Before we talk about the basics of cloth diapering, you need to consider if it is practical for you. Mainly, are you planning to send your kid(s) to daycare? If so, most daycares will not use cloth diapers. There are some that will, but it’s just something that you would want to look into prior to spending money on cloth diapers. This is true for glass bottles too, just fyi.
Now, if you’re considering cloth diapering, but don’t know much (or anything) about it, then I’m going to try to sum it up for you. First, I found it WAY more confusing to read about then it is to actually do, so don’t get scared off!
There are basically 3 kinds of cloth diapers:
– All In One (AIO) – these are just as they sound, it’s basically like putting a disposable on except that it’s cloth. For sure the easiest, but also the most expensive! Of these I have tried a bunch and found Imse Vimse the only ones that don’t leak, so I love them, but again, they are expensive.
– Pocket – these are basically AIO diapers, except they have a removable absorbent pad that you wash separately and then stuff back in the diaper before putting it on. Also very easy, I just never found any that worked as well as the Imse Vimse AIO and they are also expensive, with the exception of gDiapers. These I have found work well and you can choose cloth or disposable inserts, which appeal to many people – it’s basically a cover (called gPants) with a snap in plastic liner that you then put in either the cloth or disposable insert.
– Fitted/prefolds (with diaper cover) – these are what you probably think of when you think of cloth diapers…they are the old fashioned ones, but with some great improvements. They are not hard, but definitely are an extra step when putting them on your baby. First, prefolds are the flat old fashioned looking diapers (some people use them as burp cloths), fitted diapers look like regular diapers, but don’t have a waterproof layer like built into the AIO or pocket diapers. So with either of these you need to put a plastic diaper cover over the fitted/prefold (but diaper covers are much improved. If you go with prefolds you will no longer need pins as they used back in the day, they now have something called a Snappi, which makes it much easier. Note: prefolds have to be washed 3-5 times before their first use.
What I suggest is using the old fashioned cloth prefolds with covers for newborns because they go through so many diapers a day and they also grow so quick, which would make it very expensive to use AIO at this stage. Once they get a little bigger – say around 4-6 months switch to the AIOs (or use a combo of both to save money). Once they get even bigger and aren’t using as many diapers a day then you can invest in more AIO and stop using the prefolds. And just do the best that you can for what works in your life. And I’m not 100% cloth…for bed we use disposables (love Earth’s Best disposables) because it just seems a little easier and when traveling we also use disposables, again just a little easier. So just do your best and you’re doing great!
I don’t use a laundry service and it’s no hard at all to wash them (also saves a ton of money). I simply rinse the poopy diapers then throw them all in the wash. To wash them I use my regular laundry detergent (Charlie’s Soap) and add some vinegar (a natural disinfectant). If you’re interested in diaper services they exist and I recommend looking into them before purchasing anything…they usually supply you with prefolds, but you have to buy your own covers and snappis (so you still would have to wash the covers) – at least this is true of the services that I’ve seen. So just check them out before buying anything.
Final suggestion, if you decide to go for it then start right away (or at least by week 2 week) and commit. I’ve had a bunch of friends that buy a ton of stuff and then never end up using them. For this reason you should check eBay for cloth diapers, great deals on new and used ones.
All in one diapers: Imse Vimse All in One Diapers
Pocket-like: gDiapers (these have cloth or disposable inserts you can use) – check eBay for these, they have great deals on new and used ones because so many people plan to cloth diaper and then don’t end up doing it
Prefolds: Bummis Organic
Covers (for preforlds): Thirsties
Liners: Imse Vimse or GroVia