Red marks are a common concern among parents switching to cloth nappies for the first time. This post explains the differences between what red marks are okay and provides advice on how to reduce red marks.

Red marks can cause parents to wonder whether the marks are normal, whether they've done something wrong fitting the nappy, or whether it's causing discomfort for their baby.

The answer is that with cloth nappies, light red marks are perfectly normal and shouldn’t be cause for concern, but if they’re too deep, it could indicate that you’ve done the nappy up too tight and that it should be loosened.

What causes red marks?

Red marks are commonly caused by elastics sitting against a person’s skin.

Just like the elastics in our socks and bras, cloth nappies contain elastics and therefore light red marks on your baby are normal.

However, red marks that are too deep usually indicate an incorrectly fitted nappy which applies too much pressure. In short – the nappy is too tight and should be loosened.

Sometimes red marks are caused when the nappy becomes overly saturated with urine. In this instance, the urine then sits in the elastic and can cause friction marks and redness.

What are normal red marks?

As stated above, light red marks are perfectly normal and shouldn't be cause for concern.

The most common red marks appear where the leg elastic sits around the baby’s groin/legs. 

Which red marks are cause for concern and how to fix this?

A good test to see if the red marks are too deep – is to give baby a nice long bath and see if the marks have faded after the bath.

Around 20 minutes should allow the marks enough time to have faded substantially and almost have disappeared.

If they still look like deep angry red marks, then you know the nappy was likely on too tight and you need to do it up looser next time.

You shouldn't really see red marks around your baby's tummy or back, as we recommend a nice loose fitting tummy (see our guide on how to fit a cloth nappy correctly).

If you are certain that the nappy wasn't done up too tight but deep red marks persist, then another possible cause is the nappy being overly saturated in urine creating friction with the elastics against baby's skin.

This usually happens if the nappy hasn't been changed frequently enough, remember to ensure you're changing the nappy every 2 - 3 hours.

If you are already changing this frequently, you may need to add more absorbency to the nappy.

How to ensure you don't get red marks going forward

Cloth nappies should not be done up as tight as disposables. Learning how fit cloth nappies appropriately is crucial to reducing red marks as well as preventing leaks.

Refer to our fit guide to ensure you've got the perfect fit for your cloth nappies.

At NappyLuxe we always recommend a nice loose fitting waist, but make sure the leg elastic is flush against your baby’s skin, tucked into the underwear line.

Ensure you're changing the nappy every 2 - 3 hours throughout the day.

Ensure you have the rise snaps on the front of the nappy setup appropriately for your baby’s age and size, see our handy table as a guide.

If deep red marks persist, there are a few other things you can try:

  • Your snaps don’t need to line up – some babies have chunky thighs but a small waist. In order to reduce red marks on their legs without making the tummy overly loose, you may need the hip snaps to be looser than the tummy snaps making them not line up.
  • Forego the hip snap altogether. For bubs with seriously chunky thighs, try leaving the hip snap undone completely, this allows more room around the legs.
  • Go down to just 1 insert – if you always use 2 cloth inserts, this provides great absorbency but the nappy becomes less roomy and can feel slightly tighter on your baby. If you have a younger baby you could try reducing the amount of absorbency down to just 1 insert, but be warned that you may then need to increase how frequently you change the nappy.

Remember that babies reach a “chubby peak” just before they’re on the move and burning all their energy.

Their little bodies can change substantially as they grow, and where they were once getting red marks on their chubby thighs, these might be a distant memory once they’re running around.

Want to make sure you set yourself up for success and avoid making any mistakes with your cloth nappies? Read our Ultimate Free Cloth Nappy User Guide


Meet the Author

Natalie Lassen

Black and white photo of Natalie with her daughter cuddling

Natalie, Founder of NappyLuxe, is an eco-conscious mother and entrepreneur who discovered the benefits of cloth nappies for her family and the environment. With a mission to create the ultimate cloth nappy, she spent years researching and testing various designs before launching NappyLuxe - a range of high-quality, easy-to-use, and ultra-absorbent cloth nappies. Natalie is passionate about sharing her experience and expertise, helping parents make informed decisions and embark on their own sustainable parenting journey.

February 26, 2022 — Natalie Lassen
Tags: Learn