Q: I'm having trouble understanding the point of a fitted diaper. They need a cover like prefolds, but they are more expensive. You don't get the cost savings and it's not a one-step diaper like a pocket or all in one. Why do people use them?
A: When I first started cloth diapering, I didn't really get the point of a fitted either. There didn't seem to be much cost savings over a pocket diaper. Plus, a fitted/cover is a two step process. I originally bypassed fitteds for pockets and all in ones for this reason.
As time went on and the cloth diapering addiction bug fully set in, I moved on to trying prefolds and fitteds. I found that each kind of diapering system has its own advantages. Based on what features you're looking for, fitteds can actually be pretty great.
Great leak protection-Since a fitted diaper has its own elastic and closure, with a cover it can provide more leak protection than a prefold can. This is especially important if your newborn has explosive bowel movements (most do). Two layers of elastic can be harder to leak through than one.
Good nighttime diaper-Fitteds are very absorbent and it's easy to lay in a doubler for even more leak protection. Unlike a pocket, the absorbency of a fitted reaches around the sides of the baby. This can be good for side sleepers. Again, the cover on top gives another layer of leak protection.
Great under wool and fleece-Pairing fitteds with wool is a great all-natural fiber choice. Fitteds can be easier to use under wool since you don't have to worry about a Snappi snagging the knit. I love using fitteds under fleece pants in the winter. My daughter's bottom gets a healthy amount of air circulation and she still stays warm.
Good breathability-Many parents like to use fitteds alone to allow their child's skin gets maximum breathability. While you'd need to be more vigilant than using them with a cover, fitteds are absorbent enough that you shouldn't get puddles. Even with a wool or fleece cover, fitted allow for good circulation. This can be essential for sensitive skin that's prone to diaper rash.
Of course, you don't need a special reason to use fitteds. They may just be the preferred diapering system for your family. If you're not using fitteds, maybe one of the above reasons is enough to give them a try.