1. Flat Diapers: These are the most tricky, and I wouldn't recommend them. They are one ply of material, much like a dish towel. You must fold them before using which is rather easy, but maybe an extra step that you might not want to take. On the plus side, they are excellent to use after your baby has grown out of them and they are the cheapest type of diaper. You will need Snappi's and a Diaper Cover (both discussed later).
2. Prefold Diapers: These are essentially flat diapers folded up and sewn together. They are only slightly more expensive than flats and infinitely easier. As your child grows, they will need larger sizes, but at less than $2 a prefold, it is affordable. They do have to be washed multiple times before you use them. If they are not washed before use, they will not absorb any of baby's outputs. These will also require Snappi's and Diaper Cover.
In order to prepare these diapers for wear, wash them on super hot with about 1/2 cup of your homemade laundry detergent. Continue to run them through the full cycles that include hot without soap. Once you run them through and there are no bubbles, they are probably ready to go. I have found this takes about 5 cycles. To test the diapers' readiness, dry the diaper and try to absorb water. If it absorbs, it's ready, if it does not, run it through a few more soap-less hot cycles.
3. All-in-One or Pocket Diapers: These are the easiest of all the diapers. Just as the name implies, this is the only thing you will need. My favorite for newborns to toddlers are Bum Genius. The are easy, and one one-size-fits-all adjustable diaper will last from when your child reaches 8 pounds to the time they are potty trained. Use the snaps on the front to make them smaller, and let the snaps out to make them larger. They adjust through 3 sizes. The inserts adjust as well (which I think is really cool!). The only real con of this diaper is they do not come in neat designs. They do, however, come in a wide array of colors. When you purchase these, please buy the snap version. The velcro version seems easier, but the baby can open them up and the velcro wears out rather quickly.
Here is the inside of the cloth diaper with the insert pulled out:
5. In order to successfully cloth diaper using Flats and prefolds, you need the aforementioned snappis,
6. and diaper covers.
Snappi's are a wonderful invention and they make cloth diapering a breeze. Use Snappi's in place of the old diaper pins. A snappi has three sides that have plastic teeth, and they come in a great range of colors. I recommend having at least 3. This will allow you to lose one, or have one break and you won't miss a day in your cloth diapering adventure.
Diaper covers hold everything together and hold the moisture in the diaper preventing leaks. They are made of PUL fabric, this means there is a water resistant covering on the inside of the fabric. This allows you to use the same diaper cover through the day as long as there are no blowouts. (as an aside, my husband and I considered a blow out whenever the mess went beyond the prefold and onto the inside of the diaper cover. A mess any bigger than that was a huge rarity.)
7. For wipes, you can use disposable but since you are already doing cloth diapers, using cloth wipes is really easy. You can purchase cloth wipes, but my husband and I made our own. We just cut up old tee-shirts. Our wipes were free. We just ran them under warm water, and away we went. We even used them when we were away from home. Most places have running water. When we were at a place that did not have running water, we just used disposable wipes. So far, we have used just over one pack of disposable wipes.
I like using the cloth wipes, since we are using only water to clean his hiney. We aren't adding any chemicals or cleaning agents to his skin that just sit there and fester. They seem to work better, as well.
We were able to custom fit the sizes of the wipes to his needs. When he was a newborn, we cut squares that were 4 inches by 4 inches. Now we are using wipes that are a square foot. We use old white tee-shirts for his hiney and different colored tee-shirts for other wiping needs such as wiping off hands and mouth after a meal.
8. We purchased two large wet bags, and one small wet bag for travel. The large ones are the size of a small kitchen trash bag and the small is about the size of a grocery store plastic bag. These wet bags are used to throw in your cloth until it is time to clean them. They are made from the PUL fabric just like the diaper covers. In fact, we have matching diaper covers and wet bags. Very neat!
Our dinosaur wet bag in its place in the hamper and filled with dirty diapers:
We simply take the "at-home" wet bags, and secure them inside a hamper. When it's time to do a load of diapers, just empty out the wet bag into the washer and add the wet bag to the load. Easy as can be! If you forgot to pack the "on-the-go" wet bag, or you can't quite afford all the goodies for cloth diapering, use an old grocery bag. Yes, you will have to throw it after each use, but it's free, and still WAY better for the environment than using disposables.
9. An absolute necessity (although you can do cloth diapering without this, I would NOT want to!), is the diaper sprayer. This is for cleaning of poop from the diapers into the toilet. It is like the sprayer that is attached to your kitchen sink.
It is expensive at about $60, but it makes life so much easier.
10. Another step in making life easier is a bucket and chip clip for your toilet.
This is just an old kitty litter bucket with the bottom cut out. The chip clip hold your diaper in place. I will cover how to use this set up in the next post.
That covers all of the needed supplies for cloth diapering. The amounts needed vary depending on how often you plan on doing laundry. You will need to do laundry every 1 to 3 days. I would recommend at least two diaper covers in case one gets really yucky. (we had 5). The prefolds and flats come in six packs. We started with 12 prefolds in newborn, and 12 in the next size. We also had 7 pocket diapers, and we just added 3 antsy pants.
You don't need a special laundry detergent either. We use what we make. You can use anything that is dye and fragrance free such as Tide Free and Clear. DO NOT use Dreft. It is so full of chemicals and irritants such as fragrances.
This may all seem overwhelming, but once you do it for a week, cloth diapering will be second nature.
I know you can buy a lot of these supplies used, but I have not done that, so I have no experience. I would have tried it, but I couldn't find a place to buy used.
For your convenience, I bought my prefolds, flats, snappis, covers and wet bags from Green Mountain Diapers. I bought my Bumgenius Diapers from Cotton Babies, his antsy pants from Antsy Pants. I have been satisfied will all of these interactions. Finally, his sprayer was purchased at a major chain baby store. Please note, I do not get any compensation from these companies, I just wanted to save you time in researching where to buy.
Please let me know if you have any questions, I would love to help you get started on your new adventure!