Most of us are fairly familiar with blowouts. You know, when you just need some me-time so you book it to your fave hair salon for a new hair-do?? ;) Don't worry, I won't be quitting my day job to pursue comedy! All jokes aside, many of us have experienced firsthand the OTHER, dreaded definition for a blowout--the baby poo-splosion that wreaks havoc on your baby’s clothing, crib sheets, car seat, or YOU!
If you have been a parent for a while, I’m sure you’ve dealt with your fair share of diaper leaks and blowouts from your baby. But for you new mommas out there, you may be here because your baby is having repeated blowouts and you’re at your wits' end. (That was definitely me–the one scouring the internet for any and all tips for getting those nighttime leaks and up-the-back explosions to stop!)
Having had two kiddos now and having dealt with plenty of these diaper problems, I’m here to tell you that there really are some simple tricks and tips you can try to get those dreaded diaper leaks and blowouts to stop!
What Causes Diaper Leaks and Blowouts?
There can be countless variables that can result in a leaked diaper. Getting to the root cause of why it’s happening so often can help you solve the problem and keep it from happening in the first place. Here are some things that can contribute to an influx in diaper blowouts/leaks:
- The diaper is becoming too saturated before the next changing.
- You’re using the wrong size diaper.
- The diaper brand you’re using does not fit your baby’s body shape/size well.
- You’re not fastening the diaper correctly.
- Baby is scooting around in the crib (or you’re holding your baby) in a way that’s twisting or compressing the diaper.
- Baby’s diet has changed, or has developed an intolerance to a food.
- Your baby has been constipated, leading to everything being released at once.
- Baby’s clothing is too tight or restrictive.
Tips & Tricks to STOP Blowouts & Leaks:
1. Change your baby more often:
Baby’s go to the bathroom a lot. I bet I’m not the only one that feels like my babies always go to the bathroom as soon as I put them in a nice, fresh diaper. I guess there’s something about a clean diaper that just makes them want to fill it right back up!
Babies (especially newborns) are constantly taking in liquid throughout the day and voiding excess liquid into their diapers. Even if you have ultra-absorbent diapers, they will hit their limit. If the diaper is full when they need to go pee or poo, the diaper is unable to absorb any of the liquid and it’s more likely to run up their back or out the leg holes. Changing them every few hours can help.
2. Use the correct size diaper for your baby:
We all know diapers come in different sizes, from newborn on up. Most diaper brands print a guide on the side of the package listing a recommended weight range for each size. Following this guide can be helpful to ensure your baby is wearing the correct size.
However, it’s also important to remember that every baby is different! For example, if you have an 8 pound newborn, they could fall within the newborn or the size 1 range. Some 8 pound babies will wear newborn diapers for weeks, while another baby of the same weight may need a bigger size due to his/her body shape. If you're not sure what size to get and your baby’s weight is on the upper end of the range, try the bigger size first. (You’ll need the bigger size eventually).
- Newborn diapers: Up to 10 lbs.
- Size 1: 8 - 14 lbs.
- Size 2: 12 - 18 lbs.
- Size 3: 16 - 28 lbs.
- Size 4: 22 - 37 lbs.
- Size 5: 27 - 35 lbs.
- Size 6: Over 35 lbs.
If you’ve followed the sizing guide on the side of the package and your baby is still having blowouts, then you may need to switch sizes!
- Size down if: The diaper tabs that wrap around the waist overlap too much, or if the leg cuffs do not sit flush against their legs (leaving gaps).
- Size up if: The diaper tabs are barely reaching around the waist, or if there are red marks or impressions being left on your child’s hips, waist, or legs from the diaper.
3. Position and fasten the diaper correctly:
How you position the diaper on your baby’s body AND how you fasten it can make a BIG difference. This may not be as straightforward as you’d think either. I’ve definitely noticed when my family members or pediatrician have fastened the diaper on my child, that it’s either way too loose, crooked, or too low/high in the back.
Taking a few extra seconds to make sure it’s straight and snug can prevent you from spending extra time later cleaning up a big poopy mess.
Here are some diaper fastening tips:
- Open the diaper and stretch it out before laying your baby down. Stretching out the diaper ensures that the baby is placed right in the middle, and none of the leg frills, elastic, or built-in barriers are tucked in, which would prevent them from doing their job.
- Lay your baby flat on his/her back with the fold just below their bottom. This will ensure that the diaper is snug around their legs.
- Check to make sure the backside of the diaper is about halfway up the back or about belly button height. This helps the back of the diaper from being positioned too low, which can lead to back blowouts.
- Pull the front of the diaper up and over your baby and adjust as needed. If the front of the diaper seems really low, the diaper may be positioned a little too high in the back. Pull it forward so that the front of the diaper is just below the belly button, and about even with the back of the diaper.
- Tighten tabs around the waste so the diaper is snug but not too tight! If you have a skinnier or taller baby, you may need to secure the tabs lower down on the front of the diaper. This will create a tighter seal around the top edge of their legs.
- Run your fingers around the leg cuffs! This is essential for preventing leaks and blowouts! You want the frills and elastic edging to be pulled out. This will help create a seal and protective layer around their bottom. This elastic edging is actually a leak guard. If it’s tucked in and doesn’t surround their whole bum, they are likely to leak!
- For boys: If you have a little boy, it is essential that you angle their little penis straight down before fastening the diaper. I had COUNTLESS leaks when we first had our son, and doing this helped a lot.
- Note: As your little guy starts rolling around and moving more, you may experience more leaks, as his penis may be shifting within the diaper. We had excessive urine leaks from his diaper when he started rolling over and sleeping on his tummy. If this is happening, I’d recommend sizing up in diapers at night. This completely solved the issue for us as it gave him more room when his penis would shift upwards, preventing the urine from shooting up and out the top corner of the diaper.
4. Get diapers with higher absorbency:
This can be extra helpful for nighttime, especially if your baby is sleeping all the way through the night. Not all diapers are created equal, and some are just built with better materials that absorb greater volumes. Some people recommend overnight diapers, but sometimes a simple brand switch can do the trick!
5. Switch diaper brands:
People come in all shapes and sizes! And so do babies! Not every diaper brand will work for every baby because some babies have chunky rolls, while some are petite; some have tall, elongated torsos, while some are short and stout. Since becoming a parent, I’ve noticed that moms can be passionate about the brands they use, even (and may I say, especially) the diaper brands they use! What one mom swears by may just not be a good fit for your baby’s body type!
I learned this very quickly when I had my daughter! She was going through a phase where she was having blowout after blowout. I tried several brands that were highly recommended, but when I’d fasten them around her waist, there would be too much space in the back, or they wouldn’t fit well around her little legs. I tried literally every diaper brand available before finding the one that conformed to her body PERFECTLY.
Everyone is different, so sometimes you need to just stop scrolling the diaper reviews and just test some different ones out for yourself.
6. Adjust clothing size:
Yes, clothing sizes can impact baby blowouts as well. It may seem strange, but if the pants or onesie that your child is using is compressing their diaper, it makes it more difficult for the diaper to do its job as an absorbing agent. Instead, the clothing can compress on the diaper, pushing any pee or poop up and out of the diaper. So if you’ve been putting off moving to the next size up in clothing, it may be time to bite the bullet and get your baby that wardrobe refresh they need.
7. Use diapers your baby has outgrown to extend back coverage:
When your baby outgrows a diaper size, you may be tempted to get rid of the excess. However, I found that using the small, outgrown diapers as “diaper extenders” really saved us.
To make your own DIY diaper extender, open up your correct size diaper and lay it flat on the ground. Open up your outgrown diaper (normally a newborn size for me). Place it directly on top of the other diaper. Slide the newborn diaper up so that the back portion of it hangs off the top. You can then place your baby on top and fasten the correct size diaper as normal.
The newborn diaper acts as a nice extension up the back and stays in place perfectly. This was my FAVORITE hack I found on YouTube years ago and it definitely saved us!
You can also buy cloth diaper extenders to attach onto the diaper, but I definitely prefer to just use an old newborn or size one diaper so I can throw it out!
8. Use a reusable diaper cover or try switching to reusable diapers:
I've had friends that LOVE their reusable diapers. Some say they get a better fit and seal which can help prevent diaper leaks. I’ve never used reusable diapers, but this may be a beneficial tip for you if you've tried everything else!
If you’re wanting to use disposable diapers still, you can always purchase a reusable diaper cover. These are washable and can be placed over your baby’s disposable diaper to create another barrier. If your little one is leaking lots at night, this may be worth a try!
9. Use diapers with a pouch in the back:
If you haven’t tried out different diaper brands, you may not know what I mean by a “pouch” or “pocket” on the inside of the diaper. Some diaper brands have an elastic, upside down pocket on the back of the diaper. This often catches poop if it starts to work its way up your baby’s back. When we had my daughter, switching to a diaper that had a deep, inside pocket (like Huggies Little Snugglers), prevented many diaper blowouts. When changing her, I was always amazed by how well the pocket could catch the leaks.
10. Change baby IMMEDIATELY before bedtime:
When my kiddos were little, I would often get my babies in their jammies a while before they went to bed and completely forget to change their diaper again before I put them down for the night. However, putting them in a fresh, clean diaper immediately before they officially went down for the night, even if it looked like they had only peed a little, helped the diaper from becoming overfilled by morning.
If your baby isn’t sleeping through the night yet, I recommend doing a quick change during one of their night wakings as well!
11. Pay attention to your child’s potty signs/sounds:
We are all busy mommas, so most of us can’t stare at our baby all day, watching for every change in expression or every baby sound that signifies that they’re going to the bathroom. But if you happen to notice your baby starting to go, you can try positioning them in a way that will encourage the poop to stay inside.
When my daughter was going through a blowout phase and I heard her pooping grunts, I’d rush over and hold her upright. Holding her upright prevented anything, such as the floor as she sat or laid, from causing pressure that would force the poop up her back. I was also very aware of how I'd hold her if she started to poop. If I held her on my leg or waist, she was more likely to have a blowout because I was compressing her diaper unintentionally.
Watching for potty signs is especially important if your baby has been constipated! Constipation can lead to blowouts because once the blockage works its way out, it releases plenty of excess behind it. So watch for those first signs that the constipation is coming to an end, and change them as soon as they're done going.
12. Talk with your pediatrician:
Sometimes, after you’ve tried everything, it’s time to chat with your pediatrician. Pediatricians are an invaluable resource. Keep track of what your baby’s been eating (or what you’ve been eating if you’re breastfeeding) and discuss it with your doctor. If your baby has extra watery or runny poops or is pooping way more than usual in a day, they may have a food intolerance. Watch for diarrhea, as this can lead to dehydration which is very dangerous for newborns.
How to Make Life Easier During the Blowout Phase:
Unfortunately, blowouts are inevitable. We can do and try everything, but most babies will go through phases where blowouts just tend to be more frequent. Here are some helpful tips to make life easier when Mount Vesuvius DOES erupt in your little one’s diaper:
- Keep spare clothing, diapers, baby wipes AND disinfecting wipes in the car (not just the diaper bag). I tend to forget my diaper bag, so keeping these things in my car has saved me on occasion.
- Double cover your baby's mattress at night! If your baby is leaking lots at night, you won’t want to change the sheet. Invest in an extra mattress pad and crib sheet. Then place them on the mattress as follows: mattress pad, sheet, mattress pad, sheet. You can easily take off one layer and wash it later at your own convenience without interfering with naps or your own sleep time.
- Use onesies with flaps or snaps at the shoulder for easy, downward clothing removal. Many onesies have envelope shoulders that make it easy to pull the onesie down and off over their bottom. This is great because then you don’t get mess in your baby’s hair.
- Keep a gallon size Ziploc bag in the diaper bag and one in the car to throw soiled clothing into. Ziplocs are great for containing messes that you don’t want getting on anything else when you’re out and about.
- Soak and clean clothing ASAP! I hate cleaning baby poop and food stains out of baby clothing. But doing so immediately after a blowout saves you a lot of time in the long run. Soak in water and use stain remover if needed. My absolute favorite stain remover is called Fels-Naptha. It easily gets out any stain I’ve had to tackle with a few quick scrubs. Throw your clothes in the washer, and check to make sure the stains came out before placing in the dryer. (Be sure to read this tutorial for 4 methods on getting out those pesky stains!)
- Take advantage of the bathtub! Don’t waste a whole pack of baby wipes! Once you’ve wiped most of the baby poop off, give your baby a nice warm bath. Not only will it make your baby feel better, but it will ensure you get all the nasty poop out of all your baby’s nooks and crannies.
Parenting is messy. Both in the literal sense and in the psychological sense. The days can be full of struggle and frustration. Just remember you are doing your best, and reach out to friends and family for help and advice when you need it. Because none of us can do this alone!