Funny thing about cloth diapers is the perception they're more difficult to use. "Boy Crystal you're taking on a lot with cloth, are you sure you have the time?". Honestly friends, I use cloth because I don't have time. I don't have time to shower, get dressed, pack up 4 children, drive into town, unpack 4 children, push a shopping cart around a store, purchase diapers and wipes, drive home, unpack children and diapers, etc... I USE CLOTH DIAPERS BECAUSE I'M LAZY AND LIKE TO USE MY SPARE TIME NAPPING AND READING! kid you not!!!
Disclaimer: We've tried a lot of different things, and what works with one baby or one family may not work for another...so for what it's worth I'm only going to tell you about what we DO like and are currently using.
From left to right / top to bottom:
1) We love Emotibums fleece pants. Certain pants aren't cut to fit well around a cloth diaper. Emotibums however and not only adorable, but they have extra layers to help with a bulky cloth diaper. They are also water resistant so you can use them with a fitted diaper which doesn't have any waterproof layer. These pants are custom made in different sizes, but they have a cuff that allows them to fit for much longer than the average pant. For example, my son still fits in the same pants he wore as a 6 month old and he will be 2 years in September. His waist hasn't changed, but his length has and his pants accommodate that growth. Here's a link to the Emotibums Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/EmotiBums
2) This is an example of a fitted diaper. There are many to chose from and this is just a picture of a cute tractor one we picked up. A favorite brand is GoodMama, but a little explanation about what a fitted is might help. A fitted diaper is many layers of material (it differs by brand of what exactly that material is), but a fitted diaper does not have a water proof layer. You need to use a cover with a fitted. There are rubber covers, wool covers, fleece covers, etc.... Wool is by far my favorite, but they are the most expensive. We have several wool covers in our collection and they come in long pants, short pants, or just a cover that goes over the diaper area. Wool needs to be handled differently and I would refer you to instructions here, if you want more details about caring for your wool: http://www.sloomb.com/tutorials/. Because of the cost and care of wool, I like to have a few fleece covers on hand. A fitted with a cover is a fabulous solution for over night. Super absorbent yet breathable and no worries about rashes or sore bottoms.
3) Here is an Emotibums fleece cover
4) Here is the inside of a Happy Flute diaper
5) This Happy Flute diaper is technically an all in one. For our 4 month old, we use just this adorable hot chocolate design diaper. The built in absorbent layer is just fine for her. With our son, we use this same style diaper but we add a bamboo insert (or a microfiber insert) to help soak up his big boy tinkles. These diapers are what's called "one size" which means they have snaps on the front allowing them to fit an itty bitty squish or a toddler. (this is fabulous when you have two children that are two different sizes, because I just grab 2 diapers when I leave the house and sometimes one child uses both diapers and that's no big deal)
6) outside of the tractor diaper explained in bullet 2
7) we love bamboo inserts, or microfiber...this is all about personal preference. I've heard people swear by one and hate the other. Try a few of each out and decide for yourself!
8) this is how you take pictures when you're holding a squirmy baby
9) This is the inside of a diaper we bought from Happy Bee Hinds - she has great customer service by the way!!!! This is technically an all in one meaning you wouldn't have to "stuff the diaper" as you can see there are these flaps that fold in and out. These diapers dry quickly and without adding an insert they are fine for our little girl and we just add an insert for our older boy. These are also one size so you can start using them on day one and they'll make it all the way to potty training
10/11) This is another style all in one and it's also one size, The brand on this one is THX and they have some cute patters to chose from. You cannot add anything to help with absorbency and these take a while to dry. They are however very trim...so you may find yourself reaching for these when you pack the diaper bag.
12) see bullet 9 for details
13) Bum Genius detergent (we buy from Green Bay Beez in DePere) is the only one we've found that does an awesome job getting your diapers clean with no stinks, stains, etc... I don't have to hang my diapers in the sun to get the stains out, because there simply aren't any. I don't have to "strip" my diapers because they don't stink. These are things I hear other moms chatting about and I am quite pleased it's not a problem at our house - I credit that to Bum Genius!
14) We make our own wipes instead of buying store bought...because I tried using disposables once and ended up washing them. If you're going to be washing diapers anyway, you may as well wash wipes. I use one cloth wipe where I'd usually use 5-6 disposables. They're thicker and I don't have to worry about poop on my fingers! Ours are easy to make, we just use some wipes purchased on Etsy or made by my mother in law and then dilute this LuSa wipe juice with water, soak the wipes til they're damp, then toss them in the wipe warmer or if we are traveling, we put them in a small travel wipe container. This stuff smells AMAZING!!!
15/16) This is my washer...some people freak out about the washing routine for diapers. Here's what I do:
--There's a bag hanging on the side of the changing table, when you change a diaper, toss the diaper in the bag
--Every 1-2 days it's my turn to wash diapers. I start the washer on a soak cycle with just cold water. I start tossing the diapers in. If there are inserts, I pull them out. If there's baby poop I don't bother doing anything with it since breastmilk poop is completely water soluble, and if there's toddler poop, I dump it off into the toilet and then throw his diapers in too.
--after the soak cycle, I run a prewash on cold with no detergent
--after the prewash cycle, I switch things over to hot and add 2-3 scoops of detergent
--after the regular cycle, I turn back to cold and do an extra rinse
--after the extra rinse I hang the diapers on the line if I'm "feeling it" or I toss them in the dryer
--after they're dry, I organize them and add inserts to what needs inserts, make more wipes, etc...
17) This is our wipe warmer - see 13 for more details
18/19) This is a SunBaby pocket diaper. This diaper needs inserts in order to do anything. We've never had leaks because the legs fit snuggle. These diapers are inexpensive and they have cute patterns. SunBaby is also a one size so you can use them start to finish.
20) Bum Genius pocket diaper (see 18/19 but they're more expensive and have a different closure, but basically they do the same job with less cute patterns)
21) Emotibums - see bullet 1 for details, but aren't these adorable???
22) Outisde of the Sun Baby (see bullet 20)
23) Sustainablebabyish Longies (best explained in bullet 2 - but this is a diaper cover but can also be worn as pants once child is potty trained)
24) Sustainablebabyish Cover (best explained in bullet 2)
Hope this has been helpful? My advice is not to go out and spend a ton of money until you know what will work. There's not much of a time commitment and as you read, the laundry isn't complicated or time consuming. Every baby and every family is different and you may find having 12-14 SunBaby diapers with microfiber inserts is all you ever need. OR...you may like to use one system at night and one system during the day. Find someone who cloth diapers and ask them what works, go to their house and see how they do things, feel the diapers for yourself and try them on your squish.
Whatever you chose - HAPPY PARENTING!
May you days be filled with lemons, sugar, and plenty of baby giggles to make you smile!