As we continue the “Cloth Diapering With…” series, we are venturing into more modern, new-fangled diaper styles. We started with the basics: prefolds, flats or fitteds with a cover. Today’s post is about the style known as All-in-Twos or ‘AI2’ for short.
What’s an AI2?
I remember when I first read this AI2 abbreviation on a website about four years ago and it immediately made the prospect of cloth diapering seem complicated and overwhelming. But fear not! Because All-in-Twos are just simple two-part systems that improve on the prefold/cover style we’ve already discussed.
All-in-Two just means that there are two separate pieces to your diaper. There’s the waterproof cover, which can sometimes be called a ‘shell’, and the absorbent cloth piece that’s placed inside. If you read that and thought, “Wait, that’s what you said about prefolds,” — you’re right! Brands that make All-in-Two diaper systems took a look at the traditional ways of diapering and made some modern improvements.
Most AI2 systems use snaps to hold the absorbent insert in place, though some use a tuck-in flap. To use the diaper just attach the insert to it’s shell and fasten it to the baby with the snaps or aplix on the cover. When it’s time to change, you snap out the soiled insert and keep it to be washed. If the shell is not dirty, you can either snap in a clean insert or let it air dry and use it again after the next change. The typical baby will need approximately 5-6 shells and 24-30 inserts.
There are a few options when it comes to picking out an insert. Most brands make both a stay-dry and organic cotton version. There are also extra boosters that help for naps or nighttime. The stay-dry option means that there is a top fleece layer that creates a drier feeling for your baby. (Though if the diaper is very well soaked, it will eventually become saturated.) Whether or not you choose stay-dry is a personal choice. Some babies really don’t care if their bums feel wet, for others, it’s uncomfortable. The stay-dry layer is made from a synthetic blend and some parents want to keep their baby in all natural fibers. If you aren’t sure what to choose, you can always get a few of both and see what you prefer. (Cloth diapers have good resell values, so you can always sell it if it doesn’t work for your baby.)
Most AI2 brands use a One Size model for their covers or ‘shells’. One Size (abbreviated OS) means that there will be snaps along the rise to increase or decrease it’s size. One notable exception is SoftBums, which are One Size but use a teeny adjustable elastic system to change their size. Some brads, use the OS cover with sized inserts. This will give your baby a more exact fit. Here’s a little comparison chart to heal you see the subtle differences between the AI2 brands we carry.
Many AI2 systems are interchangeable across brands and you also have the option of using your plain, old prefold inside of an AI2 shell. Some families like to stick to one brand, one system and keep things simple. Brands will often have package deals or special sales on their systems. (Tip- Black Friday and Earth Day are the times of year for big cloth diaper savings.) But, if you’re anything like me, you will have a little bit of everything. I tend to try diapers based on their colors and prints and if it works well, I’ll probably get more.
With AI2 systems, the word “hybrid” sometimes sneaks in. A few cloth diapering companies also make absorbent, eco-friendly, disposable liners to be used inside the cover in lieu of the absorbent cloth piece. These can be extremely useful if you are traveling or going out. They are made for occasions when you want the convenience of a disposable without their full environmental impact.
A couple of tips for using disposable inserts— while they may be made for a specific cover by the same brand, they are for the most part acceptable to use in any cover. I’ve used Flip, GroVia, and gDiapers inserts inside of any cover I have. (I’ve even used them in an unstuffed pocket!) Also, be aware that a runny poop might make it’s way off the liner and inside your cover, so still carry a wet bag and extra covers just in case.
I’ve been asked a lot which disposable insert is best, so I wanted to test out all three (that we carry and I know of) so I could give an informed opinion. And honestly they all worked fine! The GroVia Biosoakers have adhesive that can stick to the cover and help hold it in place. (Sort of like a maxi pad.) They also have a bit of a gusset. The Flip and gDiaper inserts are a bit longer and are both rectangular. The Flip has a nice soft quilted top. I really didn’t have one strong preference. They all did their waste-catching jobs!
I’ve mentioned gDiapers disposable inserts so I’ll talk a little about this brand specifically. It’s categorized by some as an AI2, but I usually tell people it’s more like an All-in-Three. With gDiapers, there’s a cotton, cloth outer, a waterproof ‘pouch’ layer inside that, and finally an absorbent piece inside that. Another feature that sets gDiapers apart from others in the AI2 category is that the cotton outer part called the gPant is sized Small-X-Large. You can read more and see photos about gDiapers in this post.
I hope this post helped demystify the AI2 cloth diapering systems. These diapers have many of the same benefits as the types we’ve previously discussed with a few more bells and whistles.
Have you ever tried an All-in-Two? What’s your favorite?