Cloth Diapers 101: How to build a cloth diaper stash on any budget is a three-part series aimed at helping you choose a cloth diapering system. To start from the beginning, check out the cloth diapers in Part One and Part Two.
Cloth Diaper System 4: All-in-Ones (AIO)
The AIO diaper is like a pocket diaper, but everything is stuck together. Because this is a one piece system, some smart-arse called it an All-in-One and gave it a TLA of AIO. The AIO may be an easy to use one-step diaper, but it’s a bitch to launder since you can’t dry the shell separately from the insert.
Pros: A few mommy blogs claim that AIOs are the most accepted cloth diaper at daycares.
Cons: Good luck getting your AIOs laundered and dried in time for the next day — these suckers are sewn together, so you can’t split the cover from the insert like with prefolds, fitteds, or pockets. Using the dryer daily on your AIOs will wear the PUL shell. Lastly, AIOs are probably the most expensive cloth diapering system on the market today.
Stash Size Needed: You’ll need at least 24 AIO diapers for babies aged 0-6 months. Fewer diapers are needed for older babies. Plan on doing laundry every 2 days.
Total Cost: The most popular AIO brands are the bumGenius Freetime ($25) and the GroVia O.N.E. ($23).
Total Cost: 24 bumGenius Freetime AIOs will cost you a butt-whomping $600. Due to this diaper’s slow drying time, you’ll likely need at least 30 AIOs in the first months, totalling $750.
All-in-Ones (AIO) Bottom Line
While I enjoy not having to stuff an AIO diaper, I get a little annoyed with the time it takes to dry these suckers. I rarely reach for my AIOs because I know it is going to take at least 24 hours to wash and dry these sewn-together units. Adding a few AIOs to your stash may be a good idea if your child is in daycare and this is the only cloth diaper type approved for use. Invest in laundry drying racks. Seriously.
Price Check: Are cloth diapers worth it? Or are they a Bum Deal?
I crunched the nappy numbers and did the diaper math. Turns out one diapering method could save your family $1,799 with one child. Find out which diaper does the job for less.
Cloth Diaper System 5: Hybrid Diapers
I raised an eyebrow after learning about the wacky world of hybrid diapers, and quickly opted out of trying this system in my own diaper stash. A hybrid diaper is a two-step diapering system where a washable cover (also called a ‘shell’) is combined with either a disposable insert or a washable soaker pad.
The idea is you can wash the cover and chuck the insert. Or wash both the cover and the soaker pad. Either way, you’re washing and chucking half the time. I don’t get it.
Make your own diaper sprayer
Clean the mess from your cloth diapers for less with this simple DIY Cloth Diaper Sprayer. Illustrative plumbing photos show you the 8 easy steps.
Some companies (like gDiapers) say their disposable inserts are biodegradable, so you’ll feel better about tossing and washing (I suppose).
Popular hybrid brands include:
- Flip Individual One Size (One snap diaper cover, one stay dry insert, Flip disposable inserts)
- gDiapers gBaby Bundle (18 gPants, 80 biodegradable gRefills)
Pros: Hybrid marketers claim that sticking a disposable insert into a washable cover is awesome for “for those moments when life happens and you need a disposable alternative.” Guess what? I can never guess “those moments” when my baby will unleash a mega mess. And when she does, I’d have to wash the cover anyways. #fail
Cons: Cost, cost, and more cost since you’ll be shelling out moolah for covers, liners, and those dang disposable inserts. Hybrids still add garbage to the landfill if you’re using the disposable insert, so don’t think you’re virtuous just ’cause half the diaper is cloth. You’re still doing laundry. Worst of both worlds.
Stash Size Needed: To build a hybrid diaper stash you’ll need: 6-12 shells, 12 soaker pads, and a pack of 18 disposable inserts per month. Plan on doing laundry every 2 days and shopping for more disposable inserts regularly.
The most popular hybrid brand is the Flip Individual One Size (One snap diaper cover, one stay dry insert) for $17. The Flip disposable inserts cost extra, so budget an additional $6 for 18 per month.
Total Cost: 12 Flip Individual One Size covers and soaker will cost you $204, plus $180 for a pack of disposable inserts over 30 months. Total is $384 and up for those using more disposables.
Hybrid Diaper Bottom Line
I would love for hybrid diaper fans to comment and share why they love this system.
Skip Hybrids: Save money by opting for the prefold diaper system.
‘Cause given the math and how the hybrid two-step system works, I think it makes far more financial sense to buy a few inexpensive PUL diaper covers, a pack of washable prefold cotton cloth diapers and save nearly 50% over a hybrid system.
So where am I going with this?
You can build a new cloth diaper stash on any budget, starting at a frugal $120 for prefolds and hitting over $700 for those crazy AIOs. There’s a lot of budget wiggle room with pocket diapers and fitted diapers too, so take the monetary middle ground if these systems are more your style. A few tips for choosing a cloth diapering system:
1. Don’t commit to one diaper system right away.
In a perfect world, I would have stuck with the inexpensive prefold and cover system to cut my cloth costs. But my kid had other ideas. Your kid may have ideas too. Try a few systems by buying (or borrowing) a few diapers first, then decide.
2. ‘One Size’ does not mean ‘fits all babies’ always.
Think a one size diaper is going to fit your little one from newborn to potty? Think again. You may need to invest in multiple sizes at different ages and stages for the best fit. Gaping legs and loose waist bands can lead to messy leaks with newborns, and tight elastics could cramp your toddler’s style. Finding the right fit is key to loving the cloth diaper experience.
3. What works for day-time may be terrible at night.
A thicker diaper with multiple inserts may be the trick for keeping baby asleep at night. That same thick diaper may give your kid a bubble butt during the day, and clothing may not fit.
4. Synthetic and natural fibres wear differently.
Cotton, hemp, and bamboo are natural and highly absorbent fibres, but they may shrink and feel wet next to baby’s bottom. Polyester and microfibre diapers won’t stain as easily, may have longer life spans, and prevent that dreaded wet feeling, but some parents complain that these fibres also retain smell. You won’t know which fabrics work unless you try a few. Sorry.
5. What works for me may not work for you.
I’ve exhausted the major diapering systems to find one that worked. I bought new, scavenged for used, and built an awesome diaper stash that keeps everyone in my family happy. Day shift, night shift, and laundry days are covered with a few prefolds, fitteds, pockets, and AIOs.
What type of cloth diapers should you buy? I share the winners and losers based on price, convenience, and a little experience. Check out Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.
Your Turn: I’d love to know what diaper brands you love and loathe. Which diapering systems are worth the bucks when secured to your baby’s butt?
Thank you for going through all these different kinds of options that we have. With my first 2 I went with Pampers and Huggies because I wasn’t entirely sure what to do when I looked at all the options (and there were way less options when I had my youngest 9 years ago) and didn’t have my own washer/dryer.
This time I really wanted to do the cloth diapering thing because of the savings. The options are much better this time, but so much more confusing than I expected. Finding cloth diapers is difficult in Saskatchewan, and no one seems to sell their used ones, so I have been scrubbing the internet for deals and hoping that they ship to Canada. I have been told often that the pocket diapers are pretty easy to sew, but not knowing how to sew I wondered at the experiences of others out there and if they found sewing things an option…
@Pam:there’s a website called parentingbynature.com. It’s out of Ontario. Or there’s a few places in Calgary that you can use as resources. I sewed more of a fitted diaper for my kids using thrifted flannel sheets, and that was pretty easy, if time consuming to make all 30 of them. They would actually make a good beginner sewing project.
@Calvin Yes, my cost of cloth calculation includes the cost of water, electricity, and detergent.
We love our Flip diapers. We bought a bunch of extra reusable inserts, avoiding the disposable kind. So when baby goes #1 or a contained #2 you just change the insert. You can also fold a prefold in thirds and put it in the flip cover.
I had a question about your cost of cloth diapers calculation. Did you include water and electricity in it?
@Pam: look at etsy.com…. they sell all sorts of handmade things and most of those people ship to all countries. I know for a fact that there are loads of diapers there, handmade by other moms.
There is another very inexpensive kind of diapers ou there… not sure what they are called in English, but if you google Bindewindel and look at the images you will see what they are. I tried them and loved how easy they were to wash and how fast they dryed, but hated putting them on the little one. But there are a lot of people (in Europe) who love those. People bid like crazy on those used ones.
We have a whole variety of diapers (Bum Genius Organic AIO, BumGenius Pocket, wool covers, Bamboozles, Sandy’s, MotherEase) and each one has things that are great and things that aren’t. I like the speed/ease of the AIO since I can put them on baby w/o having to lay him down, and I can do them in the dark. But, I like just the cloth without a cover for when baby is hanging around the house, to let his little bum breath. Wool covers rock, no sweaty bums! (Great for preventing diaper rash.) Only diaper I don’t’ really like is the Bum Genius Pocket – all that micro fibre gives baby a sweaty bottom.
What helps keep the cost of doing laundry down is practicing Elimination Communication (EC) or Natural Infant Hygiene with your baby. (Essentially you learn to read your baby and work with their natural rhythms to take it to the bathroom to pee/poo, saving you from having to deal with dirty diapers).
We only had 16 AIO cloth diapers with our first baby and by taking the baby to the bathroom we saved on lots of dirty diapers. We do have more diapers with our second baby, but by doing EC we manage to only do laundry once every week and a half.
Hybrid diaper systems are a little funky – they cost more than prefolds and PUL covers, but offer more options.
We have 5 gDiaper covers, all bought second-hand. gDiaper is our diaper of choice at church nursery and playdate because I can just change the cloth insert (of which we use flats, we didn’t buy the pricey gCloth inserts) or the cloth insert and liner if I need to (though the liner can be just wiped down and re-used). And since my baby has PUL and microfiber issues – the all cotton covers don’t leave nasty allergic rashes on him.
I prefer my prefolds and woolies (of which I commented a few days ago that I make my own), but the hybrids work wonderfully when we’re out and about.
I’m a big fan of the hybrid diapers, but hate the disposable inserts 😉 (So basically, I love Flip and Grovia covers, and just use prefolds or some random insert in them!) I do know a lot of people prefer to use the disposable inserts when traveling, because the inserts are supposed to be more environmentally friendly. However, last I looked it wasn’t any cheaper to use a hybrid system (where at least the cover is being reused!) than a standard disposable diaper, so if we’re traveling someplace without a washing machine, I still just use sposies 😉 But I did want to make sure people know that even if you don’t like the hybrid mentality, the diaper covers (and even some of the standard inserts! The Flip organic insert is AMAZING for nights!) are still really great diapering options when used as an AI2 🙂
We’ve used both flip and gDiaper hybrids and love that a)we don’t have to stuff or un-stuff & b) don’t need to wash all the parts every time. We also made some of our own microfiber liners and they worked great. Having the option to use disposable liners when travelling has also been nice as I feel better not putting the plastic part at least in the landfill.
We were big fans of prefolds with a cover until about 8 months. That’s when the baby had other plans during diaper changes and wouldn’t stay still. It’s impossible to get a prefold and cover on a squirmy baby.
That’s when we started converting over to AIOs and AI2s in our stash. Our preference is the GroVia system.
Like you, we hated how long it took our BumGenium AIO to dry (and it’s the organic kind and seemed to build up a stink that’s hard to get rid of) and why we LOVE GroVia. Unlike the BumGenius, the GroVia AIOs aren’t stitched in. The middle piece of the diaper is stitched in on the back end and then there’s a second piece that you can snap in or out. We use both of the pieces, and for drying, they take a little bit longer than the prefolds but not nearly as long as the BumGenium AIOs or the inserts for most pocket diapers.
We wash and dry at night. We only put the dryer on for 40 min. Then we hang them up to finish drying before we go to work and by dinner they’re dry.
AIOs were a necessity for us because of daycare (we’re the first family to use cloth there) and because they don’t build up stink and dry quickly.
You can get good deals on used cloth diapers at diaperswappers.com. There is a Canadian forum too, but most USA moms will ship to you and it’s still a good deal when you factor in shipping.
I used fuzzibunz almost exclusively. Not the one-size ones though …i had a set of small and mediums. I loved them. I originally started with prefolds, snappis, and thirties covers…didn’t last long as my baby kept getting rashes due to the wetness on her sensitive skin. I sold them at a bargainpriceon Kijiji.
Wow, definitely don’t need 12 covers for a hybrid (unless you really hate doing laundry… in which case, cloth-ing like won’t work for you for sure!). Though, one of every colour could be fun 😉
I love my Flips, and started out with gDiapers. I do have disposable inserts, but I found someone selling their extras, so I got them for half the price. Wouldn’t have them otherwise, as they are way too much money! It’s nice having that option when we are out and about, or when I am washing all the used inserts.
I actually haven’t spent as much on cloth diapering as I was afraid I would; and selling my used gDiaper newborn pack was super easy thanks to its popularity as being good for people who just “aren’t sure”. Plus, they are really cute 😉
hi, I am expecting twins in October and I have invested in a brand of cloth diapers just to start off with – I chose to try the pocket diapers first because I defiantly don’t want to have to invest time in as you “origami” prefolds and covers and inserts. I think the money is worth the time Ill save.
I was also intrigued by the Hybrid diaper but once I saw a gdiaper in my hand and actually looked at it not on a cute baby in a cute ad online with whimsical music and parents super happy to be changing a pooie diaper I realized its not what would work for me. ( also having the Velcro – yes not snaps – close behind the baby and not in front would have been so annoying.)
Before I chose the brand I want to try out I found a lady I knew who had her own collection of diapers – one of each that I had been looking at online. some were bulkier than I could imagine putting on a baby,and some just felt gross and scratchy- the fabric of the pocket diaper was not soft at all.. and I couldn’t see it doing much stretching and moving while on my child more restricting than anything. I opted to try GlowBug diapers which I investigated for a long time – they come in a package of 12 and each diaper is also packaged with two inserts, they are luxurious fabric which I liked because I consider a cloth diaper just like My underwear – I would never wear something that wasn’t comfy feeling so why would I put that on my child unless I had to? and come in neat prints. they are a bit pricey but as I did my diaper search I found that they fall probably in the mid to cheaper range for pocket diaper and as I have said they don’t even compair in touch and feel.- 150.00 for a dozen and 24 inserts.
I cant wait to try them out!
I have only heard such good things about them – I always remember that no cloth diaper is PERFECT.. but they can be close. everyone has a different favorite that might be great for their child but doesn’t work for you.. so yah do your due diligence and touch, price, and ask about each and every brand you look at.
I’m super cheap, so we have gone the prefold route. I do love Thirsties Duo diaper covers with the snaps though. I really like the double guesseted leg openings. I have three of those that I bought new, but the rest of my covers are second hand, or new and free from a friend, with velcro, which I like less but it is tolerable. I like snaps over velcro because sticking my hand into a dirty diaper to close a velcro closure before laundering is a real bummer.
I actually didn’t like the prefolds that I bought new (unbleached diaper service quality) because they were so bulky – I bought a bunch of used prefolds that weren’t as thick from a friend whose kids rash out with prefolds. And, I love GroVia paper diaper liners.
A friend gave me five Kushies AIOs, but I only use them when we are out and about for convenience – you are so right about what a pain they are to launder. I have always been too cheap to try many of the other options – but your info about Alva Baby might make me change my mind.
We’ve been using gDiapers for two years and have loved them the whole time. The disposable insert is biodegradable and flushable. Poopy daipers go in the toilet and wet diapers go in the green bin. I love it because it means I don’t have a toxic bucket in the baby’s room. I also have the cloth inserts but those need changed far more frequently than the disposable inserts. The biggest layout financially for the gDiapers was the cloth inserts – I got almost all of our liners and covers from Cragislist and Kijiji. (Well, the inserts definitely have cost more over time but that’s a controllable expense because I can use them more or less as I chose whereas I had to lay out for the whole supply of cloth at once.) The ability to flush the poppy diapers was one of the things that convinced my husband to go this route. Unless you’re willing to do ALL the diaper changing, you and your spouse both have to be on board with cloth diapers.
It has been a few years now since my girls were in cloth diapers but we tried every system by the time we had all three girls.
My favorit by far when they were young was to go with a wool snap cover and lay in a 80% bamboo/20% organic cotton velour insert that I made myself.
because it is a knit you wouldn’t even have to sew it if you didn’t want to , just cut the size you want, fold and use.
The second set I had was a snap front diaper with wool or fleece pants(no separate cover). The pants work as the cover and reduced the bulk.
When they got to walking I went with a pull on cover for faster changes or the snap diaper with pants .
I found I liked the velour insert for softness, fast absorption and bamboos anti fungal properties. The wool covers breath well.
I liked using a single layer that I fold because they came cleaner than multi layer ones that I had.
This system also allowed for the best fit as I just bought the pants or covers in the perfect size and cut inserts my self.
I forgot to mention that from time to time I would use disposable liners, but not ones you would think. I used a paper towel lol , they were softer, cheaper and flushable. I just folded them in half for the perfect fit and they were better than any other liner I tried.
We’re in the process of potty training our daughter, and our Flip system has gotten us all the way through diapering her (with one exception: because she sleeps through the night, we’ve not been able to cloth diaper at night without giving her a rash; so, one disposable at night). We spent $249 on 8 covers and 24 inserts – 6 organic cotton (folding) inserts, and 18 stay-dry inserts. (You can buy Flip diapers in a cheaper boxed set of 6 inserts and 2 covers for $55-65.) We spent another $18 to buy 6 bamboo doublers for extra absorbency during naps.
We’ve used this system like a hybrid not between disposables and cloth, but a hybrid between prefolds and pocket diapers. The system has many of the same pros that you listed for other systems. Minimal folding (far less than prefolds); no “stuffing,” per se – just tuck the insert into the cover and handle it like a one-piece diaper while putting it on the child; wipeable, reusable cover; easy to launder (no fiddling to pull an insert from a tight pocket; dry relatively quickly); fairly slim (definitely bulkier than disposables, but not the bubble butt I’ve seen from some other brands and types); AND they grow with our baby (they fit from 8-35lb). We’ve had few leaks (fewer than in disposables) and have done laundry every 2-3 days without running out of covers or inserts. Plus, a friends’ toddler is being Flip-diapered at a daycare that listed Flip as one of the brands they were willing to use.
My sister-in-law used cloth diapers casually, but spent far more money on hers. She found she couldn’t practically use her system because they were too bulky to fit in her son’s pants. She is now planning to sell her used cloth diapers and buy the Flip system after watching us use Flips.
Totally agree with point one- I got a few of each kind of diaper to try. I’m glad I did b/c the 2-in-1 brand I was in love with while pregnant ended up being one of my least favorite diapers. I was seriously considering just buying a whole set and calling it a day. Luckily my finances were tight and I bought a diaper here or there (along with other layette items and baby gear) every week or so, snagging sales when I saw them. I have tried most the brands you mention here so now I know what I want to supplement my stash with for the next baby (probably could make due with what I have but that’s no fun now that I’m a fluffy addict lol). Also having other options is nice- while I was learning prefolds, having some AIO’s and pockets made things easy.
As for one size, my daughter was 8lb 11oz at birth and was in OS from day 2 onward. Now at 26.5 mo and just shy of 30lbs she’s still not on the last snap and potty training is almost here. I have some smaller diapers (Thirsties covers, Bummis small prefolds which in a pinch still work, and some small AIO’s) for next time but she out grew these crazy fast.
Also for a super cheap prefold cover option, have you heard of Econobum? It’s made by same company that makes Bumgenius and Flip. Basically a pared down version of the Flip system. I love it! http://www.gogonatural.com/Econobum-Full-Kit.html Two of those could very well set baby for their entire time in diapers.
Thank you for being honest! I am so sick of every other blogger going on and on about the greatness of each and every diaper they review. I don’t have a bazillion hours a day to blog and give away diapers to get free diapers. I have to buy them. Tell me what actually works and whats a waste. You did. You rock. I’m definitely sold on a mix of the simple prefolds and covers with a few fitted diapers thrown in. I also agree, who wants to buy diapers from China? But, who wants to spend $20 a piece on a single USA made diaper? This was supposed to save money…There is a middle ground, such as sassycloth on Etsy. My husband kinda flipped over the sports team diapers. It’s worth a slightly more expensive ($12.50) diaper to have him get excited to change a diaper.
My first three babies have sensitive skin and are avg to above avg in size. so i needed to make sure i have diapers that are good on their skin to begin with. therefor after much research i decided i wanted ease of use that is good on skin, with another on the way and having two under two years, i need something fast and simple with minimun leakage. i now use all bumgenius elemental with the snappis not velcro, which all reviews will tell you are great all around except for drying time, which isnt a big deal because drying only takes time, not work. my baby never gets a rash, lasts her for 4 to 5 hours a day in one diaper and she is a reg wetter, not a lot not a little. if you are poor and cant afford, then you must go another route, however, maybe a gift from grandparents or something can help purchase a few. they do get wear and tear from excessive use because it is organic cotton, (super soft) and leaves babys skin not wet or clammy or sweaty, as other materials. if you clean them right they dont stain, (what works for me is just to put them in a wetbag right away and do cold wash before a hot wash and they will not stain). if you have a heavy wetter then at night time there is plenty of room to add one or two inserts no problems there. some people say they only use em in day time not night because they r not a pocket diaper!?! (just add an insert dummy). overall, if your confused by all the dif systems out there and jsut want something smart, easy, sureproof(will def fit your baby any size, and will not have prob leaking, and wont be hard to figure out) use this diaper. only downside is drying time, and like i said, who cares about drying time!!! unless you personally stand there to blow dry every diaper, they dry, and u live your life. 12 of them is enough if you have one child, mine goes through 3-5 a day, with sensitive skin, never gets a rash. so i wash a load at night, they dry the next day, and voila, i never even come close to running outta diapers. they are expensive but i got on sale for $17 per diaper.
Hi Kerry, I thoroughly appreciated reading your reviews and experience. I also live in BC and am having a hard time figuring out what kind of detergent to buy for my top-loading washing machine? Ideally the whole family would use this one detergent. Do you have any recommendations?
I am SO GLAD I came across this whole CD low-down!! My baby is due in a couple weeks and have been gathering my stash with all sorts of confusion and anxiety in the midst!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!! Your thoughts are beyond helpful!!
We used a few different kinds for different situations, but our favourite was MotherEase bamboo one size. They fit 8lbs-30ish lbs. but when we purchased them it was suggested to us we wait until our son was 10lbs before using them due to bulk, we didn’t find them too bad though. These are the only diapers I have ever seen that did not leak for us, EVER (we were shocked). We did have to buy an extra few covers (small, medium, medium-large, and large) every few months but we used them until he was 26months then switched to training pants. With 24 diapers and 2-4 covers I was doing laundry daily, but could skip a day if I needed to.
As a back up we also had gDiapers which did not work for us, or most parents I spoke with. We experienced lots of leaks and issues getting the disposable inserts out while saturated. When we used cloth inserts they worked better, but found it to be a pain trying to do up the Velcro in the back of a baby laying down. We ended up reselling them after purchasing them second hand.
We also tried prefolds briefly but I wasn’t fond of them, very bulky and awkward, boys and girls are folded differently. I did love using the square pads for burp clothes or for changing on as an extra layer of protection, better than a receiving blanket. They are super absorbent and I still use them for a variety of things. They were given to us by a friend.
As a note to new or expecting parents who haven’t cloth diapered in the past, you want disposables or at least disposable liners for the first few days/weeks after baby is born. Their first poops are black/green and will stain cloth diapers. We used organic disposables for the first three weeks.
Finally a blog on cloth diapers that doesn’t use all the acronyms and lingo us first timers don’t understand! This was so easy to read and understand. With baby due in 8 weeks I am ready to stock up but am so intimidated by all the different cloth diapering systms out there. I now feel a little more prepared to make some purchases.
Oh, as for the g-diapers…I am buying them but only for use at day care as my day care won’t take a fully cloth diapered baby but will accept cloth diapers with disposable inserts. It was a better compromise than full on disposable.
What are your thoughts on the AI2’s? (a cross between AIO’s & hybrids)
I use both Flip and Best Bottoms (like the Flip better though), but I simply don’t use disposable inserts, only the stay-dry microfiber reusable ones, which you can buy separately to build your stash. I love them because they’re easy, no stuffing involved, it’s basically the same as using prefolds with covers only the inserts are easier to keep up with since you don’t have to fold them, plus they are more absorbent and don’t leave baby feeling too wet. You only have to wash the shells when they get pooped on, if it’s just pee you wipe it out with a baby wipe and stick a new insert in! Crazy easy and less expensive than AIO and without the mess of de-stuffing pockets.
Okay, I love you. Thank you for trying all of these and especially the Alva! I was so curious about them, but as my very first cloth diapers are in the mail, I didn’t want to get taken for a ride.
Thanks to your article I now have a better understanding of what i can expect- and what I really need. (as far as diapers/inserts go) Thank you so much again!
I was intrigued with the idea of hybrid diapers when I first read about them, until I realized that the disposable inserts were more expensive even than the most expensive, eco-friendly, all-natural disposable diapers on the market. If you’re going to be throwing them away anyhow and paying even MORE, then how is it better than just slapping a disposable on in those moments when “life happens” (say, dealing with a yeast infection or going on vacation, which are times I switch to disposables).
That said, the cover-insert combination without the disposable option (also called an All-in-2) is a real winner for me. You can reuse the covers (assuming you buy a brand with exposed PUL on the inside) until they get pooped on, which makes them more cost-effective than pockets, but you don’t have to worry about the complicated folding of prefold or flat diapers (which is a big deal with my wiggly 1 year old who hates diaper changes). My very favorite brand of diapers is Buttons. They have soft, stretchy covers with elastic on the front and back, double leg gussets, and a convenient snap configuration. The inserts, which come in both microfiber and hemp/cotton (I use the microfiber because they’re cheap and dry faster), have a layer of (REALLY soft) stay-dry fleece on top so you still get the stay-dry benefit of pocket diapers, and they snap into the covers so they don’t move around. They also make a nighttime doubler that snaps in between the cover and a regular insert (again, a choice between hemp/cotton and microfiber). I’ve used the microfiber with very good results with my baby who leaks through a lot of other things I’ve tried while she sleeps 10-12 hours at night. Covers for Buttons are $11 for solid colors and $12.50 for prints, and $3.30 for regular microfiber inserts (more for hemp/cotton and overnight doublers) and they recommend having 1 cover for every 3 inserts since you only have to change the covers if they get pooped on. If you do the math on that: $11 + ($3.50 x 3) = $21.50 for essentially 3 diapers, or a little over $7 per diaper. At this rate, you’re getting practically Alva Baby prices for way better quality in my opinion, while still having a difficulty level that is not that different from pockets. There are other brands of Ai2s that work similarly (and some Hybrid diapers work like and Ai2 if you just forget the disposable option) – specifically I’ve tried Imagine Ai2 diapers and Best Bottoms, both of which are interchangeable with Buttons inserts – but I’ve found Buttons to be the best quality and fit.