When I started my cloth diapering journey, I had no idea just how humongous the selection was out there! I am an indecisive person by nature and was completely overwhelmed at all the choices I had to make. AIOs, pockets, covers, prefolds, AI2s it was all too much! I hopped online to find other's opinions and information on what would work the best yet still be cost effective as one of the larger reasons for choosing cloth diapering originally was to save money. I can't tell you how many times I filled up an online shopping cart and almost checked out then decided to wait and research more before I bought. Lets just say it was ridiculous! Now, a year and a half later, I have some advice for anyone just starting out cloth diapering.
First I would say, do your research. Visit mom blogs and look through their diaper reviews. Most of these mamas know their stuff, and you can find their opinions on all sorts of brands. You can also visit the Diaper Pin website where there are reviews on many of the cloth diaper brands and stores. There is also a book out called "Changing Diapers: The Hip Mom's Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering" that I have heard great reviews about. I haven't read it myself yet, but from what I've heard it gives a great overview of the types of diapers out there and how they work. Talk to any friends you may have who cloth diaper. Most people who choose to cloth diaper love to talk about their "fluff"!
Second, don't put all your eggs in one basket unless you are certain that's what you want. Although buying all of your diapers at once can be cheaper, it's not always better in the long run. Some diapers work really well for a tiny infant, but wont fit a bigger baby as well and vice versa (in fact it's usually vice versa ha!). Also keep in mind your child's ability to soak a diaper will greatly increase the older they get which may influence which diapers you can use for nap time and bed time. The more types of diapers I've added to my stash the easier cloth diapering has become for me. If I'm in a hurry there's an AIO waiting, if I want a lot of absorbency I've got hemp prefolds and covers, and if I want something cute I've got a whole host of printed pocket diapers. A good way to try out a bunch of different diapers is to do a diaper rental or trial. Many online retailers offer this with the option to buy the diapers you really love and send back the diapers you didn't like so much.
Third, don't just buy the cheapest diaper you can find. There might be a reason it's the cheapest diaper you can find. That being said, I do have quite a few cheaper diapers that have served me very well. It's also true that the most expensive diaper is not necessarily the best. Many of my favorite diapers fall somewhere in the middle price wise. In the end, it all comes back to doing your research.
Fourth, think about where you are wanting to use your cloth diapers. Are you going to use them while out shopping or at day care? You might want to make sure you've got some AIOs or pocket diapers you can put on your baby easily. I've found that my babysitters feel the least intimidated by a velcro closure so I have a few of those (even though I am not really a velcro fan). Also, how much is your husband into cloth diapering? Is he willing to change a cloth diaper? My husband will do a pocket diaper change, but doesn't like to fuss with the prefolds and covers at all.
So, what would I have in my perfect realistic stash? (not my dream, I-have-too-much-money-for-my-own-good stash)
10 hemp prefolds
5 or so cotton prefolds - in case of diaper rash, you can pin or snappi them without a cover for more air flow whereas you can't pin the hemp ones
4-6 covers - I love Thirsties covers the best, in snaps only - I don't like the velcro ones
10 pockets or AI2s - in a variety of hemp, bamboo, and microfiber fabrics - I like having choices!
3 night time fitted diapers
2 wool covers
I think that about sums it up! The biggest mistake I made when starting out was not trying enough variety. I wish I had either done a cloth diaper trial or bought one of each type of diaper and tried them out before I bought my entire stash. Don't get overwhelmed. Just try a few different diapers out and see what you like and what you don't and go from there. You can always sell the diapers you really don't like. There's quite a big used cloth diaper market out there!
About me: I am a wife to my amazing, funny, enthusiastic husband Jesse and a full-time mommy to one active (and adorable) 18 month old son named Angelo. I discovered the mama blogging world looking for information about cloth diapering (to save money), and have been “sucked in”. My current interests (aka, obsessions,) involve frugal living, cloth diapering, greener living, improving my culinary skills, and becoming a more godly wife and mother. I blog over at Mother Necessity.