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Types of Cloth Diapers: All-in-Ones (AIO)

28 May

AIO Basics

AIO – all-in-one. This means that your cloth diapers are in one piece and don’t require anything else (like inserts) to work. You just put them on the baby and – bam! – you’re cloth diapering.

Advantages: Super-easy! These diapers are probably the closest to disposables because they are only one piece and don’t require any stuffing or extra work. This means that if you are using cloth diapers with a daycare or other caregiver, they will probably be most open to using this kind of cloth diaper. It is easy to use and requires the fewest component parts.

Disadvantages: The diaper can only be used once before washing. Once it’s dirty, it’s done. With some of the other types of cloth diapers, you may be able to switch out the cloth insert and re-use the cover. This has several disadvantages. One is that in order to expand your cloth diaper stash, you have to buy an additional cloth diaper versus only additional inserts. This can make cloth diapering more expensive. Additionally, the diapers are being washed more and may wear out faster. These also tend to take longer to dry. Also, because these diapers don’t have  a pocket, you can’t add additional inserts for overnight use or heavy wetters.

Brands of All-in-One Cloth Diapers

Even if you decide that you definitely want an all-in-one, it can still be difficult to decide which brand is the best (or the best for you). Here is an overview of some of the most common brands and the general advantages and disadvantages of each, as I learned through reading LOTS of reviews.

BumGenius Freetime


  • One-size diaper (7 – 35 lbs)
  • Available in snap or aplix fasteners
  • Semi attached inserts to make drying faster
  • $19.95


  • Washes easily
  • Soft
  • Very absorbent – many reviewers reported using this diaper as their overnight diaper
  • Fewer leaks than disposables
  • Keeps baby dry by wicking away moisture


  • Bulky for small babies
  • Some parents didn’t like the suede and would have preferred fleece
  • Some reviewers reported that the semi-attached inserts moved around too much and didn’t stay in the center, where they were needed.

BumGenius Elemental


  • One-size diaper (fits 7 – 35 lbs)
  • Snap closures
  • Stretchy tabs to help get a good fit
  • $24.95


  • Many reviewers touted this as the most absorbent all-in-one they had used.
  • Easy to use
  • Fits larger babies well
  • Organic


  • The diaper can be a bit bulky for overnight, since it’s not actually absorbent enough to make it overnight without leaks unless you add doublers or hemp inserts.
  • Long dry times of up to 2-3 days outdoors or 3 cycles in a dryer (as is common with AIO cloth diapers)
  • tend to stain very easily
  • can be difficult to clean solid waste out of as there are several layers inside the diaper and if more liquidy solids make their way in, it can be difficult to clean it out from between the layers.
  • is very bulky on smaller babies (12lbs and under)
  • Some reviewers found that they still needed to use an insert to keep the wetness away from baby’s skin.

Thirsties Duo


  • Elastic around the leg and waist
  • Snap or aplix closure
  • Two sizes
  • “Sleeve” opening to add inserts for overnight or heavy wetters
  • $15.75
  • The absorbency is adjustable with the “sleeve” opening to add inserts, so it is less bulky
  • Easy to wash
  • Dry quickly for AIOs
  • Some reviewers found that the sizing didn’t work for their baby (others said that with the aplix closure, the fit was better)
  • Stain easily

GrowVia All in One


  • One size
  • Stretchy tabs for a better fit
  • Snap in insert for heavier wetters or overnight use
  • $22.95
  • Less bulky than some other AIOs
  • Fits well for skinny babies
  • Soft
  • Some reviewers reported that these diapers wore out quickly
  • Stains easily
  • Some reviewers reported leaking problems, especially with chunkier babies
  • Some reviewers found that these didn’t fit chunkier babies very well
  • Some reviewers found the side snaps hard to fasten.

Itti Bitti d’Lish All In One


  • 3 sizes: Small (8-16 lbs), Medium (14-26 lbs), and large (23-37 lbs)
  • Snap closures
  • Snap in bamboo inserts, as needed
  • $18.97


  • Trim fit (may run a bit small)
  • Absorbent
  • Soft


  • Some reviewers found that the minky fabric wicked urine, resulting in leaks and dampness
  • Long dry time
  • These don’t have an aplix closure option, so sizing can be more difficult

Swaddle Bees Simplex


  • Can be used as in all-in-one or pocket diaper
  • Stretchy snap tabs
  • Openings on both sides of the pocket for easy addition of inserts, and to allow the inserts to come out in the wash
  • Sizes small (8-16 lbs), medium (12-25 lbs), and large (22-35 lbs)
  • $17.95


  • Trim
  • Easier to clean than microfiber


  • Some reviewers found that the 100% cotton interior was not absorbent enough, resulting in leaks
  • Inserts are necessary for overnight or heavy wetters and can make the diaper bulky
  • Some reviewers felt that this wasn’t really a AIO, since it needed to be stuffed to have sufficient absorbency
  • Not as soft as some other AIOs

Ones & Twos


  • One size
  • Built in microfiber soaker, with the option to add an additional soaker for extra absorbency
  • Aplix closure
  • $16.95


  • Slim fit
  • Soft


  • Leaks were a pretty common complaint, even with additional soakers

There certainly are a lot of opinions out there about cloth diapers. Personally, the expense of the all-in-ones is a bit of a turn off for me. I would like to be able to just wash the inserts each time and wash the covers whenever I need to. But, I won’t be passing judgment on any of the diapers until I have reviewed all of my options. 🙂


Learn the Lingo Episode 2: Cloth Diapers

5 May

First, let me say that I am amazingly blessed to have a wonderful husband who is actually on board with the idea of cloth diapering. (Especially since he is the one who works from home and will be handling the bulk of those cloth diaper changes.)

Second, let me say that I was surprised to find that not only do I know absolutely nothing about cloth diapers, but I can’t even understand cloth diapering forums to learn more! Seriously, here is a no-joke actual posting from a cloth diaper forum:

Um . . . what? OS? Wicking? FB? Aplix? PUL?

So, as with my health insurance quest, I found myself in need of learning another new language – cloth diaperese. Here is my easy-to-understand, illustrated cloth diaper dictionary!

AI2 – all-in-two. This means that there are two parts to your diaper: an absorbent layer and the waterproof cover.

AIO – all-in-one. This means that your cloth diapers are in one piece and don’t require anything else (like inserts) to work. You just put them on the baby and – bam! – you’re cloth diapering. Compare to AI2 and pocket diapers.

Aplix – this is like velcro, but softer. This is used in cloth diapering to keep diapers closed. It’s important that it isn’t actually velcro because the softer material wont’ bother a baby’s skin if it happens to rub against it. This also may be called a hook and loop closure.

CD – no, not compact disk! Cloth diaper or cloth diapering. Example: I am a CDing mom. See, that doesn’t make much sense with “compact disk”! 😛

Contoured diapers – this term applies to the absorbent part of a cloth diaper when it is sold separately from the cover. It is in a shape that is designed to fit around a baby’s body. Countered diapers usually require a cover and the use of fasteners (in the old days, safety pins, in more modern times snappies).

Diaper cover – diaper covers are a waterproof layer that goes on over prefolds, contoured diapers, and flat diapers.

Doubler – this is an additional insert or liner that you can put into a cloth diaper to increase absorbency. These can be very helpful for babies who are heavy wetters or for overnight use.

DSQ – Diaper Service Quality. This term is usually used to refer to prefolds or flats that are of higher quality. The idea is that diaper services put a lot of stress and wear and tear on their diapers, so they have to be of a higher quality than those designed for regular home use.

Fitted diaper – these are very similar to contoured diapers as they are shaped to fit a baby. They usually require a cover, but usually don’t require the use of closures (in the old days, safety pins, in more modern times snappies).

Flat – this is just a flat piece of absorbent fabric. It can be used inside a diaper cover to absorb wetness.

Hybrid diapers – these diapers are part cloth and part disposable. They usually can also be used as completely cloth, if you choose. The part that makes them part disposable is a disposable insert that catches solids (i.e. poop). Many inserts are flushable, so you can just flush it down the toilet so  you don’t have to have poop in your washing machine.

Insert – this goes into an all-in-two or pocket style diaper to absorb fluids. Inserts can be cloth or disposable.

Liners – these are disposable pieces of material that are used to collect solids from a cloth diaper. They are usually flushable and typically used with hybrid diapers.

OS – One Size. Cloth diapers can either come in sizes (usually extra small, small, medium, and large) or they come in a single size that can be expanded as the baby grows. This expansion is usually accomplished by a set of snaps on the front of the diaper.

Pocket diaper – with pocket diapers, there is a pocket that you tuck inserts into. The diaper itself will have an outer layer, which is waterproof and an inner layer which is soft and will actually be against the baby’s skin. In between these two layers, there is a pocket where the insert is placed.

Pre-folds – these are similar to flats, but they already have a thick middle layer attached. They require the use of a diaper cover and some sort of fastener.

PUL – polyurthane laminate. This is the waterproof outer layer on many cloth diapers.

Sized or Perfect Size diapers– these diapers  come in sizes, typically extra small, small, medium, and large. Compare to OS (one size).

Snappi – This is the modern day safety pin – only much better. It is used to hold diapers like pre-folds and flats closed.

Soaker – this is the absorbent layer in a diaper. The term can be used to refer to the part already in a diaper, like in all-in-ones, or can refer to an additional insert.

Stripping – (this is the one Paul has been waiting for!) sadly, this one does not involve any slow-motion removal of clothing. Instead, it refers to the considerably less sexy removal of build-up from diapers. Each diaper manufacturer has their own recommendations about the appropriate way to strip their diapers.

Wicking – this means that the diaper isn’t absorbing liquids (i.e. baby pee) properly any more. As a result the liquids leak out of the diaper at the legs and waist. This problem can be caused by a build-up of things like diaper rash cream on your cloth diapers. The fix? See “Stripping”. (Oh yes, I am sure Paul loves that solution . . . So if you want to convince your husband to cloth diaper, just let him know it involves stripping!)

Most of the other abbreviations out there refer to actual brands of diapers, which will be covered in later posts. (That’s already a lot for one day!)