Cloth Diaper Fit is Important!
Getting a good fit with cloth diapers is super important to prevent leaks, and to make sure baby is comfortable. Luckily, it is pretty easy to do with a couple of helpful tips and tricks!
How do I know I have the right size?
Manufacturers of sized diapers will give an approximate weight range for each size, for example AppleCheeks Size 1 fits from about 6-18 lbs, and Size 2 from 16-35 lbs. This is of course a ballpark as babies come in tons of different shapes, but it is definitely a good starting point. For example, if your baby is 8 lbs, Size 1 is your best bet!
One Size Diapers
Since they are one size, you obviously have the right size diaper, but you need to choose the rise (e.g. the adjustment snaps on the front of the diaper). Some manufacturers give an estimate of weight ranges for each rise level which can be helpful. Each diaper is slightly different, but basically you want the rise small enough so baby isn't swamped in their diaper (it shouldn't go up to their shoulders!) but you aren't seeing plumber's butt either. If you aren't sure, pick a rise somewhere in the middle and see if you can get a good fit with it (as described below). If not, go either up or down until you can.
Rise settings will change over time, obviously as baby gets taller, but you may also need to change it if you have a particularly bulky diaper (e.g. extra inserts for overnight). Some babies will actually go down a rise (diaper gets smaller) once they start moving around more, so don't be shocked if this happens (and don't worry if your baby has their diaper fully unsnapped at a young age - they most likely will still fit in it until potty training!)
What does a good fit look like?
This is the way I think of it - if you can find a gap, so can pee! When you have baby's diaper on, lift their legs up and take a peek. Do you see any gaps around their legs? If you do, it is very likely that you will get a leak. Adjust the snaps/velcro until you don't see a gap. It should be tight enough around the legs to not see gaps, but still loose enough that you can easily slide a finger underneath the elastic. It is okay for the elastics on the diaper to leave pink marks (similar to the marks left on your legs when you take off your socks). If you are seeing angry red marks, the diaper may be too tight - try loosening it off a bit.
P.S. Sorry for my fuzzy model - my two year old would NOT lie still long enough to help me with photos! Winter Bear was much more cooperative!
Some diapers have tricks for getting a good fit around the legs that are specific to that diaper. For example, pulling the "wings" up on AppleCheeks diapers helps snug the elastic around the legs, while Funky Fluff recommends fastening the hip snap first. I have included links to a few manufacturer's fit videos in this post so you can get the very best advice for your diapers.
Waist and back
Around the waist is not as critical as the fit around the legs, but is still important (especially for preventing those up-the-back-poo-blowouts!). The elastic around baby's back should fit snugly with no gaps (similar to around the legs). On the front, the diaper should lie relatively flat with no large gaps. As baby starts moving around and sitting up, you may have to adjust this fit so it isn't too tight on their tummy when they sit up.
It might take a bit of playing around to get a perfect fit, but don't give up! If your newborn isn't quite fitting nicely into one size diapers yet, a week or so can make a huge difference! And of course, if you are having trouble, please don't hesitate to contact me for some suggestions!
Specific Fit Instructions From Manufacturers!
Every cloth diaper is designed differently, and as such has a different way to adjust it to give you the very best fit. Since our lovely manufacturers are the hands-down experts on their own products, here are some links to their advice (and videos!) on how to get a great fit.
AppleCheeks Specific Fit Tip: try pulling the "wings" up to remove gaps around the legs, especially in tiny babies.
A Best Bottom Specific Fit Tip: Once the diaper is on, pull the gussets out around baby's legs. This will prevent leaks and reduce red marks.
They have an excellent explanation below on how to check for a good fit with their diapers (Original 5.0, Freetime and also the Flip System)
"To observe fit, pick up your baby’s legs after putting the diaper on and observe how it fits around the legs and bottom. Is it snug? If you can see air between the diaper and their skin, then you need to refine the fit. Trying a smaller snap setting and fasten the tabs snugly. When your child stands up, notice how the insert or soaker is positioned relative to the back elastic. If the insert or soaker is higher than the back elastic, lay your child down, release the tabs, pull the diaper slightly towards the front and refasten the tabs. If you notice that the front of the diaper is positioned low over your baby’s thighs or that it is difficult to fasten the diaper around your baby’s waist, try using a larger snap setting. This will increase the rise of the diaper and improve overall fit. Remember, babies change shape frequently as they grow up. You may have times when your relatively young baby is using their one-size diapers on the largest setting. The same child may be on the medium setting several months later due to increased mobility."
Tip: Snapping the hip snaps first will help get a great fit around the legs. The two rows of waist snaps let you adjust the waist and legs separately.