When I first began cloth diapering a few years ago, I had a very hard time deciding what type of cloth diaper I wanted to invest in. If I’d known then what I know now, fitted diapers would have probably been the biggest part of my budget (instead of pockets), but I just didn’t know enough about them back then.
So to help you make an informed choice, here’s the 411 on fitted diapers. Fitted diapers, sometimes called “fitteds,” are cloth diapers that look a lot like disposable diapers, but are made from several layers of absorbent material like cotton, bamboo, terry, or even Zorb.
Most fitted diapers have leg and back elastics to keep messes in, and snaps or hook and loop (Velcro) waist closures to hold them onto baby. A few fitteds don’t have waist closures, but have tabs that make it easy to secure them with diaper pins, Snappi’s, or Boingo clips.
Do Fitted Cloth Diapers Need a Cover?
Yes. Fitted cloth diapers need a cloth diaper cover wrapped over them, whether it’s a regular PUL/TPU cover, a wool cover, or a fleece cover. This is because fitted diapers have no waterproofing of their own, that is unless it’s a hybrid fitted diaper.
What is a Hybrid Fitted Diaper?
Hybrid fitted diapers are like regular fitted diapers but with two important differences:
1) They have a hidden layer of polyester fleece, which is water resistant. This water-resistant layer lengthens the amount of time between baby wetting and that wetness leaking out of the diaper and onto your lap, carseat, clothes, etc. Since the layer of polyester fleece is water-resistant and not waterproof it still allows air to flow through, making it perfect for airing out baby bottoms that have developed a rash.
2) They often (though not always) have snaps inside to add extra inserts to boost absorbency. These booster inserts snap into the inside of the diaper to hold them in place, much like a traditional hybrid diaper.
Just like hybrid cloth diapers are a mix of a disposable diaper and a cloth diaper, hybrid fitted cloth diapers are a cross between an all-in-one and a fitted diaper because they offer that bit of water-resistance with all of the built-in absorbency you could need.
Below is a video by Dirty Diaper Laundry showing you a hybrid fitted cloth diaper. Though this video is a bit older, it gives you a great idea of the features of a hybrid fitted diaper.
Fitted Cloth Diapers Vs. Prefolds and Flats
As we’ve covered, hybrid fitted diapers can last a little while without a cover, but traditional fitted cloth diapers need a cover for any leak protection because they will leak almost instantly without one.
Because fitteds are used with diaper covers, there are many similarities between them and the other diaper styles that have to be covered with a diaper cover — prefold and flat diapers — but of course there are many big differences too.
Similarities Between Fitteds, Prefolds and Flats
- They all lack any waterproofing layers (with the exception of hybrid fitted diapers, as I talked about earlier). Since they aren’t waterproof, they must all be used under a cloth diaper cover
- They can be secured with pins, Snappis or Boingos onto baby (some fitted diapers come with snap or Velcro waist closures instead) but do not need to be
- They are all most commonly made from cotton, but can also be made from other natural materials or combinations of materials, like bamboo and hemp
Differences Between Fitteds, Prefolds and Flats
- Fitted diapers don’t require any folding thanks to their shape, prefolds and flats do.
- Fitteds often don’t require pinning as many brands have snaps or hook and look (Velcro) closures, whereas prefolds and flat diapers never come with their own waist closures
- Fitted diapers without waist closures don’t really need pins most of the time as their shape and leg elastics keep them in place well when under a diaper cover. Unpinned prefold and flat diapers tend to move and can bunch under covers on active babies
- Fitteds are usually less prone to leaks than prefolds and flats as they have more absorbent material. Put another way, the entire diaper is absorbent, right up to baby’s waist.
How Much do Fitted Cloth Diapers Cost?
Fitted cloth diapers are, in general, more expensive than prefold and flat diapers, but less expensive than all-in-one diapers and higher-end pocket diapers.
You will need to purchase diaper covers to wrap over your fitted cloth diapers, however because diaper covers can be wiped clean when not soiled (so after #1, but not #2) you don’t to change the cover at every diaper change, which can save money.
Unlike one-size all-in-one, all-in-two, and pocket diapers however, fitted diapers do often come in sizes, which means you may need one or two whole additional sets for when baby grows out of their current size. With that said, pocket diapers, all-in-two diapers, prefolds and flat diapers, and even some all-in-ones will usually require additional inserts for older children to maintain their absorbency. Because fitted diapers are sized and made to be super absorbent for the size, boosters are usually not needed.
To sum it up, I have listed out below the top reasons to consider choosing fitted cloth diapers for your baby, and the top reasons not too. Hopefully these will help you realize just how awesome fitted diapers are; something I wish I had known much sooner!
Reasons to Choose Fitted Diapers for Your Baby
- They are amazing for overnight, and even for heavy wetters at night. Seriously, a good fitted cloth diaper like the Cloth-eez Workhorse Fitted Diapers (Amazon link) especially when paired with a wool cover, is one of the most reliable overnight cloth diapering solution out there
- They contain messes better than most other diaper systems since they have elasticized waist and leg bands, and are paired with a diaper cover that has its own waist and leg elastics or bands
- Because they often come in sizes, and not in all-in-one sizes that need to be folded and scrunched, they are often very trim compared to most other diaper styles.
- They dry quickly compared to all-in-one cloth diapers
- They are perfect for when air is needed. Because fitted diapers don’t have a waterproof layer, but they still have elastic leg bands and waist closures to keep them on and contain messes, they are perfect for when you want to let baby’s bottom air out. Letting baby’s bum air out is good for getting rid of diaper rash naturally
- They can be less bulky than using prefolds, flats and inserts for two reasons: 1) their hourglass, ‘diaper’ shape; and 2) their absorbency is wrapped all around baby, not just between the legs
- They are usually more economical than all-in-one diapers, as well as some pocket diapers and some all-in-two diapers
- Diaper covers can be wiped off and reused with fitteds for several diaper changes before needing to be washed
Reasons not to Choose Fitted Diapers for Your Baby
- They take longer to dry than pocket diapers, prefolds, and flats
- They are a two-step diaper system (meaning they need a diaper cover placed over them), which can make diaper changes take longer than all-in-one diapers. Two-step diaper changes need more instruction for grandparents, daycare providers, etc.
- They are most often more expensive than prefolds and flats
- Unlike “one-size” all-in-one and pocket diapers, Fitteds usually come in sized options, meaning you may need to buy several different sizes throughout baby’s diaper wearing years
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