If you love the convenience of all-in-ones but your little one's bottom is sensitive to moisture, hybrid fitted diapers might be the breathable, trim & absorbent solution you are looking for. Read on to find out more about what hybrid fitteds are and how they work, what makes them different from regular fitteds, and why they are growing in popularity.
Most of the companies that make hybrid fitted cloth diapers will tell you that they use a layer of polyester fleece to make the diapers water resistant. Usually this layer of polyester fleece is sandwiched between an outer knit cotton fabric (the print) and a soft inner layer of cotton or bamboo velour, as shown in the photograph below. Some companies that make night-time hybrid fitted diapers do so without a printed cotton outer, and use a heavier weight polyester fleece fabric as the outside layer of the diaper.
I was initially confused by this layer of polyester fleece since I didn't understand why polyester fleece functioned differently in hybrid fitted diapers than it did in stay-dry pocket diapers. What I didn't realize was that there are several different styles of polyester fleece available on the market. This led to a bit of research into the history of fleece - AND resulted in a much better understanding hybrid fitteds. I now understand why the popularity of hybrid fitteds has surged since they first hit the market. In short, hybrid fitteds function very differently than regular fitted diapers.
Here's what I've learned:
Malden Mills launched a new synthetic fabric trademarked "Polarfleece" in 1979. This fabric is made of 100% polyester (sometimes even from recycled water bottles!), and is "hydrophobic" (meaning it does not absorb water). Polyester fleece comes in many different weights. In addition to Malden Mills' made-in-America fleece, today "polar fleece" is made by many different manufacturers around the globe.
The various "weights" of polyester fleece are a result of differences in the density and pile of the fibers, which create distinctly different insulative qualities, breathability, and wicking properties. Malden Mills divides their fabrics into 3 categories (source):
Malden Mills' Polartec® Wind Pro® is a tight-knit but highly breathable fleece product from the weather protection fabric class that "allows you to forgo the use of a shell in all but the most extreme wet conditions" (source). It is Polartec Wind Pro (or similar varieties made by other companies) that is used as the water resistant layer in hybrid fitteds, while the stay-dry (microfleece) layers of pocket diapers are constructed of fleece products from the next-to-skin class.
In a regular fitted diaper, when your baby pees, the fabric in the middle of the diaper quickly becomes saturated. To make them night worthy, manufacturers increased the absorbency of fitted diapers by adding additional layers of fabric in the soaker zone - which increased bulk, drying time, and susceptibility of the diaper to urine residues (and eventual stinks).
Fitted diapers cannot be worn reliably without diaper covers, since the wetness seeps through the layers of the diaper and out onto the [carpet/bedding/lap].
The polyester fleece in
hybrid fitteds increases the effectiveness of the diaper's insert
(soaker). The hidden layer of polar fleece pushes liquid back up into
the diaper's insert, giving it time to wick away from the middle of the
diaper and all the way to the ends of the insert. Because of the
water-repellent properties of Wind Pro polar fleece, hybrid fitted
diapers are much more water-resistant than regular fitted diapers.
A word about crunchiness: I have both regular fitted diapers and hybrid fitted diapers, and I truly prefer hybrid fitted diapers. Many WAHM-made regular fitted diapers use a similar style of construction to hybrid fitted diapers, with a printed cotton knit outer, a hidden layer of cotton or bamboo fleece, and an inner layer of cotton or bamboo velour, plus the insert/soaker system.
When hung to dry (and even over time in the dryer) I have found that the hidden layer of cotton or bamboo velour in regular fitted diapers often becomes stiff or crunchy. This isn't the case with the polyester fleece in hybrid fitted diapers - that middle layer stays soft and pliable over time, while the outer knit often washes up like a favorite t-shirt. If you would like to extend the life of your diapers by hanging them to dry, you will probably prefer hybrid fitteds for this reason alone!
When I first started out with cloth diapers, "hybrid" was a word used to describe an all-in-two that had the option of a disposable insert or a cloth insert. Move over "hybrids", "hybrid fitteds" are the new kids on the block!
Hybrid fitteds are essentially a cross between a fitted diaper and an all-in-one. Until the inserts become completely saturated, hybrid fitteds actually function very similarly to an all-in-one diaper, which has polyester with a urethane laminate (PUL) fabric outer to make it waterproof. The main difference between PUL and Wind Pro fleece is that Wind Pro is much more breathable, which make hybrid fitteds ideal for babies who have sensitive skin.
Depending on the absorbency of the insert, many hybrid fitted diapers can be used for 3-6 hours before they need to be changed. While hybrid fitteds require a cover to be completely waterproof, many families often take advantage of the breathability of hybrid fitteds by using them without covers around the house. They need to be changed before the inserts become completely saturated or moisture will wick through the fleece and onto the outer cotton layer, resulting in the same dampness you experience with a wet fitted diaper.
Please note: If you are interested in hybrid fitteds because your baby's bottom becomes red due to heat or moisture, you'll probably want to consider wool when a more reliable leak-free cover is needed. Wool is my first choice over hybrid fitteds since it allows the diaper to breathe much more than a PUL cover would.
besides the fact that they aren't completely water-proof (which could
be either an advantage or a disadvantage depending on how you look at
it) probably the biggest disadvantages to hybrid fitteds are:
The majority of hybrid fitteds are made by WAHM (work-at-home-mom) businesses that stock limited quantities of their products via Etsy, Hyena Cart, or their own websites.
to the wonderful world of "stalking the stockings". Many WAHMs stock their diapers
once every week or two, selling between 10 and 30 diapers at a time (but
there are some of bigger brands that have more than one seamstress
sewing diapers too!) If you are
interested in purchasing a hybrid fitted (or more than one), you are
likely going to need to discover a brand new WAHM brand before their
popularity surges, or get fast fingers.
To find out when diapers will be
stocked and see previews, watch the brand's Facebook page, and join
their buy/sell/trade Facebook group if they have one.
thrills (and disappointments!) of stockings aren't for you, a few WAHM's
offer some of their diapers for sale through the following cloth diaper
Don't be deceived by the name! Hybrid fitteds are very different than traditional fitted diapers. Hybrid fitteds are a cross between all-in-one and fitted diapers. This new and very popular cloth diaper option offers superior absorption and breathability with the uniqueness that cute prints and customized hand-made designs are known for.
It's probably good for my bank account that I haven't ventured too far into the world of hybrid fitted diaper brands yet. Below are 3 of the brands I have purchased and my thoughts on each.
Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, and your experience with the product may differ from mine. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. This article contains affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” For more information, see our Disclaimer and Copyright.