What are All-in-One Cloth Diapers? And Are They Any Good?


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What is an All-in-One Cloth Diaper?

Whenever I’m asked to explain the different types/styles of cloth diapers, I always start by explaining that all cloth diapers, no matter what brand or type, consist of a waterproof shell, and an absorbent inside. 

All-in-One diapers, (or AiO’s) are exactly what their name suggests, an entire cloth diaper — waterproof shell and absorbent inside — all sewn up into one piece. This one-step system is an ideal alternative to disposable diapers, as they are as easy to use as a disposable, except of course that they are able to be washed and used again and again.

All-in-one diapers come in adjustable one-size diapers, or in sized diapers that come even closer to using disposables (and accordingly are comparable cost wise given how many more you will need to purchase).

What are the Pros and Cons of All-in-One Cloth Diapers?

Pros

  • No assembly required.  Unlike other types of diapers, you don’t need to do anything with an all-in-one diaper but put it on and take it off. It is a one-step diapering system that feels the same as using disposables.
  • Caregiver friendly. Quick and easy diaper changes make all-in-ones perfect for childcare providers, grandparents, and others who are aren’t completely on-board with cloth diapers yet.
  • Quick and easy. Great for situations where convenience and speed are needed, like long car trips or quick changes while shopping.
  • Trim. Most often have a trim fit as everything is sewn in to size.

Cons

  • Expensive. Because you’re buying the waterproof absorbent layers together in one inseparable package, these diapers can be expensive. Unlike some other diaper types that let you just wipe off and reuse the cover at wet-only diaper changes, all-in-one cloth diapers need to be washed after every poop or pee, so you’ll need more of them on hand, again increasing the expense.
  • Harder to wash… everything together so unlike a cover and prefolds where only need to gently wash the cover and you can blast the natural (not synthetic) but natural inserts with hot water and a hot dryer, you ahve to be careful with the whole thing when washing, making sure not to dry above medium heat, and so on.
  • Slower to dry. Because you can’t separate the components of the diaper, it will take longer to dry.
    Making it worse, the attached waterproof cover can impede your machine’s spin cycle from getting the water out, making drying take even longer.
  • More prone to leaks. The construction of some all-in-ones, as well as the fact that all-in-ones can be harder to fit to all babies, means that all-in-ones are more likely to leak than diaper systems with separate components.
  • Shorter lifespan. Once again due to the fact that everything is stitched together, the length of time you can use an all-in-one is much shorter than other types of diapers where some pieces can be replaced as needed. The elastics and built-in diaper covers inside all-in-ones are usually the first parts to expire. Once one part of an all-in-one diaper goes, it needs to be fixed, or the whole diaper is useless.

Top Three All-in-One Cloth Diapers

Since I’m constantly asked for recommendations, and since you’re at the end of a whole post about all-in-one diapers (so you’re liking digging them), here’s a quick list of my top three favorite all-in-one cloth diapers, based on absorbency, fit, and quality for the price:

  1. Thirsties Natural One Size All in One Cloth Diaper (Amazon link)
    The quality of Thirsties can’t be matched, and if you’re looking for a super-absorbent, great-fitting and natural all-in-one, this is THE diaper for you.
  2. Wink all-in-one diaper (brand website link) Special note: I have a coupon for this site: “Beginners30” (without the quotes) gets you 30% off anything you buy at Wink directly from their website. The double gussets, back waist elastic and super-soft bamboo in these diapers make them great for keeping everything in. These are best for slimmer babies, however.
  3. GroVia® O.N.E (link to a preferred retailer, ships to US and Can. Prices in CAD). These are a bit on the pricey side BUT you can use them at night with very little chance for leaks, and that’s really saying something for an AIO! In fact, they are the only non-fitted diaper that I recommend for night time for older babies, so buying these early (ie. before you’re stuck for a night time solution down the road) may actually save you money.

A quick note that if I had a list of 4 or 5, I would have included all of them, but all-in-ones are tricky and I only wish to promote diapers I believe in and know to be solid choices. If you’re looking for other, budget AIO options, come by the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook group and throw a question out. That group has lots of all-in-one users happy to talk shop.

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