I have to say I'm so disappointed in myself for not having made the switch to cloth sooner. I've had a week to try cloth diapers on Green Eyes and I am impressed at how easy it is. At this point, he needs only an overnight diaper but that has allowed me just enough time to experiment on him before number 3 arrives. My only regret thus far is not doing this sooner.
After an AMAZING amount of research on cloth diapers talking with friends and scouring the internet, I intially leaned toward the All-In-Ones (AIO's- are cloth diapers where the cover and insert are all sewn together). I thought AIO's might make sense because they seemed the most like disposable diapers. Hubby hasn't been exactly supportive of changing over to cloth and I thought they'd be the easiest for him. They are no fuss and hubby can't complain. But, alas, AIO's are quite pricey (try $400 bucks for the 24 you'll need) and they take forever to dry (or so I hear). When I calculate how much I spend on diapers with coupons, discounts, and generics it didn't make sense especially after you factor in special washing detergent, liners, time, etc.
I then looked into pocket diapers. Pocket diapers are similar to AIO's except that you stuff in an insert. This allows the diaper to dry quicker because the thick liner is separate from the diaper. They are also pretty easy to use. But like AIO's. you'll need a lot of them (like 24) to get you by because they are one time use and then you throw them in the laundry/wet pail. This fact makes them more expensive but you can find them second hand on sites like diaperswapper.com to keep the cost down (thanks Sara L!)
Within each category there are versions of AIO's and pocket diapers with velcro tabs (which provide a better fit) and ones with snaps (less convenient and a little harder to get an exact fit but more durable). There are also ones that offer multiple sizes in lieu of the one size. Is your head spinning yet?
That isn't even half of it. There are also fitteds, prefolds and contour diapers that you use along with diaper covers. You have to fasten these with pins, snappi's or whatever contraption and then place a waterproof or natural wool cover, or homemade knitted cover on top. Most of these systems are very economically but they looked too complicated to deal with (I'll have 3 kiddos mind you and a husband reluctant to change) so these options were all quickly eliminated.
I thought I was at a loss when I finally fell upon a hybrid diaper (a hybrid system is a system that allows you to use disposable and cloth inserts), the Flip System. The funny thing is that I won't be using it as a hybrid system at all. The disposable liners are neither cost effective nor are they the point! I will be using it as more of a diaper cover instead.
Flip Diaper (right) and Stay Dry Insert (left)
Flip Diaper with insert in place
Basically the Flip Diaper is just a versatile diaper cover. When the diaper is wet you just toss the used insert into the diaper pail, wipe the inside of the diaper cover (you may need to replace the cover if it is a number 2 which we all know happens less often) and then replace the insert with a clean one. The beauty about this system is that you can reuse the cover without washing it so you aren't buying a lot of the most expensive part of the diaper, the cover. I believe I'll be able to get by on just 6 covers and 24 inserts (around $150-$200 retail but LESS if you buy some at great deals or second hand). What's even better is that you can use the Flip cover with either the Flip inserts, prefold diapers, or fitteds. It's pretty darn versatile. It is a one sized diaper that can fit babies 7-35+ pounds. I think the only downside to this diaper is that it can't be used easily for newborns. You'll have to wait a few weeks to get a true fit. I'm willing to do disposables for the first few weeks in exchange for not having to buy multiples of different sized diapers because those weeks are going to be pretty darn hectic anyway. I know the Flip diaper will grow with my third because it fits my 2.5 year old easily now with lots and lots of room to grow.
Before I end this awesome little diaper synopsis, I should mention that the Econobum is very similar to the Flip System. The Econombum is even more economical and the only discernable difference I have found through my research is that the Flip System seems a tinsy bit more durable than the Econobum and the Flip System has flaps on the diaper to keep the insert snug in place whereas the Econobum does not. Otherwise they are pretty close.
So, there you have it, a month's worth of cloth diaper research. Don't be a putz like me and not at least seriously consider cloth diapering. Give it a little whirl. Experiment, even if that means borrowing one from a friend. You might be surprised!