This is a common worry for many parents who have recently switched to modern cloth nappies. No parent wants their baby to be uncomfortable and so seeing red marks on your baby’s leg can be concerning. The good news is that the majority of the time, red marks are normal and not causing discomfort so you can take this worry off your plate! However, sometimes it can be an indication something needs adjusting and so we will discuss a few reasons red marks will appear when using cloth nappies.

Normal Red Marks

Sometimes red marks aren't anything to worry about. Often, they can be likened to the marks you get from seams of your own underwear or bra and are simply caused by slight pressure indenting the skin. If the marks go away after having the nappy off for half an hour to an hour, it is likely nothing to worry about.

Abnormal Red Marks

If the red marks are deeply indented, very red, sunburnt looking, your child is bothered by them, or the marks don’t go away when leaving the nappy off, it may indicate that some adjustments need to be made.

Nappy fit

If marks are deep and red and take a long time to disappear, the nappy may be too tight. Adjusting the snap settings to loosen the fit will ease the pressure on the skin and any discomfort. Ensuring the elastics are pushed inward to sit in the underwear line can also improve the fit to assist with reducing marks. Using nappies with external gussets can make it easier to push the elastic into the correct position.


Ammonia build-up in nappies can cause skin irritation and red marks or “burns”. Ammonia can build up if nappies are not sufficiently cleaned between uses and often you will notice strong odours in your nappies if there is an ammonia issue. Over time, ammonia will quicken the degradation of your nappies. If you believe your baby has burns from ammonia build-up, it is a good idea to review your wash routine to ensure nappies are being cleaned sufficiently.

Moisture friction

Red marks may also occur from friction that occurs when wet elastics are rubbing against the skin continuously. Changing your baby more frequently or adding absorbency should help.

Minor red marks because of elastics sitting on the skin are generally nothing to worry about, however, if red marks are more severe, some adjustments should be made. You may need to reassess your wash routine to ensure you are not experiencing an accumulation of ammonia in your nappies, adjust the fit of the nappy, and change more frequently to avoid irritation from friction by wet elastics. If you are concerned about rashes in the nappy area, it is best to visit a doctor.


April 03, 2023 — Adelle Heard