There are lots of reasons people use cloth diapers, money saving, good for the environment, good for your baby, less leaks, or just because they are cute!
We started off using the to save money. With the boys being 13 months apart, I knew we would have 2 in diapers for a while, and I couldn't imagine spending all of that money on diapers. Later I liked them every more when I discovered that I had far less leaks with cloth, and there are just so many choices of cute diapers.
Choosing what kind of diaper can be overwhelming, there are just so many different kinds and brands. While I haven't tried every brand of diaper, I have tried just about every type. There are things that I like and dislike about all of them, it's all about finding what works best for you and your situation.
All in one or AIO
This type of diaper is the closest thing you are going to get to a disposable diaper as far as ease. It's just what it says, an all in one diaper that doesn't need pins or a cover or inserts. You just put it on and you are ready to go.
Some people refer to these as daddy or day care diapers, because you don't really need any sort of explanation to use them.
Likes: They are easy, they fit well under regular clothes with very little added bulk
Dislikes: sometimes they can take longer to dry because of everything being connected, they can be expensive, but really in the end you are still saving money over using disposables.
Some popular brands that we have tried are Bum Genius Elementals
And my very favorite diaper right now, Grovia AIO
Pocket diapers are similar to AIO's in that they are very easy to put on, the difference is that they have a pocket where you stuff them with inserts to make them absorbent.
Likes: Easy to use, no cover needed, trim
Dislikes: You need to take the time to stuff them and unstuff them every time you use and wash
The 2 most popular pocket diapers are Fuzzibunz and Bum Genius 4.0
Fuzzibunz only came in sized diapers when we were looking into cloth diapers for Nathan, so I can't comment on their one sized diaper. But at the time I found it very hard to get a good fit around his skinny legs and ended up with leaks. Though I know MANY people who swear by these diapers, just another case of finding the diaper that is right for you.
We love and ended up purchasing an entire stash of Bum Genius 3.0 diapers (4.0 were not yet released back then). They come in velcro or snap, we've only tried the velcro since they didn't have snaps when we purchased. And they are one sized diapers so they fit from about 10-35 pounds. I was able to use them on Noah when he was only 8lbs.
What I liked best about these, with having 2 in diapers, was that I only needed 1 kind of diapers for both of the boys to wear. Even Elise still wears some of these. Plus with the pocket, you can adjust the absorbency. They come with a newborn insert that is far less bulky for a little baby, and then the regular insert to use as they need more.
Fitted diapers are made of varying types of fabric, and require some sort of diaper cover over them, since they are not waterproof alone.
Likes: They can be made of all natural materials, lots of cute prints, very absorbent, you can use wool! (alright so this probably isn't a selling point for someone just starting to use cloth, I thought it was weird at first too)
Dislikes: You need a separate cover
There are lots and lots of different kinds of fitted diapers, the only mass produced kind that I have tried are Kissaluv 0's when Elise was a nb, and though they have gotten lots of great reviews, I personally was not a fan of how bulky they were.
We use lots of handmade fitted diapers, our favorites are Sticky Peas and Muttaqin Baby, though like I said there are literally hundreds of different types of fitted diapers.
And then finally good old Fashioned prefolds
These are the kind of cloth diapers I always swore I would never use. They seemed difficult and messy and nothing I wanted to deal with. But now that I have them, I actually sort of love how simple they are.
Likes: They are cheap, really really cheap, they wash well, if they get stains you can just bleach them, they double as burp rags, or cleaning rags once you are done using them for diapers, they are so durable, they are very adjustable for a perfect fit, they are super trim
Dislikes: The require a cover and something to keep them closed, there is a bit of a learning curve figuring out how to fold them and get a good fit, they often require a double to make them absorbent enough.
My very favorites are Green Mountain Diapers prefolds. They come in different sizes, so that you don't have to fold down a bulky diaper on a little baby.
Then within each of these different types, there are different options that you might love or hate.
Closures: Diapers can have snaps, velcro, or no closure which require the use of pins or a snappi
Size: Diapers can by sized, meaning you need to keep purchasing the next size up as your baby grows
Or they can be one sized, meant to fit from about 10 pounds until potty training.
Materials: For some people having all natural materials is important to them, for others (like with my Noah) babies are sensitive to feeling wet, so a diaper with a stay dry inner is a must so the baby isn't waking up to be changed 10 times a night from that wet feeling. Elise and Nathan never seemed to mind though.
There are so many kinds of diapers, and if you ask 10 people who cloth diaper, you will probably get 10 different answers. But these are at least some basics about the different types and what to think about when looking for what will work best for you.
Some places where I have bought diapers and I recommend are
http://jilliansdrawers.com/ They even have a trial program that we used to try a bunch of different kinds (for only $10!) when trying to decide what was going to work best for us.
There are tons of other places though, googling cloth diaper retailers should come up with lots of options.
Many of these sites also offer "seconds" sales for a huge discount. Usually the only problem with the diapers is the stitching is slightly uneven, or they have a small mark on them. Personally, I have never been able to find flaws on the seconds I have bought. Seconds diapers are usually not covered by any sort of warranty though.
There are a million different ways to wash cloth diapers, sometimes it takes a while to figure out what sort out what works best with your washer and kind of water. I've been very very lucky in that my diaper washing routine is easy.
We have a top loader, which is GREAT for washing diapers. It does a lot more agitating than a top loader, so we haven't had to worry about diaper build up, or them getting clean enough.
There are special diaper detergents you can buy, for for us, plain old powder Tide works perfect and we can use it on our clothes too, so no separate detergents.
All diapers get thrown in a diaper pail until it's time to wash, once babies start solids, the poopy diapers are sprayed with our diaper sprayer before going in the pail, but if they are exclusively breastfed, then there is no need for spraying!
I was every other day, though I used to wash every day when I had 2 in diapers, just so things didn't get out of control.
I used half the amount of Tide recommended, a hot wash, and 2 cold rinses and then dried in the dryer. And that's it!
If I get stains, or I should say when I care about the fact that I have stains, I lay diapers out in the sun to dry (even in the winter) and the sun bleaches them out.
Once or twice I have had to strip my diapers when they started to get some build up, or were smelling a little weird, I just squirted a *little* bit of dawn into the washer with them and then rinsed until there were no more bubbles. But in almost 4 years this has only happened a couple of times.
I have some different opinions on newborn cloth diapers, if you are interested, check out this post I wrote last year when Elise was still tiny. Some people decided to start cloth diapering after the nb stage so as not to have to buy 2 sets of diapers, but that is my absolute favorite time to use cloth!
You can often sell gently used cloth diapers places like Diaperswappers or Spot's corner on Hyena Cart
And I think that's it! I'd be happy to answer any questions someone might have, or take pictures of any of the diapering stuff we have. It might seem overwhelming at first, but it really is as simple as an extra couple of loads a laundry (and several less bags of garbage!) per week.