i came into cloth diapers kind of by accident and also rather late. my baby was well over a year old - i believe he was around 19 months or so - i can't remember when i started, but i poo-pooed the idea of cloth because i had these visions of pre-folds with safety pins and covers and dunking poop all day. when i started sewing i was looking at different baby sewing sites for ideas and inspirations and came across a diapers sewing diva ring. there was all this talk of "pocket diapers" and things that i had never heard about...so with a little research i found out all the options out there for cloth diapers and my cheap self started adding up all the money i could save and i never looked back!
Basically - if you are interested in cloth diapering your options are:
1. prefolds (or DSQ - diaper-service-quality)
2. pocket diapers - either one-size or size-able
3. all-in-one diapers
4. G diapers
Prefolds are what you think about...or at least i thought about...when you picture cloth diapering - the standard rectangle of cloth - either already folded or contoured to baby's shape. Some of these come with options to close that do not require pins - there are alternatives to pins you can buy, such as the Snappi and these require a waterproof cover over them. I really like the Wonder Wraps covers because they are one size fits 8-30 lbs adjustable and snug around the legs to prevent leaks.
Prefolds are probably the most economical choice, however they can be warm for a lot of babies especially in the summer and more time consuming than the pocket diapers.
2. Pocket Diapers
These are the new options in cloth diapering. I love mine and can't say enough about Bum Genius and Fuzzi Bunz. The difference between those two is that Bum Genius has a one-size option, whereas you need to purchase different sizes of the Fuzzi Bunz as your child grows - S, M and L - check out their website for sizing.
***UPDATE: FUZZI BUNZ NOW OFFERS A ONE-SIZE OPTION AS WELL!
These work with a pocket inside that holds a cloth insert. the lining of the diaper - either micro-fleece or micro-suede super soft lining - catches the solids and the liner absorbs the liquids. when you change the diaper you "knock off" the solids into the toilet, remove the insert and throw them into the pail.
I like to use a disposable/flushable liner -especially when i know he will have a poopy diaper - I like Imse Vimse's flushable liners sold in packs of 100 - they have the texture of a dryer sheet and you just put it over the diaper and strap baby in and the liner will catch all the solids instead of the diaper, which makes cleaning even easier...cause lets be honest - the poop doesn't always "knock off" and dunking in the toilet is quite gross...especially when they are eating human food exclusively and the smell isnt as lovely as a breastfed baby's...
Now for the review part...
My favorite is Bum Genius because of the economics of it. A regular bum genius one size diaper costs around $16 ($25 for the organic) and you typically need around 18 diapers - so figure $300.00 or so - but that will last your baby from 7 lbs to 35 lbs (although my son is not even 30 lbs and they are a bit snug on him)
The other one size pocket diaper i have tried is the Tiny Tush. I tried both the organic cotton one and the elite one size. The organic cotton one leaked every time i used it - you would need a waterproof cover and that would be way too bulky and hot and annoying! I also tried the elite, but the insert they come with was AWFUL - i used my fuzzi bunz insert on it because theirs was pretty much useless - also it leaked every other time i used it. Also - i was pretty peeved at them because i ordered what i thought was red and turned out to be hot pink...so i could never put them on my son if we were going out because my husband draws the line at pink diapers i guess.
There is another option I found - the Mommy's Touch, but every time i tried to buy it the stores were out of stock...Sorry - nothing to review there - but another option for you to look into if you are interested in one sizes.
Fuzzi Bunz are my second favorite - i purchased both the Medium size and the Large size - Medium they are in for the most part, but I started out with these until I found the Bum Genius. I think if I were to do it over I would have just stuck with the Bum Genius because of the money factor - Fuzzi Bunz are around the same price per diaper - $16 - so $300 every time your baby grows out of them. You can re-sell them and save them for the next if there is a next - either way you will save money if you are changing from disposable, but considerably less than if you go with a one-size. One thing i do want to say about the Fuzzi Bunz is that their fit is great - because they are sized they fit a little better than the Bum Genius...in my opinion.
I also tried the Kissaluvs diaper, which is also available in different sizes. I liked their fit - they come with velcro as opposed to snaps like the fuzzi bunz - so a little easier i guess, but they don't always come with a liner, so they can be more expensive.
AIO don't have a pocket, but don't require a seperate liner either. they have the liner built in. The only AIO i tried was the Imse Vimse AIO. I used it a lot, but the fit was awkward and bulky in the crotch and they took forever to dry - at least 2 days inside. that is all i have to say about AIO - they are around $20 for the Imse Vimse diaper...not worth it in my opinion.
4. G Diapers
I haven't tried these, but saw them at Whole Foods and i know a mom that uses them and loves them - she likes that they are less bulky than the cloth diapers and less time consuming. you can flush the liner or compost the wet ones - they take 50-150 days to break down in a compost - they are plastic free. In a landfill they will break down in 90 days as opposed to 500 years for a disposable diaper (yikes!) They also come in sizes so you will need to buy S, M & L sizes for your baby (although Medium covers up to 28 lbs so if you have a smaller baby perhaps you will never get to large!). The starter kit is $27 for 2 pants and 10 flushable liners. The refills are around $15 for 40 or so liners. So this option may be a little pricier, but perhaps the convenience of it all is worth it. Like I said, I haven't tried these, but it is an option.
***PLEASE NOTE*** - Paige Bartel informed me:
One thing to note about the g-Diapers is that they are 3-part: (1) outer-waterproof piece, (2) inner snap-in liner, and (3) the disposable insert. The outer most part is the most expensive, about $18. But you can also purchase a 2-pack of extra snap-in liners for $4.99. That really cuts down on the number of waterproof parts you need, since the snap in liner catches the poop most of the time. They recommend 4-6 outer liners, and 8-12 inner liners. So even though they are sized, it doesn't take quite as much $$ at start up since the inner liners are so much cheaper.
What do I need to get started...besides the diapers of course?
1. Diaper Pail - I use a trash can with a lid that I got at Target or Lowe's or something - I don't think it is necessary to purchase an expensive diaper pail.
2. Waterproof Liner - Most of the online cloth diaper stores sell these in sizes S - XL - i think mine is a L, but i probably should have gotten an XL to fit my particular trash can - check your sizes before ordering...unlike me :)
3. Drying method / Rack or Clothesline- I use a foldable drying rack from Target (available in the laundry section) because i dry mine inside - because of convenience really - it is best to dry them outside (perhaps a clothesline with clothespins or drying rack) because the sun actually helps bleach the cotton and keeps them stain-free...or almost stain free as i am told.
Thats all you NEED...i also like to use the disposable liners...again...they are little miracle workers...I also have Tea Tree oil that i sometimes put in the really stinky loads to help with the smell and for detergent i use 7th Generation soap and Borax. I also have a waterproof bag size S that i put in my diaper bag if i take him out in the cloth just in case...if i am going overnight or for long periods of time i will generally use disposable diapers.
How do I wash them?
A: There are different methods that come with the different diapers, but this is my method that i found works the best for me and my child and my budget and my time -
Please note - this is for the pocket diapers since that is what i mainly use - before you wash them the inserts must be separated from the diapers.
I wash a cycle on the gentle cycle with HOT water and i use just a tiny bit of 7th generation soap. like a couple tablespoons - depends on the size of the load. i generally wash around 6 or 7 at a time and use a medium setting - they soak up a lot of water, plus you want a lot of water to get them extra agitated. After that cycle i check them out and smell them. if they are looking and smelling good i give them an extra rinse and dry the inserts in the dryer and hang dry the waterproof diaper part. If they are still funky i wash them again with BORAX - about 1/2 cup and then do a rinse after that. This is generally for the really poopy load.
How many do I need?
A: I think 18 is a good number because it gives you a day or 2 off between loads. the more diapers you have the less laundry you are doing. figure out how many diapers you are changing per day and you will find out how frequently you will be needing to do laundry. Also - a lot of people have asked if they could try just one and i don't recommend that. you have to wash the diapers separately and it just doesnt make sense to do a whole load for just one diaper. if you want to cloth diaper - you should commit. I tell people to start with 6 and see how easy it is and use both cloth and disposable - which can fit in the budget easier too, since $300 is a big investment for a one time shopping spree. Buying them in bulk is usually cheaper as well online in their starter kits.
Where do I get them?
I have personally shopped at the following stores online:
I have never had a problem with any of them and if they were out of a color or anything they have been good at contacting me.
If you are in the Orange County area - Belly Sprout carries some brands. Also some of the cloth diaper websites have store locaters.
Also - Craigslist or Ebay is also a source if you don't mind secondhand diapers this can be the best option economically - they hold up extremely well!
Well - I hope this has been helpful. Please comment if you have any questions, any disagreements or additional information and I will post it - it is always helpful to have other people's experiences and references i think!