Try Cloth Diapers Risk Free

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Like Tweet

Measure Up!

Since the inception and subsequent success of cloth diapering alternatives, such as Fitted, Pocket, and All-in-One diapers, it’s not surprising to hear people ask, “Which diaper will fit my baby/child best?”

Although the One-Size diaper is growing in popularity for its “one size fits most” advantage, it’s still important to realize that babies come in all shapes and sizes! Even your own children will differ in size.

For instance, my oldest daughter Aaliyah was an itty bitty newborn. She remained very petite until she reached a year old and then her height and weight skyrocketed. She went from wearing a one size down to size to wearing a size (sometimes two) ahead of her age (when she was 2 she wore a 3T and when she was 3 she wore a 4T/5T, now she’s 4 and wears a size 6!). My youngest daughter Halimah, on the other hand, was my Chubby Wubby Bumble Bee. She had ham hock thighs, water wing arms, and a rotund belly! However, when she reached a year old her growth slowed and she thinned out! Now she’s very petite (just turned 3 but still wears a size 2T).

Measuring your little one would be the ideal way to ensure the best possible fit when selecting a cloth diaper for your little one. With the right fitting diaper you can be virtually leak-free! Additionally, you’ll be saving money by not having to go through the “trial and error” process!

*Pen and paper (to jot down the measurements)
*Measuring tape (the soft flexible type – I do not recommend the retractable metal kind)

Don’t have a measuring tape? No worries!
Find some yarn, a piece of string or ribbon, something long and flexible which can be used instead. Ideally you’ll need a ruler (yardsticks would work better but you can get by with a 12” ruler too). However, in a pinch you can also use your fingers to measure – I’ll tell/show you how later.

The best way to measure baby is without a diaper. For privacy purposes I put a pair of my daughter’s panties on my son in order to measure him, take pictures, and avoid being potentially hosed down! (Besides, I’ll enjoy the opportunity to tease him about it when he’s older!)

Measurements You’ll Need:
(aka depth)

Babies don’t really have a defined waistline. The general rule of thumb for determining the waistline for a baby is to use their navel (belly button) as a guide and find the fullest point in that general vicinity. Wrap the measuring tape around them and make sure the measuring tape isn’t held taut – you’ll want a loose measurement.



Measuring the thighs of babies is a little tricky as they typically have a few rolls in that area! So which roll do you measure? Typically the inner most part of the thigh has the larger roll, but not always. Measure the fullest part of the thigh and use that measurement.

Rise (aka depth)


Start with baby laying on his back, gently roll him onto his side so you can place the measuring tape (or string/ribbon) on his back at his waist (since babies don’t truly have a waist you’ll want to use the point that is level with his navel). Return back to his back and, if necessary, adjust the tape measure. Loosely pull the tape measure over the crotch and up towards the navel (do not hold taut but not too loose either).

Once you have the measurements you can determine what size/type of diaper will fit best.

Fitteds/Sized Pockets/One-Size/All-in-One Diapers
If you’re intending to use Fitted, Sized Pockets, One-Size, or All-in-One diapers, you’ll need to add a minimum of 2” to the rise measurement to get the proper fitting diaper. 2” is a good round figure but it can be up to even 3” or more if you intend to use very thick inserts/doublers (for instance night time diapers will usually need a larger rise in order to accommodate the added bulk). Additionally, boys will typically require a higher rise than girls since they wet their diapers more in the front.

I measured all of the One-Size diapers I have on hand and while they’re all roughly the same overall, some diapers can fit smaller and/or larger than others.
The One-Size diapers with the smallest possible fit: Soft Bums, Rocky Mountain Diapers
The One-Size diaper with the largest possible fit: Happy Heiny’s and Wahmies
The standard sized One-Size diapers are: Blueberry, bumGenius, Bumwear



For prefolds, these you’ll just have to make sure that the width and length of the diaper will accommodate you little one. For example, here’s a picture of two prefolds. The larger one on the left is a standard premium sized prefold. The smaller one on the right is a standard infant sized prefold. The measurements of the diapers are as follows:

Premium sized prefold: 13” wide x 18½” long
Infant sized prefold: 10” wide x 13” long

Obviously the infant sized prefold is too small for my son’s current measurements. The premium sized prefold is the perfect width but a bit too long. However, the nice thing about prefolds is the excess can be folded over in order to fit (which also provides a little bit more absorbency up front – which works out especially well for boys).

Diaper Covers

In order to find the right sized diaper cover, you will want to take the same measurements with an actual diaper on you baby (prefolds or fitteds). In the picture of the fitted diaper the rise on it is larger than the rise with the prefold. Therefore, if you’re using more than one type of diaper (such as a combination of fitteds and prefolds), you’ll want to make sure the cover you buy will accommodate/fit both diapers.



Just like diapers, finding the right sized trainers is important! Since trainers are intended to be pulled up and down to facilitate potty learning (while also helping prevent accidents) – they shouldn’t be as snug fitting as diapers.

Therefore, you’ll want to make sure your child’s waist and thigh measurements are within the specified ranges for the trainer (weight ranges aren’t very accurate because a tall and thin 45 pound child and a short and fluffy 45 pound child will not fit the trainer the same). You will find the rise on virtually all trainers is similar to that of cloth diapers (even disposable trainers have a very high rise).

For those of you without a measuring tape… Use the yarn/string/ribbon to take the measurements. It would be ideal to cut the yarn/string/ribbon for each measurement you take. Use the ruler to determine the measurement.

If you don’t have a measuring tape, you can get a rough estimate by using your forefinger and middle finger. The width of those two fingers together is roughly 1” for average sized hands/fingers. Basically lay your fingers onto the strand and alternate your fingers between your two hands to count the number of inches. It’s not exact, but it’s better than nothing!

- By Serena


The Stain Family said...

I have added your button to my blog and become a follower. Please enter me in the free diaper give away...I LOVE cloth diapers!

Senior Family said...

awesome post! great pics and how to :) thanks

Jess said...

What a great post Serena! Babys most def come in different shapes & sizes! All 4 of my guys have been different! My lil 8 month old right now is so skinny yet tall so a small/med should fit according to weight but the rise isn't big enough so he's growing out of meds & needing larges. Thanks for clearing up how exactly to measure the baby!

melissad.williams said...

This is so useful! I just recently starting cloth diapering, and I have found it a little difficult to determine what size I need. I love these step-by-step guides; they really help a lot!

Momto3LittleFlowers said...

Stain Family: Hello there and welcome to our blog... In order to participate in the giveaway, you need to leave one comment on the post called Fluff Friday from week 17 saying why you should win the diapers... Then another comment saying that you are a follower and then another comment saying that you added the button... That gives you three chances of winning.

Jut and Chris said...

Very helpful! Thank you!!!

Carol said...

Thanks for the how tos on measuring!

Maggie said...

That was really great information. Thanks! I think it will be really helpful. I'll refer back to it.

Kristin said...

This is VERY helpful! I especially like the information about which of the one-size diapers tend to run small/med/large. My toddler is so skinny that this is very helpful!

Erika said...

Wow- thanks for the in-depth blog about measuring!! Very helpful!

Anonymous said...

I have to tell you that I paid very little attention to anything you said. Those baby thighs were calling my name.... JUST want to squeeze them.


Jennifer said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to make such a great and informative post. This blog has become a great place for newbie and experienced CD'ers alike!

Dani said...

Thanks for such an informative post. I was wondering how to measure rise!

Katrina said...

What a great post - very informative. Of course, with my little wiggle worm, I would need to measure him while he was sleeping. LOL. I loved seeing the prefold in there. I would like to add prefolds and flats to my stash...will we be learning more about these in a future post?

Amanda said...

This is perfect since I just ordered a trainer that was too small and need to re-order the right size. Thanks Serena!

Kelly said...

Wow, what an awesome and detailed post! It's funny that I have yet to have problems with the diapers I use in the fit category but up till lately, I have only used prefolds & covers which I think are th most adjustable type of cloth diapering you can use. I now have BGs and FBs and can tell already that my BGs won't fit son #2 through potty training. Both my boys are over the 95% in height at all check-ups. Thanks for the breakdown of diaper types in small, large & "normal". I really love the looks of the RockyMountain but might have to change my thinking as to who might wear them, #3 on the way verses #2. The trainers would a great addition too. All my trainers always fit so snug on #1 and I didn't like them since he couldn't pull them down very easily and when there was a mess, I couldn't get them off without making more of a mess. I will have to go back and do some measuring and checking sizing before #2 gets to the training stage. Thanks again for the great post, sorry for the long comment.

Cecile said...

Very useful post, thank you! Both my kids are skinny and tall, with little buddha bellies, and this post should help deciding which diaper is best for them.

Matt, Sara and Kinsley :) said...

Very useful info! I will certainly be using it.

Chic Mama said...

Great to know about how the different one-sizes fit! That little chart will be very helpful- thanks so much!

Katie said...

Thank you for the information. Size is so important and even though I use only one size diapers, there is such a difference in fit based on the baby. I have a few sized diapers for the new born stage. I have some old rumpsters . . . for one of my boys, they were the perfect fit, but for my next, they did not fit at all.

My boys tend to be thinner in the thighs and hips, so I have found that the blueberry one size diapers fit them perfectly.

Kelly said...

Great post! I am reminded of how my niece and my daughter wore the same size diaper even though they are 15 months apart in age! My niece was a very petite, skinny little toddler and my baby was a little chunk before she started walking. Now that my daughter is a toddler, I think she's actually gone down a diaper size thanks to the way she's slimmed down from walking/running!

PS: LOVE the "Soft Bums" on my 9 lbs. newborn - although they are a one-size diaper, they can be adjusted to be SO tiny and are less bulky than some of the other one-size diapers I've tried on her!!!

AScott said...

I agree that the Rocky Mountain diapers can fit really small. My baby is 9 months and she is on the second to last button already!

BookyG said...

Great post thank you! It was especially interesting to see how the different one-size pockets compared.

one_lucky_mom said...

Thanks for the helpful guide!

Erika said...

Thankyou for the informative post. My kids are very tall, way off the percentile charts, but are of average build. They fit into most diapers pretty well if I go by weight.

Kelly said...

Question: How do the Fuzzi Bunz OS compare to the others in fit (smaller, larger, standard)?

A Psych Mommy said...

Thanks for the detailed post! I'm definitely bookmarking this! I finally know what "rise" is--I've seen this all over on cloth diapering sites and I kinda felt silly not knowing what it was. Guess I could have asked, but now I know!

Now I just have to get a tape measurer!

Meghan said...

Thanks for the great post, Serena! Just the other day I was trying to figure out how to measure the rise on my baby. Now I know!

Liz said...

Thanks Serena for the informative post! It is great to learn so many new things about CD! I liked reading how the different OS dipes run.

*~*a.l.s*~* said...

This is such an awesome post. thank you so much for writing it--I was just bemoaning the fact that I bought all these brand new OS dipes w/o ever trying them on my daughter and now I'm stuck with dipes that don't work! At least now I can measure her and see which dipe works the best for her. Thanks again for being so detailed!

Day to Day Tripper said...

Great tips! My youngest was wearing his BumGenius OS all the way open at night at 2 months! He is a chubbers as well. He is now 3 months and wears them day and night all the way open...I am hopeful they will continue to fit him for at least another year. I just assumed they would fit him for along time. This article is helpful in knowing they may not.

nicola said...

excellent explanation. i linked a friend to this post after she told me she didn't know how to measure her babe's rise.

Serena said...

WOW! I'm thrilled to see how many of you have appreciated this post! We definitely aim to help everyone - newbies and seasoned CD's alike!

Kelly: You asked about the new FB OS - I've only been able to see the original version - the newer version (V 2.0) is still being manufactured so I haven't had a chance to test it out... However, given the original one I would venture to say this runs average to large end of the scale (not as generous as the HH though). =)

MrsStunner said...

Wow, I learned so much. In fact, I haven't attempted prefolds because I was never sure about the sizing. This post is going in my stash of important info. Thanks again.

Aisha said...

Thanks for the tips Serena! The pics really do help. I'm going to print out your directions and try to measure DD this weekend.

Violet Gonzalez said...

My dd is another one of those babies who has worn her BGs on the largest setting since she started wearing them at 2 months. She is now 6.5 months. We love those for nap and bedtime.

Her thighs are quite chubby (and cute!) and she has a long rise with a skinny waist.

Her Small Fuzzi Bunz (day time diapers) are on the largest leg and smallest waist setting. We need to move to mediums. Considering about the Rocky Mountain diapers instead though. Hmmm

~ stacey

Anonymous said...

As always a very informative post!! Thanks for this info.
Love the chubby baby thighs :)


Sheezwhiz said...

Thanks for the measuring advice, this is great for new cloth diaperers.

Andrea said...

Thanks for the post! Your guide about which one size diapers fit different sized babies is a huge help-- my son started average but he gained about a pound a week for his first 7 weeks, and it's good to know that certain one sizes will get bigger without doing the expensive experimentation myself!

Montana Mama said...

Wow, that's some good, detailed info! I wish I would've had something like this to reference when I started CDing!

MKury said...

I had no idea that there was such an easy "science" to cloth diapering! You've opened up so many different options for me and my two little ones in cloth! Thanks for a great and informative post!

MommyCat said...

This is great info! Thank you! I know I will be using this in the future.

Stacy said...

Thank you for this - I have been trying to find out what size prefolds to buy for my daughter - and I think/hope this will finally clear it up for me.