I knew that we would cloth diaper long before we even got pregnant. They are cute, functional and a whole lot less expensive in the long run than are disposable diapers.
My husband calls me "crunchy" and "fanatical". This is not just in response to cloth diapers, but his typical response to anything that is not considered mainstream. However, I consider myself "frugal" and a "hobbyist". Spoiler alert: He has since come over to my side, and is fully on-board with the cloth diapering, even after some initial resistance.
Early on in my pregnancy, I was researching cloth diapers and holy crap was I confused! There are so many different options prefolds...fitteds...covers...all-in-ones...all-in-twos...one-size...sized...hybrids...liners...what do these words mean?????? It took me weeks to sort it out, and I'm not going to go through it all here. I learned the most from www.myclothdiaperstash.com and you can too! My way is by no means the only way to cloth diaper, but boy has it worked well for us.
Because Nate was not yet on board, I had to go cheap cheap cheap to start with. For us, this meant prefolds with covers. I had joined the local cloth diaper support group's facebook site and someone posted that Green Mountain Diapers was having a second's sale on their clotheez prefolds. Since these were the prefolds I had planned on using, I bought a bunch at 12 weeks pregnant (I was scared shitless to do so by the way! tempting fate and all). For those who don't know a second's sale is when a company sells defective merchandise or anything that is not first quality, at steep discounts, however, often the typical buyer can not even find the defects.
I bought 3 dozen newborn sized, 3 dozen infant sized and 2 dozen medium sized square flat prefolds (total cost of: $140). At 20 weeks I bought 2 best bottoms one size covers, 2 swaddlebees size one adjustable sized covers and 5 thirsties size one adjustable sized covers (total cost of $140). For $280 we could diaper in cloth through at least 9 months then we'd have to buy a few more covers (maybe $50 worth) to diaper until he weighed about 30 lbs (maybe until potty training?!?!?!).
I also bought some used diapers. I had wanted to try BumGenius Elementals after reading Josey's adventures in cloth diapering. They changed the style though so I had to buy them used. I bought 7 used from a local girl for $70 and also bought 8 used on ebay for about $80. Although they all have lots of holes in them, but for $150 I had a bunch of diapers I knew my husband would use. Because he did like these, I also bought 6 new Bum Genius Freetime diapers from Target online for a total of $90. I have since sold half of my infant sized prefolds and 4 of my covers and a wet bag I hadn't used for $80 and then used that same money to buy 12 used BumGenius 4.0 pocket diapers. I sold half my infant prefolds because we didn't need nearly as much of that size, nor as many covers as I had bought.
Because cloth diapers do require some accessories, I have two pail liners I purchased for $30 total, a diaper pail (trash can with locking lid from home depot) for $10, a small wet bag for my diaper bag for $10. 3 dozen cloth wipes for $30. A spray bottle for wipe solution for maybe $1. Witch hazel, baby wash, tea tree oil, baby oil all for the wipe solution maybe $20. $6 for Baby anti-monkey butt diaper rash treatment and prevention powder. I may spend maybe another $50 between now and potty training on the stuff I use for our wipes solution and butt powder.
Although we don't really use the 20 infant prefolds I have, I have about 41 diapers total in rotation. I do not have to buy diapers and wipes ever again.
If I can do math correctly, in the end I will be roughly $675 into cloth diapering by the time E is potty trained. It costs a family an average of $2400 to use disposables from birth through potty training (not including wipes, diaper genie, diaper creams...etc, all of which I included in my $675.) We are therefore saving a minimum of $1725, more if we use our current diapering system on future children. Our savings would be even more if I had just gone with one system to begin with and stuck with that.
We were not able to start cloth diapering E from birth. We didn't have any that would fit him at 5 lbs. So we bought about 3 packs of 40 count preemie diapers, one case of newborn diapers from SAM's club, one 40 pack of newborn diapers from walmart and one 40 pack of size 1 diapers from walmart. We also bought 1 case of wipes from walmart. When E had diaper rash early on, I bought at least 6 different types of creams until we found baby anti-monkey butt powder. I spent at least $300 on all of this crap, which we did use! At least it didn't go to waste. I now use the diaper creams at night. I insisted that we only buy cloth diaper safe diaper creams (except boudreaux's butt paste) so that I could use them with cloth.
I started to fully cloth diaper E's little bottom around 9 weeks old. He was about 8 lbs then. We used a random assortment of the cloth diapers I have. The diapers were so big on him them came to well above his belly button and down to about his knees. He was changed after every feeding around the clock and used about 12 diapers a day and all of them were pooped. We still use cloth diapers day and night, but use newborn insert from the pocket diapers as a doubler for absorbency at night time. He is changed after every feeding and then gets a doubled diaper after bath time that isn't changed until morning. He currently uses about 5-7 diapers a day and about 4 are pooped.
We have a well established washing routine where we wash diapers every 2-3 days. I dump everything including the pail liner into the washer. 1st cycle is a rinse and spin with cold water with no detergent. 2nd cycle is the longest, hottest, heaviest cycle with a pre-wash with detergent (Charlie's soap liquid that a local natural foods store orders specifically for me), a wash with detergent (same soap) and an extra rinse. Once a week I also add a quarter cup of bleach. The third step is to dry. It takes about 1 hour 20 minutes to dry everything and I usually pull out any covers and pail liners half way through.
I decided to use cloth wipes because it was inconvenient to change a cloth diaper and have a dirty disposable wipe that I had to take and put into the trash. I have 3 dozen flannel wipes that I purchased from cotton babies. I researched wipe solutions and found there to be a ton of possible choices. I settled on my own concoction. Small squirt/sprayer bottle from walmart, it holds less than 1 cup. Fill 3/4 with water, add 1 squirt of baby wash (cleansing), 1 squirt of baby oil or any other oil (moisturizing), 10 drops of tea tree oil (anti-microbial), and top off with witch hazel (anti-inflammatory). I had heard that you can accordion fold the wipes in a used wipes box, then pour the solution over the wipes. But some people had trouble with mold. So we do a different routine.
Speaking of snaps, we went with snaps instead of aplix (velcro) because of my long hair, dog hair and general fuzz which wears down the stickiness of the aplix. I also read that applix can scratch the skin if your little one has a bit of a muffin top. We have had no trouble with snaps as of yet, they work well, have not broken and fit just fine.
I have E's schedule on the fridge along with the diaper washing routine and the recipe for the diaper solution. Nate has been exceptional at cloth diapering since I returned to work and has taken over nearly the whole routine while I've been gone. Although, I am always the one that folds and puts everything away once washed, however, this is also the case for our clothes so I'm not surprised.
We plan to continue to cloth diaper Ethan and any future children, I can not see how my mind could be changed at this time.