If you had asked me five years ago if I would ever cloth diaper my children, I would have probably have told you you were crazy. There was NO WAY I would ever cloth diaper my kid! (For the record, there was a time I said the same thing about nursing. Oh, man, you know everything until you have kids!)
Of course, then I had my first two children twelve months apart and it wasn't long before we were spending more on diapers than we were on gas. It was not fun. Eventually I started to contemplate cloth and do some research. I couldn't do just jump in...there is an explicit list of things that I have to remember about myself whenever I want to start something do. This is it, or as much as I can remember right now:
I tend to shop when I'm down, planning a trip, or just plain bored. Is this a compulsive purchase?
I get really excited about new things, have to have them, get them, then lose interest if it's not everything I imagined it to be (and it hardly ever is)
When it comes right down to it, I'm kind of lazy. Simple is good.
So I researched for a few months so make sure I wasn't jumping into things. I looked into every kind of cloth diaper to make sure I would buy the right type for us. Then once I had a good idea of what I wanted, I tried to find the easiest, most user friendly option.
As far as the actual diapers went, I found I was looking for a type that I could:
Fit under my kids clothes without buying them a size up in clothes. Plus I just didn't like the super bulky cloth look.
Snap or velcro. My kids are wiggly...I didn't want to have to snappi or pin anything.
Either an all in one or a pocket diaper...I didn't want to deal with covers AND diapers.
Able to go in the washer AND the dryer.
Finally, when Jace was about 6 months old, I took the leap and visited a local retailer and bought my first stash. It was made up of the old version of the BumGenius one size diapers and Swaddlebee's Larges. I wanted one size diapers so that both kids could wear them, but at the time they were a little bulkier than I liked and the Swaddlebees were really trim, so I got a mixture of both. After using them extensively, I learned that I liked the liked the gussets on the legs of the BG diapers as they almost never leaked, and I loved the snaps on the Swaddlebees because my kids couldn't take them off. With velcro, by about 18 months they can just rip those diapers right off. It's annoying. With both brands, after washing I had to "stuff" the absorbent liners into the diaper, which didn't take long, but was kind of a headache. Overall, though, they met all of my requirements and saved us quite a bit of money. I think we had maybe 18 diapers between both the kids, and we did laundry every other day or so. I prefer laundering every other day even if I'm not out of diapers, as otherwise the dirty diapers are sitting an awfully long time and in my head I think it could affect the fabric, although I might be totally wrong, just seems to make sense.
We used those diapers until both kids potty trained...Ava was fully trained at 24 months and Jace was about 2 1/2. For various reasons when Seth was born, I fell out of the habit of using cloth because he was too small to wear the diapers I had, and by the time he was big enough, I had fallen back into disposables.
Then I found the BumGenius Organic All In One. It was the diaper of my dreams. Organic cotton on the inside was super absorbent. Snaps made it easy for me to use and hard for the kids to take off. It was adjustable from 8-35 pounds. It came in cute colors.It was an All In One, which means that there is no stuffing...the diaper comes out of the dryer completely ready to use. And last but certainly not least, it was practically as trim as a disposable diaper.
That's the brand I've used exclusively with Seth, and I'm still in love. Now that he's bigger I do add a doubler (extra absorbency) at night, but we never have leaks and maintenance on them is super easy. The only issue we've had is that a couple of the snaps have stopped "snapping" well, but that's a pretty easy fix and since it hasn't really affected the use I've been too lazy to send them to get fixed.
No matter which brand you try though...and if I had unlimited funds I would probably try more and probably fall in love with more, but since these work for us I haven't branched out...I find that cloth is not really any more work than disposables, believe it or not.
I used to use a diaper pail, but now I just use a wet bag on Seth's door knob. When I change him, wet diapers go straight into the bag and dirty diapers get shaken into the toilet then thrown in the bag. If your baby is nursing and hasn't started solids, it isn't necessary to dump anything in the toilet when a dirty diaper comes along.
When it's time to do a load of diapers, I pull the wet bag off the door knob, walk it to the washing machine and dump the diapers out and then drop the wet bag in as well. Then I do a cold rinse of the diapers before adding detergent and doing a wash on Hot with an extra rinse after the cycle. Then I throw them in the dryer, set them on heavy dry, and when they're done, they're ready to use. Basically all I have to do is laundry and aside from the extra rinses, it's identical to any other load of wash. When we're out of the house I bring an extra wet bag with a diaper or two in it and as I change him, I throw the dirty diapers in the wet bag until we get home and put the clean ones on Seth. That's pretty much it. I do find our water bill is marginally higher than before we used cloth, but not prohibitively so.
I know lots of people who swear by using prefolds and covers, and that's certainly a great, economical way to go. Other people love using wool and don't like using synthetic fibers on their babies, which I can understand. There are as many ways to cloth diaper as there are to parent, I think, and no one is right or wrong.
I just like the easy way, and believe me...If I am still using cloth, it is easy. Because like I put on that list above, when it comes down to it, I like things to be as simple as possible and if they aren't, I'm not likely to stick to them.
If you're on the fence about cloth, feel free to post questions or comments, and if you use cloth, please chime in! If you think it's crazy to use cloth, you can say that too. You won't hurt my feelings, and I used to think the exact same thing!