We switched to cloth diapers shortly after the birth of my second daughter. I LOVE cloth diapers: routine diaper rash disappeared, no worrying about running out of diapers, and so much cheaper than constantly tossing disposables! We are not purists though, we still use disposables for night-time and day-long trips.
At first, I sewed out own pocket all in ones, using the pattern I found online from Mama Bird. It was free back then, but while writing this post I was unable to find a valid link to her pattern (if you know where it is, please comment and let us know where she moved it!). I found that I liked the PUL, waterproof polyurethane laminate material, with the shiny side in/fabric side out and I liked diapers lined in cotton interlock, for stretch and better fit of the diaper. I ordered materials and Aplix fasteners from Celtic Cloth and Fabric.com. The cost for materials for 2 dozen diapers ran me around $80 the last time I ordered.
After the birth of my third daughter, I made one set of diapers for her, she outgrew then in two months, and I decided I did not have the time to make another two dozen diapers with three kiddos to chase around. After much review reading and research, I decided to go with two dozen Indian cotton prefolds from OsoCozy on Amazon and six covers from Real Nappies, also on Amazon. The total was a little over $100, so a more expensive than making two dozen diapers myself, but worth the exchange in hours of time I would have spent sewing. These have worked better than my homemade diapers at preventing leaks! Avery only had one night-time leak (we do not always make it into the disposable…). Prefold with a cover are bulkier than all-in-ones, but easier to launder because I do not have to deal with the soaker.
To use a prefold with a cover, first fold the prefold into thirds, like a letter. Place the diaper into the cover and place on baby like a disposable diaper, fasten the velcro.
To change the diaper, open the diaper, use a wet wipe to clean the baby and place in dry diaper pail. I use flannel 7″ squares that are two pieces of flannel serged together. I use a peri-bottle squeeze bottle (can get from medical supply stores) filled with water and a squirt each of baby wash and baby oil (to clean and condition skin better than plain water) to wet the wipes as I need them. If the diaper has poop, I shake the solids into the toilet or wipe the bulk of it with toilet paper into the toilet. Breastfed poop does not need to be disposed of in toilet, it will wash right out. But if your baby is eating solid food and has not-so-solid poop, and you just cannot bear to scrape it into the toilet with toilet paper, you can always invest in a little sprayer that hooks up to your toilet (or use your hose in the backyard).
To wash diapers, use your largest wash setting and do a regular/heavy wash cycle on cold/cold with no detergent. Next, do a hot/cold wash cycle with a small amount of detergent (the amount you would use for a small load), again in a full washer of water. Lots of water is important for swishing those diapers around, and I have read poor reviews of using high-efficiency washers for diapers, so if you have an HE washer do a little research on how to wash diapers effectively. I also use my fabric softener dispenser to dispense vinegar during the rinse cycle to make sure there is no detergent left on diapers. I never use fabric softener, and it will coat your diapers so do not use fabric softener on diapers or use vinegar in your dispenser cup if you normally use softener in other loads! I also run an extra rinse cycle to make sure the diapers are free of all detergent and vinegar. Finally, dry on high/cotton until dry. My Indian prefolds are super absorbent and take 1 1/2 dryer runs to get completely dry.
Fabric softener, diaper cream and bleach are BIG NO NO’s for cloth diapers, they will ruin them. Never never use them with cloth diapers. Diaper rash is not an issue now that we use cloth, but if a bad poop makes your baby’s bum red, use a little cornstarch baby powder to keep skin dry.