But first, you have to understand the different types of cloth diapers: Prefolds, Fitted, Pocket and All in One (AIO). Here's a quick fly-over.
Prefolds - A prefold is a piece of cloth that you fasten together with diaper pins or Snappi, then cover with a waterproof cover. Basically, you only change the prefold during a diaper change, unless the cover gets dirty - so you don't need too many covers, just lots of prefolds, which are super cheap. This is definitely the most cost effective way to cloth diaper, so if you want to CD and don't have much money to spend, this is the way to go! The only trade off I can find is that it's the most "complicated" system since there are so many pieces.
Fitted - A fitted diaper is basically the same as a prefold, except that it's already in the shape of a diaper and the fasteners are built into the cloth (so no folding and no pins). You still cover these with a waterproof cover. Again, like prefolds, it's still a cheaper option than the next two, but it isn't as convenient.
Pocket - A pocket diaper has a waterproof outer layer and a sewn-in cloth layer that goes against baby's skin. It's called a "pocket" because you put an absorbent insert into the opening or "pocket" before use, and remove it for washing. Most brands come with inserts, and you can also purchase additional ones with different absorbances, so you can customize it to your child. Fasteners are built in, usually Velcro or snaps. They do require stuffing after you wash them, which takes some time, but once they are stuffed, these are as easy to put on as disposables.
All in One (AIO) - These are definitely the easiest to use and the closest thing to a disposable diaper you can get. AIO are exactly what it sounds like: the diaper, all in one piece. These are usually secured with Velcro or snaps. Essentially a reusable diaper, they're simple for anyone to use, even the CD-adverse. The disadvantage to these are that they are the most expensive option, and since they are all one piece, they take the longest to dry and show wear the quickest.
Mike and I use Pocket and AIO. I knew I wanted to use pocket for "everyday use" - they're a middle-of-the-road option and I liked the flexibility of being able to use different inserts. Also, I heard they are some of the most "slim" cloth diapers. And while I know it's totally vain, I don't love the look of a huge rear on Eli when he wears pants, so I figured I'd try to minimize that. For the record, that one didn't really work out in my favor, but I've learned to love it (Although I have been known to put a disposable on for "special events" so he can squeeze into his skinny jeans. That's fine if you judge me.) I also knew I wanted a few of the AIO, basically for babysitters, day trips or anytime we were on the run.
The brands we use are FuzziBunz One Size Elite for Pocket and BumGenius 4.0 One-Size for AIO. The breakdown of my decision basically came down to the fact that I had a lot of friends and family that I knew used FuzziBunz (FB) and were happy with the brand - they came highly recommended. The BumGenius' (BG) had tons of great reviews online so I figured I'd try a few of those and I knew I wanted a few AIO. Plus, I got all my cloth diapers on a Black Friday deal, and both those brands were super cheap. I have six BG and 12 FB and paid about $200 for my stash.
Here are the diapes in a side-by-side comparison. This is the top view:
And here's the inside. You can see the pocket for stuffing the FuzziBunz on the right side at the top.
To give you a better idea of what they look like, here are the diapers "opened up" with their pieces. You can see the BumGenius on the left is all one piece (all you do is fold the flaps together), and the FuzziBunz on the right has a couple pieces, the white strips of fabric are minky inserts that you stuff inside the diaper. You can swap these with different types of inserts for added flexibility in absorbancy.
Overall, I think I like the BumGenius brand better and Mike definitely does. I like that they're all one piece and you don't have to stuff them or worry about separating them before putting them in the wet bag. I've also never had a blowout in one of these, because the sizing is super simple But they take longer to air dry and are more expensive, so I suppose it's a trade off.
I really do like the FuzziBunz system, my only beef is the sizing. I feel like it's difficult to get the sizing correct and when it's not right, Eli usually ends up with a blowout. On top of that, Eli is growing so fast that it seems like once I do get the right size, I have to change it again. But beyond the sizing, I love that they are slimmer than the BumGeniuses and that you can adjust the diaper for absorbency with the inserts. I honestly don't mind pulling out the inserts before putting these diapers in the wet bag, but it is an extra step that I'm sure some people wouldn't be a fan of.
Alrighty, now that you know the types of CDs we use, here's our set up:
Okay, on the left, I have a wipewarmer that we keep disposable wipes in. (Overkill, I know - but it was bliss those first few weeks of Eli's life.) In front of that I have the tub for cloth wipes. On the right, you can see our wet bag (we use the large ones from PlanetWise); it's just hanging on a heavy-duty command hook, and in the top drawer I keep all our CD's as well as the disposable diapers.
Here's a peek into the top drawer:
In the bin above the disposables, I keep a few small, "travel" wet bags (for one- or two-time changes on-the-go), as well as things we use more frequently, like nail clippers, lotion, etc. It's just kinda a catch-all bin.
Once a wet bag is full (usually every two or three days), I take it downstairs to wash the diapers. I literally dump everything in, including the wet bag - aka: I don't touch anything but the clean exterior of the wet bag - and turn on a cold rise. Once that's finished, I run a full hot/cold cycle, with a tablespoon of Rockin' Green Detergent (I like the Rage Against the Raspberries smell). For a while I was using two tablespoons but then had issues with repelling, (meaning the diapers are no longer absorbent, instead they repel everything that touches them - and yes, it's as bad as it sounds) but it turned out to be an easy fix, I just needed to use less detergent. After they go through a final cold rinse, I pull them out of the washing machine and let them line dry in the laundry room for a couple of days.
Once the diapers and wipes are completely dry, I take the load upstairs to stuff the FuzziBunz and fold up the BumGeniuses and replenish my clean stash in the nursery.
And that's all there is to it! Let me know if you have questions on anything - I'd be happy to answer!