I’ve had!

To Recap:

  1. Diapering: Is the diaper put on properly?
    1. Pull the diaper up to the belly button
    2. The leg ruffles go outside the diaper
    3. Fasten the tags straight and snug
  2. Is the diaper the right size?
    1. If the diaper is overflowing, try going up a size
    2. If the diaper is leaking, try going down a size
  3. Diaper blowout up the back?
    1. Check the elastic band on the back
    2. Try diapers for active babies
  4. Diaper leaking out the leg?
    1. Check the leg ruffle
    2. Roll down the top of the diaper
  5. Diaper overflowing?
    1. Try going up a size
    2. Try overnight diapers
    3. Add a diaper insert
  6. Still leaking?
    1. Try a different brand

Have more questions about diapers? Check out these other diaper-related posts!

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