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.
All In Two Inserts
Inserts 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:
- 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.
- 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
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. BumGenius 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
If 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).
Some 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!