Cloth diapers are awesome.
Well, I love them anyway! And there are so many different options out there today — to suit any style and any budget. There are the super-cute organic pockets with fun prints (which might run you $24 – $30 each), or there are flats or prefolds with basic covers (which might run you $2 – $4 each). Whatever style you like, whatever works in your budget — there’s something out there. And of course you can feel free to mix and match as desired.
Pocket Diaper 1 of 6The diaper pictured is a Bum Genius, one of the most popular pocket diapers out there. A pocket diaper is a diaper which requires an insert to be stuffed inside. This means that the absorbency is customizable (for day/night or babies with different needs) and that they wash and dry faster since the insert comes out for washing. They're also the easiest to use, not much different than a disposable, so they're "baby sitter" friendly.
However, they can be expensive. They're one of the most expensive options of all the cloth diapering systems out there. These diapers are $10 - $25 each. It is possible to buy used diapers or "economy" brands on the lower end of the scale. There are also deals available if you buy 6 or 12 at once. Some people choose to use a few of these for night time or babysitters or traveling, and pair it with a cheaper system.
Prefolds 2 of 6Prefolds are probably what you think of when you hear "cloth diapers." Indeed, they are what our grandmothers used! However, they are excellent because they are versatile, absorbent, and come in various sizes (from preemie through toddler). They're cheap, running $2 - $4 each, and they last years, through 2 - 4 babies.
However, some people don't like that they require a fastening system, they need to be folded somehow, and they require a separate cover. They can be messy to touch during changes. I love them personally as inserts in pockets, but have used them with covers, too, and they worked quite well. They're not as "user friendly" though, if you're not familiar!
Image by snarky_momma
Flat Diaper 3 of 6This is a single, large piece of cotton that can be folded in different ways to fit babies of different sizes. They're extremely cheap at $1 - $3 each, and they can be used birth through potty training. They are the cheapest option available.
They do, however, require some type of fastener, various types of folding, and a separate cover. They're not especially user-friendly. They're not a popular diapering system, but they are quite economical.
Fitted Diaper 4 of 6Fitted diapers are another popular option. They're like pockets (and some are pockets), but they don't have a waterproof layer on the outside. They're cheaper than pockets for this reason, and still pretty user-friendly, coming with snaps or hook-and-loop. Some, like one pictured above (Motherease), are even one-size, meaning they fit from birth to potty training!
Some don't like that these require an extra cover
Diaper Cover 5 of 6The cover shown is a Bummis Super Whisper Wrap, one of the more popular options out there. Diaper covers are necessary if you are using prefolds, flats, or fitted diapers. They are a waterproof barrier between the diaper and the baby's clothes. They are usually not too expensive, around $12 each (and there are cheaper options too, around $8 - $9), although you don't need too many. Most people use 4 - 6 covers, because as long as they are not soiled, they can be reused a few times before they need to be washed.
There are downsides, such as having two parts to the diaper. If baby has "blow outs," they may go through covers quickly. Many covers are hook-and-loop, which babies can learn to remove easily. Of course, it depends on what sort of diaper you put inside, too!
Snappi 6 of 6Pins? Nope! You don't need them anymore! This neat tool -- a snappi -- holds the diaper in place and doesn't hurt the baby (and can't poke the baby). They're fairly cheap, although they can get lost easily, and there's a bit of a learning curve in using them. They're only necessary on diapers that don't come with their own closures, like prefolds or flats. But they do make for a very cheap diapering system!
Top image by trenttsd