I used them with my son, @, when he was a baby- that was 6 years ago. Cloth diapers have changed A LOT since then. Mostly in that they have become much more mainstream. When I started with @ it was out of necessity, we were living in a country with access to disposables but they were SUPER expensive ($50 for about 50 diapers). We still used disposables at night then but we didn't have some of the cool diapers available now. My girlfriends gave me their stashes of plain old gerber prefolds, the kind you find at the Wal-Mart or Target in packs of 12. My friends had had good intentions of using cloth with their first kids but the covers for those diapers weren't great- those funny plastic pants. After being given lots of diapers and receiving tons from shower gifts, I ended up with something like 60 prefolds- more than enough to hold about 4-5 days between washings. That was great because we didn't have regular access to water either. Prefolds and plastic pants were ok but not something I wanted to continue to do. When we came back to the states, @ was being potty trained and I gave up my cloth diapers. By then there were some neat new products but I didn't want to reinvest.
With ! I wanted to use cloth again and I knew they had come along way. My girlfriend in KY researched the cloth when she had her daughter a year or so ago. She shared her results and I began searching the web. I found several good retailers but didn't entirely understand what they all did. There are a lot of new products with even more fabrics. Very confusing if you don't understand the absorbency of fleece, bamboo, terry, cotton etc. Well when I came back to the states before having !, I asked Karen what she thought and where she shopped. She gave me a pretty good list and that combined with what I had researched renewed my confidence. Karen very kindly sent me a stash of things that she had used but for one reason or another weren't working for her daughter. I think some of these are seconds but they still gave me the trial stash I needed to try some new things. So let me hit some highlights:
Diaper Cover and Prefolds
I still have about 20 of my gerber prefolds. I think these cloth diaper shops online would laugh at them but they worked for me. I needed covers. Karen introduced me to Bummis Whisper Wraps. I lay my prefold into the cover. Wrap cover around ! and Velcro closed. I use 2 or 3 of these throughout the course of a day. When she's wet, I take out the prefold, toss it in the diaper crate, and hang the slightly damp cover to dry. I just rotate them if they are a little damp inside because they don't get wet on the outside. My gerber prefolds with a cover I think will work until she potty trains. I've just bought covers in bigger sizes.
I use a diaper liner when I know ! is proned to a big poo. The diaper liner is like a soft version of paper towel or a durable soft Kleenex. They lay inside the prefold and can be thrown away with the big poo. Meaning less mess in the diaper to clean out. Without a liner inside its good to rinse the prefold of the poo. What I normally do if there is a mess in the prefold is to rinse the poo into the toilet. If we were living in this house longer I would attach a kitchen sprayer to the toilet water line. That is easier to do than it sounds (you can do it without help from your husband) and it isn't expensive.
All in Ones
Now these are the sweethearts of cloth diapers. Really this is a reusable disposable diaper. The outside is kind of polyester that stays dry. The inside is a bunch of layers of cotton, terry or fleece. They have snaps or Velcro. Some of them you can adjust the sizing for. Some you can stuff with extra padding if you've got a heavy soaker kid. These are super cool! Dads, nursery staff, etc can use these without a thought. Karen gave me some of these as seconds- still they are awesome. I've laid my prefold in them to keep them from leaking (these seconds I think are a little leaky sometimes). But I started looking around at prices because I love them so much I thought I might splurge. All in ones will generally set you back about $15/ diaper- yeah, pricey. But cottonbabies.com has a sale on the BumGenius 3.0 – $9.95/ diaper. That's a great price in my mind and the sizing on this brand seems to be pretty reliable- they advertise that these should work for kids up to about the time they potty train. ! is just 4 months old but I can see that that would be true and possible. I'm excited about seeing how well and long these last. I've been using them for 7weeks and I really like them.
I used disposables with both kids, pretty well exclusively until they were about 2 ½ months old. My prefolds were too big for a newborn and frankly I was too tired and out of routine with a new baby to think about another load of laundry that needs special care. I think that is a good thing though, for me anyway. It gave me some time to settle into routine and feel confident before I took on another thing. Cloth diapering was easy after I settled down into my new routine of life. It also is easier to wait because babies jump through those early sizes of diapers pretty quick. Babies grow out of those newborn and size 1's pretty quick. Once they get into size 2 and 3 they slow down and the cloth sizes remain the same for awhile. There's less guess work with cloth once they are a little bigger.
It should also be said that I know nothing about fabric or absorbency. I don't really sew (another story for another day) and I'm not real fabric savy.
Some sites to check out
Cottonbabies.com- they seem very down to earth
I wash every other evening. Our washer doesn't have a setting for hot wash- it just washes. So I add 2-4 kettles of boiling water to make the water warmish. You're washer probably has a setting for hot and cold. I use Tide Free and a half scoop of oxiclean (we're on well water and its really hard and rusty) to keep the colors from going too orange. I give them an extra rinse too. I then put them on a clothes rack and let them dry overnight. The prefolds and covers dry quickly, the all in ones take longer to dry. You can dry them but I'm trying to be thrifty with the dryer. Now, if you read through the sites about washing cloth diapers, you will have a stress induced anxiety attack. Its like they are trying to confuse people. I don't know. Maybe I'm doing something wrong but so far so good.. Now if your baby has allergic reactions to detergent you may want to use more specific careful instructions. With @, I just used whatever detergent I could find and I was thankful for it- we were in a harder living environment then. They also recommend not using diaper creams etc because it can decrease the absorbency of cloth. After switching to cloth, @ never had a diaper rash. ! hasn't either. Both are/were breastfed so maybe that helps. But breastfed baby poo doesn't stink until you add solids so cloth diapering is kind of nice for breastfed babies.
Now I've kind of gone full tilt. Disposable wipes were bothering. So I went searching around and found that you can buy cloth wipes. And when I started looking at them it made me self conscious. I don't know anything about fabric but what they were advertising were 12 -10 inch squares of flannel for $12. Really? And I said to myself "I've got pajama pants I could cut into 10 inch squares." And then I asked around and I've been given about 9 yards of flannel. I spent a bit of a couple of evenings cutting 10 inch squares. I asked by mom to break out her sewing machine and turn over the edges. I have 48 flannel wipes that cost me a spool of thread. I'm sure you could do the same thing. I have a recipe for a wipe solution that I keep in a container on the diaper table.
2 Cups Warmish Water
1 T Baby Oil (or maybe you're into olive oil)
1 T Baby Shampoo or Baby Wash
A drop or 4 of lavender oil or tea tree oil - this is completely optional. I've been using the lavender for its nice smell. I've read that tea tree oil has an antiseptic quality to it. I might try it in the future.
That is the evolution of cloth diapering. I love cloth diapering. You will too if you give it a little chance and you won't feel like you're throwing away money with every diaper change. I hated taking out the diaper trash because I felt like I was throwing away a bag of $20 bills. Washing $20 bills is better.