It's been over a year since my first cloth diaper post, when we were only a couple months in. I will say I am totally looking forward to cloth diapering a newborn again...it's so ridiculously easy compared to when they get older and into solids. I'm going to try to keep this as simple as possible for those who don't want every last detail of my opinions and experiences. I've had a couple friends ask me to write down recommendations and I think finally, after more than a year of using them, I have a pretty simple explanation of what works best for me and would be most cost effective. So I'll recommend first, then explain, then give some details (and what I don't like) of others we have and use. I have a variety (1 or 2 of several different diapers) because I was way too scared to invest in a whole bunch of one diaper without having tried them. I was determined to spend only what I needed to. And I'm really glad I went very slow with the whole process because what I've ended up liking best has surprised me at times. Though I currently do use them all, I'm thinking of selling what I don't love in order to get what I need for the new baby.
**If you are saying, "I just want to cloth diaper for the absolute least expensive way possible to start ($60), and I don't care about any of this information or comparisons," then I would definitely just look at the Econobum Kit by Bum Genius, or the Imagine covers/prefolds ($9.00/cover, $15.00/dozen prefolds) by Nicki's Diapers. Both brands are reliable.**
Here's the list of what I'd recommend to someone just starting, based on my favorite things:
(and I usually order from Amazon, Nicki's Diapers, or Mom's Milk Boutique)
Best Bottom covers - 6-9 total to start (The velcro for the little ones, maybe snaps for older. The velcro on these is still great and sticky after more than a year of use. I LOVE the velcro ones of these and that's saying a lot because most velcro diapers that's not the case. Yet the snap ones do have a bit more stretch around the belly. But I did not like the snap fit on a newborn. And I still prefer my velcro now. But for that "just sitting up, big belly stage," the snap/stretch works well.) This is also a cute, trim diaper. The insert snaps in, which is great, is contoured so not so bulky, and these never, ever leak.
10-12 prefolds - infant size (and maybe 6 tiny/preemie size, which I did have and used when she was a newborn - the big ones are way too huge to start. I would say have a handfull of these because they're inexpensive, super absorbant, and efficient. (These also are a great and inexpensive alternative for stuffing pocket diapers!) If you don't want your baby to feel wetness (or if their skin is more sensitive), go with the Osocozy stay dry prefolds - which are new but I haven't tried)
3-6 of each size Best Bottom stay dry insert (which snap into the BB covers) - I don't have this many at all of either, but if it were my only diaper I would. You could just get small and large, and probably skip the medium size if you really wanted.
Pack of 6 small g diaper inserts - these are perfect for the itty bitties for a long time, then work great as extra inserts for nighttimes. I'm getting ready to use a babies r us gift card to buy the large size for Selah because I love these inserts, and then I'll have the small ones for the new baby.
Rockin' Green Hard Rock detergent. This is the best, and safest for cloth in my opinion. I'm not going to risk ruining them, and I did try Eco Nuts soap because I'd thought it would be a little cheaper alternative, but I don't think it gets the diapers nearly as clean.
Extra Large Planet Wise wetbag- works great, holds a lot of diapers, holds up well...I wash it with the diapers every time. This always, always contains the smell, no matter how many or how stinky the diapers!
Grandma El's or CJ's Butter stick - I have used both of these and really love them, especially for when she gets any redness on her bottom, or an excema breakout is response to eating something. The stick is nice for the diaper bag when others might use it, and also for daddy. Grandma El's was the first thing I ever bought and it is really emollient, which I love. Both of these are great even for babies who aren't cloth diapered because they're so gentle and soothing! And they last for a really long time. I would use these two for treatment, and I've also had the Grovia Magic Stick, which is good for any diaper change to protect the bum between changes.
(Purchasing all of these things I've mentioned would be between $250-$300, and would last a very long time - the diapers, inserts, and wetbag through multiple babies!!!)
My overall favorite diaper hands down is the Best Bottom diaper. (I have 4 of these) When Selah was a newborn I really did not like the snap version of this diaper, because I just couldn't make it fit right. But I loved the velcro version. The velcro I have has surprisingly stayed very strong and sticky. These diapers NEVER LEAK. Over the past year I've had different times in her growth that I've like them better than other times. But they've always been reliable. Even if you're a pocket diaper lover but can't find a solution for nightime/naptime, get a couple of these and a few prefolds and you will be amazed! I'm a huge fan of diaper covers with inserts or prefolds, and these covers are my favorite. If the baby is just wet you can wipe out the cover and reuse it, which means you don't need as many diapers. (And husbands think this makes sense. :) Covers and inserts also allows you to use as little or as much absorbancy as your baby needs. Which brings me to my next recommendation.
While I do really like the Best Bottom inserts for daytime, on the go, and at night, (and for poo spraying because they're snapped in and you don't have to hold onto them!), I have to say the other most reliable inserts I have and love are my Indian prefolds. Which are super duper inexpensive. I will tri-/fold one of those in a cover and put a small g diaper insert on top to make it stay-dry (feel dry) and extra absorbant for bedtime. Love this combo. While I don't love the g diaper system because of all the parts, (though they're cute!), I really love the inserts, because they are thin, very absorbant, dry feeling against baby's bottom, and easy to add in during a sleep time for no leaks! You could even put the hemp back to back on two of these and have a really great, yet still thin insert for longer periods or sleeping. The other wonderful thing about prefolds: they are so amazingly absorbant, they don't acquire any stink over time like microfiber, they are so inexpensive that if someone accidentally uses a lotion that messes up the absorbancy, they are much easier to replace, and they'll go in any cover. The only other inserts I would be curious to try are Thirsties inserts. They have hemp on one side which seems to be extremely absorbant, and micfrofleece on the other which I love, based on my experience with the g diaper ones. (But they are ridiculously expensive, in my opinion).
After seeing lots of other diapers in stores and feeling the velcro as well as reading reviews, I really don't think many others would hold up like the Best Bottom velcro. (which is important to me) I will say the one other diaper cover that I think I think would work well are any of the ones Bummis makes, Their velcro is awesome, they wash wonderfully, and they just make great fitting diapers. (Based on my experience with the Tots Bots) But the covers are sized, rather than one size, meaning it would cost a bit more with having to buy different sizes. I also wonder if these would fit even better and be trimmer due to being sized. (note added: I just got two for Christmas in Selah's size, so I'm excited to try them!)
I'm not going to lie. Having to spray solids with older babies...(especially while pregnant!), is gross. I mean, all poo is gross regardless of the diaper if you ask me, but I could not have managed at the beginning of my pregnancy if Kevin wasn't so on board and such a trooper. He's always been a willing participant, and I'm so thankful, because it truly has worked for us and saved a lot of money. When we travel now we will use Seventh Generation disposables. I love them and they've never ever leaked. We get a pack off of Amazon and it will last us between 2 and 3 months (depending on travel). I now also put her in a disposable at church or if she has a babysitter, because I don't want anyone else to have to deal with big girl poo. She does look awfully cute and petite with the disposables on. :) Speaking of poo, we have the Bum Genius diaper sprayer because it seemed to be the most recommended. Though the spray is so incredibly strong that it can be tough to keep it all in the toilet if you aren't careful. Since then I think another brand has come out with a sprayer with different strength levels, which sounds great! (You start spraying poo when the baby starts eating solids). Either way it takes a bit of strategy - (fold the diaper back, hold it down low, etc.) - but works well.
Using cloth is not complicated. Of course there are annoying days here and there, just like with any diapering situation. You can end up washing them every other day no matter how many you have, (well we often do), because it just seems too gross to leave them in the wet bag any longer. Though plenty of times I've gone a few days. After more than a year, all of our diapers have held up really well. And I always dry in the dryer on extra low. I also strongly stand by Rockin' Green detergent. I'm not willing to use any standard detergents, because I can't afford to take a chance on ruining them. And I did try to save a little money by using "Soap Nuts." Which I'm annoyed with after a month or two, because I have to fish them out before my extra rinse cycle, and it's tough to tell when I need to replace them. I'm also not convinced the diapers are as thoroughly cleaned.
So that is a most basic update I think. (So stop reading here if you are already overwhelmed and think that was more than basic. ;) Now I'll give a list of other diapers I have and why they're not first on my list:
Grovia - I really like features about this diaper and inserts...but I've only gotten it as a gift, and I think they're just too expensive to recommend.
Bum Genius 4.0's - lots of people love these, and they are cute. But I don't really love pocket diapers and stuffing. It's really no big deal I guess, but not my favorite. And if you have to grab a diaper from the dryer it's not ideal. Also, microfiber does start to stink, which bothers me. It also can be drying to your hands to have to touch it. (I'm sure they need "stripped," but I haven't ventured into that yet.) Finally, these leak at night, or at naptime, even if I double stuff. Selah's belly and legs always seem to get wet. I will probably sell these as soon as the new baby comes and I know just what I'll need.
Flip covers and inserts - The covers actually work well, and I don't think they've leaked for me. (Maybe once?) I do sometimes use these at night double stuffed. But they are wide, flimsy, and whenever someone else puts one on her they aren't quite put on correctly. Her belly often seems to get wet as well. And sometimes they seem a bit droopy? Also, I really don't like the flip stay dry inserts. They are bulky and the folding down in the back thing is annoying. But I think a lot of people like these.
Fuzzibunz - these actually have a super cute, trim fit, and I can't remember ever having a leak with these either. (Though I don't use them at night.) I will say they're a bit trickier to stuff because of their trimness, and the stickiness of the PUL on the inside, and the one size seems to fit pretty snug on older children. (Selah has outgrown it) But I've always thought this is an overall good diaper. (and the minky inserts don't seem to stink like microfiber). I also only have one, which makes it hard to judge. But I've always though Selah looks cute in it, and it's a good choice for under jeans or something.
Rumparooz - cute, colorful, (I only have one of these too), and soft inside. But they have a microfiber insert and in my experience, they leak if worn too long.
Tots Bots - Oh how I loved this diaper at first. I still think it's the cutest, trimmest, smartest design and best velcro. (and I will use it for the new baby b/c I know it will be absorbant enough and fit well!) Kevin always reaches for these first. But unfortunately I won't put it on Selah for wearing out and about or if I think she'll be in it for longer lengths of time because the sides leak. This started between 3-4 months. Not sure why, but they just don't seem absorbant enough. And the bamboo is not stay-dry, (wicks away moisture), which is important to me as Selah has sensitive skin and really needs to not have wet on her skin for very long.
Bum Genius Elementals - I loved this one too, but I don't like the leg casings at all - definitely causes leaks, and the inside is not stay-dry, which bothers me for the same reason as the Tots Bots. But it's also cute and trim - the pink one is a good diaper for photos. :)
Little Bee Co. diapers (Christian company) - I love everything about this company. But I don't like the diaper at all. It has never fit well, and I just don't understand why the elastic is so tight everywhere. The inside also wore out on this one. Also has a microfiber insert. It's also pretty wide and bulky. (But really doesn't leak, so that's good!)
I hope that helps someone in some way! I'll wait another 6 months to a year or so before I put this much thought into the whole thing again. ;) Happy cloth diapering!