Fitted Cloth Diapers: Everything You Need To Know

by Bailey Bouwman

As a parent, you want the best for your baby, and that includes choosing the right type of diaper. This series we've been exploring different types of diapers, and today' we're going to look at a comfortable and reliable choice - the fitted cloth diaper.

Interested in learning more about cloth diapering? Check out our comprehensive guide on Cloth Diapering 101,where we break down the different types of cloth diapers and provide tips and tricks for success.

What is a Fitted Diapers?

A fitted diaper is one part of a cloth diapering system; specifically an inner or absorbent part. Fitted diapers are different from prefold diapers, flats and inserts because those absorbent inners are flat, and may require folding before use - whereas a fitted diapers is shaped and contoured to fit baby's body without folding.

Available in many different sizes, styles, and shapes - fitted diapers offer a excellent absorbency and leak protection. This makes them a fantastic choice for nights, and more parents should consider the daytime value of fitted diapers. 

The standard fitted diaper does not have a waterproof barrier built in, so you will need a separate waterproof diaper cover to wear this style of cloth diapers with clothing. Fitted diapers can be paired with traditional PUL covers, or with wool diaper covers, or with fleece diaper covers. 

Fitted diapers can be a bulkier than other styles of cloth diapers due to the absorbency and shape, but this will depend on how much absorbency you need in the product. Some fitted diapers like the Esembly system are quite trim and offer a similar fit and diapering experience to other major styles. 

Types of Fitted Diapers

There are several types of different features that a fitted diaper offers. Here are some examples of how fitted diapers might vary from brand to brand, maker to maker.:

  1. One-Size Fitted Diapers: These are designed to grow with your baby and usually feature adjustable snaps or elastic to customize the fit. It's less common to find one-size fitted diapers compared to other types of cloth diapers.

  2. Sized Fitted Diapers: Fitted diapers tend to be sized to different size babies. This offers a better and diapering experience for parents, and can be a simple as a size 1 & 2, or more nuanced with different fit styles for different baby shapes like at Lilly & Frank (a Canadian fitted diaper maker).

  3. Contoured Fitted Diapers: These are pre-shaped and have a trimmer fit than other types of fitted diapers. They often have an hourglass or tapered shape to fit snugly around the legs and waist. Once very popular, contoured style fitted diapers are making a come back in some cloth diapering communities.

  4. Hybrid Fitted Diapers: These have a waterproof outer layer made from PUL or fleece, eliminating the need for a separate cover. They are a good option for parents who want the absorbency of a fitted diaper without the bulk of a separate cover - they won't be 100% waterproof but offer a good amount of water resistance to ensure daytime wear. Maker, Lilly & Frank offers a Hybrid Fitted Diaper in Canada.

Moreover, fitted diapers vary from the textiles used, the feature of snaps or hook & loop, the addition of stay dry liners, and the complexity of the design. Everyone designs their fitted diapers with unique goals and objectives.These are things many parents learn along the way.  

Why Choose Fitted Diapers?

There are several reasons why parents choose fitted diapers over other types of cloth or disposable diapers. These include:

  1. Excellent Absorbency: Fitted diapers are known for their excellent absorbency. This partly because they offer more absorbency then inserts but also because there unique shape and wrap around body style ensures that liquid is captured before it can escape out of a cover.  

  2. Customizable Fit: Just like the above point the fitted diapers are designed to fit snugly around your baby's legs and waist, providing a customizable fit that can help prevent leaks. Because so many fitted diapers are sized, it's much easier to get a better fitting shape to your baby's changing body

  3. Comfortable: Fitted diapers are made with natural fibres such as cotton or cotton/hemp blends. These textiles are known to be great for gentle skin and will offer a soft and comfortable diapering experience that is breathable for your child. 

  4. Support Local Makers: Many fitted diapers are made by stay-at-home parents or local seamstresses, which can provide a unique and personalized touch to your diapering routine. By purchasing from small businesses or local makers, you are not only supporting the economy but also investing in a high-quality, artisanal product that is made with care and attention to detail

How to Use Fitted Diapers

Using a fitted diaper is easy and straightforward, once you get the hang of it. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Assemble or add any inserts to the fitted diaper if your diaper comes with them or you need them. Some diapers will have these, some will not and how much absorbency you need depends on your gaols. 

  2. Adjust the fit: If you have rise settings, you'll want to adjust the fit. Most fitted diapers are one size, so you may not have to worry about this. 

  3. Place the fitted diaper on your baby: With the inserts in place and the fit adjusted, place the fitted diaper on your baby by lifting their legs and sliding the diaper under their bottom - the same way you would with a disposable diaper. Ensure that the absorbent material is in the right place and fasten the diaper at the waist using the snaps or hook-and-loop closures. 

  4. Add a waterproof cover: Fitted diapers do not have a waterproof layer, so it's important to add a waterproof cover on top of the fitted diaper - especially if you want to wear additional clothing. This cover can be made of PUL or wool, and should fit snugly around your baby' legs and waist to prevent leaks. Both PUL and Wool can go under clothes, with many wool bottoms available as full length pants. 

  5. Check for leaks: Once the diaper is on your baby, check for any leaks or gaps around the legs or waist. Adjust the fit as needed to ensure a snug and secure fit.

How Much Will It Cost to Use Fitted Diapers?

When it comes to calculating the cost of fitted diapers, there are several factors to consider. The cost will change depending on the type of cloth diaper cover that you choose to use. For the sake of this post, I didn't included these calculations, and you can check out more on cloth diaper cover costs here. Covers can cost $15-$120 depending material.

Diaper Brand Cost Per Diaper Number of Fitted Cost for Stash (Minus Covers)
Esembly Baby Size 1 $16.99 20 $339.80
Esembly Baby Size 2 $18.99 20 $379.80
Lilly & Frank One Size $54.00 20 $1,080.00

Note that the cost for the stash (minus covers) is simply the cost per diaper multiplied by the number of fitted diapers in the stash. This does not include the cost of any additional covers or accessories that may be needed for a complete diapering system, and it's important to remember we really do have different needs and budgets. 

Some of these diaper systems are available at a lower cost when buying kits or multiples, and for many families they may use more boutique fitted diapers on a casual basis to tackle night or nap. Remember you don't have to do all or nothing. Maybe you have 8 boutique brand fitted diapers, and the rest cheap flats. You can build your own stash at your own budget for your own values. 

How to choose a fitted cloth diaper

When choosing a fitted diaper, there are a few key factors to consider:

  1. Absorbency: Fitted diapers are known for their excellent absorbency, but this really varies on the product but also your needs. Don't assume you need maximum absorbency. Most children pee a standard amount, and  super heavy soaker diapers are not the norm but the exception. Consider if you're purchasing diapers for day or night use, and chatting with the make directly can help guide you to ensure you choose the right product. 

  2. Fit: Fitted diapers come in a variety of sizes and styles, so be sure to pick the right sized product for your child. For example, the Esembly Fitted Diaper comes in size 1 & 2, and you'll want to read the sizing first. Some brands make petite sized fitted diapers, others toddler and newborn sizes. Options are endless and available if needed. 

  3. Materials: Fitted diapers can be made from a variety of materials, including cotton, hemp, bamboo, and blends of these fabrics. This may sway your personal preference depending on how you view each textile for its importance in softness, durability and environmental impact.  

  4. Brand reputation: Look for fitted diaper brands with a good reputation for quality, customer service, and sustainability. This helps you with the long term experience of diapering. One of the biggest reasons people abandon cloth diapering is because they don't feel supported and lack the right resources. A solid brand wants you to succeed and will help you. You can read reviews from other parents, join cloth diapering groups online, and ask for recommendations from cloth diapering stores or local communities.

  5. Price: Fitted diapers can vary in price, from budget-friendly options to more expensive boutique brands. We see this in the cost comparison above and consider your budget. But don't forget you can shop second hand and add cloth diapers to your baby registry. 

Answering Common Questions about Fitted Cloth Diaper

Question Answer
How do I wash fitted diapers? Fitted diapers can be washed just like other cloth diapers in warm/hot water with a good detergent. Some brands will have additional recommendations for their textiles, and you'll want to avoid using fabric softeners and dryer sheets. 
How often do I need to change fitted diapers? Fitted diapers still practice the best practices of any diaper change and that's every 2 hours or when soiled. 
How many fitted diapers do I need? There is no ideal stash number for any of these diaper types. Many families will use 6-10 diapers per day. Many will aim to have at least 2-3 night diapers or fitted. You may want a back up in case someone poops the first hour of sleeping. 
Do fitted diapers require special covers? Yes, most fitted diapers require a cloth diaper cover to prevent leaks. Hybrid styles may feature fleece or PUL that reduces these leaks and allow for casual wear around the house and under clothing, but these guidelines will change for those specialty products found through boutique cloth diaper brands.
Are fitted diapers more expensive than others? Fitted diapers can be if you go boutique, but many mass produced fitted diapers are competitively priced in the marketplace to other styles of diapers. 
Can I use fitted diapers overnight? Yes, fitted diapers are a popular choice for overnight use both in their wrap around absorbency and high absorbency averages.
Can I use fitted diapers for newborns? Yes, fitted diapers are available in a variety of sizes, including newborn sizes. Newborn fitted diapers are a phenomenal choice for their wrap around absorbency. Pair them with simple pull on wool covers for an incredibly simple, low maintenance hang around the house diapering style
How do I add absorbency to fitted diapers? You can add absorbency to fitted diapers by using inserts, doublers, or boosters made of hemp, bamboo, or cotton. It's as simple as finding an insert or booster and adding it to the product. You may want to find inserts designed wth contours, ask your brand if they provide additional speciality products, or use what you have. 
How do I prevent leaks with fitted diapers? To prevent leaks, ensure a snug fit, use a high-quality waterproof cover, and change the diaper frequently. If leaks are happening regularly, you may want to see if the entire diaper is getting soaked, and troubleshoot 1:1 with a cloth diaper brand or retailer.
Can fitted diapers cause diaper rash? Fitted diapers are gentle and made of natural fibers, which can be less irritating to baby's skin. However, frequent changes are still necessary to prevent rash - rashes often happen due to poor cleansing of both the skin and the diapers and can be troubleshooted with your brand/retailer.

The biggest drawback to fitted diapers is the perceived cost of fitted diapers, but as a long time cloth diapering advocate I would say the high absorbency and generally leak free experience of fitted diapering has really provided a unique opportunity to overcome this. 

Many families have stayed away from fitted diapers for the same reasons as prefold diapers or flat diapers because it's a two-step diapering sytem. However most diapers are two steps, you're either adding inserts into the diaper prior to going to a care provider, or asking care provider to do it. Using fitted diapers is putting on one diaper, then putting on another diaper (the cover), and then the pants. It's quite simple despite the idea that it could feel complex. 

I really feel that fitted diapers have so much potential for families looking for a more sustainable diapering choice but are scared of leaks and fit. Both fitted diapers and considering wool diaper covers can reduce the impact of leaks while offering a very sustainable diaper answer. 

Choose Fitted Diapers for Comfortable and Sustainable Diapering

Fitted diapers are a great option for parents looking for a comfortable and sustainable diapering solution for their babies. They offer excellent absorbency and a snug fit, making them ideal for both daytime and nighttime use. Fitted diapers are also a great investment, as they can be reused multiple times and are eco-friendly.

If you're ready to take the plunge into cloth diapering, we encourage you to check out our selection of fitted cloth diapers, or find a local maker near you. You can also check out different optiosn for cloth diaper covers to find the right one for you. This is an industry full of passionate crafts people and the right one might be around the corner. To learn more about cloth diapering, check out our exclusive cloth diaper blog. Don't forget to sign up for our email list to get access to our cloth diapering guide and other helpful resources.

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