There are so many different types of cloth diapers on the market right now it can be overwhelming. It's easy to think you have to try every new cloth diaper that comes along, but it can be very harmful to your budget. (A big reason I like cloth diapers is because they save me money). When I was starting to build my diaper stash, I really wanted FuzziBunz Pocket Diapers. I chose this brand and style based on reviews I read. I received several of these diapers as baby gifts before the arrival of my little one. I was disappointed I could not use the FuzziBunz at the beginning because I had a very slender, little girl with little legs. If she pooped while wearing her FuzziBunz her diaper leaked. I have since tried many different brands and styles of cloth diapers, and have learned some lessons about customizing my cloth diaper stash.
Test Before Buying Too ManyInstead of getting set on one particular style and buying a bunch of them, buy one and try it out for a little while. Make sure the fit is appropriate for your baby, that the absorbency level works for the setting, and that you like the overall function of the cloth diaper before you spend a lot of money on it. You have to figure out if you like snaps or Aplix, pocket diapers or AIOs, fitteds or one size diapers. Once you know what you prefer in a cloth diaper (and it may be different based on the situation or occasion), then you can easily determine if a new kind of diaper is one that you would like to try or not. I have purchased diapers before in the excitement of "it's the newest" only to discover it doesn't fit my baby properly, or I don't prefer its features to another diaper's features. I have learned to buy one or two and make sure it functions well for the intended setting and purpose, and then I buy more. For example, I love the Flip Diaper Covers, but I only use them with prefold diapers. I have found that the inserts do not work well for us. I love my FuzziBunz diapers, but only in the fitted sizes. If I need a one size diaper I look to Rumparooz because they are easier to adjust the fit. Diaper Junction has a wonderful 30 day test drive on their most popular diapers - this will help you in making these decisions. If the diaper simply doesn't work for you, trade it in for a different kind.
Assess the SettingI have different diapers for different occasions. When I am at home, I like to use my prefold diapers because they are inexpensive and great in function. When I am out in public, I prefer to have pocket or AIO diapers because they are easier to put on my baby - especially if I am in a public restroom; I don't want to try to hold a wriggling baby, avoid the germs, and fold & fasten a prefold diaper in this setting. Just snap on the new diaper and we're done and out of there. For overnights, I choose diapers based on their absorbency. I use bamboo or hemp diapers, and they are usually a little more bulky. I would not use these diapers during the day because they would hinder my baby's movements.
Consider the UserIf I am not the one changing baby's diaper, I like to have an easy-to-use diaper available. For church nurseries, baby sitters, and sometimes even for Daddy (though he is proficient with all of our diapers), I choose a diaper with hook and loop fasteners, and that looks just like a disposable. This is less daunting to someone who may not know anything about cloth diapers. I personally think snaps are wonderful and easy, but I have retrieved my baby from the nursery only to discover the hip snaps undone on her diaper. That's not going to prevent a leak! With hook and loop the caregiver puts the cloth diaper on the same way as they would a disposable diaper. I only have a couple of diapers in my stash with hook and loop, and I save them specifically for these occasions. If your child will be in day care you might prefer an All In One (AIO) diaper because of its ease and one-piece design. The Flip or Gro Baby systems are good choices because you snap a new insert into the same cover. This means fewer diapers to purchase – just add more inserts to your stash. There are even hybrid diaper systems (Gro Baby is one) that offer disposable (biodegradable) liners that would be easy for different caregivers to use.
Evaluate the Cost, Care, and SizeSome diapers are fabulous, but you may not be able to build your entire stash with that one particular diaper because of the cost. Ease the stress on your budget by varying the cloth diapers in your stash. We currently use mostly prefolds, but we are adding pocket diapers as we need more diapers.
You need to consider the care each type of diaper will require. Pocket diapers must have soiled inserts removed prior to laundering, and they conversely must be stuffed with inserts after they are laundered. All In One (AIO) diapers take a long time to dry. Wool covers have to be lanolized. Prefold diapers need to be folded before putting them on your baby. Prefolds, Flip, Gro Baby, and other types of diapers need covers. This means a separate article to clean and fold. Make sure you don't have a problem with the care needed for your chosen diaper.
Buying One Size diapers is very cost effective because you don't have to buy a whole stash in each size your baby will need. Just unsnap the rise setting, let out the waist, or loosen the elastic (depending on the brand of diaper) as your baby grows. This is a great way to get the nicer pocket or all in one (AIO) diapers while still taking it easy on your budget. The modern cloth diaper comes in so many shapes, sizes, colors, and closures. Make sure that you customize your stash by selecting the cloth diapers appropriate to your situation by considering the setting, the user, and the cost and care of each diaper.
GUEST BLOGGERAndrea Hamilton's full time job is being Ben's wife and Elaine's mommy in Virginia Beach, VA. She started cloth diapering in November 2009 - initially to save money, and now because she loves it. In her "spare time" she enjoys studying God's Word, playing the piano, scrapbooking, blogging, and bargain-hunting. Andrea has a Bible & Missions degree, and her family is preparing to move to NYC where her husband will be an assistant pastor. You can read more from Andrea at her blog, Random Issues.