How to Buy or DIY a Diaper Cake for Your Next Baby Shower
July 13, 2021
There are plenty of words to describe diapers: “useful,” “essential,” the list goes on. But “fun” and “festive” don’t usually make the cut. That is, unless you’re talking about diaper cakes. Yes, we said diaper cakes, the popular trend taking baby showers by storm. And no, we don’t mean desserts shaped like diapers—we’re talking baby must-haves displayed in arrangements meant to look like confections.
There’s no doubt nappies are practical gifts, but they’re not the most exciting. Neither are many other baby items, like bottle brushes and washcloths. That’s why people are getting crafty with the way they package their presents.
If a diaper cake sounds like the perfect gift for the soon-to-be parents in your life, keep reading. We’ll walk you through all the basics, starting with some etiquette advice and diaper cake ideas. Then, we’ll get into how to make a diaper cake (including how many diapers you’ll need) and where to buy one if you aren’t feeling crafty.
A standard diaper cake is just “an arrangement of diapers crafted to resemble a traditional tiered cake,” says Katherine Kommer, the founder of Baby Showers Inc. Stick with the simple, classic design or think outside the box. “More recently, other essential baby items such as clothing, bibs, blankets and washcloths are being used to craft custom gift arrangements and bouquets,” Kommer says.
So what’s the purpose of a diaper cake? Essentially, baby shower diaper cakes are a more visually creative, aesthetic way to gift parents-to-be the number one baby essential they’ll need: diapers. You can add in a touch of decoration, personalization and even include multiple diapers sizes to account for a growing newborn. In fact, these faux cakes can be so impressive, they’re used as baby shower centerpieces too. (A double-duty baby shower gift? Score!)
Diaper cakes are often assembled by hand, but if you don’t want to DIY, Kommer has noticed “an emergence of specialized vendors that sell pre-designed and custom-made diaper cakes.” (More on that in a bit!)
If you’re planning to bring your diaper cake to a baby shower, check in with the host. Typically, whoever’s hosting the baby shower decides on the diaper cake design. That way, they can seamlessly tie it into the rest of the decor. That said, multiple people are welcome to pitch in, whether by providing supplies, contributing money or getting together to craft it. If you aren’t planning the party but you’d like to gift a diaper cake, coordinate with the host to make sure it aligns with the baby shower theme.
As for what products to use? Look to the baby registry to see what brands the parents are loving. Keep quality in mind, as this is a gift and not just a decoration.
When it comes to diaper cakes for boys and girls, the ideas are truly endless. You can opt for a traditional tiered diaper cake design or take things up a notch by constructing a whimsical sculpture—think: motorcycle diaper cake or a hot air balloon diaper cake. There are tons of possibilities for design themes and plenty of opportunities to let your creativity shine. If your loved one is having a woodland-themed baby shower, for example, consider adding in sprigs of greenery or top your diaper cake with a fox figurine. If the party palette skews pastel, use patterned diapers with soft hues.
Looking for inspiration? We tapped some of our favorite bloggers and crafters to share their cute, clever designs, which you can choose to replicate (follow their DIY instructions!) or use as a creative spark. Check out the diaper cake ideas below.
Elephant diaper cake
This simple but beautiful elephant diaper cake from Wendy of The Crowded Nest uses two tiers of rolled up diapers. She tied each with yellow and burlap ribbon and used green plant branches for accents. For her topper, she used a sweet stuffed elephant with a yellow bow tied around its neck. (Love this elephant diaper cake but don’t want to make it? Buy it from the shoppable section below!)
Motorcycle diaper cake
For her motorcycle diaper cake, Samantha of A Home to Grow Old In used 65 size 2 diapers to create three “wheels” tied together by ribbon and receiving blankets. She used a sippy cup for the headlights and more blankets (and tiny socks!) for the handlebars. Samantha completed her cake with a stuffed toy riding on top of the motorcycle. Now that’s a diaper cake idea that’s sure to get the wheels turning!
Winnie the pooh diaper cake
This Winnie the Pooh diaper cake was made by Sue from Creative “Try”als. She used little details to incorporate the theme into the cake, like painting the tube she used for her base with a picture of Pooh and making rosettes with printed Winnie the Pooh clipart for the sides and topper. The result is a sweet diaper cake fit for any baby shower center table.
Sunflower diaper cake
Lauren from Girls Gone Food created this sunflower diaper cake as part of a farm-themed baby shower. She used instructions from A Hosting Home to construct the three tiers and then wrapped each layer with bumble bee towels and burlap ribbon. The diaper cake is decorated with a plush bee toy topper, faux sunflowers and Burt’s Bees baby products.
Jeep diaper cake
For her jeep diaper cake, Thrifty Northwest Mom bought a box of size 1 diapers. She repurposed the box to use as the base of her jeep, covering it with blankets and washcloths, and made wheels from the diapers. She used baby booties for side mirrors, sippy cups as headlights and a teddy bear as the driver, and loaded the cake with other baby essentials.
Dinosaur diaper cake
This dinosaur diaper cake from Linda of Linda’s ParTea Box is as cute as can be. Using three tiers, she used blue and green ribbon to tie her layers and put yellow, green and brown confetti on top of each layer to incorporate the colors of the jungle. She also included small dinosaur toys throughout and a larger one as the topper.
Harry potter diaper cake
Crafting Cheerfully worked some incredible magic with this Harry Potter diaper cake for boys and girls. Shaped like the Hogwarts Express, this cake cleverly uses diapers for the train’s body, covered by red and black felt, and wheels. It also incorporates red and black socks and bibs and uses printed logos to complete the theme.
Hot air balloon diaper cake
For her gender-neutral hot air balloon diaper cake, Amber of Busy Creating Memories used rolled diapers tied with burlap ribbon to create the “basket” and a paper lantern to make the “balloon,” plus an adorable stuffed giraffe as the passenger. The result? A stunning diaper cake that’s bound to be a showstopper at any baby shower.
Minnie mouse diaper cake
The Suburban Mom is no stranger to making baby shower diaper cakes and has crafted tons of centerpieces—including this Minnie Mouse diaper cake. To start, she constructed a three-tiered diaper cake and then decked it out with baby essentials that fit with the theme, including Minnie Mouse swaddles, teethers, sippy cups and more.
Safari diaper cake
This safari diaper cake, from Rebecca of Devour Dinner, is an absolute standout, but she says even the least crafty people could easily make it in as little 45 minutes. For her bottom tier, she cleverly opted to use a package of baby wipes as the base. After assembling her three tiers, she embellished each with colorful ribbon and cute cutouts of safari animals. On top, she added a sweet giraffe lovey.
Unicorn diaper cake
This unicorn diaper cake by Diaper Cakes with Takalee is that elusive, magical combination of straightforward and stunning. She used a large, solid white ribbon to cover the three tiers and make them look more like a “cake,” accenting each with a glittery gold ribbon as well. For the unicorn, she attached lashes to the top tier, used a topper for the ears and horn and added cascading foam flowers down the cake to imitate the mane. (You can also shop this diaper cake in the shoppable section below!)
You’ve selected your design and are ready to go—but how do you make a diaper cake, exactly? Read on to learn about the basics of creating a diaper cake, including how many diapers you’ll need, the best types of diapers to use and the materials you’ll need on hand, plus step-by-step instructions for how to create a masterpiece of your own.
How many diapers do you need for a diaper cake?
The number of diapers you need will largely depend on the size of your diaper cake. For a traditional three-tier diaper cake, you’ll likely need around 100 diapers; for a smaller cake with one or two tiers, you may only need between 40 to 60. How many diapers you wind up using also depends on what size and brand of diapers you choose. When making a baby shower diaper cake, it can be good to include a mix of size 1, 2 and 3 diapers, as newborn size diapers are hard to work with (and babies tend to quickly outgrow them!).
What diapers are best for a diaper cake?
While you want your diaper cake to be decorative, keep in mind that it’s also a practical gift that the parents will hopefully get loads of use out of! Choose quality diapers from reputable brands. If the parents-to-be have specific diaper brands listed on their registry, opt for those.
The type of diapers you choose may also depend on the design of your diaper cake. If you’re hoping for a crisp, neutral look, you may want unadorned, white diapers for your cake; for that, Coterie, The Honest Company’s Clean Conscious diapers in white and Earth’s Best Tendercare diapers are great options.
But many brands also offer diapers in adorable prints that will elevate any theme. If you’re designing for a Mickey Mouse-themed shower, for example, Huggies diapers feature a Mickey Mouse print. For fun, patterned diapers, look to brands such as HelloBello and The Honest Company, both of which feature an impressive, rotating range of prints—you can find florals, hot air balloons, elephants, veggies, tropical birds and plants, trucks and even characters from Dr. Seuss!
Step-by-step diaper cake DIY instructions
Here, Kommer walks you through the fundamentals of how to make a diaper cake—she’s even included photos in her tutorial! Below are instructions for a three-tier design. Follow the steps for a minimalist diaper cake DIY design, or use it as a foundation and spruce up the final product with decorations and accents of your choosing.
- 60 to 65 size 1 or 2 diapers (but it doesn’t hurt to have extras in case; the final amount you need may depend on the size and brand of the diapers)
- A variety pack of rubber bands
- A wrapping paper tube or an empty paper towel roll (cut to 18”)
- A 10” round cardboard cake board
- A pair of scissors
- Ribbon (1.5” to 2.5” wide)
- Regular clear or double-sided tape
- A hot glue gun and glue
- Additional decorative elements, like bows or more baby products (optional)
- A cake stand (optional)
Step 1: Assemble the Base
• Attach the wrapping paper or paper towel tube to your cardboard cake board using hot glue.
Step 2: Roll the Diapers
• Starting with the top of each diaper, roll the diaper so the design is inside the roll. Secure each diaper with a small rubber band.
Step 3: Assemble Your Diaper Cake Layers
• Begin the base layer by encircling the cardboard tube with six diapers. To secure it, wrap a rubber band around the diapers. Arrange the diapers so the end of each rolled-up diaper is pointed toward the center. That way, the roundest, most seamless part of the diaper shows on the outside.
• Next, circle the first layer with 12 more diapers and secure them with a large rubber band. Wrap the rubber band toward the end of each diaper closest to the cake base. This makes it easier to hide it with ribbon later on.
• Finish the bottom layer by securing 18 more diapers with another rubber band. The diapers may overhang the cake board slightly—this is fine.
• For the second tier, add six diapers on top of the base layer around the cardboard tube. Secure them with a rubber band.
• Next, add 12 more diapers around the first six. Keep them in place with a rubber band.
• For the top tier, surround the cardboard tube with seven diapers. Then secure them with a rubber band.
Step 4: Trim (As Needed)
• If extra cardboard tube is sticking out from the top (this will depend on the size and brand of diapers you use), use scissors to cut it off.
Step 5: Decorate Your Diaper Cake!
• Tape one end of the ribbon to a diaper, then tightly loop the ribbon around the whole tier, and tape or hot glue the ribbon on top of the starting point. For a cleaner look, you can use double-sided tape between the top and bottom layer of ribbon so no tape shows on the outside. Or, you can cover the ending point of the ribbon with a bow or another decorative adornment.
• Create a diaper cake topper by using large ribbon bows or even a small stuffed animal. Secure it with ribbon to hold it in place.
• Consider placing other baby items on or inside the tiers. Certain products, like burp cloths and onesies, can be rolled like diapers. Other objects, like pacifiers, can stick out from the tiers. Stay consistent with the theme and color scheme to create a cohesive look.
What do you top a diaper cake with?
Popular diaper cake toppers include ribbons, small stuffed animals and other baby products. For example, if you’re making a diaper cake for a woodland or safari themed shower, you might consider adding a small teddy bear, stuffed monkey or elephant to the top. These can be attached to a small blanket that’s tucked into the tube at the center of your diaper cake. You can also fold and add other baby items—like pacifiers, burp clothes, bibs and onesies—to the top of your diaper cake.
Don’t have the time or inclination to DIY? Say hello to these shoppable baby shower diaper cakes. If you don’t see one that matches your theme, don’t fret—these sellers make tons of other unique diaper cakes for boys and girls, so check out the rest of their shops for a seriously impressive selection.
Woodland diaper cake
Kommer personally recommends Baby Blossom Company as a great resource for both premade and custom-made diaper cakes. This woodland design is all sorts of adorable and comes with diapers, thematic receiving blankets and cute paper animals to preserve in baby’s keepsake book. It’s an ideal diaper cake for boys and girls alike.
Buy it: Baby Blossom Company Fox Diaper Cake, starting from $90, Etsy.com
Motorcycle diaper cake
This statement centerpiece swaps tiers for diaper wheels. The masterpiece also features bibs, socks and more to make up the rest of the “vehicle.” Choose the color palette and diaper brand for a customized design.
Buy it: Diaper Makeovers Motorcycle Diaper Cake, from $80, Etsy.com
Elephant diaper cake
The Crowded Nest makes tons of unique diaper cakes in various themes, as well as plain diaper cakes you can buy and decorate yourself. But we especially love her elephant diaper cake for boys and girls. With two tiers, plant leaf accents and a stuffed elephant on top, this cake is both simple and stunning—and perfect as any baby shower centerpiece.
Buy it: The Crowded Nest Elephant Diaper Cake, from $85, Etsy.com
Unicorn diaper cake
Make the baby shower—or a smaller baby sprinkle—even more magical with this of-the-moment unicorn diaper cake. We especially love the pastel colored roses “flowing” down the sides.
Buy it: Takalee Diaper Cakes Pastel Unicorn Diaper Cake, $90, Etsy.com
Jeep diaper cake
Vroom vroom! Here’s another unique diaper cake idea. The massive arrangement is decked out in diapers, washcloths, pacifiers, blankets, socks, a bib, a teether and baby toys. FYI: The seller also makes 4-wheel diaper bikes, and the craftiness is awe-inspiring.
Buy it: O Baby Diaper Cakes Co Jeep Diaper Cake, from $150, Etsy.com
Sunflower diaper cake
For your baby shower centerpiece, look no further than this sunflower diaper cake for girls and boys. Decorated with yellow sunflowers and sage green ribbon, it also features a custom elephant cake topper and includes a cute attached sign that says: “sweet baby.” Be sure to check out the entire shop, as this Etsy seller makes some of the more affordable diaper cakes for sale.
Buy it: Sunshine Gift Baskets Gender-Neutral Sunflower Diaper Cake, from $50, Etsy.com
Succulent diaper cake
We can’t believe something so pretty could be made of diapers. This is another one of our favorites from Kommer’s recommendation, Baby Blossom Company. Get two mini, one-tier arrangements topped with precious felt succulents.
Buy it: Baby Blossom Company Succulent Diaper Cake Centerpieces, $60 for a set of 2, Etsy.com
The honest company diaper cake
Did you know one of the most beloved baby brands, The Honest Company, makes diaper cakes for boys and girls? Choose a stylish diaper pattern and have the nappies wrapped up with ribbons and other goodies. Each package includes nursery essentials like baby wipes and baby laundry detergent. There are also mini Honest diaper cakes for sale for $40 if you’d prefer.
Buy it: Honest Company Diaper Cakes, $100 each, Honest.com
Diaper cake kit
Willing to do a little work? This diaper cake kit meets you halfway. For just $10, get all the supplies you need to build one yourself—except for diapers. The instructions walk you through creating the centerpiece. Pro tip: Reviewers recommend using baby lotion bottles to wrap the nappies around.
Buy it: Simplicity Wilton Diaper Cake Kit, $10, Amazon.com
Plus, more from The Bump: