At the time of publication we are currently enjoying the longest stretch of uninterrupted, leak-free diaper usage in the history of Trixie’s life — 318 hours, approximately 13 days. It’s taken us a long time to get here and the road has not been a dry one.

As new parents quickly discover, new babies go through a lot of diapers. They can use up to 15 a day in the first couple of weeks. In Trixie’s case, we came home from the hospital on Saturday morning, and I was at the store buying our second 40-pack on Sunday afternoon. In that first month we went through 383 diapers. It’s a large number, but that’s not the shocking part. The real issue is the number of those diapers that leaked. And for that month it was 160. Put another way, two out of every five diapers leaked on us. Or in the bed. Or on the couch. Or the crib…

Percentage of Leaky Diapers

Sometimes leaks cannot be avoided. No matter how well you try to fit the diaper, it’s not going work optimally until your baby gets some booty. That’s right, new babies are very bony (editor’s note: upon reading the comments, it seems that this might only apply to some babies.) Without a butt to hold the diaper in place, the pee is free to shoot anywhere and everywhere. And it did.

Fortunately, after about a month or so, the baby fat gets distributed to the right places and diapers start to fit much better. We believe this single factor accounts for the 50% decrease in leaks during the second month. We also got much better at anticipating, intercepting and changing once we had a couple hundred changes under our belt. Further working to our advantage was the rapid decrease in the daily number of diapers from an average of over 12 a day in the first month to about 6 a day currently.

Daily Diaper Average

So we had experience, the daily diaper counts had decreased and Trixie had a butt. Why did we still have a 20%-plus leak rate through the third month? Well, there are 2 kinds of leaks: those that occur while the baby is wearing the diaper and accidents that happen on the changing table. Our problem had shifted to the latter.

I can really only blame myself for this. Early on I had read about the horrors of diaper rash. Babies scream enough as it is; I certainly didn’t want to get her any more ammunition. As a result, I always (even now) let Trixie air out during changes in order to stave off any rashes. Was this necessary? I don’t really know. Trixie has never had any, but who can say if it’s because of the diligent air-drying. So if you see a leak spring up on the accident record, you are probably seeing a breakdown in my reflexes. It’s Trixie taking advantage of my diaper-rash-o-phobia and her love of peeing “al fresco.”

But why have the Leak Record at all? It’s fun and it gives us something to shoot for. It’s like a real addictive video game and we’re always trying to get a new high score.

Total Diaper Usage

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8 Responses to Leaks

  1. John says:

    We used Desitin on Colum for the first six months or so, to great success. He’s never had diaper rash either. He *did* get an allergic reaction to baby wipes, and so for the first five months, we used cotton pads and water to clean him. The pads are about 1.5 inch squares. Diaper time used to take a while…

  2. FrumDad says:

    I’m a big air-dryer, too. And what Rachel particularly likes is sometimes when I blow-dry the area between changes — not with the hairdryer (though I tried it once, with the heat off) but just – like cooling off hot food.

    G’s more a diaper-switcher, where one goes off and the other goes on almost in one motion, and she kind of looks at me funny when I let Rachel air dry (or when we have naked-time).

    We had a few incidents of pee distribution (and one or two *really* funny incidents of poo distribution), but the habit we got into was putting a new diaper down sort of underneath Rachel (this was back when she would sit or lie still for changes).

  3. Cynthia says:

    OK, I feel the need to chime in here.

    As you point out, a good number of the leaks aren’t actually “leaks” (which are 100% the diaper’s fault, so blame the diaper manufacturer) but are moments when the open air is just so relaxing it is more than Trixie can take. I like to air dry Julianna a few times a day, too (though not every diaper change), and she’s only once gotten a little redness – not really a rash, so I don’t know whether or not it was actually diaper rash. I really think that is the key to avoiding diaper rash. But I always lay a (nowadays, 2-3, spread out) cloth diapers underneath her just in case.

    Though I must admit I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit in the last couple of months, I found that I got really good fit from fitted cloth diapers. Plus, the extra cover gave us a second barrier against blowouts. And it is cheaper. But you have to wash them, which isn’t fun. But then again, Julianna was such a porker to begin with (though now she is skinny), she never really had
    flat butt syndrome.

  4. hannah says:

    Once again, MacDaddy is on the money – there’s just no hope to stop the leaking until your baby gets back. As mom to a bony-butted babe myself, we tried it all – Huggies, Pampers, Luvs, you name it, and while switching brands helped, it was only a matter of degree, not stopping the leaking. I used to have a big plastic tub w/bleach water sitting in my bathtub in my dinky NY apt where we would throw all of the poop-stained clothes, sheets, etc. What a happy day when we could get rid of that – when our girl grew a buttlet.

    Also, just wanted to say that the number of continuing “leaks” just shows what loving parents you are to give her air time. Think how you would feel if you had to have your area covered in a non-breathable, thick, synthetic trap all day? Clearly you have thought of it, which is why you take the leak risk and let Trixie be liberated.
    Keep up the good work.

    p.s. here’s hoping you can soon post a similarly impressive before-and-after retrospective about sleep . . .

  5. benmac says:

    1.5 inch squares? I’m impressed and very, very, very sorry.

    You’re on the money again. Blow-drying. Nothing beats that cool ocean breeze. Babies are so lucky.

    Hey Cynthia:
    You are totally right. I don’t blame the manufacturer at all, which is why I don’t name names when it comes to diaper brands (and we have tried almost all); I don’t want to falsely implicate anyone for my own incompetence at the changing table. And we too quickly learned to lay down cloth diapers when it’s changing time. So those are usually the only things that have to get washed when I report a leak.

    It’s funny, I think you might also be right about “flat butt syndrome”. Thank goodness it wasn’t permanent. Hope you guys are well-

    I guess there really are just two types of babies, and we got stuck with the bony-butted ones. We should celebrate a national My Baby Grew a Butt Day.

  6. Jennifer says:

    My daughter is about 4 months older than Trixie, and 4 months ago I was very proud that we were, and always had been, a diaper rash free household. I think in our house it was more due to diaper diligence (frequent changes) then air drying but we had no red bottoms.

    Then… teeth started popping out all over the place (in her mouth, of course) and the baby bottom got sore. Not all the time, but we usually have one day of diaper rash (not really rash but a red, sore bottom) and then the next day the tiny tip of a tooth pops through.

    I hope, for Trixie’s sake, that this will not be the case but I know you’re heading down the toothy road so, be careful!

  7. Julie says:

    You must get at least two bed pads — you know, the ones you should have stolen from the hospital when the baby was born. If you need a larger changing pad and for future use to protect against bedwetting, these are the best. When my son was wetting the bed several times a week, these saved the sheets more often than not (the pad fails when the kid squirms off it but since the pad is so large, it doesn’t happen often). His bed was layered (ideally, laundry permitting): floor, futon, futon cover, fitted waterproof mattress pad, fitted sheet, bed pad, child, blanket. They aren’t a replacement for a waterproof mattress pad, but they’ll save you from having to change the sheets a zillion times a week! And if your mattress pad is waiting to be washed, your mattress won’t have to go without a net. I also found a smaller version (about 20″ x 16″) which is a great changing pad — larger and better protection than regular changing pads. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I got those. Here’s a source for the bed pads. Look under “incontinence.”


  8. Laurie says:

    I was going to ask about brands of diapers, but I saw in the comments that you did try other manufacturers. We found one brand worked really well and one brand really sucked. We passed the sucky ones off to some friends that had a boy, and they liked ’em, so I suspect there is more to it than just butt/buttless.

    In regards to baby butt airing, I want to recommend those itty bitty 2-AA battery operated fans sold in the summer. (For some reason I can’t really explain, I love these things and have a collection of them. I use one to air off my Pee Wee’s rear or fan her with a folded diaper. She will spread her little legs and hold still until I stop fanning, and then she’s a rockette again.

    We were diaper rash free until a nasty poop that must have happened early in her night sleep cycle. I have a mutant 3.5 month old baby that sleeps for at least 10 hours at night, so she laid in it for hours and had a nice red outline when I changed her in the morning. It’s been a week of the Battle of the Rash. The Rash is ahead, but I hope to conquer it with a change of strategy – baby powder instead of Desitin.