Wednesday, July 18, 2012

All in One: More time for fun!

When I started cloth diapering in 2009, the consensus on AIOs (the cloth diapering mom code word for 'All-in-One') was that they were difficult to keep clean, took several cycles to dry on low heat or several days to dry on an indoor clothesline, and weren't worth purchasing when a pre-stuffed pocket was just as easy to put on and take off.

All-in-Ones: 'Who needs 'em?' thought I. Ha!

That seemed like solid logic to me. So I didn't bother with any AIOs for a while.

But eventually, I began to see the benefits:

1) When I didn't have any clean pocket diapers stuffed and ready to toss in the diaper bag, it was time to leave for church and then head to the in laws' house for the day, and it was all I could do to get us all out the door on time. Shoving a laundry basket in the trunk of an already stuffed-to-the-gills compact sedan and knowing I'd have to sort and fold laundry when we reached our lunch destination on a Sunday was pure penance for my poor planning on Saturday.

2) When the diapers were in the dryer or on the line, I needed to head out the door alone, and my husband was notorious for matching up a small insert and a medium pocket, so that when I actually did sit down to sort and stuff the diapers, everything was mismatched until it all got washed again. This isn't a "my incompetent husband" story, either--he's a completely competent father and, I'll admit, a better housekeeper than I am. However, laundry is kind of my domain. On that note, I probably couldn't organize his toolbox the way he likes it, you know?

3) When my kids were still young enough to want to be, no matter what I was doing, but old enough to enjoy getting into whatever I was doing, sorting inserts by size and stacking them up in an organized fashion became a game of constant anticipating, distracting, redirecting, loudly sighing, and hunting for tall surfaces suitable for sorting that weren't yet covered in other laundry.

And, truthfully, AIOs in 2012 have essentially resolved most of the problems I encountered while reading product reviews in 2009. The constructions of our two favorite AIOs, the Thirsties Duo AIO and the Tots Bots EasyFit (as well as its newborn-sized counterpart the TiniFit), make for no trouble cleaning because of the way they're designed.

Option #1: My all-time favorite, the EasyFit (which actually has a pocket).

That's because the insert is tongue-style, meaning it has fewer layers sewn together, because they're arranged into a long strip that then creates several layers of absorbency once they're folded together. Fewer layers sewn together is more conducive to deep-down cleaning.
But that means you still have to stuff it, right?

Right. Well, theoretically. The surface will lay more smoothly and be easier to spray out (should that become necessary) if you do stuff the pocket with the tongue-style absorbent minky insert, but since the insert on the newest version is all-minky, it doesn't matter which side of it touches your baby's skin, and you could technically just fold it over rather than stuffing it.

But, at least for me, stuffing itself isn't my problem with pockets. It's the sorting inserts by size and THEN stuffing that takes all that time. With an attached tongue-style insert, it's just a matter of stuffing it in right before the diaper goes on!

It also dries in my dryer on low heat after one cycle. One cycle!

So what's the downside? Well, it does have a higher price-point than other cloth diapers. While that price-point is definitely reasonable considering the quality of the materials and the fact that it's produced ethically in Scotland, the price point makes it a "mini-stash for baby-sitters" diaper rather than a workhorse, "main stash" diaper for most families.

Option #2: The Thirsties Duo AIO.

Frankly, the Thirsties Duo AIO is adorable. It's also quite affordable! At just $15.75, it's a basic microfiber-based diaper with a stay-dry microfleece layer. Available in two adjustable size ranges, Size 1 and Size 2, the design is like a tunnel, so that wash water can pass completely through, from the top waistband of the diaper to the bottom one:

The only drawback? It does take two cycles on low heat to dry. It will dry a bit more quickly if, upon pulling it out of the washing machine, you turn it inside out before putting it in the dryer or on a clothesline, but turning diapers right-side in is almost as much a chore to me as stuffing pockets, so two cycles it is.

This diaper is ideal for a daycare stash. Even if you prefer to use more "complicated" cloth at home, the Duo AIO is a high-quality, low-cost option that a daycare provider simply couldn't object to. In fact, my $15.75 is on your daycare telling you they love it!

My favorite part? Both of these fabulous diapers come in your choice of snaps or hook-and-loop. We've discussed the snaps vs. hook-and-loop quandary before, and concluded that they each have their advantages. Personally, I like to have a little of each, but I will say that the durability and quality of the Tots Bots hook-and-loop material? It may as well be snaps. That stuff is sturdy.

If I could do it all over, would I forego my workhorse pockets and my beloved gDiapers and go with a stash of only AIOs?

That's a tough question to ask a diaper junkie like me. I think it's more accurate to say that, in my perfect world, I would have a day's worth of AIOs. They truly do free up some time, and I've never run into a problem getting these two options deep-down, all-the-way, squeaky, sparkling clean.