How to get a proper diaper fit | 7 Simple Tips for Parents

Getting a proper diaper fit is so important!  A proper diaper fit prevents diaper leaks and blowouts, and keeps your baby comfortable. 

First, we’ll talk about how to check if your diapers are fitting properly 

Then, we’ll talk about how to know when to change diaper sizes.

proper diaper fit quick tips guide

Proper diaper fit guide

Let’s start with checking the diaper your baby has now and if it fits correctly. Babies come in all shapes and sizes. So what works for one baby might not work for another.


How should a disposable diaper fit?

A disposable diaper should fit 

  • So there are no red marks on your baby. Red marks mean a diaper is too tight
  • So that it doesn’t leak. Occasional leaks can happen. But if your baby’s diaper leaks all the time, it may not fit properly 

How to fit the diaper tabs and waistband

The diaper tabs are the easiest way to adjust how a diaper fits. Try to fasten the diaper tabs so they go straight across and are even.

proper diaper fit- check that the diaper tabs are fastened straight across and evenly
See how the yellow tabs are about even across the diaper, and go straight across?

Many diapers have patterns in the area where you fasten the tabs. Use these to check how straight the tabs are. And that both tabs are pulled snugly about the same amount.

how not to fasten diaper tabs
WRONG! See how the tab on the left is pulled really far across and the tab on the right is only pulled in a little?

Finally, you should be able to slip one finger between the waistband and your baby. This quick check will tell you if the tabs are too tight or too loose.


How to fit the leg cuffs

Ah, but what about the diaper legs? How do you get these to fit well? Especially when your baby has particularly pudgy or skinny legs!

In general, the tighter you fasten the diaper tabs, the tighter the leg section will be. 

But that might not be ideal for your baby!

To fasten the legs more tightly, try angling the tabs downwards. This will keep the waist at about the same tightness. But then it will pull the legs tighter. 

angle tabs inward for a better diaper fit
If the diaper is loose around the legs, angle the tabs inward for a tighter fit. You may not need to do it as extremely as it is in this picture!

If this doesn’t work, try folding the waistband down and then fastening the diaper. This will make both the waistband and legs even tighter. 

If the diaper is still too loose, try folding the waistband down and then angling the diaper tabs inward to get a tighter fit.

Do the diaper ruffles go in or out?

The diaper ruffles go outside of the diaper. Check that they are not tucked inside. This helps prevent diaper leaks out the legs!

the leg ruffles should be pulled outside the diaper
Pull the leg ruffles so that they are outside of the diaper and not tucked into the diaper.

Related post: How to change a baby girl’s diaper


What if the diaper bunches up between my baby’s legs?

bunched up diaper
The baby’s butt stops where my finger is. But the diaper bunches up and hangs down. This is by design- it leaves room so messes don’t ooze out!

Diapers often bunch up between a baby’s legs to contain messes.

Diapers aren’t meant to fit tightly against your baby’s butt the way underwear fits on adults. There’s extra room built in there to contain poop and pee. If a diaper fit super close to the skin here, waste could just get squished right out. Yuck!


Do diaper tabs go in the front or back?

Diaper tabs fasten onto the front of the diaper. The tabs are attached to the diaper on the back. Put the diaper on your baby and fasten the tabs onto the front of the diaper.


Signs a diaper isn’t fitting properly 

The signs that a diaper isn’t fitting properly are frequent leaks, and red marks on your baby’s skin.

If the tips above don’t make your baby’s diaper fit properly, you may need a different diaper size.


What might happen if a diaper is secured too tight or too loose?

If a diaper is secured tight, it will be uncomfortable for your baby and leave red marks on their skin. If a diaper is secured too loose, the diaper could leak out the legs or back.


How do you know when to change diaper sizes? 

It may be time to change diaper sizes if:

  • You can pull the diaper tabs so tightly they meet in the middle of the diaper
  • The diaper tabs only cover about an inch of the diaper
  • Your baby’s diaper leaks after they wear it for a long time, like overnight
  • Your baby enters the weight range for the next size of diaper

If the tips above for adjusting diaper fit don’t help, you may need a different size diaper.

=Related Post: How many diapers does a baby use by size? =


Diaper size chart

In general, use the size chart above to figure out what size diaper your baby should wear. If your baby is between two sizes, try going up a size! It’s easy to have a bigger diaper and fasten it tightly. It’s hard to have a small diaper and make it fit a larger baby!

Most brands in the US use these diaper sizes. These include Huggies, Pampers, Luvs, Honest Company, and most store brands, like Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Costco. There are a few brands out there that simply call their sizes Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large, or something along those lines.


When to go up a size in diapers

Go up a size in diapers if

  • Your baby is ready for the next size, based on their weight
  • No matter how you fasten the diaper, it leaves red marks on your baby’s skin 
  • Your baby’s diaper leaks, especially if it can’t contain the pee output
  • The diaper tab indicators show the diaper is too small

Wait, what was that last tip? Yep, most diapers have an icon that helps you know when it’s time to change sizes! They aren’t always super obvious. These Member’s Mark diapers have small orange lines you can see near my fingers-

use size up indicators for a proper diaper fit
When the diaper tabs start landing in this area, it’s probably time to go up a size!

It’s called the size up indicator. And this graphic from Huggies explains it a lot better than I can!

use the size up indicators to ensure you have a proper diaper fit!
Not all brands have this particular orange stripe. But many do have some sort of pattern on the waistband. When you fasten the tabs and they start falling in the orange area, try going up a size!

=Related Post: Suffering from diaper blowouts? Read more tips to prevent them here! =


When to go down a size in diapers 

Go down a size in diapers if the diaper is too loose, even when fastened tightly. Signs a diaper is too large:

  • You can fit more than one finger between the waistband and your baby
  • Pee leaks out the diaper leg, even right after you put on a fresh diaper
  • You can pull the diaper tabs snug and they meet in the very center of the diaper. 
  • The diaper size chart indicates your baby is too low weight for that size of diaper

Your baby’s weight is the easiest way to check diaper size, but it leaves a lot of wiggle room!


Wrap up- How to get a proper diaper fit 

There you have it! 7 simple tips on how to get a proper diaper fit!

Now you know how to 

  • Adjust your baby’s diaper for the best fit
  • Identify when a diaper is too big
  • Tell when a diaper is too small

Let me know your other awesome diaper tips in the comments! 

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