Friday, September 7, 2012

Dissecting Fitted Diapers - Terminology and Options

As if understanding cloth diapering terminology and options isn't bad enough, understanding fitted cloth diaper terminology and options takes it to a whole other level.  I would compare it to ordering coffee at Starbucks.  Instead of saying that you want a Venti Non-Fat Iced Caramel Macchiato Upside-down with Peppermint Syrup, you would say you want a One Size Knit Turned and Topstitched Organic Bamboo Velour Hybrid Fitted Diaper with a Snap-in Petal Soaker and a Lay in Doubler.  Ack!  Try and say that 3x really fast.  I dare you!  Well over the past month I've really tried to familiarize myself with all the various options out there.  Now mind you some companies have their own terminology that goes against the grain of other companies, and there really are too many options to list them all, but I'll try and educate you about the most common options that are out there.  So here we go.  Let's dissect this diaper piece by piece!

Diaper Construction

Hybrid - A hybrid diaper is somewhere between an All In One and a fitted diaper.  They have a hidden poly fleece layer that acts as a water barrier.  Although they are not waterproof like an All In One, they will keep your baby leak free longer than your typical fitted diaper.  Pros:  Last a long time without a cover and great for a heavy wetter.  Cons:  Bulky

Turned & Topstitched (T&T) - A turned & topstitched diaper is when the diaper is sewn inside out, then turned right side out, and then sewn around the edges once again.  This is done so that all the edges of the fabric are hidden inside of the diaper to create nice, soft, clean, edges of the diaper.  This is done with a regular sewing machine.  Pros: Soft with less leg irritation.  Cons: Bulkier, less roomy inside, and less stretch.

Serged -  A serged diaper is when the diaper is sewn using a serger machine instead of a regular sewing machine.  In this style of sewing the diaper is serged with the diaper already right side out.  A serging stitch creates a tight weave of thread around the edges of the diaper binding in the raw edges of the fabric.  Pros: Stretchier, more roomy inside, and trimmer fitting.  Cons: Have been reported to create more leg irritation from the threading.

Diaper Closure

Snapped - Wings can have anywhere from one to four snaps on each wing of the diaper.  Less snaps are easier, but more snaps mean less wing droop and more adjustments.  Some snap diapers snap with the wings over the front (snapping on the front), while other diapers snap with the front over the wings (snapping on the sides).  Pros: Snaps are harder for babies to take off on their own and stay nicer looking longer than H&L.  Cons: Snaps take longer to put on than H&L and give you a less perfect fit than H&L.

Hook & Loop (H&L) - Hook & Loop is also known as Velcro, Aplix, or TouchTape.  A loop strip is located on the front of the diaper, while hook strips are located on the wings.  You can attach the two at any waist location desired.  Pros: Very customized fit since you can attach the H&L at any location along the loop strip.  H&L is also very fast to put on (like a disposable).  Cons:  H&L is easier for babies to take off on their own and wears out a lot faster than snaps.

Snapless or No Closure -  Some fitted diapers come with no snaps or H&L.  These diapers are meant to be secured with pins, a Snappi, Boingo, or just secured with a tight fitting wrap cover over it.  Pros: Very customized fit since you are not restricted by snap or H&L locations.  Cons: Pins can be tricky and have a learning curve (I've yet to master them).  Snappi's only work on certain types of fabric and they can be unsafe if a cover is not put over them.


Soaker -  A soaker is the main absorbent section of a fitted diaper.

Snake -  A snake style soaker is a very long soaker that usually snaps into a fitted diaper.  The soaker is then folded to fit inside the diaper and to create absorbency in the areas where your baby needs it the most.  The long soaker means you can use less layers of fabric with the same amount of absorbency which means easier cleaning and faster drying.  You can also put the absorbency where you need it based on how you fold it (ex: more layers up front for a boy or in the center for a girl).

Petal -  A petal soaker is a soaker that has two or more soakers sewn together.  They usually snap into a fitted diaper, but can also lay in.  The multiple layers make cleaning easier and drying faster.  Petal soakers are also usually shorter so no extra folding is needed which usually means less bulk up front.

Trifold / Flat / Prefold -  These soakers are flat and rectangular or square in shape.  They usually are 2 or more layers of fabric.  The soaker is then folded to fit inside the diaper so that it fits your baby and provides absorbency where you need it the most.  Usually these just lay into the diaper, but some can snap in.

Snap In - Soakers usually snap into the back of a fitted diaper, but can also snap in the front or both the front and the back.  Snap in inserts means your insert will be less likely to shift around while on your baby.

Lay In -  Soakers can also lay into a fitted diaper instead of snapping in.  Lay in soakers mean more versatility with how you lay your soaker in, and they don't have hard snap bumps that might irritate your baby.

Sewn In -  Some soakers are sewn right into the diaper so you don't need to worry about finding them after they've been washed.  They can be fully sewn in on all four sides (these usually are harder to wash and take longer to dry).  They can be sewn on three sides (these create a pocket so you can add additional inserts if needed).  They can be sewn on two sides (these are a little easier to clean and faster to dry and sometimes create a pocket for additional absorbency).  They can be sewn on one side (this is similar to a snap in, only it doesn't come out).

Doubler - This is an optional piece in the shape of an insert that you can lay or snap into your fitted diaper.  It will give your diaper a few more layers of absorbency if needed.


Sized - Some fitted diapers are sized.  These diapers are specifically made to fit a specific weight and size range.  You need to purchase the next size up as your baby grows.  Pros:  You get a more customized fit.  Cons:  It's costly to keep buying the next size up.

One-Size - A one size fitted diaper fits babies from newborn to potty training using various adjustments to the diaper (see below).  Pros:  It saves money to use the same diaper as your baby grows.  Cons:  You get a less customized fit.  Some one-size diapers do not truly fit a newborn or a toddler.

Fold Down Rise - Some one size diapers make their sizing adjustments using a fold down rise.  When using this method you fold down the front of the diaper in order to make the rise of the diaper shorter and the legs smaller.  If you're using a snapless fitted then no additional elements are added to the diaper.  Some diapers fold the diaper rise down and then back up so you can use the same snaps that are on the front of the diaper.  Most add in additional snaps on the inside of the diaper so you can snap the wings to those when folding down.

Snap Down Rise - Some one size diapers make their sizing adjustments using a snap down rise.  When using this method the diaper has a series of snaps on the front of the diaper (usually in three rows of three).  By snapping these to certain positions you can adjust the rise of the diaper creating a size small, medium, or large (sometimes even more sizes than just 3).

So you can easily keep track of the September Fitted Diaper Event, I will add a link to each of the posts below.  No need to worry if you've missed one of the reviews.  I've got ya covered!


  1. Thanks for the great overview of the things one should now about diapers.I didn't realize just how many different options there were before I started and still don't know everything.

    1. I still don't know all the options either. They're always making up more. : )

  2. Thank you so much for all the great information on fitted diapers. We have just started cloth diapering and I am so grateful when I find posts that are so full of great details. - Carrie

  3. Love this! Even though I love fitteds I still get caught up on the terms.

  4. Thank you for this! I was never sure about the difference between serged and "regular" edges. Who knew there were that many different options for soakers!

  5. As a new user of cloth, I sure have a lot to learn!

  6. I am almost a fitted newbie. This list is so helpful! Thanks!

  7. Great start! I wish I had read this before I started into fitteds. Now you need an advanced list: knit, woven, HTF, VHTF, stockings, BST, unicorn...etc. Once you get into the fitted world, it's crazy!

    1. LOL! I agree. It can get pretty crazy in the fitted cloth diaper world... or in the cloth diaper world in general.

  8. I have some aplix type hook and loop that doesn't require two tapes to work, it sticks to itself. Does anyone know where to buy this?

    1. I can't think of any that I've seen like that. I'd be really interested in seeing some though!


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