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cloth diapers for bigger thighs

Cloth Diapering the Thunder-Thighed Baby

By Amalah

Hi Amalah!

I just can’t read enough of your talk about cloth diapers! I tried cloth diapering last year with my 2 year old and it just didn’t work for us at that time. We tried a bit of everything with him and I loved them. However, after using disposables and enjoying their absorbency, it was just too hard to keep up with my son’s wetting. I wish I had known how cute and easy they were and had started when he was tiny. So, I sold my stash and a couple weeks later found out we were expecting our second baby. Doh! He’s still not potty trained and now I have two kids in diapers.

My problem is this: my 13-pound 3-month old exclusively breastfed baby (EBF) baby is growing out of the thighs in disposables. (Imagine Disney World turkey leg. I’m surprised she still has legs we nom on them so often.) We have to accommodate the extra girth by loosening the waist. She is having massive blowouts. She also has terribly sensitive skin. We actually used gDiapers when she would get rashes as a newborn but ran into the thigh issue before she was out of small. So we decided to stick with ‘sposies for a while and then we got poop all over the house. Fail.

What cloth diapering system would you recommend for her delicious thighs? I know Fuzzibunz has the adjustable leg and waist, but they left terrible red marks on my son’s regular toddler thighs and I’m a bit nervous to use them with the new baby.

Thanks,
Molly

Oh, those thighs are my most favorite thighs. Sadly, they were so fleeting for us. My babies were all underfed turkey legs at first, then would plump up all deliciously for a few months and then stupid “milestones” and “mobility” and “toddlerhood” came and leaned them out again before we knew it.

Because my personal experiences with chubby thighs were pretty short, I admit I did a bit of poking around cloth diaper forums to see if there was any consensus among other (more experienced) moms, or if there was some cloth diapering system that I haven’t personally tried that was the  most recommended.

Surprise, surprise: After 10 short minutes of reading I had to back away, completely overwhelmed by FIVE BAJILLION DIFFERENT CONFLICTING RECOMMENDATIONS, along with a slew of unfamiliar brands and acronyms, like a total cloth diapering n00b.

(Is this why I get so much cloth diapering email? Have I become the “eff THAT, I’ll just ask Amy” panic button for people after they visit forums or comment sections? If so, who can I email? Because gaaaaaahhhhhhh.)

Ezra was a super-chub for a few months (probably age two months to seven), and I used medium-sized Fuzzibunz that I bought after consulting their online weight chart. They had a line of snaps for the waist and another for the thighs, and I never had any problems with them. It’s possible your two-year-old was just too close to the upper weight/size limit for them and that’s why he got marks. (And slightly off-topic, I firmly believe some diapers TOTALLY inflate the upper number. I’ve tried some one-size diapers that claim to fit up to 35 pounds and Ike has COMPLETELY outgrown them already, at 26.5 pounds. He’s not particularly chubby, either. Just super solid, but overall quite proportional in thigh/butt/belly size.) The snaps on OG Fuzzibunz are nice because you can go super-loose on the thighs but still cinch them tightly around the belly (or vice-versa if your baby is all belly and not so much in the legs). Other pocket diapers, like bumGenius, can only be adjusted around the waist and rise, so you might not love them if there’s a big difference between waist and thigh proportion.

I do own some of the one-size Fuzzibunz, which are the version with the adjustable leg elastic. THOSE I’ve had nothing but problems with. I was never able to figure out the right setting and was far too impatient to be messing with the elastic and those infuriating buttons as often as I was. (Picture the adjustable waists on your toddler’s pants, that you usually only have to set once. Now picture elastic half that size, with a super tiny button hidden in a tiny hole, on two sides, that you have to change every time your baby gains any weight.) Plus, the hidden button quickly became not-so-hidden on my diapers after a few washes as the fleece stretched (and even ripped, in a couple cases), and the button would leave a red mark on Ike’s leg. Blech. Pass.

Another one-size diaper that I did see mentioned quite a bit on the Forum of Way Too Many Options was Mother-Ease One-Size (MEOS). After looking at them online I’m not seeing anything super amazing about the snap placement (it’s similar to Swaddlebees, with two rows of snaps — but the snaps on the diaper’s tabs are lined up evenly, so I don’t see a way to make the belly/leg adjustments all that different). But what I DO see is some super gentle and soft-looking fabric around the leg openings instead of elastic. Which probably gives them high marks in NOT leaving red marks. Note, however, that MEOS require a waterproof cover, and if your COVER doesn’t fit great around the thighs, you can basically still have the same problem.

But now that we’re talking two-step systems with covers, I gotta at least bring up the idea of prefolds with covers. A prefold with a cover lets you completely customize the size (and absorbency) of the guts of the diaper AND the size of the outer shell. (And yes, you have approximately 2407345834870 different options for the shell.) But I think testing out a variety of covers is an easier (and cheaper) process than trying out a variety of expensive, completely different diapers that might not be all that interchangeable with each other.

An investment in a dozen Green Mountain Diaper prefolds, on the other hand, is something you are very unlikely to regret (and won’t break the bank in the first place). From there, you can experiment with finding the perfect fit: Fold around your baby and fasten with a Snappi, or simply fold the diaper in threes and lay it in your preferred cover. . Very little fuss and no elastic pinching around the thighs. GMD also sells a “wide” diaper (in the medium size, for 14+ pounds) that might be worth checking out, since it’s designed for babies who outgrow the smalls in width but not in the length/rise. I briefly debated getting some for Ike, but he thinned out once he started crawling and the regular mediums fit him fine.

(For the record, we never bought any new prefolds after the medium size. Mediums STILL fit him at 26.5 pounds, especially since we mostly use them tri-folded instead of fastened. The GMD Workhorse Fitteds, on the other hand, required us to move up to a large a couple pounds ago. But I love them and they’re so budget-friendly so that I totally didn’t mind.)

Prefolds, like the MEOS, mean you still have to find the perfect fitting cover. But a lot of covers are cheaper to try than a full diaper “system” with insert, and even a not-perfect cover will come in handy in a laundry or diaper-bag pinch.

The GENTLEST on little thighs will always be wool or fleece, since they don’t use any elastic around the leg holes. But alas, I have no specific recommendations here. I bought some underwhelming fleece covers on Etsy — had a terrible time getting the right fit, as fleece doesn’t have much “give” and Ike outgrew them so fast I never grew to love them. And the ones I received had itty bitty leg holes and gapped at the waist if I double-stuffed the diaper. (If you have some sewing skills, though, you can find a lot of free or inexpensive patterns out there on The Google and measure your baby for a customized fit.)

My wool experiences were MUCH better — I looked for soakers made out of recycled wool sweaters, with an extra layer of felted wool in the wet zone, and bought a couple reasonably priced ones (NOT the cheapest — you get what you pay for, y’all) in colors/patterns that I liked. We’re still using them at night (over a double-stuffed gDiaper, or a GMD folded around hemp or microfiber doublers), as wool gives and stretches so nicely. I don’t even remember the original weight limit on these covers but I’m sure we’ve technically exceeded it. I wash them about once a month, lanolize every other wash or so. BUT…the shops I bought them from have all since closed or stopped selling soakers. BAH. I believe Disana are supposed to be wonderful — pricier than the WAHM-made ones but since you can reuse a wool cover a lot before washing (just air it out; the wool is naturally antibacterial and won’t retain the odor) and they have a lot of grow room, you can invest in just a couple of them and assure your brain that it’s a worthwhile splurge.

Other excellent waterproof covers are bumGenius Flips, Thirsties and Bummis. Swaddlebees makes a cover too, though I haven’t tried it. Looks ADORBS, though. So. Yeah. These all have (covered) elastic around the legs but are lightweight and super-adjustable so you should be able to prevent leaks WITHOUT having to fasten them too tight. I’d buy a sampling and try them out — remember there’s always Craigslist or online swapping for your cast-offs!

Commenters? Any secondings of any of these brands or additional recommendations? Or would anyone simply like to come up with different poetic descriptions of those inimitable Stay-Puft rubber-band baby thighs?

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Kate
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Kate

I will admit that I am not totally up-to-date on the latest cloth diapers, since the diapers I currently use on my 30 lb 18 month old were the same ones I used on his equally enormous 4 yo brother (who was, btw, 14 lbs at 2 months, so I hear ya on the thunder thighs). Anyway, my most favorite diapers that I always go back to and have held up extremely well are Happy Heiny’s pockets (made in both one-size and sized options, I like both). They fit chubby babies well, have super sturdy and daddy-friendly velcro, and have… Read more »

MR
Guest
MR

I second prefolds! I used them with thirsties duo covers until my lo got to be mobile and no longer wanted to stay for changing, but I still miss them. The prefold itself contained all the mess, the cover was there simply to keep us from getting wet, but a gap at the leg wouldn’t have been as big of a deal. Just cut some strips of fleece and put it between baby and the prefold, it helps keep her skin dry. And, prefolds don’t have any of the funk smell that microfiber gets. And Amy, yes, that is absolutely… Read more »

annemarie
Guest

I have a monster-thigh baby too. I had to completely restock for him because my chubby daughter had nothing on this dude. Fuzzi Bunz sized diapers (not the one-size) are my favourite. I have sustainablebabyish fittes & wool covers that are also amazing, but he is a greased eel so I like pocket diapers because otherwise he leaves the insert behind. I find that covers without a fleece liner, like the Flips, leave red marks. Hope this helps!

Carolyn
Guest

I’m of no personal help because my babies have the OPPOSITE problem, but I do work for a website that collects surveys from people about different diapers and how they fit different size/shaped babies (you can see the results of those surveys and sort by “chunky” or “chunky thighs” here: http://paddedtushstats.com/cloth-diaper-statistics/). I’d check that out if I were you. Personally, I’d probably recommend Softbums (either the Echo or the Omni – the Omni runs a bit bigger and has the option of being used as a pocket diaper instead of just an All In Two) because they have an adjustable leg… Read more »

Isabel Kallman
Admin

EXCELLENT! Thank you for this.

Kerry
Guest
Kerry

So I don’t know if my six month old counts as thunder thighs…but she’s definitely got some rolls. And we basically keep her in prefolds with thirsties covers, or hand knitted wool ones. Longies could be a solution if you really don’t want it tight around her legs, and it’s super easy to make a pair out of an old sweater. Cover usually needs to be washed after a poopy diaper, but that’s only every two or three days so really not a big deal. Mostly doesn’t end up on her clothes and never ends up outside of her clothes.… Read more »

Kerry
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Kerry

Ooooh just realized my baby was 13 lbs at 3 months too…or maybe 14? So probably does count as thunder thighs. We did end up using the wide baby diapers for a couple months, but the period where they fit her better than the mediums went by in a blink of an eye, so I kind of wonder now if we could have skipped getting them.

At six months, she’s 18 lbs and mostly in wide babies…because I’m hoping I can hold out and go straight into larges from here, even though the red edges are really cute.

Molly
Guest
Molly

Thanks! She’s gained over a pound since I wrote to Amy (not implying the response was slow, it was actually quite quick!) (I reread a bunch of the archives before sending my email. After I googled “big thigh baby cloth diapers” and fell out of my chair from a sensory assault) The day after I wrote this email, we had a day where every diaper was a blowout…omg. I lost it, drove 45 min to a maternity shop with multiple choices and ended up with this: A set of Medium Gdiapers (daytime only. Still leave marks on her upper thighs… Read more »

KJ
Guest
KJ

We had a chunky baby and had good luck with rumparooz one-size diapers.  The flip side of this is that the rises on these are very low, so we would up completely restocking (BG 4.0 and flips) when our big baby turned about one.  So if your baby has a chance of being tall (or, let’s face it, even average-height), I’m not sure it’s worth the expensive rumparooz.   Now we’re waiting on baby 2, and I’m realizing that the downside of the multi-kid cloth diaper cost-savings is that I don’t get to indulge in buying mittfuls of adorable! new!… Read more »

Pixi
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Pixi

So we have a son with super-chub in the thighs, but super skinny around the waist. We didn’t have the money to buy the FB in sizes and so we ended up with SunBaby diapers – they’re very popular on the diaper boards but they’re small and unknown. They’re from China, but have good reps for non-child labor usage. We wanted to do CD and we needed to do it cheap, so it works for us. It is a one size, where the sizing is done like BumGenius and others – where the outer cover snaps to smaller sizes, but… Read more »

Hi, I'm Natalie
Guest

Random question: Is the baby in the picture where a disposable under the cover??

Isabel Kallman
Admin

updated: gosh, i hope you can’t see a disposable peeking? (I assume most baby model photos are wearing disposables) my eyes are getting terrible and i can’t really tell. I picked it because of those delicious baby thighs. Let me go see if I get a larger image to look more closely. Thanks for the heads up. 🙂 Update 2: i’ve changed the picture for another beautiful baby. I downloaded a much higher resolution version of the original pix which is bigger and I saw the disposable peeking out, so I changed it. Thanks again and feel free to point… Read more »

Hi, I'm Natalie
Guest

Lol – not a biggie, just very noticeable to this cloth-diapering mom!

Isabel Kallman
Admin

haha. luckily i have progressive glasses on their way to me. 😉

Delora
Guest
Delora

This is a recommendation by way of deduction, lol. I had the opposite problem, where my super-skinny baby had chicken thighs and I struggled to get diapers tight enough!

One diaper I was never able to use successfully was a Knickernappies pocket diaper. This is a side-snapping one-size pocket, and I couldn’t get it tight enough around his thighs to prevent leaking out of the leg holes. Based on that experience, this may work wonderfully for you.

Tish
Guest
Tish

I have a thunder thighs too, and the one thing I would not recommend is the Sunbabies. They come in 2 sizes and even the wider size 2’s are tight on my 11 month old. She’s 20 lbs but very chunky in the thigh. We can’t even use the hipsnap on the widest setting because it gives her horrible marks. I like the Bum Genius pockets and my favorite diaper are the Alva double gusset diapers. They are just wider have a lot more snaps and offer an overall better fit. They were also significantly cheaper than anything else I’ve… Read more »

Heather
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Heather

I don’t know, we’ve been using one size Fuzzibunz since my daughter was 2 months old and we’re still going strong at 2.5 years with the same 12 diapers.  I found the adjustable elastic to be great–we only had to let them out once every few months, so you don’t have to fuss with them that much.  They will allow you to completely customize the fit of the diaper to your little one and we have NEVER had a blowout in them.  Plus, for longevity, the one size diapers come with extra elastics (plus I think you can buy them… Read more »

Ashley
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Ashley

Same problem here – my 7 month old has some very delicious thunder thighs. I’ve had the best luck with GMD prefolds (thanks for the recommendation, Amy!!) with Flip covers and Kawaii pockets. Both very economical CD’ing options. 

Erin
Guest

When my chunker 10-pounder was born we used prefolds with Flip covers, then eventually graduated to bumGenius pockets (they’re made by the same company). Wha tI would do is set the top row of snaps for her waist, and then the bottom row for her thighs — usually one snap wider on each side then the waist setting. It’s probably not the way they’re “supposed” to be used, but it works well for us! I never cared for Fuzzibunz or Rumparooz, personally; I found the FBs never fit right because the adjustable leg elastic was, I guess, too complicated for… Read more »

Jo
Guest

In my experience deliciously fat baby legs is the best problem you could have when it comes to cloth! Chicken legs are WAY more of an issue usually. Amy’s basically said it – all you really need is something which is either easily adjustable all round with velcro, stretches like wool or fleece covers do, or has two rows of snaps so you can adjust the waist and thigh tightness separately. My kidlet carries 80% of her not inconsiderable chumberiness in two places: her cheeks and her mighty mighty thighs. I use a whole range of cloth options and the… Read more »

sarah
Guest
sarah

I don’t know if we are allowed to promote a friends business but my friend has a chunky thighed little girl and she makes her own cloth nappies designed to be more stretchy around the legs. 

Her FB page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Oui-Bebe-Modern-Cloth-Nappies/201338673240147?fref=ts

Very cute designs too. 🙂

Isabel Kallman
Admin

not a problem. thanks for asking. 🙂

lld
Guest
lld

I had the World’s Biggest Baby (okay, maybe not setting records, but he was off the charts in weight from two months on). I had bought a large variety of cloth to try. Never ever got the Fuzzibunz Elite OS to work. I was messing with that dang elastic alll the time, and finally ended up putting a leg elastic in the waist, and still they were too small. On a 4 month old! I hated them so much. They are in a bag waiting to be sold. What did work for us was BumGenius OS, OhKaty OS, and TotsBots… Read more »

Felicity Marie
Guest
Felicity Marie

Hmmm well my little one is 15 months now, but still pretty chubby in the thighs. We like pocket diapers, and the Kawaii brand and Rumparooz are working well for us. Thirsties covers with prefolds are also well-used round these parts. And now I am tempted to go buy those wool covers I’ve been coveting on etsy…

Cheyenne
Guest
Cheyenne

I just started cloth diapering my 3 month old but we use Charlie Banana. They have adjustable elastic in the thigh area so, theoretically, you could adjust the leg openings to a medium size while still snapping the diaper to a small (does that make sense?). Might be worth a shot!

Mary
Guest
Mary

For my 7 month old, we used Green Mountain prefolds with lanolized knitted wool covers (thx to my own knittin’ momma). My baby was born 9lbs, 8.6oz so she always has had a big cloth diaper butt and chunk legs that you CANNOT stuff into those tiny but oh so adorable tights/skinny jean lookalikes that are so IN right now. OH WELL. I like prefolds because of basically the custom fit you can get with the snappi. I did have a few blowouts when she was exclusively breastfeeding (before we introduced any solids) because her stool was so watery BUT… Read more »

Arialvetica
Guest
Arialvetica

SoftBums!!!! I’m shocked you didn’t just give this one a one-word answer. SoftBums have an adjustable elastic system in the legs so you can let it out or take it in as needed for your baby. I have been using the same 12 (or so) diapers on my son for 16+ months straight (since the week he was born)! I did one of those cloth diaper trials to try dozens of diapers and SoftBums were the clear winner in versatility and perfect fit no matter what shape of baby (or toddler) you have.

Autumn
Guest
Autumn

My 18 month old probably weighs 23 pounds, 24 with a loaded diaper, so I’m in the chicken legs group.  We use grovia all in 2s and love them.  Our friends with the 24 pound 9 month old use the same ones and they work well for them too.

Just a warning though:  there are some poop/diarrhea “events” that no diaper (cloth or disposable) will be able to contain.  Getting over a stomach bug in these parts has been an experience, but those fleece jammies kept everything contained inside them this morning.  Surprise!

Amy J
Guest
Amy J

Haute Clothed Buns has great picture reviews of many diapers. And Anna is really sweet: http://www.hauteclothedbuns.com/

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

We started baby #3 out with BumGenius because we thought they would be easier than old-school prefolds (which I used fourteen YEARS earlier on my older two). And yeah, no. I like them fine…but seriously prefolds are THE easiest possible. No fuss, fold in three/slap in cover/fasten cover. No stinkies like microfiber No man-made materials. EASY. For my chunky thighed fourth baby it’s been prefolds first, then I use the BGs when the prefold stash gets used up. I LOVE wool covers from this seller: http://www.etsy.com/shop/marcyartsy?ref=pr_shop_more They are very well made, have held up to two babies so far, need… Read more »

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

I also totally second Amy’s review on FuzziBunz. I hate them. So damned complicated and my FOUR month old grew out of the “one size” because I could never make it fit right.

Hates.

Melanie
Guest
Melanie

I’m with heather above, we have been using fuzzibunz os since around 3 months (dd is a little peanut and they were just so bulky before that. She is 13 months now). The only issue we’ve had is with the micro fleece inserts. Once we got that sorted we could have the leg holes open enough I not leave red marks and not leak. Oh and we use prefolds as inserts per one of Amy’s blog posts.

Shannon Reed
Guest
Shannon Reed

I have a little thunder-thigh baby too- and so far, the only ones I love are the blueberry pocket diapers– the leg openings are nice and roomy =)

Kate
Guest
Kate

I’ve been happiest with http://applecheeks.com/ for my chicken legged little man and his thunder thighed little sister. Other than the fact that they’re both off the charts for height they couldn’t have less in common when it comes to body shape (he’s always been in the 30-40% for weight and she’s in the 80% range) and I’ve been using them for 3.5 years happily. They have two rows of snaps that are set far enough apart vertically that you really can have the waist and the leg snap on different settings. 

Drew
Guest
Drew

My chunky thighed and somewhat high rise needing 7 mo old does very well with bumgenius 4.0, as well as fuzzibunz mediums (which are quite large, actually). I found the GMD workhorse fitteds to be far too small very quickly, and we use other WAHM fitteds at night under a blueberries cover (which allows for plenty of thigh and big butt). And wool, but it’s pricey 🙂

Kara g
Guest
Kara g

Happy heinys !! Thunder thighs since birth and I’m surprised at the leg roll room . They adjust length and width . The strap that snaps is thin so it’s not leaving marks on top of the thighs as well. No leaks at all.

Elise
Guest
Elise

Softbums! The leg holes are adjustable via a tiny toggle. I had the opposite – a skinny legged baby, but since they’re adjustable they are perfect for all thighs. I just take a second to adjust them once a month or so as he has grown from birth to now, almost walking. I wish there were more cute patterns, but I got mine all used at great prices so I can’t complain. I use the hook and loop but there are snap versions too. My husband and daycare find them as easy as disposables. I prefer echo and use my… Read more »

Brittany
Guest
Brittany

It won’t let me post a photo but Bububibi (or BB2 on Amazon) are THE BEST covers for big thighs. Kawaii, Thirsties, Econobum, they are all WAY too tight for my son. Bububibi has room to spare! He is on the 3rd loosest setting compared to barely fitting the loosest setting on others. The get as small as Kawaii, though! Down to 8lb babies! They get so small for how big they can get. They have a double row of snaps, double gussets in the leg, thick elastic, super stretchy, super well made, high quality, no leaks, and only $8… Read more »