The Ins-and-Outs of Cloth Diapering by a Self-Proclaimed Cloth Diaper Nerd:
(how's that for gratuitous capitalization?)
Grace mentioned in her comment to the Super(wo)man entry that I switched to cloth diapering in mid-babyhood. This is true. In fact, at the end of September we will have been a cloth family for one year!
A few disclaimers before I share "our way":
1) A lot of CDing is experimentation. The first day I put D in a tri-folded prefold in a Bummi Super Whisper Wrap, I literally cried because I hated how bulky it looked on her (not-so-little) 8 month old frame. So I experimented around and found some diapers I did like. And stopped dressing her in onesies every day - that helped immensely. Anyway - there is (in my opinion) a steep learning curve at the beginning, but there are also fantastic resources out there in the form of cloth diapering message boards to help you through.
2) Every baby and every family is different. I myself am a stay-at-home mom who prefers to keep D in cloth as much as possible. D is a heavy-wetter with chunky thighs, thin waist, and short rise. So what works for us is just that - what works for us. Your mileage may vary.
So, here goes:
In the beginning, I was looking for the cheapest way to CD. I didn't have a whole lot of money for starting a stash. In fact, that can be a big concern for anyone looking to make the switch. The start-up costs can be big. Ideally, if you are pregnant, you can start building a stash in those 9 months (or in D's case - 41 weeks, 4 days, not that I am bitter or anything). It's a lot easier to buy a few here and there. For that matter, if you do want to make the switch later in babyhood, I am sure you could buy a few a month and CD part-time until you have a workable stash. I personally don't have that kind of self-control and I wanted to do it all - NOW.
So I started with prefolds and Bummi covers from a lovely little brick-and-mortar CD store in the very lovely town just down the road from us: Full Circle Baby. It was a delight to work with a great CDing mama in starting my stash. But as I mentioned, we were in the full-on, nothing but onesies stage of babyhood and snapping a onesie around a tri-folded prefold in a Bummi cover was not only tricky, it looked ridiculous (to me). It was at about that time that some wonderful mamas on the forums at Diaper Pin shared some advice with me: take it slow, check out used diapers, dress D in t-shirts and dresses, and give it time. Diaper Pin has a wonderful For Sale or Trade forum and shortly after that I discovered Diaperswappers.
I know, I know - the thought of buying and selling USED cloth diapers totally skeeves some people out. I don't know what to say to that except that it doesn't bother me. I can purchase them so much cheaper gently used and wash them and dry them myself before I put them on D to make sure they are adequately clean. If you think about it, the people who use cloth diaper services are also using "used" diapers on their kids - diaper services don't send you a stack of brand new diapers each week - trust me.
I soon discovered I loved the ease and trim fit of pocket diapers. The most basic and probably most popular pocket diaper on the scene right now is Fuzzi Bunz. As you can see from the picture, it is a diaper that has a waterproof outer layer, a stay-dry inner layer of microfleece, and there is space in between for you to stuff your insert (which is what holds the moisture. oh who are we kidding? It holds the pee!). Though many, many CD retailers sell FBs, I linked you to Cotton Babies because I love, love, love their inserts! Anyway, my pocket stash has expanded and I have more favorites these days, but that's another post.
I believe Grace was asking as far as day-to-day CDing - what does it look like, right?
Well, I keep all of D's diapers in her (unused) bassinet in her room. They are all ready to go next to the changing area on her bed. When she is wet, I spray a cloth wipe with my homemade wipe solution, wipe, and put the cloth wipe and diaper in the wet bag. We have a NappSack that I got on ebay. I will let you read on that page about all that a wet bag is (I am getting tired, friends!), but basically you should know that no one really does wet pails anymore. Wet bags are a great thing and much easier with which to work.
Now, if we have a poopy dipe to change, I will make sure to wet down a few cloth wipes first. Then I lay her down, change her, put her fresh dipe on and let her play while I take said poopy dipe to the bathroom. If the CD gods are a-smiling on me, then I can shake that bad boy into the toilet and flush and PRESTO CHANGE-O, I am done! But as I mentioned in the previous entry, sometimes it's more involved. Anyway, when the clean-up is over, I put that dipe in the wet bag.
Laundry - I do laundry every other night after D is in bed. It's a routine I have had from the beginning and I don't really want to change it. I have enough diapers to go longer between washes, but I personally feel that washing every other night keeps our diapers stink-free and stain-free. Our laundry routine is cold rinse, hot wash with two tablespoons of Sun detergent and a few drops of Dawn Original dishwashing soap, followed by one more cold rinse to make sure the detergent is all rinsed away. I pop most everything in the dryer and then I am done!
Did I cover everything? If you have other questions, let me know. It's getting late and my head hurts, so I am sure some things have been left out.