All-in-two’s (ai2’s) are a very popular diapering system with new parents. In this post we’ll go over the pro’s and con’s of the ai2 system, as well as go over a few hints on making this system work for you.
Best Bottoms AI2 Style Diaper
An ai2 is a diaper that has an absorbent pad that attaches to a waterproof shell. You attach them together and then put the assembled diaper on the baby in one step. When you change the diaper, then, you can either toss the entire thing in the diaper pail like you would with an all-in-one (aio) or pocket diaper, OR you can remove the soiled pad, put a clean one in, and continue to reuse the outer waterproof shell. Popular ai2 brands include Best Bottoms, Flip, G-diapers, Gro-Via, and SoftBums. AI2 systems that have a disposable pad option are often called “hybrid” diapers. Flip, G-diapers, and Gro-Via all have a disposable/biodegradable option. The outer waterproof part is called a “shell” or “cover”. The inner absorbent pad is called a “soaker”.
Pros of an All-in-two System
1. Combine the ease of a pocket diaper or aio which go on in one piece with the cost savings of a 2-piece system. On average each shell can be reused 3-4 times before it either (a) starts to smell less than fresh or (b) gets poop on it. So to get a full stash of 24 diaper changes, you would need 24 soakers but only 6-8 shells. Compare this to a pocket diaper or aio system where you would need 24 complete diapers and you will see how an ai2 system can save you hundreds of dollars in your initial investment.
2. Less laundry because you are only washing the soaker every time instead of the whole diaper. This isn’t a big deal for someone who has a full size washer in their house, but for someone who only has a small washer or who takes their diapers to the laundromat, this could be important.
3. Easier to deal with residue. Residue from your detergent or the minerals dissolved in your water (if you have hard water) can cause issues with stink and/or absorbency. With an ai2 system since the durable soakers are detachable from the more delicate shells, if you need to strip the residue from (or replace) your inexpensive soakers you can do so without ruining or replacing your more expensive shells. This is true for all the ai2 systems listed above except the Gro-Via system. Their soakers contain both PUL (waterproofing) and elastic so you although the part about replacing them is still true, you can’t safely boil them or bleach them.
Cons of an All-in-two System
1. You’re commited to a single brand, pretty much. While pocket diapers and aio’s are self contained, an ai2 needs to be part of a large stash for it to work well. We personally test every diaper we sell at Babies Bottoms and More, so I experienced this first hand. I had 1 shell and 2 soakers that I was testing. It was such a pain to change the dirty soaker and then have to fish around through the other 23 diapers (I use aio’s and pockets, with fitteds + cover at night) to find the single other soaker. What you really want is to be able to grab one shell and one soaker and know that they will work together. This is also why mixing different brands of ai2’s won’t work very well. If you are the type of person who likes to try a little of everything, buys diapers based on what cute prints you like, or plan to continue to add to your stash as you find more diapers you want to try, this is not the system for you. If, however, you are the kind of person who likes to keep things simple, find one thing that works and stick with it, you might really like an ai2 system.
2. If you use the disposable insert option you have to depend on stores to keep it in stock. I remember last year there was a time that one of the big ai2 brands sold out (at the wholesale level) of their disposable inserts and it took them 2-3 months to get the new shipment of them from the factory. With all the parents who used this system with disposables now needing to buy them, it wasn’t long until all the retailers sold out too. Now these parents were stuck with a bunch of shells that they couldn’t use because they couldn’t get the other pieces (unless they had also purchased cloth soakers). This is why we only recommend the disposable soaker option as a supplemental option like for trips out of town or if you forget to do laundry, not as a full-time system. If you have cloth YOU are in control of your diaper supply and not dependent on anyone else for it.
3. It can frustrate you if you don’t have enough shells. If you mentally ration your covers and think “I gotta make this shell last through 3 more changes!” you will get frustrated at those times when your baby has a massive poo-splosion inside the shell if it wasn’t already the 4th use. There will be times when you’ll have to wash a shell after the first use. So if you have it mentally calculated in your head that you WILL use each cover X number of times, you’ll get frustrated. Instead, look at it this way: with an aio or pocket diaper, whether the diaper is wet or a little poopy or completely messy, you don’t have a choice to reuse any part of it. With an ai2 you do have a choice. So you don’t HAVE to reuse the shells, but you CAN reuse them if it works out that way.
Logistics: AI2 in Action
One more thing most people find helpful is the logistics of this. When you hear “take out the dirty soaker and put in a clean one, then reuse the shell,” most people picture doing that in the middle of the diaper change, and putting the SAME shell back on. This is more complicated than it needs to be. Instead, have one (or more) clean shells preloaded with clean soakers. Then, you can take the dirty diaper off and set it aside. Put the clean already-assembled diaper on the baby, put their pants back on and take them off the changing table and somewhere safe. THEN shake the poop (if necessary) in the toilet, put the dirty soaker in the diaper pail, and put a clean soaker inside the cover to get it ready for the next diaper change. It sounds like it’s a lot of work, but it’s much easier this way. This is the same moment you would normally use to put the diaper in the diaper pail and wash your hands: the post-diaper-change clean-up.
Still have questions about AI2’s (or other cloth diapers)? Please comment and we’ll get back to you. Or, if you’re local, stop by our store in Farmers Branch, TX on Tuesdays 10-2 or Saturdays 11-3 (check our website for the most updated hours and address, www.babiesbottomsandmore.com)
Do you use all-in-two’s? What is your favorite brand? Did I miss anything in the pro’s and con’s?