Cloth diaper systems at a glance: the AIO
AIO is short for All-In-One, which means that all the functional parts of a cloth diaper are combined into one. This makes it a complete diaper and the closest thing to a disposable diaper. The AIO is used as it is purchased, nothing additional is added. As already described, all functional parts are directly included, a wetness-protecting outer layer and an absorbent core are sewn together in the process.
Clothdiapers in the all-in-one system are now available from very many manufacturers. Among the best known are TotsBots, Bambino mio, bum Genius and Blueberry. Of course, there are many more.
Price-wise, the diapers range from 19€ to 30€. Some newborn diapers are a bit cheaper and start at around 17€. Depending on the manufacturer and model, the AIO's are available from a wide variety of cloth diaper stores and some are also available on Amazon.
Differences between the diapers
Finally, the diapers of the different manufacturers differ in the material, the closure, the fit, the cuffs and the way the absorbent pads are attached.
I will describe possible materials below. The closure is either with Velcro or with snaps, also called snaps. Both have their advantages and disadvantages here. The fit differs in that some diapers are better suited for narrow babies and toddlers, while for others it's the other way around. Each diaper ultimately has its own pattern, which makes it unique with the other factors mentioned. The cuffs can also differ depending on the model.
For example, while all all-in-one diapers have a cuff on the back, there are single and double cuffs on the legs. Double cuffs are designed to prevent "leakage" even more, but depending on the fit, they can also cut in. The soaker pads are sometimes sewn completely, on all edges, sometimes only on one side, and sometimes the remaining unsewn part of the soaker pad can be put into a pocket. The soakers that are not fully sewn dry faster after washing because more air can get to them. In addition to the inserts that are sewn anyway, any additional absorbent pads can be used to increase the absorbency. Here it should be remembered that this sometimes makes the diapers very "thick" and the cuffs no longer close properly.
The wetness-protecting outer layer of almost all AIO's is made of polyester on the outside and PUL (polyurethane laminate) on the inside. With some diapers the designation AIO is irritating, since it is sometimes also in the actual sense a Snap-In-One diaper. In short, here the inserts are attached to the outer diaper with the help of snaps. Another blog article will look at this system in more detail. In this case, the outer cover may also be made of wool, which must eventually be greased so that it can take over the wetness-protective function. The absorbent material inside varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Often (organic) cotton is used, as well as microfiber or even bamboo viscose. Mixed materials with, for example, proportions of bamboo viscose and cotton are also possible. Relatively rarely, hemp is also used as an absorbent pad.
Addendum from November 10, 2017
I recently wrote a detailed article on materials in cloth diapers.
Many AIO diapers are one-size diapers, which means that this one diaper should ideally last from birth to toddlerhood, or until dry. The waist height is adjustable with snaps. Since for the borderline cases these diapers do not fit then mostly, some manufacturers, as for example Smart Bottoms, smaller diapers developed additionally particularly for newborns. Other manufacturers, such as Imse Vimse, do not have the one-size system, but a multi-size system, which is then not adjustable in the waist height.
Advantages and disadvantages
There are other advantages and disadvantages than the ones I will mention below. These are each sometimes more and sometimes less relevant. Perhaps you would like to add in the comments, what is particularly important to you?
The advantages of the system lie clearly in simplicity when creating, which makes it especially well suited for KiTa's and skeptical family members (mostly fathers or grandmas / grandpas). It can be washed as it is and does not need to be "reassembled". The disadvantage of this system is the high purchase cost, since the diaper must always be washed completely and accordingly many cloth diapers are needed. The AIO system has also proven to be impractical on vacation, as the diapers take up much more space in the suitcase than systems where, for example, only the liner needs to be washed, but the rest of the diaper is reused. At night, this diaper is often not suitable, as the absorbency is then usually insufficient.