When Joey was about 14 months old I decided to give cloth diapers a little more thought. I talked to the ONE person that I knew who cloth-diapered and did a little research on the Internet. I bought a couple of diapers to use just while we were piddling around the house (no pun intended). As soon as that box with my rainbow of diapers arrived, I was hooked. I ordered more, and we became full-time cloth-diaperers. We even cloth-diapered on vacation. I was proud that we were saving money and that we weren't filling our landfills with disposable diapers. Sure, you have some extra laundry and therefore you use extra water and electricity, but it's a trade-off.
Now we have several friends who are having babies and are planning to use cloth diapers. The options can be very overwhelming. But the truth is, it's not rocket science. Most of the cloth diapers on the market today were designed by parents, not large manufacturing companies with millions to spend on R & D. New age cloth diapers basically consist of a waterproof cover and absorbent layers inside. You can also find cute diaper covers that you use with the old-fashioned diapers. You need more absorbency? Add more layers! Cloth diapers do make a baby's bum really big (you'll probably need to buy pants one size larger), but that's because the cloth makes diapers absorbent, not chemicals like disposable diapers contain.
We used bumGenius 3.0 one-size because they had the best consumer reviews and they would last until potty training. The one-size diapers have snaps to adjust the rise to fit babies 7 - 35 lbs. and have a pocket to put the absorbent insert. These are also called "pocket diapers." Some people prefer "all-in-one" diapers because there are no inserts to deal with and they are most like disposable diapers. However, an advantage to pocket diapers is that you can double up on the inserts if you have a heavy wetter or if you like extra absorbency overnight. The bumGenius 4.0s have just come out, and they're mostly the same as the 3.0s but they have snap closures (as opposed to Velcro) as an option. I have actually sent my diapers to a service that replaces the Velcro with snaps because ours was looking worn and I wanted to freshen them up for Baby Losavio.
After I had finished my diaper-shopping spree, we had 16 diapers. These need to be washed about every 1 1/2 to 2 days, whenever 12 - 14 are dirty. Call me anal, but I like to organize the clean diapers into a nice Roy G. Biv rotation. I do it partly to make sure that the diapers are wearing evenly and partly because I like how pretty they look in Joey's drawer. We store our dirty diapers in a dry plastic container with a lid, which contains the odor pretty well. Every so often the bin should be washed with soapy water. You'll know when. We wash the solids into the toilet using a diaper sprayer. The diaper sprayer is not really necessary, but it is convenient. Some people wash their diapers with the rest of their laundry, but I wash them separately. First, I put them through a quick cold rinse cycle with a small amount of detergent. Then a regular hot cycle, again with about 1/4 to 1/2 detergent, with an extra rinse. It's important to not use too much detergent and also to use an extra rinse because excess detergent can affect the absorbency. Your detergent should also be additive-free, like All Free and Clear.
I have been very satisfied with the bumGenius diapers, but if we were to buy more I would probably buy Smartipants. Smartipants have all of the great features that bumGenius diapers have, but the insert does not need to be removed before washing. It comes out on it's own, like magic. Also, Smartipants range in price from $12 to $15 so there's a little less of an ouch factor when getting started. bumGenius diapers are about $18 each, but some 3.0s are still available at a discount.
If you happen to know of an efficient system for using cloth wipes, please share. We had been using cloth wipes and bumGenius bottom cleaner, but the solution was expensive and the homemade version that I made irritated Joey's bum. So we use disposable wipes which is just gross. Really, I think that cloth wipes moistened with water would work just fine in most cases, but please comment below if you have a good system.