To get started can be very expensive. Solution?... add the cloth diapers to your baby registry! There are so many choices and it can be overwhelming to decide what system to use. This is my simple guide based on hours and hours of research and personal experience on what to add to the baby registry. (remember you can use all of these diapers with your next baby for even more savings!)
For the newborn period (up to 10 pounds)
If I could do it all over again, I would use environmentally friendly disposables (grovia biodegradable disposable or seventh generation chlorine free) until my baby was big enough to fit into the one size fits all covers.
After 10 pounds:
or 16 "all in one diapers" (no inserts, you just throw the whole diaper in the wash when dirty)
2 antibacterial pail liners if you will use a sealed garbage pail (easier) and diaper pail deodorizing discs that sticks to the pail.
1 small wet bag for diapering on the go.
Country Save Laundry Detergent
At least 24 Prefolds: I used the Gerber brand and Kissaluvs prefolds. Gerber are super cheap (about $1 each or $2 each for organic) and do the job just fine. You can find these at Walmart or Target too. There are bamboo prefolds that are more absorbant but I don't think it is worth the extra money. Here's why:
**Most "diaper systems" come with "booster liners" (a small extra insert for more absorbency). You can add these to your cheap prefolds if you need extra absorbency if you will be registering for or buying one size diaper systems too (see below).
Diaper Covers and Diaper Systems (cover plus inserts):
You will need about 4 covers per day. So how many covers you register for should equate to how often you want to do laundry. If you want to do laundry every two to three days, you will need about 8-12 covers. I would start with:
3-4 size extra small or small diaper covers (6-15 pounds) to use with the prefolds during the newborn period.
These are usually cheaper than the "one size" covers and you can use them when the baby is in the newborn period as the one size fits all diapers work better when the baby is about 10 pounds or more. I used Thirsties brand extra small and they still fit my 15 pound baby. These covers are cheaper but do not seem to hold up as well as the more expensive covers. However, they did the job (and got the best reviews online for use with a newborn) and I have had no leaks using these covers with prefolds.
8-10 covers from various one size diaper system brands. I much prefer the "one size fits all systems" that grow with the baby. Just seems more practical to buy one diaper that will grow with the baby than to try to figure out all the different sizes and have yet another item your baby will grow out of. Since the good covers are about $20, you want to be able to use it for 2 years and for more than one child.
If I had unlimited funds I would have loved to just use an "all in one" diaper (no inserts, you change the whole diaper at every diaper change). This would have been the most easy, but this was not financially practical for us. However, I am going to invest in some now that she needs less diaper changes and has other people caring for her (easier for grandma and auntie to figure out).
Many of the "one size" diapers come with brand specific inserts. Try to get 2-4 inserts per cover and 1-2 "booster liners" per cover. You can interchange some of the inserts with covers from different brands but I find they work best when used with inserts that are made specifically for the cover.
Natural Fibers vs. Polyester:
I prefer natural fibers as it is gentler on my babies skin but you will have to change these more often than polyester fleece liners. I grab for the fleece especially when she is going down for sleep because she wont wake up from being wet. Bamboo absorbs more than cotton but cotton is less expensive. My daughter's skin does better with the all natural cotton fibers. This may be because she fusses more to be changed when in cotton so she doesn't sit in the diaper as long. Again, unless you really don't want to put any synthetic fabrics on the baby's skin, I would recommend trying some of each. I personally prefer organic cotton and will no longer buy polyester for my baby.
5. Anything you can find on sale and/or that looks cute! (Have fun!!). There is a woman on Maui who makes cloth diaper covers and I have heard very good things about them but have not yet tried them. Want to support the local economy and a woman owned small business? Buy some covers from www.mauidiaper.com.
I do sometimes use prefolds with the above "one size" covers and that works fine too! (If you need to save money on brand specific diaper inserts just use your prefolds). Grovia diaper covers are the best quality and have the best velcro system.
How do you store the dirty diaper? Just throw the dirty diaper into a pail with lid or a large wet bag and wash diapers when the pail (or bag) is full or when you run out of diapers. The first month, when I had to do a load a day, I just threw the dirty diapers straight into the washing machine (filled with water and soap) and then would run it at the end of the day.
You have to use laundry detergent that won't leave residue on the diaper, or irritate the baby's skin. You can check various websites for options on detergent. In my research I found that:
Run the diaper through a cold wash first with no soap, then a hot or warm wash with minimal soap. This will keep your diapers fresh. Too much soap causes diapers to smell. You can use oxygen bleach when you need a deep clean.
* If you want your diapers looking nice and white: After you run the diaper through the wash, just put the poo stained diaper in the sun for about 30 minutes, the stain comes right out! Then throw in the dryer if you need it to dry fast or line dry all your diapers. It works like magic. All my diapers are nice and white.