My method to cloth diapering has been to buy a little of everything and see what works for us. Today's post is about what I've bought and what I think of each style and brand. Granted, I've only been doing this for a short time and I can't account for the durability of everything. This is the summary of my experience:
Prefolds - (old-fashioned cloth diapers, aka burp rags) I started off thinking I would go the least expensive route and bought prefolds diapers and wraps. In order to make them more absorbent I added a doubler and then to prevent diaper rash I added a thin layer of microfleece. By the time all of the layers were together and I secured with a snappi, this became the most time consuming and least dad-friendly method so it only lasted about a week. I also bought Gerber prefolds which are horrible. Green Mountain Diaper prefolds are the best, followed by anything that says diaper service quality or "Indian" or "Chinese" for some reason are also quite popular. I didn't use these long enough to know why.
From left to right, swim diaper (still in package), some doublers / soakers (adds absorbency), a bunch of microfleece liners, and some prefold diapers
Fitteds - (These are velcro or snap closure diapers that are absorbent but not waterproof so they need a wrap.) I lucked into a stack of old fitted diapers at a yard sale for a quarter each, so I bought all of them. The elastic is shot, velcro needs to be replaced, but they still do the job. These are much easier than prefolds and go on like a diaper with a wrap around it. I also bought four Thirsties fitted diapers. Three snaps and one is velcro. The velcro one is easier to put on and absorbs a ton. The snap ones are good too, but they don't seem to fit Ben as well. All of the Thirsties are really bulky and don't work with my smaller wraps.
Wraps - (These are thin waterproof, breathable diaper covers that either velcro or snap on.) My absolute favorite wraps are the Bummis Whisper Wraps. I have two and they have very cute prints, wash well, don't stain, we've had no leaks, and they fit Ben really well. I also bought these at a yard sale and they could stand to have the velcro replaced but they are the first ones I go for. I have two other wraps, a Bunnyfeet Boutique one-size wrap and a Tot Wraps cover. I love how the Bunnyfeet wrap is one size, but it snaps on the sides and I really don't like that as much as the wraps that snap or velcro in front. It's also super cute monkey fabric, it washes really well and puts up with the occasional velcro stuck to it without tearing up. The Tot Wraps cover is made by a local mom and I love the idea of supporting our local economy. It has never leaked on me, but it is super tiny. The small is advertised as 12-22 lbs, but there is no way Ben could wear it when he reached 12 pounds even. I don't know if I got a mis-tagged one, but it will be great for the next baby. It is the smallest diapering thing I have. It gets really messed up when around velcro. The edging has completely pilled and looks worn out because of the occasional velcro come loose in the wash. This hasn't hurt it's functionality at all though, and it still works great.
Bunnyfeet, Bummis, Bummis, and Tot Wraps
Pockets - (Pocket diapers are covers with a pocket in them to stuff an absorbent pad inside instead of using a fitted or prefold diaper. Because I can stuff them all when they come off the line, these are Josh's favorites because you just put them on like a regular diaper with one step.) These are my favorites. As close to sposies (cloth diapering slang for disposable diapers) as possible, easy for travel and very absorbent. I've tried many kinds of these. The first ones I bought were Fuzzi Bunz. These fit very trim, haven't leaked, and quite practical. I have 2 in boring white but they come in way better colors. They are smalls, so will not fit forever, but are pretty adjustable and they snap close instead of velcro, which makes them easier for washing but not Josh's first choice. I have one Swaddlebees size medium pocket diaper and it's just as great as the Fuzzi Bunz but has a velcro closure. It is the trimmest fitting diaper we have and the sizing runs small, but looks the best under clothes.
Our family favorite is Bum Genius pocket diapers. They are one size, meaning they fit from birth (maybe a little big at first) through potty training (maybe a little small by then, not sure). The size adjusts with snaps as does the insert. They velcro close and come in great colors. Bum Genius diapers are super absorbent and don't stain easily (and sun out well if they do stain). If I started over I would probably just buy all these, and I'm slowly selling off some of my stuff I don't like in order to buy (or trade for) more BGs. They are a bit bulky and the velcro and elastic will wear out and need to (most likely) be replaced after a kid or two.
All Bum Genius pocket diapers. The front three show the small, medium and large size when adjusted with the snaps on the front. (Two were in the diaper bag and one more was on Ben.)
All In Ones - (AIOs are exactly as they sound, one diaper all put together. Some have a space for an insert if you want to add more absorbency, but they don't need it for daytime use. It's no different from a sposie, you just throw it in the wash instead.) I've got a few Bum Genius AIOs, a Thirsties AIO and a Tot Wraps AIO. The Bum Genius AIOs are ok, but I bought them well-used and the elastic and velcro could stand some refurbishing. They also take forever to dry, so they aren't my favorites. The Thirsties AIO seems to hold up better than the Bum Genius but also takes forever to dry. The Tot Wraps Dream Diaper AIO is my favorite all in one because of the super soft velour lining and quickest drying time. It can have an insert added but doesn't need it (unless you have a way heavy wetter). The one I ordered closes with snaps and I might ask for a velcro one next time. It's also super thin and looks a lot less bulky under clothes than the Bum Genius diapers. You do need to make sure none of the velour is sticking out to keep it from wicking, though.
Dream Diaper, 2 Fuzzi Bunz, Swaddlebees The Thirsties and Bum Genius were still in the dryer - taking forever to dry...
If I were to start from scratch, I would probably buy all Dream Diapers if I wanted new or all Bum Genius Pockets or Swaddlebees if I wanted used. Bum Genius diapers are easy to come by used and work the best for us and the Dream diapers are really nice and contribute to our local economy. Swaddlebees are so trim and look just like a disposable under clothes. If you're looking to buy new, I'd recommend Little Clothesline out of Springfield, or if you're looking for used I'd recommend Diaperswappers (I'll warn you, it can be a little overwhelming).
There is also a huge debate of velcro versus snaps. From what I can tell, most moms prefer snaps because everything doesn't get all jumbled up in the laundry and pill. Almost all velcro diapers have laundry tabs to keep that from happening, but these need to be replaced every now and then. Josh prefers the velcro and honestly, it's a lot faster and much easier for middle of the night changes, so we have a combination of both.
Here's my diaper stash pic (pretty good for only bartering or using my eBay sales to purchase). Five diapers are missing - 2 BGs in the diaper pail, 1 BG on Ben, 1 Thirsties AIO in the dryer and 1 BG AIO in the dryer. The brightly colored fabric on the right is the medium wetbag I recently traded for on Diaperswappers.
I've got about 20 pockets / all in ones, 4 wraps, 21 fitted diapers, and 4 prefolds. I'm considering ditching the last of the wraps, fitteds and prefolds and going straight to pockets and all in ones, but I'm worried I might regret that if/when the next baby comes along. The fitteds are said to work well with the tiny babies, so I don't know.
Other diaper related purchases have included two waterproof, washable pail liners, two wet bags (one medium one to keep at our changing station in the living room and one small one for the diaper bag), and Jenny's Simply Clean diaper pail freshener through Diaperswappers (I got lemon and it smells awesome).
I spend on average $12 / used pockets or all in ones and $5 for used fitteds (except the crazy yard sale deal) and about $6 for used wraps. I have also bartered quite a bit for the majority of my diaper collection, and prices vary greatly depending on the condition. All of the new prices are on the Little Clothesline website and are pretty comparable to anywhere else. I've also ordered a couple of handmade ones through Etsy, but they are taking FOREVER to get here, so I'm not even going to recommend them for that reason alone.
Ben is a happy cloth diaper baby.