There is so much info on cloth diapers that I don't know where to start. The websites that I have used are Greenmountaindiapers.com and Cottonbabies.com. There is a lot of info on those site to read, but here, as too the point as I can be, is my opinion and advice....
- Prefolds (the old fashion square ones),
- Fitteds (like prefolds, but have the elastic and buttons sewn in so you don't have to use diaper pins)
*both prefolds and fitteds need diaper covers because they are not waterproof,
- Pocket (a waterproof cover with a pocket inside that you insert an absorbing liner), and
- All-in-Ones (AIOs, just like a disposable that you throw in the washer, they need nothing else added to them; no covers, no inserts).
There are definitely pros and cons to all 4 types. We have mostly the AIO kind which are super easy especially when you are away from home, but they take FOREVER to dry which wastes a lot of time and electricity. I hang them on the clothes line when the weather is nice, but can't always depend on the weather to be nice whenever I need to wash diapers! Speaking of line drying diapers; it is absolutely the BEST way to dry diapers. The sun bleaches them and removes lingering odors and the breeze fluffs them up and makes them soft. I go into a depression during the winter when I can't line dry my diapers.
The AIOs come in different sizes. We have 15 of each size. Small, Medium and Large.
We have a couple of Pocket which are a breeze to dry and work just as well as an AIO. They usually (maybe always) come in a single size with snaps on the front to adjust as baby grows. They tend to be a little bulky for smaller babies. You can stuff the pocket with as much padding as you need depending on how much absorbency you need.
With both the AIOs and the Pocket diapers, I have had issues with the velcro wearing out. I use BumGenius and they have great customer service. While under warrenty I have recieved brand new batches of diapers after the velcro wore out. After the warrenty expires though, you're screwed. They are now making the same diapers but with snaps instead of velcro. Do you think snaps would also eventually wear out? Before I have another baby, I may convert my velcro diapers to snap ones. Anyone know a good seamstress?
We also have used the Prefolds which I used a whole lot with Boothe. They are REALLY cheap, are easy to wash and dry and can be used as a cleaning rag after you are done with kids in diapers. There is also a thing called a Snappi which works on Prefolds rather than diapers pins. I have those and diaper pins and prefer the Snappi. They are really easy to use.
I don't have any Fitteds, but I think they would be a great diaper. Since they are so similar to Prefolds I would just rather spend the $1.50/prefold rather than the $7+ on fitteds.
Here is what I would suggest to someone wanted to use cloth on their baby. When the baby is 0-6 month old and only eating milk or formula, their poopy diapers can be thrown right into the washer without having to do anything before hand. Babies aren't very wiggly yet so the AIOs which take a long time to dry don't really offer much more convenience. Price wise the prefolds, up until solids are introduced into the baby's diet, just make more sense.
After 6 months when they are eating foods then the additional expense and drying time of the AIO may be worth it. I would recommend either Thirsties or a Wool Diaper cover for the prefolds and fitteds.
A purple Thirsties cover.
Hopefully this will make reading up on cloth diapers a little less overwhelming. If you choose to go with prefolds ONLY get them from Greenmountaindiapers.com. They are made to the dimensions that actually fit the baby. I have no idea how the other diaper sites can sell these prefold diapers that do not fit. I ordered some from cottonbabies.com and ended up having to cut and sew them to the right size. Greenmountaindiapers.com are the perfect fit.