*If you’re looking for the Scratch Me Not giveaway entry page, it’s the entry after this one. 🙂
This will wrap up our series of posts introducing the main types of cloth diapers. We’ve gone through the diapers that are used with waterproof covers (flat fold, prefold, contour, and fitted diapers) and two of the kind that go on in one piece with no cover required (all-in-one and pocket diapers). The last one, and the last to hit the market, is the All-in-two diaper, or AI2.
WHAT IS AN ALL-IN-TWO DIAPER?
An AI2 builds on the concept of a 2-part diaper that is assembled before putting on the baby, like a pocket diaper. Unlike a pocket diaper, the absorbent part fastens directly to the waterproof shell and goes right up against the baby’s skin. The benefit to this is that instead of having to wash both the diaper and the insert like with a pocket diaper, you can switch out a dirty absorbent part (sometimes called a soaker pad) for a clean one and reuse the outer waterproof shell. Since the outer shell has all the fancy parts like velcro/snaps, elastic, and waterproofing, it is the more expensive part.
WHAT ARE THE BENFITS?
The cost benefit is that you don’t need as many shells as you do inserts, and the inserts are relatively inexpensive. On average, you will need 1 waterproof shell for every 2-3 absorbent soaker pads. The AI2 system is very similar to a contour/cover system, except that you assemble the diaper before putting it on the baby instead of having to put on the absorbent contour diaper and then put on the waterproof cover in a second, separate step.
Another benefit is that the AI2 system is more versatile. In some systems, like the SoftBums diapers, you can choose your soaker fabric: either stay-dry microfiber OR organic bamboo velour. Also, some AI2 brands have a disposable soaker option. Gro-Via makes biodegradable, chlorine-free, fragrance-free disposable soakers that can be used inside their cloth shells (or any other AI2 shell, unstuffed pocket diaper, or PUL diaper cover). This option is very popular with people who want to use cloth diapers but are nervous about making the plunge to full-time cloth. They have the option to use cloth at home and disposables when they’re out of the house (or at daycare, or with a sitter, or on a weekend trip) while still reducing their carbon footprint and the amount of chemicals against their baby’s skin.
WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES TO AN ALL-IN-TWO SYSTEM?
The biggest downside is that once you decide on a particular AI2 system, you are mostly committed to that brand. Unlike with a pocket diaper, the soakers/inserts are not interchangeable. A soaker from one brand will not fit in another brand. You really don’t want to be fishing around trying to match a cover to a soaker of the same brand in the middle of a diaper change, so for practicality’s sake it’s best to stick with one brand. Not surprisingly, the AI2 systems are most popular with new parents who are building their cloth diaper stash for the first time. Personally I don’t use the AI2 system (though I do have a few AI2 diapers, I use them like all-in-one’s and wash the whole thing, soaker and shell together, every time). My reason is just that I already have quite a few all-in-one and pocket diapers and I don’t really want to get rid of all of them and replace them with all one kind of diaper. For someone who is building their stash all at once, though, the price savings are significant.
For example, 24 BumGenius Elemental diapers, a one-size all-in-one with organic cotton inner, costs $529.90. In comparison, the Gro-Via Live package, a one-size all-in-two with organic cotton inner, costs just $375 and includes 12 shells, 24 absorbent soakers, and 4 boosters (to add absorbency for nighttime diapering). Both packages will cloth-diaper a baby full-time from 8-10* to 35 lbs – basically infant to potty training age. (*Most one-size diapers are rated for babies 8-35 lbs. However in my experience although SOME babies’ legs may be fat enough to get a snug fit at 8 lbs, most babies don’t fit an 8-35 lb diaper until they are about 10 lbs.)
WHAT AI2 BRANDS DO YOU CARRY? WHICH ONE SHOULD I CHOOSE?
Babies Bottoms and More carries the Flip, Gro-Via, and SoftBums all-in-two systems.
Inside view of the Flip shell
Flip is made in Egypt by BumGenius and has the same BG fit we all love. The shells come in 8 pastel colors including white (bold versions of four of the colors may still be available but are no longer being manufactured.) You can choose between a stay-dry insert (microfiber topped with wicking suedecloth) or organic cotton (the same soft, stretchy cotton knit as in BumGenius’ Elemental organic AIO). To use, simply fold the insert to fit and tuck the ends under the flaps inside the Flip cover and put on your baby. Snap closures wear well and prevent toddler streaking. The Flip system will fit babies 8-10 to 35 lbs. To get a stash of stay-dry Flips (12 covers and 24 inserts) it would cost you about $255.60, for the same package in the organic it will cost about $295.60.
The Flip system is completely interchangable with the more inexpensive Econobum system.
Interior of a Gro-Via Shell plus Soaker
Gro-Via is made in China and comes in 6 solid colors (including vanilla) and 4 prints. The standard closure is velcro, although some shell colors are offered in snaps and you can have any shell converted to snap closures for $3.50 per shell. The organic cotton soakers are backed in PUL (waterproof fabric) to help keep the outer shell cleaner. They snap in to the shell with two snaps – one on each end of the soaker. Boosters (lay inside the diaper on top of the soaker pad to “boost” absorbency) are available in both organic cotton and stay-dry fabric. Disposable, biodegradable soakers are also available. Gro-Via diapers fit babies from 8-10 to 35 lbs. The Gro-Via Experience package includes 12 shells, 24 soakers, and 4 boosters for $375. Biodegradable, disposable soakers are available for $7.99 for a 20-pack.
Inside of a SoftBums Shell and Pod
SoftBums are made in the USA and come in 9 solid colors and 3 prints. The most common closure is velcro although snap SoftBums shells are sometimes available. Soakers are available in either Dry-touch (microfiber topped with wicking fleece) or Organic (bamboo velour – SUPER soft and more absorbent than cotton). They snap in to the back of the shell with a single snap, and then are folded to the length of the diaper in front. SoftBums uses a unique drawstring and toggle system on the elastic to adjust the size instead of the snap-down front system that Gro-Via and Flip diapers use. The benefit of the SoftBums “slide2size” system is that the diaper will actually fit a baby as small as 6 lbs, making it a great choice for parents who want a one-size diaper that will fit their baby from Day 1. (One downside to the SoftBums adjustment system is that it takes a few seconds longer to adjust the size than with the snap-down system. Usually this is not an issue since you only adjust the size as your baby grows, but if you plan on having two different-age children sharing the same diapers it’s worth considering how quickly you can adjust the diapers.)
The SoftBums Good To Go Pack includes 8 shells, 24 “pods” (soakers), and 8 “mini pods” (doublers, or can be used alone as soakers for newborns) for $282.95, or $385.95 for Organic bamboo. You could add 4 extra shells for an additional $87.80, or add the Newborn Booster Pack which contains 4 shells and 24 “mini pods” (newborn soakers) for an additional $155.95 ($179.95 for Organic Bamboo mini pods).