all-in-two-cloth-diapers
Types of Diapers

All in Two Cloth Diapers – An Easy Cloth Diapering System

If you have already been looking into cloth diapers, you may be familiar with the term “all in one” (as in…the diaper is all one piece! No stuffing pockets, no folding inserts, etc). But what about all in two?
All in two cloth diapers (abbreviated to Ai2s) are also a very simple diapering system, and they have the benefit of being more economical than most all in ones.

All in twos are sometimes synonymous with hybrid cloth diapers depending on who you talk to. Hybrid means a cross between cloth and disposable, but some hybrids (such as Flips) have options for disposable or cloth inserts. We typically call diapers that use the cloth inserts all in twos, but since some brands can do both it starts to get used synonymously.

When I first started researching cloth diapers over five years ago, I came across all in two diapers and they confused me. I’m not sure why I was so confused, but I was! I imagine it was just information overload at the time. Anyway, I stumbled upon BumGenius Flips (they were newly released then) and ordered a few covers and some inserts to try out.

Boy, was I glad I did! They ended up being one of the few one-size cloth diapers than actually worked on 7-8 lb babies. My oldest son was born 6 lbs 2 oz with chicken legs, and Flips were the first diapers we had success with (I started using them once he was about 7 and a half pounds or so).

What Is An All In Two?

An all in two is a two-piece diaper. It consists of a shell/cover and an insert. That’s it!

To use an all in two, you lay out the shell, lay the insert on top (some have snaps you can use to secure the insert in place, some have flaps to tuck them into, others have nothing) and then put it on your baby like any other diaper. It’s pretty easy.

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All In Two Inserts

all-in-two-cloth-diapersInserts can be made from a number of materials. However, it’s important to recognize that all in two cloth diaper inserts go directly against the skin. That is important to note for two reasons:

1) Microfiber is one of the most common cloth diaper inserts (because it is cheap), but microfiber can not go directly against the skin. When microfiber gets wet, it sucks up all them moisture it can, even from the baby’s skin. It will irritate and dry out the baby’s skin and cause a painful rash if wet microfiber sits against the skin. Because of that, any microfiber insert you use in an all in two has to have a layer of a different material over top of it.

2) Depending on what you choose to use for inserts, there isn’t a “stay dry” material. This means the baby will feel the wetness more so than in other diapers that have a micro-suede or fleece lining, and depending on how sensitive your baby is to wetness, they may not tolerate it for very long and you may be changing diapers very frequently. However, there are some inserts that do come with a stay dry lining, or there are some hacks you can do yourself for this if they don’t.

All of that said, all in two diapers are awesome, and you can definitely work out a solution to the potential issues described above.

All in two inserts can be made from microfiber (with a skin safe lining on top), bamboo, hemp, or cotton. There are a lot of options depending on your needs.

Pros and Cons of All in Two Cloth Diapers

There are a lot of perks for using Ai2s and relatively few cons:

Pros:

  • You don’t need to swap out the covers at every diaper change–only if the diaper was poopy. For pee diapers, you can just swap out the inserts. You can wipe the cover down with a wipe if needed, too.
  • Ai2s are one of the cheapest ways to cloth diaper–all you need is enough covers to get you between washes (probably 6-8 covers if you wash every other day) and enough inserts for two to three days of changes (24 inserts is probably plenty).
  • If you want to invest in enough to get you even more days worth of changes, you can do less laundry! With pockets or all in ones, my diaper pail is usually full after 2-3 days. At that point, it doesn’t matter how big my stash is–I need to wash them to free up space in the pail! With an Ai2 system, it takes longer to fill that pail–it could take 5-7 days to fill it. That means fewer loads of laundry done in the week, less hassle, and less use of water & electricity resources.

Cons:

  • All in ones and/or pockets (pre-stuffed) are a little more convenient for daycares and other caregivers not as familiar with cloth diapers. Some daycare centers may also not be willing to reuse covers at changes.

Most Popular All In Two Brands

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1. Best Bottom diapers are one of the most popular and highly regarded Ai2 brands. They feature double gusset elastics at the legs to make sure you get a good seal and no leaks. The snaps are easy to use, and the covers are easy to wipe clean at diaper changes. The inserts snap right into the shell, keeping them in place and preventing them from bunching up. Click here to learn more about the unique features of this brand.

2. all-in-two-cloth-diapersBumGenius Flips closely follow Best Bottoms in popularity. One advantage Flips have over Best Bottoms is that other than newborn-sized inserts, you can use one-size inserts in these covers. That will save you quite a bit of money. The inserts that bumGenius sells to go with the Flips can be folded to fit the diaper no matter where the rise is snapped to. However, if you want to use these on newborn babies, newborn inserts will fit much better and prevent leaks cause by a diaper that is too bulky to seal around the legs.

These inserts do not snap in and are instead tucked into flaps at the front and back of the shell. This is a disadvantage compared to Best Bottoms because it’s possible the insert could bunch up if not put in the diaper correctly.

Flips are also considered hybrid diapers because you can get biodegradable/disposable inserts to go with the shells. This can be a convenient option for families that travel a lot because you can use cloth inserts at home and disposable on-the-go.

3. Grovia Hybrids are another popular Ai2 option. These are also considered hybrids like the Flips because you can choose between cloth or disposable inserts when needed. Grovia’s cloth inserts snap in much like the Best Bottoms system. These are a convenient option for families.

DIY All In Two System

diy-all-in-two-cloth-diapersIf you are interested in trying out an Ai2 concept but aren’t sure you want to purchase any yet, you can try out the concept with items you most likely already have.

You will need:

  • Diaper covers or pocket shells
  • Skin-safe inserts, like cotton, hemp, or bamboo (or fleece liners to put on top of microfiber if that’s all you have).

ai2-cloth-diapersSome ideas for skin-safe inserts that you probably already have around are: prefolds, flats, flour sack towels, or other kitchen towels. You can also take an old bath towel and cut it up into pieces that you can fold well enough to fit the diaper shell.

If all you have are microfiber inserts, see if you can find some fleece material that you can cut rectangular liners out of. If you cut the fleece big enough to cover all the microfiber to make sure it doesn’t go directly against the skin, then it should work to try out your Ai2 system.

Here you can see how you might take something like a flour sack towel or other towel and fold it, lay it on top of your diaper shell, and essentially try out the all in two concept. Just note that any sort of insert that requires folding (such as a towel) will not be as quick as an Ai2 system that you purchase with specially made inserts for the diaper shell.
All in all, purchasing true Ai2 diapers will save you time and be easier to use than a DIY system, but the DIY system can at least get you started to see if you like the idea of giving up pocket stuffing forever. 😉

One of the Easiest Ways to Cloth Diaper

All in two cloth diapers are probably one of the easiest and most practical choices for those that want to simplify their cloth diapering. There are so many pros to this type of cloth diapering system, and very few cons. The only thing to consider is if you use a daycare and how they might react to it. Even if your daycare doesn’t want to use that kind of diaper, it’s still worth doing at home and having a small stash of cheap pockets or all in ones just for daycare use.

Are you interested in trying out some all in twos? If you already use them, what kind do you use? Let me know in the comments!

Holly Lee

I'm Holly and I'm the mom of two awesome young boys. We have been cloth diapering for 5 years. My family and I live in Minnesota with our dog, Ruby, and cat, Gherkin. Outside of Rocking the Cloth, I am also a middle school teacher. Thank you for visiting Rocking the Cloth--feel free to email me at holly@rockingthecloth.com if you have any questions or concerns. I'd love to help!

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10 Comments

  1. Richard says:

    As a child of the 80’s I grew up with cloth diapers however they were not nearly as sophisticated as the ones that are available today. I think the generations before survived just fine on these before the disposable ones became main stream so there is no doubt in my mind that they will make a successful comeback with today focus on waste and plastic reduction. 

    I have 2 questions regarding the system with the first relating to the life span of these pads and secondly if there are different sizes related to the growth of the child? This will be most helpful when planning when and how many to purchase.

    Rich

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Hi Richard! I totally agree with you–I think our society has become obsessed with convenience…and some things that are convenient may save a little time, but it’s really not as dramatic a time savings as it would seem. I honestly probably spend 5 minutes of my day dealing with cloth diapers, maybe upwards of 10 on laundry days. I think that is so worth it! We also appreciate things more when we are willing to put a little work into them.

      The inserts in these diapers can last for years! They are very durable. I have some I’ve been using for 5 years now on two different children.

      There are different sizes–Flips offer a newborn size and a one size (the one size can be folded to accommodate different sizes), and the Best Bottoms have a small/medium/large size, and I believe even an XL/heavy wetter option. 

  2. Quinn says:

    All in two diapers: an easy cloth diapering system is a very interesting article and diapering system. Me being an older guy with a baby that’s eight months old, this is very new to me and interesting. I am really ready to try this new product. I will have to talk it over with the wife but I really love this article and appreciate all the information you provided to me as a parent. I am very aware of my baby’s surrounding and needs.

     Thank you for this very good post and may other parents find it useful just like I did.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thanks Quinn! Glad you found it helpful. Let me know if you have any questions.

  3. Alisha says:

    This is an amazing concept and seems to make up for what the all in ones do not. Do you use or have multiple shells in a rotating type fashion? Or how do you know when your system is working then and how did you find what worked for you? I have lots of friends looking into this alternative diapering in attempt to cut down on costs and waste.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Hi Alisha! I do have multiple shells. I personally have about 4 because I have more diapers than just all-in-twos. If I diapered with only all-in-twos, I’d probably want about 8. You just wipe them down at diaper changes, and swap them out whenever you change a poopy diaper.

      I think you know it’s working if you feel happy and satisfied with it, don’t have leaks, etc. What is nice about this system is that they’re pretty economical overall, so buying a few to try out and see if you like it won’t break the bank. Then you can always invest in more if you are satisfied.

  4. Kevin says:

    To be honest, It has been some time since I had been doing much diapering, but I remember those days well (I wasn’t a pro, but a seasoned amateur, let’s say). It was all about the disposable-type diaper, at the time, so I hadn’t realized that cloth diapering was still a thing.

    That said, It’s great to see that there are articles such as yours that are very informative and and refer to a number of other articles on the subject. You’ve opened my eyes to the niche. Come to think of it, I’ve got a couple of friends who are (or who have been) cloth diaperers and would love to read your articles. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thanks Kevin! Glad you found it helpful.

  5. cjciganotto says:

    Hello Holly,

    How comfortable for our babies are cloth diapers with all in two inserts, composed with microfibers.

    This material is the one that absorbs the moisture allowing to keep the baby’s skin dry. 

    I prefer a cotton fabric that is the material that will be in contact with the baby’s skin. 

    I observe that there are many more pros than the cons of using this type of diaper. 

    Thank you very much for sharing a very informative article.

    Claudio

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Glad you found it helpful, Claudio!

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