So I tried to ask my own mother, but it's been twenty years for her and things have changed. What can you ladies tell me about cloth diapers, the best to use, what YOU use, what works, or pretty much anything!
There are a lot of options but here's a general break down:
AIO's (all in ones) - works similar to a disposable diaper with a waterproof outer layer and snaps or velcro to close in the front like a dispoable.
Fitteds - Similar to an AIO or disposable in use with the velcro or snaps but no waterproof outer layer. Must use with a cover to prevent leaks
Pockets - Also similar to an AIO but in these the stuffing or absorbent part is added in to the diaper at each use by being stuffed into a "pocket" at the back seam of the diaper
Flats or Prefolds with snappis/diaper pins or covers - These are either the flats (single layer fabric) or prefolds (fabric with three sections and the middle one being thicker for an absorbent area) that are folded over the baby and then secured with either diaper pins or snappis (little plastic diaper holders used in place of pins). They can also be laid inside of a diaper cover for padding and then the diaper cover will close with snaps or velcro like the fitteds and other styles above.
There is no best to use. It really does depend on personal preference. I'll offer my experience and maybe others will come on to give you another view as well. I bought some of each type to begin with and have now cloth diapered 3 babies. We ended up keeping a couple of the AIOs for going to town only or if the child was in someone else's care. They really are easy to use like a disposable and it was less pieces to pack into a diaper bag if going somewhere. I didn't like the fitteds since I also needed another water proof layer or the pockets since I hated the weird way the padding had to be stuffed in.
We used flats or prefolds with covers as our regular diaper as it was my favorite. I liked this best because it was easier to use and clean for me. It was also a lot cheaper. The flats or prefolds can be easily hand washed if you need to and both dry quickly even on a clothesline. The covers can be handwashed or rinsed and will also dry quickly. In fact the covers dry off very quickly to the point that you could almost get away with one on and one drying with the exception of moments you'd need a back up. I always found the AIOs and other types took too long to dry and I never felt sure I was *really* get them clean all the way through the layers I couldn't see but that's just me. Regardless I personally preferred this set up because it was cheaper and allowed me to purchase less items since I could wash and dry them quicker. Honestly I often would quickly hand wash the diapers as we used them or at least that day as I got time then hang them up to dry. They'd be done the next day, didn't take long and I didn't have to worry about them sitting around dirty in the house. If you really needed to get by with the least money to do this then that method could allow you to have about 2 day covers, 2 night covers and 1 dz flats or prefolds and manage through the day. It'd be a very small stash and be cutting it close but could be done. I only ever had about double that amount for one and we never ran out of diapers!
I was able to buy covers (PUL type for daytime and wool or fleece for night time) for about $3-5 used on diaperswappers.com but they can also be bought new I believe usually for about $10 or you could check etsy for some from WAHMs at good prices. I could easily get away with 3-6 total of the covers. I also found 2-3 dz flats or prefolds was more than enough for us and we used them for burp cloths and such as well as diaper padding. These are also cheap. They can be bought used again at diaperswappers.com or greenmountaindiapers.com had the best prices I found when I was shopping around for them and carries organic if you'd prefer that. If you need to save money and are not set on having organic then Gerber brand prefolds or flats can be bought by the dozen at Walmart for about $10-12/dz. I found the prefolds were awesome burp cloths but I still use my flats from my CDing days as kitchen towels now.
I'm doing almost exactly the same with my second baby, but a few details are different:
She is wearing newborn size Cloth-Eez Workhorse fitted diapers with snaps, from Green Mountain Diapers. They are less expensive than most infant fitteds, but the quality is great. They have an attached soaker (sewn down on one end) so they absorb a lot but dry quickly. At 16 weeks she is about to outgrow these diapers and they don't hold all her pee overnight, so we are transitioning to one-size-fits-all fitteds; so far we are using them with a doubler as her nighttime diapers.
The reason I didn't buy one-size to start with is that they're so bulky on a tiny baby. Even now they are very thick at the hips and bunchy around the legs--but I know from past experience that they will fit much better in another month or so.
Our one-size fitted diapers are Mother-Ease, the regular unbleached fabric. They are awesome. The ones my son wore when he was 4-32 months old were sold to another family, whose kid wore them for a similar amount of time, and they told me only ONE wore out and they sold the rest to a third baby!
I tried a lot of different diaper covers on my son, and by far the best were Dappi pull-on nylon pants, so those are the only covers I bought for my daughter. They hold in the mess like nothing else!! They are very inexpensive, durable, easy to use, easy to wash, and seem comfortable for baby. They come in sizes, so you have to get new ones every six months or so as baby grows. I swap covers at every change at home, but when we're out I just keep putting the same one back on unless poop escapes the diaper and gets on the cover; then I put it in the wetbag and put on the spare cover that is always in the diaper bag.
I use cloth wipes that are flannel on one side, terry on the other. My friend made them for me in assorted print flannel. I love the cute prints and variety! I just moisten them with plain water.
I have 3 dozen diapers, 4 dozen wipes, 6 diaper covers, 2 big wetbags for lining the diaper pail (trash can with foot pedal), and more small wetbags than I need--2 would be enough.
I wash diapers every 3 days. (For my son it was every 4 days, but my daughter is more fussy about getting changed quickly--and I certainly don't want to encourage her to sit in a wet diaper longer, because the desire to be dry will help with toilet training!) Diapers, wipes, covers, and wetbags all go in the washing machine together. 20-minute soak cycle with cold water. Then put in the detergent (I use Seventh Generation) and run a hot wash cycle. Hang everything on the clothesline (put the line between the body of the diaper and the attached soaker so that they are separated and dry faster). When you are about to run out of clean diapers in the changing area, get the diapers and wipes off the clothesline and put them in the dryer--depending on timing, you may need to run a heated dry cycle or just do a fluff cycle. Don't put the covers or wetbags in the dryer.
I have been cloth diapering my twins for 6 months now, I didn't too much as newborns bc that's insanity but we've been consistent since. I use thirsties duo wraps with just about anything. I love just putting a prefold in there flat, fold and go between legs and wrap without snappis. I use gdiaper disposable inserts when I need to. I just bought thirsties all in one diapers for nighttime use so well see but I have been very happy with what we've used so far. I also use Alva baby bamboo inserts during the day when I expect mostly pee. My girls poop once a day at least still but it's usually in the morning so I can catch it with liners and such.
Oh and I wash with Charlie's soap, do a cold rinse then wash on very hot water. I dry everything in the drier, takes about an hour and a half to dry 1-2 days of diapers. I probably wash every day though it's so routine I don't think about it.