Tuesday, April 10, 2012

All About Cloth Diapering When You're Straight Up Poor

You may have looked at cloth diapering before and decided that you just couldn't do it. Maybe you thought it would be too much work with all the special care they require (not!) but you probably just saw some figures estimating what a diaper stash would cost you, which usually looks something like $350 or more for a decent amount of diapers. Yes, they will pay for themselves over disposables, but a lot of us just don't have the funds to make an initial investment like that.

Recently, I read a statistic on Green Mountain Diapers that said the average income of families who cloth diaper is over $95,000 a year! (I'll be darned if we fall anyway near into that income bracket. Try around $15,000 a year.)

So why is this? Unfortunately, it's people with higher education and more money that have the information and resources to commit to a decision like cloth diapering.

For those of you out there like us, I want to outline how to get cloth diapers for cheap, how to use and care for them easily, how to sell or swap ones that just don't work well for you, and more. It doesn't have to cost hundreds of dollars!

NOTE: This is a LONG post! But it's important! If you need to save money and you have babies/will have babies, you need to read this. It's free to read!

If you have the skills, time, and desire to make your own diapers, that can certainly be done. If you are interested in this option, click here for free patterns and information on making your own diaper stash for very little money. But if you're like me, you have limited time and sewing skills! Not to worry, you can still cloth diaper very inexpensively.

We've practically tried it all - pocket diapers, or all in twos (AI2's, which are almost the same as all in ones -AIO's), prefolds, flats, just about the only thing we haven't done is fitteds and wool. Flats and diaper covers are hands down the cheapest way to go. But for ease of use, I would highly suggest doing prefolds and covers instead. It will only cost a little more and will be well worth it.

A few of the reasons prefolds and covers are more economical than all in twos or all in ones:
  • You can buy a stash of however many prefolds you need, 36 is a safe number, and then buy just a few covers, I like to have about 8. This versus buying 36 AI2's or AIO's that have the price of both the cover and the insert built into the price of each diaper. 
  • You can get wipeable (exposed PUL) or wicking (sandwiched PUL) covers, which can be used several times before washing. Once AI2/AIO's are wet, there is no reuse option before wash time.
  • When the cover looses it's waterproofing (which it eventually will), you can still use all of your prefolds, and you can even use the cover as a swim diaper cover. When an AIO looses its waterproofing, the absorbent inner and once waterproof outer can't easily be used anymore as they are attached to each other.

The Diapers


How many prefolds and covers should I get?

Most sources will recommend 24 prefolds and 6 covers (6 covers in each size, that is) for every other day washing. This might get you through two days, but some of the time it won't. And sometimes things happen and laundry gets done a day late. What then?
I would actually recommend getting 36 prefolds (more if you want/can afford) and about 8 ONE SIZE covers. One size covers are adjustable and generally fit a weight range of about 10-35 lbs.
I would not recommend getting different sizes of prefolds if you are really tight on money, either. I would simply get all your prefolds in regular/infant size (about 12"x16"). You can experiment with different ways of folding them to make them fit into whatever size cover you are using. Also, stay away from synthetic fabrics in your prefolds, they are not as absorbent and tend to have more problems with stinky odors.
I recommend one size (OS) covers over sized covers because, other than newborn covers, these covers will work all the way until potty learning (though I personally recommend incorporating some Elimination Communication if you can). So you can buy about 8 OS covers, or you can buy about 8 medium covers, 8 large covers, and maybe 8 extra large covers if you've got a big baby or late learner.
If you want to cloth diaper your newborn, I would recommend getting an additional 8 newborn size covers. One size covers aren't truly one size in that they are usually too big for newborns. They may fir some larger newborns, but will probably still be too high for the cord stump. Some covers that aren't sized "newborn" will still work for most newborns, such as the Thirsties size XS or S cover, the Thirsties Duo Wrap size 1 (which is more of a bang for your buck as it fits through 18 lbs., most newborn covers fit up to only 12 or 13 lbs.), the Booroi size S cover (also fits through 18 lbs.), etc.
Sized covers do have some benefits over one size covers. Since each cover is worn for a shorter period of time (due to them fitting for a shorter period of time), they will last a bit longer before wearing out. They are also slightly less bulky, as they are tailored to fit the size your baby is now, not the size he is now and the size he'll be 6 months from now. There is one exception to my OS cover recommendation, and that is The Real Nappies. I'll talk more about them later...

What about wool/fleece covers/soakers?

That is up to you. Personally, I haven't tried wool because of it being delicate. We are a rough and tumble kind of family. Like, playing outside rolling around on the ground every day with cats and dogs joining in. I'm just afraid wool covers couldn't handle it how hard we play.
Some people love them. They are very breathable, because they don't have lamination. Wool is naturally antibacterial as well. They are the night time choice for a lot of moms, because wool is virtually leak proof. It can absorb about 40% of it's own weight in liquid. Wool covers only have to be washed every week or two, unless they get poop on them (and if you don't fasten your prefolds, they will.)
However, wool takes special care when you do wash it. You can look up wool diaper cover washing instructions online, as I am not knowledgeable enough about it. I do know that they have to be washed with something safe for wool, most people recommend Lanolin, and they have to be washed by hand.
Fleece performs similarly to wool from what I've read, but will not hold in as much liquid. Both are breathable. Fleece will usually need to be washed after just 1 use, unless it is very high quality fleece, which may be aired and reused a couple of times before washing. Fleece does not require special care when washing.

What about wipes?

If you cloth diaper, it is definitely easier to use cloth wipes - no separating soiled things to throw away the wipes, everything goes in the diaper pail. It's also better for baby's health and the environment. And did you know that you could be spending close to $100 a month on wipes alone?
Cloth wipes should be about 7 or 8 inches wide both ways, and of course you can make these easily yourself if you have access to a serger. If not, they can be purchased cheaply or you can even use baby washcloths as wipes.
I suggest you have 40-50 wipes. Look for me to have a post up soon about how to fold cloth wipes and make easy solution for them.

What are reasonable prices for all this stuff?

Prefolds
I found 36 new prefolds for $1.37 each with shipping in a lot from a wholesaler on Ebay. This is the best deal I could find at the time.
Used prefolds seem to be a little more difficult to come by than used covers, but they can be found. In any case, you shouldn't have to pay more than $2 (with shipping) for a single prefold, flat, or insert. Fitteds tend to be rather pricey and if you are looking to pinch pennies, I wouldn't use them.
Another option is just using whatever you can in place of prefolds. I only recommend this for those who are struggling just to buy groceries, you get me? Because if you're using towel bits as diapers, they'll have to be changed very frequently because if it's not a diaper, it's not meant to perform like one. But if you can't make or buy prefolds, you can use fabric scraps, old rags, old burp cloths - any absorbent fabric - inside your diaper covers.

Covers


Getting Used Covers


The best places I've found to find used covers for cheap are Enkore Kids and Spot's Corner. Some of the items go fast, so I would check frequently in your search for diapers. You can find covers there for around $3-$4 a piece sometimes. You will probably not be able to find all of your covers at one time. You will likely end up with several different brands and styles. This is a good thing; if you have never cloth diapered, you need to find out what works best for you and your baby. When buying used covers, you should look for the following basic characteristics:
  • One Size or newborn/small (or sized covers if excellent quality and extremely good price)
  • Excellent condition
  • Low or no shipping (PPD indicates that the price includes shipping - "postage paid")
  • Ideally used for less than 6 months (you will usually have to ask the seller about this)
  • No more than about $7 + reasonable shipping
Getting New Covers on Special/Clearance

New diapers on clearance, specials, or new seconds diapers (diapers with slight imperfections) can be a great way to save as well. Some examples:
Bumkins sells their irregular newborn and one size covers in prints for $4.95 + shipping. I own one of these, and the inside is wipe clean, there is a flap in back to hold an insert in place, they fasten with hook and loop (velcro) and there is a flap in the front on the inside to protect from leaks where the velcro is sewn. (When you are using covers with a velcro landing pad sewn on the front, that is an area where leaks are prone to happen. This is why many velcro covers have a "skirt" of fabric inside covering that area. You should NOT tuck your prefold under that front flap if it's a hook and loop fastening type cover. I was an idiot and learned this the hard way, wondering why my covers kept leaking.) I could not tell why these were "irregular." I think it's because the snaps are reinforced with strips of fabric rather than one big piece of fabric. This is purely cosmetic and only visible on the interior of the diaper.
Real Nappies has a special for 6 aplix covers in white for $36 + $5 flat rate shipping. These covers are not one size, they are the exception to my one size rule. This is a very affordable way to get new, high quality covers. They are not wipe clean, the pee is wicked into the middle layer of the cover and so they can be used, according to the web site, 3-4 times before washing. I have 4 of these and I only wash them after they have been pooped in or been through a long nap/night time (when the prefold was soaked). So I typically get maybe 6-8 uses out of one cover before washing. They are supposed to last for a long time and the company even has a Two-Child Guarantee that says you should be able to use their products for at least 2 children and if the product wears out before then, they will repair or replace it. So with this package deal they are $6.83 per cover with shipping, they are not one size but guaranteed to last through at least 2 children. It's a fantastic deal.
Wipes
If you are going to buy your cloth wipes (rather than make/repurpose some), don't pay more than $.50-$.75 per wipe with shipping. I found Osocozy wipes, again on Ebay, for about $.58 each with shipping. They were new. Used wipes, like prefolds, can be hard to find. They are not terribly expensive new though.

What else do I actually need in order to cloth diaper?

You will probably want 2 diaper pail liners, a wet bag, 4 doublers, and maybe a couple of Snappis or some diaper pins.
See my post on making your own pail liners from a pillow case.
A wet bag is a washable, waterproof bag that you put soiled diapers in while you're out and about. Anything that fits this description and can hold 4-5 cloth diapers will work. You can even use your plastic grocery bags from shopping; though they aren't washable, it's good to reuse them for something before recycling them. If you think a grocery bag isn't cute enough, just use it to line some other appropriately sized bag that you do think is cute!
Doublers are simply something you put in the diaper in addition to the prefold to give just a bit more absorbency at night time or nap time for older babies who pee more. You could just double up on prefolds, but that makes a bulky diaper. You might get by with using trifolded burp cloths or wash rags. Used doublers are very inexpensive. I got a set of 4 hemp doublers on Spot's Corner for $9 PPD. I use them only at night.
Snappis are to use in place of diaper pins. They are easier to use, but pinning your prefolds isn't necessary at all. Some people just find that they prefer it. Keep in mind though that if you pin your prefolds, whatever you use to pin them could potentially damage the inside of the diaper cover when you put it over the prefold.
If you buy these items new, you're looking at roughly about $10 per pail liner, $10 for a wet bag, $20 for 4 doublers, and $5 for 2 Snappis. 

approximate cost for a decent stash:
new infant size prefolds 36 x $2 = $72
used one size covers 8 x $7 = $56
used newborn covers 8 x $7 = $56
new cloth wipes 50 x $.60 = $30
total = $214 + shipping

The Savings (other than saving the planet!)

Is this worth it?

$214 may still look like a big price tag, but consider that you will be buying a little at a time in your search for the best deals, and that they will pay for themselves over buying disposables after just 3 months. (That's with a stash priced as above, versus 12 disposables a day at $.22 a diaper, which comes to $80 a month.)
We're going to do a little math. (All of which is underestimating costs of disposables, and assuming cloth diaper costs as outlined above.)
The average number of months a baby is in diapers is about 30, but as they get older they use fewer diapers per day. Let's say you only diaper with disposables for 24 months, they use $80 a month's worth for the first 12 months, and the last 12 months in diapers they use only $50 a month's worth.
So, after the first 3 months the cloth diapers would pay for themselves, there are 9 months left x $80 a month = $720. The last 12 months x $50 a month = $600. $720 + $600 = $1,320. Hmm...let's say you even spend as much as $300 on your diaper stash....$1,320 - $300 = $1,020 savings over the disposable diapering of one child for 24 months. And this doesn't factor in using the cloth wipes you bought rather than disposable wipes either.
But that's not all, folks! Prefolds can last a long time if properly cared for, as can the newborn covers because they won't be used very long or on a crawling/walking baby. So say you can use your prefolds and newborn covers again for your next child and all you would have to invest is around $60 for all the OS covers you'll need...they would pay for themselves after just one month, then you save $80 x 11 months = $880. Then you save $50 x the last 12 months = $600. $880 + $600 = $1,480! $1,480 + the $1,020 you saved with the first kid = $2,500 after cloth diapering 2 kids! And remember, we're only considering diapering for 24 months, but most kids are in diapers for longer.
Just for fun, here's what it looks like after a third baby....The newborn covers might be worn out by now, but maybe not. Let's be on the safe side and say they are. But you're prefolds are still alive and well. Now you would have to buy newborn covers and OS covers. This runs you about $120. They would pay for themselves after 2 months, which leaves 10 months x $80 a month = $800. You diaper this baby for 12 more months x $50 a month = $600. $800 + $600 = $1,400 you save by cloth diapering this baby. $1,400 + the $2,500 saved from the first two put together = $3,900! The savings just keep adding up!

As an aside for those wondering what buying sized covers looks like in comparison:
(assuming purchase from The Real Nappies, which I'm totally sold on as they are the best deal for high quality, sized covers)
6 newborn covers - $36
6 infant covers - $36
6 crawler covers - $36
*6 toddler covers - $36
total - $144 + shipping

*You may not need the toddler size, as their crawler size goes through about 31 lbs. With a little practice of Elimination Communication, it is completely possible that babies can PL by this time or at least be going diaper free most of the time.

Remember that shipping is a flat $5, which means if you buy all your sizes at once you will save.

So let's say you buy all 4 sizes at once, which costs you $144. (We are excluding all shipping costs right now.) Since you only get 6 covers in each size, we'll compare as though you only are going to buy 6 OS covers. $7 x 6 = $42. But, remember you have to buy 6 newborn covers too? That's another projected $42, bringing our total for the one size route to $84. But, after baby #1 goes through those OS covers, you need to buy more for baby #2, assuming there is a baby #2. That's another $42 + that $84 = $126. $144 - $126 = $18. Buying all your covers from The Real Nappies is a little more expensive, and you may still need a couple additional covers in each size (buying individually from Real Nappies is not cheap) or a couple of OS covers because, in my opinion, 6 is not enough.


Cloth Care


I did a Google search for how to wash cloth diapers and now I'm totally confused!

Now that you know you can afford cloth diapers, you might wonder if you can handle washing them. Do a search for how to wash cloth diapers online and you will get so many different answers you won't know which way is up.
Basically, you will hear a lot of "don't use this" and "you can only use that." Some manufacturers will tell you that you will void any warranty on your diapers if you wash them with anything but their special diaper detergent. Well, a warranty is void anyway if you're buying used, and even if you're not and your diaper malfunctions and you send it back, are they gonna test it in a lab or something to see what you washed it with? I don't think so.
Do yourself a favor and hear this now:
  1. You can wash cloth diapers with any detergent you want, covers included. This MAY decrease the life of your covers by a LITTLE BIT, but it's worth it in my opinion not to have to buy special expensive detergent that in a lot of areas can only be found online. 
  2. You can use more than 2 tablespoons of detergent. How do you expect those poopy diapers to get clean with so little detergent anyway? Experiment with how much detergent you need, and do try not to overdo it. But 2 TBSP is definitely under-doing it I would say. 
Okay, ignore detergent recommendations. What else?

For covers, definitely don't use bleach and probably not vinegar either. Bleach is okay for 100% cotton items if you feel you must use it sometimes. Do not use fabric softeners. Otherwise, a normal diaper wash routine should go like this:
  1. cold soak (do not soak covers)
  2. very warm wash
  3. extra rinse
  4. hang dry at least your covers, they will last longer. If you must, dry on lowest heat setting
  5. repeat every other day, or at most every third day
If you understand the purpose of each step, you can gain more insight into how to care for cloth diapers. 
The cold soak is to fight stains and is honestly optional. Personally, I skip the soak, always. And I don't have much trouble with stains because if a lot of poop gets on a diaper, we rinse it before putting it in the diaper pail (doesn't happen a lot because we also use Elimination Communication). Also, I line dry the diapers and the sun is an awesome stain remover. 
The warm wash is, of course, to get them clean. Do not use scalding hot water to wash your covers, but the prefolds could handle it if you deem it necessary. Warm water has always been enough for me. 
The extra rinse is to make sure that all detergent gets rinsed out of the diapers, because if it doesn't it can cause them to repel, or in other words not be as absorbent.
And as mentioned above, line dry at least your covers if you can. I recommend line drying everything because the sun does a great job removing stains and if you are poor, you need to be saving that electricity anyway!
You have to wash diaper frequently because the further apart you wash, the stinkier they get sitting in the diaper pail and the more chance there is that they could develop some bacterial growth or some funk like that. You also have to have more diapers if you want to get by for more days without washing. 

What does stripping diapers mean and when is it necessary?

When you buy new prefolds or inserts or what have you, they have natural chemicals from the cotton or chemicals from manufacturing in them. These have to be "stripped" off of the diapers before the diapers will be very absorbent. 
To strip diapers, simply wash them in hot water with a little detergent. Wash them separately from other things, you don't want these chemicals getting on other diapering stuff and making it not absorb liquid well. You will have to wash diapers a few times before they are good and stripped.
Another time that you may need to strip your diapers is if they seem like they are starting to not hold as much liquid, or they are repelling liquid. This is probably because the detergent hasn't been getting fully rinsed out of them and is building up inside them. Simply decrease the amount of detergent you are using and do some extra rinse cycles until you notice the problem subside. Continue washing as normal after that, but with the amount of detergent you decreased to.

What do you do when you change a dirty cloth diaper?

You do everything like you would with a regular diaper, except four things:
  1. Remember cloth diapers usually have to be changed a little more frequently than disposables. You will get a feel for your baby and how long they can stay in one diaper, but generally change every couple hours for younger babies.
  2. If a diaper has a lot of EBF (exclusively breastfed poop) and you want to try to fight stains, rinse it with a diaper sprayer, in the toilet, or in the sink. If it has solids poop in it, shake the solids into the toilet, then rinse as desired. 
  3. Instead of throwing the soiled items away, you store them in a dry diaper pail or temporarily in a wet bag if you're away from home. 
  4. If the diaper cover did not get pooped in, use a wipe to wipe it out, then let it air out and use it again at the next diaper change. (Remember wiping out doesn't apply for sandwiched PUL covers.)
Other Reasons You Might Think You Can't

How do you wash cloth diapers while traveling?


Many parents use disposables when traveling, and sometimes this is just the best option. However, if you are motivated you can totally wash cloth diapers while traveling. Below are several ideas about how to wash in different travel situations. Obviously, hand washing in a tub or sink and air or sun drying are always options. **When hand washing cloth diapers, do NOT wring out covers! This can damage them!**
Hotel 
Use the hotel's pay per load washers if they let you adjust the settings so you don't get water that's too hot or something. If the washer won't let you do an extra rinse, that could be done in the tub of the hotel room. If using a "public" washer, I'd try and be discrete about it; it can gross some people out. Most laundromats will tell you no up front.
House 
If you are staying with someone at their house, they will probably let you use their machine. Pretty simple.
RV/Camping
Well...how do you wash your other clothes? If the answer is at a laundromat, then you've got a problem to solve. There are portable manual clothes washers available that require cranking a handle and they are small enough to fit on a countertop. Specifically the Wonder Wash comes to mind. I think these run about $50 and can be purchased online.

I live somewhere without a washer and am not allowed to wash diapers in the laundry complex/at the laundromat!


See above section for some ideas. This is what we ended up doing...
We used to hand wash our diapers, and all of our clothes in fact (see post "Hand Wash, Hang Dry"). But after about 2 months of hand washing our clothes plus diapers every other day, I realized I just couldn't go on doing that forever. So, I convinced my husband to let me use some of our tax refund money to buy a portable compact washing machine.
I picked one with good Amazon ratings made by Haier and bought it from Target. I used a 10% off + free shipping code I found by searching Google for "Target promo code," as well as a $100 gift card for Target that we got at Christmas. After these savings, we only ended up paying about $150 out of pocket for the machine. And man do I love it!
It would be great for an apartment, because it connects to about any kitchen sink, drains through the sink, and plugs into a regular home outlet. So it doesn't require any special connections whatsoever. It holds a very decent capacity load for its size (all my dirty diaper laundry from two days fits in it) and it is fairly quite.
Even if you went this route, you would still be saving money over buying disposables, even if you only cloth diaper one child! Isn't that kind of ridiculous?! Plus, you'll save money not having to use pay per load washers for all your other clothes too.

Aren't cloth diapers leaky?

There are some situations in which they can leak, but disposables leak too sometimes, you guys. Here are the reasons for which you could experience leaks:
  1. diapers are repelling liquid and need to be stripped due to improper washing
  2. diaper cover is damaged/worn out and therefor no longer waterproof
  3. diaper needed to be changed a long time ago; no matter how great the cover, it will leak eventually if a diaper gets soaked enough
Experiencing leaks with night time cloth diapering is a bit more common. This can, however, be easily avoided once you find the right night time solution for your baby. For us, it's a prefold with a hemp doubler, covered with a Real Nappies Snug Wrap. We get no leaks, ever.

My baby's daycare/babysitter/grandparents won't do it.


If your care provider really understands how easy cloth can be, they will probably come around to the idea. You can use covers like the Booroi prestuffed with a prefold so that the care taker can change the diaper and put a new one on just as if it were a regular diaper. You could also choose to buy some pocket or all in one diapers to make use easier for your sitter. But putting the diaper together before putting it on the baby is usually not the biggest issue in these types of situations. Most caretakers are concerned with what to do with the dirty diapers and might think that cloth diapers will be leaky.
Just have an honest discussion with your care provider about why you want to use cloth and how easy it can be. Ask them what their reasons are for not wanting to and see if you can help relieve any concerns they have about it. Tell them that you can leave them with a large wet bag every day to put soiled diapers in. Make sure they know that they do not have to handle rinsing out poopy diapers or anything, that they can just put them in the wet bag and you will take care of it later. They might even be willing to use your cloth wipes, which shouldn't be any extra trouble for them.
Some people will just never agree to try cloth, and you may be stuck with switching sitters or using disposables while your baby is in their care.
Don't cloth diapers stink?

Stick with cotton and avoid detergent buildup in your diapers and they should smell fine. Store soiled diapers in a dry diaper pail with a lid, and keep a little sprinkling of baking soda in the bottom to absorb odors. On wash day, I always wipe out my diaper pail with a little vinegar. 
There can be a strong ammonia smell from urine when you dump the contents of the pail into your washer. Just wipe out your pail, wash your pail liner with your diapers, and keep on moving. Some things don't smell pleasant, that's just life!

If I Knew Then What I Know Now


There are so many choices, how do I know what to buy?


Unfortunately, it can be really difficult to decide what to get, especially when it comes to covers. Do some reading on different brands of covers. Diaper Swappers and Diaper Pin are both excellent resources. Don't be afraid to try a little of everything to figure out what you like.

I got some stuff I don't like. Now what?


Fortunately for you, cloth diapers resell very well. If you don't end up liking aplix closures (or snaps, on the other hand), or you don't like the fit of a particular cover, you can sell your diapers pretty easily.
In this area, at least, not a lot of people cloth diaper so consider that if you are thinking of listing locally. Better suggestions for where to sell your diapers include Spot's CornerDiaper Swappers, Tuloot, and of course Ebay. There are also various other online outlets specifically for individuals who want to buy and sell cloth diapers.
Ebay takes a pretty big cut from your sales, but is probably the best place to sell large lots. I would personally recommend Spot's Corner for selling individual or small sets of diapers as it costs a flat rate of $2.50 to list any amount of items for a 2 week period.

What is in your personal diaper stash?


I certainly don't have the exact combination of diapering things I would like to, but in my stash right now, I have:
34 prefolds (had 36 but 2 got stolen)
60 wipes (we could get by easily with only 45 or 50)
6 OS covers
3 medium covers
4 large covers
4 newborn covers
3 small covers

Of my 6 OS covers, 2 are pink and so those are backup for if we run out of all the not girly colors. I bought them for a good price and figured we'll probably have a girl eventually.

My OS covers are:
2 Flip
2 Rumparooz
2 Blueberry Coveralls (had 3, 1 was stolen with the prefolds)

My Medium covers:
3 Booroi

My Large covers:
4 Real Nappies Snug Wraps

My Newborn covers:
1 Bumkins
3 Rumparooz

My Small covers:
2 Booroi
1 Thirsties Duo Wrap size 1

You might notice that I didn't follow my own advice as far as sizing! Well, most of this I purchased before I really figured out the most economical way to do this thing. The 4 large Real Nappies Snug Wraps I have are to replace the mediums if those get outgrown. I say "if" because those mediums are Booroi covers, and Booroi covers have a very broad weight range.

So what do you like? What don't you like?


Prefolds
Before, I had thick bamboo inserts and not prefolds. These were very absorbent and I liked them, but they took forever to dry on the line. So I switched to prefolds. If you will be line drying, prefolds are definitely better if you don't want to find yourself without any clean, dry diapers.

Wipes
I've got mostly Osocozy cotton flannel wipes. Many wipes are 2 layers, mine are 1. This doesn't make any difference to me. I have a few random 2 ply wipes, and I don't like them any better. In fact, them being thicker means I can't fit as many in a travel wipes case or pull them through the wipes case opening as easily.

Covers
All of my covers except the Real Nappies have a wipe clean interior, though some have flaps to hold inserts in place (Bumkins, Flip), the Boorois have a "gusset" all the way around to hold the prefold. Other covers have nothing inside and all the inside surface is laminated (Rumparooz, Blueberry).
I like the Rumparooz and Blueberry because since the inside is has no flaps or anything, sometimes it can get pooped in and still nothing gets on the cover. I like the Flip covers because, for my son, they have a trim fit. I like the Booroi because of their broad weight range and how they snap at the sides. I know the Booroi small will fit a newborn, but it also fits my 4 month old, 17 lb son.
I really even feel like the Booroi medium, from comparing it with the small and with the Thirsties Duo Wrap 1, would fit most newborns, and I also think it would fit up until close to potty learning time. Booroi covers are just so stretchy, they really do fit a very broad weight range for not being OS covers. They do, however, have a very round sort of look, which is evident from pictures you can find of them online. I like the Thirsties Duo Wraps because the size 1 fits newborns-18lbs, and the size 2 picks up there and takes you to potty learning. This is also a trim fitting cover. I love the Real Nappies because they are super high quality. They are the only cover that has never leaked, under any circumstances, no matter how soaked the diaper. I always use one of these at night time. 

Snaps or aplix?


For me, I like snaps. My only aplix covers are the Bumkins newborn and the 4 Real Nappies Snug Wraps. I think snaps are harder for toddlers to undo, they hold better than some types of aplix, and I think in general they last longer. Some people like aplix better because it is slightly more adjustable, and it is easier to get on the baby quickly. However, aplix can become dingy looking over time and catch things in it like hair, strings, lint, etc.

What about leg gussets?


For us, leg gussets are not a must. Our son hardly poops in his diapers because we potty him on a baby potty, and so they just aren't very necessary. If you get poop stains inside a cover, it usually happens at the leg gussets. But some moms swear by them. Most of my covers have gussets, the only ones that don't are the Flips and the Real Nappies Snug Wraps.

Any other words of wisdom?


You can cloth diaper. It isn't too expensive, too difficult, or too disgusting. Basically, all it will mean for you is a little effort put into getting a diaper stash together, a little more laundry, and a lot of money saved. 

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