All About All-in-two’s

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,

Do you use all-in-two’s?  What is your favorite brand?  Did I miss anything in the pro’s and con’s?


5 thoughts on “All About All-in-two’s

  1. Jillian says:

    I LOVE flips. I just came into the store to buy more recently. Lol

    Any advice/experience/opinions/tips for using AI2’s with a newborn? I’ve been thinking that I’d like to CD from day 1 with our next child, but didn’t CD this one till 2 or 3 months, so I have no idea what the difference will mean for my stash…

    • Hi Jillian! Flips are super popular and they’re also the most economical of all the AI2’s we carry. Flips are one-size and fit “officially” from 8-35 lbs… but in my experience it really depends on the shape of your baby, especially how fat their legs are. My babies are all 8 lbs within a week or two of birth but they are tall and skinny like their daddy so most one-size diapers don’t fit them until they’re around 10 lbs. That being said, Flip does make newborn Flip inserts. They’re the size of a newborn BumGenius insert – shorter AND less thick than a regular insert. We have 6 in our gently used section for 50% off right now, otherwise we don’t carry them in stock but can order them for you.

      One other thing you might want to consider is one of our newborn rental packages. We offer a prefold package that contains 24 newborn prefolds, 4 covers, and a snappi. You can rent it for 6 weeks for $20, no deposit necessary. These newborn prefolds are smaller than the infant prefolds. They fit babies from 5-10 lbs. So they might not fit for the full 6 weeks but by the time they don’t fit any more your baby will fit into the Flips. We also offer a newborn all-in-one package that has a dozen diapers: 8 BumGenius Newborn and 4 Lil Joey’s. This one is also 6 weeks, but it’s $45 rental plus a $75 refundable deposit. We only have one of these so you would need to reserve it ahead of time.

      The rental packages are only offered locally at this time. (i.e, I need to meet you in person… if someone wants to drive down from OK to rent one I”m fine with that!)

  2. Tanya says:

    Hi E,

    I also love my Flips!

    You mentioned being able toes bleach Ai2s one of the advantages. Does that mean I can bleach my Flip inserts? I don’t care that some are stained, but Dave was thinking of bleaching them.

    I don’t think they really need to be stripped yet, so would bleach weaken them at all? As in we shouldn’t do it unless they really need it?

    • Hi Tanya,
      Before I answered I wanted to find the official instructions from Cotton Babies but was unable to find it on their site. So, as a disclaimer, if you are in doubt, consult Cotton Babies. Also if you dont’ want to void the warranty, you can call them and ask.

      As a more general answer, you could bleach your inserts. Don’t soak them in bleach or anything but 1/3 cup or so in a wash cycle should be okay. Bleach will weaken the fibers, so don’t do it if they don’t need it, but if the stains are bothering you you could try it . I personally have bleached my diapers when Little Guy got a yeast rash and I wanted to make sure I got them absolutely disinfected before putting them back on him. Also, if you use bleach, I would do an extra rinse on top of your normal rinses, just to make sure all the residue is out and doesn’t get against his skin. Hope that helps! 🙂

      • Tanya says:

        I wonder if Hydrogen Peroxide or OxiClean would be a better idea. I’ll call Cotton Babies and let you know what they recommend.

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