Cloth Diapering

Cloth Diaper Buyer’s Guide – AIOs

All-In-Ones or AIO’s are a pretty universal diaper design that doesn’t get the love they deserve. We’ll breakdown the Good, Bad, and Ugly in a moment, but AIO’s are my favorite diaper. They tend to be on the more expensive end (as opposed to lower cost covers which you can read about here), but I find they fit my slim girl the best and can offer one of the slimmest fits.

AIO OTB (On the butt)

So what is an AIO?

Simply put, an AIOs is a cloth diaper that is all one part – the cover, insert, and stay dry are all joined together into one cohesive unit. Most AIOs will have some sort of absorbent, attached “tongue” that replaces the insert in a pocket. This may be a single, long flap or two short ones sewn to each end. Below are pictures of one of my personal favorites, an American made AIO in from Blueberry, called a Blueberry Simplex ($44.95 for two, Amazon Affiliate Link).


AIO – The good.

Easy stuffing – This is one of the main reason these are one of my favorites. Unlike covers that need folding and pockets that need stuffing, these are ready to go out of the dryer. Simply flip the tongue in, place a liner, and fold in half and you’re ready to go. Especially for a busy mom, these are a great option if you’re concerned about laundry folding time.

All Over Absorbency – Like a prefold or flat, most AIOs have an absorbent layer all over the diaper. Whereas a pocket has a stay dry exterior and only an absorbent insert, AIOs have the same material all over. Some may include a stay dry layer on the tongue, or you can use an stay dry fleece liner (also a great way to prevent stains and make disposing of poop easier on you).

Ease of Use – Like pockets, All in Ones are easy to use for other care givers. Because they’re one piece in a familiar diaper shape, care givers can more easily change diapers. Snaps go from back to front like disposable diapers, and you can mark the correct snaps with a washable marker (which will eventually wash off). Thirsty’s even have a velcro feature – what could be easier?!

Low Profile – Most cloth diaper users, regardless of type, will usually point to the Grovia AIO as one of the more slimmest cloth options. (Amazon doesn’t have a great selection at press time, so here is a link from Kelly’s Closet, an online retailer with a good reputation and rewards point program; here is the Grovia AIO link).

AIO – The bad.

Drying time – Some people feel that AIOs can take a long time to dry. Because they’re bulkier they allow for less tumbling (think drying a sweater vs. a sock) and because many are made from cotton, they absorb more water than microfiber inserts. I simply run mine for a long cycle and allow any dampness to air dry after.

Lack of Customization – Whereas covers and pockets allowed for a lot of customization in terms of amount and placement of absorbency, AIOs generally don’t. Some, like the Blueberry Simplex, may have a pocket that additional inserts can be fit into, but with the cotton exterior, I don’t know how effective this would be. As a result, these don’t make for the best overnight options or a great nap option for older tummy sleepers.

AIO – The ugly.

Wear and Tear – While AIOs aren’t necessarily more prone to wear and tear than any other type of diaper, because they’re all one piece, if one fails or breaks, the whole diaper is a goner. For covers and pockets, if your elastic fails or an insert rips, you only lose that item; for an AIO the whole diaper is a goner.

How much do AIO’s cost? Does it really save me money?

High End – I’m going to calculate the need for 7 diapers a day (so using these during the day but a separate night diaper and potentially nap diaper). Blueberry Simplex ($25.95, Amazon Affiliate link) would cost $1271.55 for 49 diapers a week. Again, using my informal poll of disposable-using friends, that would mean it would take a little over 31 months to see a profit over disposables. If you plan on multiple children, this would benefit you greatly for the subsequent children. Also, remember these hold their value better than drastically cheaper alternatives. Also, look for great sales on Blueberries when patterns are retired.

Mid-Range – I’m using the BumGenius Freetime and Thirsty AIOs for a more moderate comparison ($19.95, Amazon Affiliate link for BumGenius; $19.75, Amazon Affiliate link for Thirsty AIOs). For the same 49 diapers a week (7 diapers a day times 7 days), you’re looking at a $977 investment. Compared to disposables, you’ll see savings after 24.4 months. These are readily available at big box stores as well, if you’re not into buying online.

Alva Baby, known for their fun prints, can be bought in six packs for $29.99 on Amazon (Affiliate link)

Low End – Lastly, my china “cheepie” alternative: Alva Baby ($29.94 for 6, Amazon Affiliate link) for 48 diapers (a week’s worth but a multiple of 6), you’re look at $239.52. This obviously brings the disposable price comparison way down, seeing a profit on cloth in just 6 months! In full disclosure, I have never used an Alva Baby, but I know many who have.

The bottom line.

AIOs can be a more expensive option so make sure you try and few before you commit totally. Regardless of what price point you use, be sure and factor in other cloth diaper paraphernalia costs.