Diaper cake

Have you been invited to a baby shower and are thinking about a gift? Or are you the host of the shower and wondering how to make a diaper cake as the centerpiece for the dessert table?

Either way, a diaper cake not only looks festive and fabulous but is also a great gift for the mom-to-be. She will love it! Read on to learn how to make a diaper cake and to be inspired by 25 amazing decoration ideas.

What Exactly Is a Diaper Cake?

A diaper cake is basically a cake-shaped gift that’s made of diapers. It's most often decorated with things like ribbons, small baby items, paper cutouts, and even a little sign that says something like “Oh, baby!”

A diaper cake is often given to the mom-to-be at her baby shower by one of the guests, or it may be created by the baby shower host as a centerpiece for the food table.

The diaper cake can match the theme of the baby shower, or simply have more general decorations that evoke all things baby. Sometimes the diaper cake can reflect the mom’s personality or tastes; for example, giving it a modern look with succulents or greenery, or decorating the diaper cake in the colors of her favorite sports team.

Of course, you don’t have to be going to the baby shower to create a diaper cake for the mom-to-be. Perhaps you’d like to give one to a colleague just before she goes on maternity leave, or maybe you’d like to bring your creation to a sip and see party after the baby’s birth.

No matter how or when you’re giving the diaper cake to the mom-to-be, she will be surprised and delighted — and you’ll have a pretty good time creating it, too!

What You’ll Need to Make a Diaper Cake

As you’ll see, you have loads of choices when it comes to how you make and decorate your diaper cake, but here’s a basic list of the things you’ll need:

  • Diapers. One or two packs of diapers (depending on the size of the pack, of course) may be enough for a small to medium size diaper cake, but you can also go much larger and use more diapers if you wish! As a rough guide: the base may require 20 and 60 diapers, the second tier about 10 to 40 diapers, and the third tier 5 to 20 diapers. These numbers are just estimates, though, and it’s entirely your choice how big each tier is and how many levels you would like to create.

  • Elastic rubber bands. You’ll need one extra-large rubber band per tier and as many small ones as you have diapers if you’re using the rolling method.

  • Decorative ribbon. You’ll need this to hold the diapers in place and as decoration.

  • A base. Think about whether you want to use cardboard, a cake stand, or a tray. Some cakes look good on a slice of wood, which you can buy at some craft stores or online.

  • Glue. You can go without glue, but it might help with securing the ribbon.

  • Dowels. If you plan to have tiers, you’ll need dowels to keep the layers fixed on top of each other.

  • Scissors

  • Optional extras: small baby gifts to decorate the diaper cake, and any craft supplies for the sign and/or decorations you would like to have. Check out our decoration ideas below for more inspiration on what you might need.

  • Large lengths of cellophane or soft tulle. You’ll need this if you plan to wrap the finished product.

What Diapers to Use

Obviously, you’ll need diapers to make a diaper cake. We recommend using Swaddlers, Pure Protection, or Cruisers 360° Fit.

The diaper size is entirely up to you. It may make sense, however, to buy a bigger size, which can be easier to work with when making the cake.

Keep in mind that using just one size of diapers may help you make the diaper cake level—as you won’t be juggling diapers of different widths and heights — but you might also like to use a different size to create each tier of the cake. That way, the parents-to-be will have a variety of sizes on hand for their baby.

Step-by-Step: How to Make a Diaper Cake

Making a diaper cake takes patience, but it can also be a whole lot of fun. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to get your creative juices flowing. Follow these five simple steps, and before you know it, you’ll have the finished product ready to go.

Step 1: Choose a base

Having a sturdy base is crucial, especially if you will be transporting your diaper cake. The last thing you want is for it to fall apart because of a flimsy base. You could use a piece of firm cardboard, a cake stand, or a large tray. If you choose cardboard, you can cover it in foil or wrapping paper, or cut it into a circle that’s the exact same size as the bottom tier of the cake so that it will be virtually hidden.

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Step 2: Prepare the diapers

There are two main methods for making a diaper cake — the roll-up and the wrap methods: For a roll-up diaper cake, roll up each individual diaper and secure it with a small rubber band so that it can’t unfurl. You can also tie a ribbon around each, but this is more time consuming. Set each one aside until you’ve rolled them all up.

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For a wrap diaper cake, there’s not much you need to do. Simply take the diapers out of the packaging and move on to step three.

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Step 3: Position the diapers

For a roll-up diaper cake, position the rolls vertically and close together until you’ve reached the size you want for the base tier. Secure the rolls in place with an extra-large rubber band or ribbon. If you’re using a rubber band, you can cover it with ribbon later on. To fasten the ribbon, you can either use a bit of hot glue (taking care not to get any on the diapers) or tie a small knot that you can hide under a decoration later on. Another option is to tie a big bow using the long ends of ribbon.

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If you’ll be having a second tier, place about three wooden dowels between the diaper rolls so that your next layer of rolls will be held firmly in place.

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Create the second tier by placing more diaper rolls around the dowels. The second tier should be smaller than the first. Secure the second tier with an extra-large rubber band or ribbon just as you did with the first tier. If the dowels stick out, you’ll need to cut off the top tips (or use shorter dowels) so they no longer show.

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Add as many tiers as you like (most cakes have two or three tiers), and then move on to step four. For a wraparound diaper cake, place a clean paper towel roll upright on your base and wrap the diapers around it. Keep wrapping until the first tier of your diaper cake is as wide as you want it to be. Once you’re done, secure the diapers in place with an extra-large rubber band or a ribbon. The ribbon can be fastened with hot glue (just take care not to get any on the diapers), or with a knot or bow. If you use a rubber band, you’ll be able to cover it later on when you get to decorating your diaper cake.

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Keep in mind, some people like to use a bottle of champagne instead of the paper towel roll as a surprise for the parents-to-be. Alternatively, you could also use a baby bottle. which then could become a part of your gift to the parents. It’s a delightful surprise either way, but a paper towel roll also works just as well. To add a second tier, keep wrapping diapers around the top half of the paper towel roll. Make sure the second tier is smaller than the first tier, and secure it with a rubber band or ribbon. Add a smaller third tier in the same way, or move on to step four.

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Step 4: Add decorations

You have lots of options when it comes to diaper cake decorations. If you’ve used a rubber band to keep your diaper rolls in place, then cover it with ribbon or fabric.

You can add some small toys, sitting them around the base or placing them on each tier of the cake.

Adding a feature toy, like a bigger teddy bear, to the top of the cake also works well.

The world is your oyster when it comes to decorations: fresh flowers, paper cutouts, signs written in calligraphy… to name just a few. You can match the baby shower’s theme, or get creative and choose your own color combination or theme.

If you’re the baby shower host and haven’t settled on a theme yet, check out these baby shower theme ideas for girls and baby shower themes for boys.

Step 5: Wrap the diaper cake

If you’ll be transporting the cake, it’s a good idea to wrap it to help prevent it from coming apart or getting damaged. Place a large sheet (or two) of cellophane or soft tulle on the table, and place the base of the diaper cake on top. Then pull the corners of the cellophane up above the cake, cinch it together, and secure the wrapping with ribbon.

Different Diaper Cake Shapes

Not all diaper cakes are round! Beyond the classic diaper cake shape we’ve described above, you can actually make diaper cakes in different shapes that reflect a specific theme:

25 Diaper Cake Decoration Ideas

There are lots of creative ways to decorate your diaper cake to make it look special and unique. Here are 25 great ideas to make your diaper cake really stand out:

  1. Use colorful ribbons. Ribbons are great for helping to hold the diapers in place, and they can also help tie the “look” of the diaper cake together. Great color schemes include:

    1. Baby blue and white — a baby shower classic

    2. Baby pink and white — another baby shower classic

    3. Yellow and baby blue — a lovely gender neutral option

    4. Dark blue or black and silver — for a sleek modern look

    5. Gold — this pairs well with many other colors but also works well if there’s a star-related theme

    6. Purple — this suits a fairy or woodlands themed shower

    7. Green and brown — great for a nature-inspired diaper cake

    8. Red, blue, and yellow — classic children’s colors, which also work well for a superheroes themed baby shower.

  1. Use patterned ribbons or layer the ribbons. Go for patterned ribbons like polka dot or a ribbon that has a special trim. Another option is to place a wider ribbon on first, then layer a thinner ribbon of a different color or texture on top. You can even get creative with other fabrics like lace or burlap.

  2. Use twine. A hot trend right now is to give the diaper cake a more natural look by using twine instead of ribbon to secure the diapers in place. When paired with greenery or flowers, it can look really beautiful.

  3. Cover each tier in fabric. For example, you could use buffalo check for a farm or country themed baby shower, or cover each tier in muslin that will form part of your gift to the mom-to-be.

  4. Get creative with the base. For a woodlands or nature-themed baby shower, you can use a clean slice of wood as the base. If the colors of the shower are pink and gold, placing the diaper cake on a mirrored tray will reflect the colors beautifully, adding to the overall effect. If you’re using cardboard as a base, cover it in wrapping paper that matches your diaper cake’s color scheme.

  5. Create or print some paper cutouts. For example, if there is a woodlands theme, you could add cutouts of fairies, toadstools, owls, or foxes to the side of your diaper cake. Check out these cutouts for inspiration. The cutouts can even simply be “baby related” — for example, cutouts of bodysuits, baby bottles, and booties. You could use small, decorative pegs to attach the cutouts, or glue them to the ribbon, taking care not to get any glue on the diapers.

  6. Add a bow and bow tie. If the baby shower has a “bows or bow ties” theme, add both to your diaper cake to reflect the theme.

  7. Add tulle as the trim. If the theme is ballerina or princess, you can add white, pink, or purple tulle trim to the bottom of the diaper cake. The added benefit of this is that it hides the base.

  8. Say it with flowers. The mom-to-be definitely deserves flowers at such a special time. You may like to add some fresh (or fake) flowers to your diaper cake, or make flower bud shapes out of paper or other craft supplies like felt. DIY felt flowers can look absolutely stunning — check it out here.

  9. Hang a pennant banner. Your local party supply shop might have a smallish pennant banner that you can drape around one tier of the cake. You could also make your own by cutting triangles out of colorful card stock and attaching them with string or twine. You can also add lettering to each triangle, perhaps spelling something out like “baby.”

  10. Make a sign. Create a sign that says something like “Oh, baby!” or “Oh boy!” (if the gender has already been revealed), or something else that matches the baby shower theme. If you have a friend with calligraphy skills this is the time to ask him or her to give you a hand. You can use different colors of card stock, glitter, colorful pens, or anything else that takes your fancy. Finger paint could also be cute! Once your sign is finished, stick a toothpick on the bottom edge and place it between two diaper rolls so that it stays upright.

  11. Place some small gifts around the base or on each tier. By placing a few small baby items, you can make your diaper cake look even more spectacular while also giving the parents-to-be some extra goodies. Here are some examples of what you can add: a teething ring, a bath toy, a baby bottle, a rolled-up bib or burp cloth, a baby bootie, socks, mittens, a small travel pack of wipes, a pacifier. You don’t need too many—even just a couple of little add-ons will make your diaper cake look even more abundant.

  12. Place a soft toy on the top. Plop a plush animal toy on top of your diaper cake, such as an elephant, bunny, or a teddy bear. If your diaper cake has a color scheme (for example pink) you may want the cuddly toy to match the color, or you could also pick a contrasting color. For example, if you have baby blue diaper cake decorations, place a dark brown teddy on top.

  13. Add crinkled paper to each tier. This is a popular way to cover the diaper rolls of each tier. Buy shredded paper that matches the color scheme or theme of your diaper cake and place handfuls on each tier.

  14. Place a rubber duck on top. Nothing says “childhood” like a yellow rubber ducky bath toy. If it matches the rest of your diaper cake décor, sit a toy duck on top. This idea is both cute and useable by the parents-to-be in the years to come.

  15. Give the décor a modern spin with succulents or greenery. Not all diaper cakes have to be “baby” themed. For example, you could decorate your diaper cake with succulents, green branches, or native flowers. This can look particularly lovely when paired with twine or burlap.

  16. Place baby booties on top. Nothing is more adorable than a pair of baby booties or shoes, and using a pair as the centerpiece of the cake is super cute.

  17. Add a small helium balloon. Your local party supply store probably has quite a range of small helium balloons in different colors or with wording like “Oh, baby!” Tuck the straw that comes with the helium balloon in between two diaper rolls to hold it in place.

  18. Give it the unicorn treatment. Unicorns are big right now so adding the horn, ears, and eyelashes to your diaper cake will definitely be a winner. You can use simple craft supplies like card stock and glitter to make your unicorn shapes. Then stick a toothpick onto the shapes and stick the other end between the diaper rolls to secure them in place.

  19. Add sweet treats. It is a diaper cake after all, right? So why not stick some wrapped cake pops or cookies on sticks between the diaper rolls. If you decide to go this route, you might like to add a sign that says something like “Sweet baby.”

  20. Match the decorations to the season. During summer you might like to add sunflowers to your diaper cake or give it a bee theme. In fall, think pumpkins or fall leaves. In winter, why not make your diaper cake look like a snowman or use gray ribbon, silver glitter, and snowflake cutouts. A “Baby it’s cold outside” sign is the perfect topper for a winter diaper cake. And, in spring, think butterflies as decoration or go with a bunny theme. Flowers work well year-round, but especially in spring!

  21. Add a children’s book. If the baby shower has a “bring a book” theme, or you simply would like to include your favorite storybook, then why not add it to your diaper cake.

  22. Wrap string lights around each tier. You can probably get a string of battery-operated lights from your local big box store or online. Gorgeous lighting can work really well if the theme is “twinkle, twinkle, little star” or “a star is born.” This will be a real showstopper!

  23. If the mom-to-be is having twins, double the fun. You might like to create two small diaper cakes or add two toys so that each baby gets her own soft toy.

  24. Keep it small and simple. Diaper cakes don’t have to have multiple tiers, and lots of decorations. For example, you might like to simply create a one tier diaper cake using one pack of diapers and decorate it with a lovely ribbon, adding a sign or a soft toy on top. Voila, all done!

A Final Note on Diaper Cakes

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to diaper cakes. Whether you go big or small, extravagant or understated, it’s the thought that counts, and your efforts will be appreciated. Have fun with it, and watch as the guest of honor’s face lights up as you unveil your creation.

For even more baby shower gift ideas, check out our article on 42 baby shower gift ideas you’ll love, 16 practical baby shower gift ideas, and 25 baby shower gifts for the mom-to-be.