We started using cloth diapers when our son was born in 2007, it has been a huge money saver and I think it is better for their skin because you have to change diapers more frequently. We have used the same diapers and wipes when our daughter was born a few months ago. I do not exclusively use cloth diapers, only when we are at home and on quick errands. I have found that both kids knew very quickly when they were wet with the cloth diapers, so I have to change them frequently. With a newborn, I use 12-15 diapers a day and as they got older it decreases how many are needed. By about 9 months of age, I found that my son was only going through 5 or 6 diapers a day, it took too many days to get up enough diapers to make a full wash load and the diapers got stinky in those few days. At that point, we quit using cloth diapers; however the cost savings in those nine months was amazing.
24 prefold diapers (best quality Chinese cotton)
48 flannel baby wipes
6 Dappies diaper covers
3 Snappie diaper closure
heated wipe warmer
To get started, it cost more than disposables, but after that, it has been essentially free.
Diapers $1.67 each = $40
Flannel 2 yards = $5
Dappi covers $3 each = $20
Snappies $2 each =$6
pail = $8 (needed one for disposables anyway)
Wipe warmer = $20 (would have bought it anyway)
For just the cloth diapering stuff, it was about $75, the same cost as 5 packs of regular diapers, but it is a one time cost. Yes, you do have to do more laundry, but I found that I only need one small sized load a day, and that is about the same amount of water as a few flushes of the toilet--hardly a big waste of water compared to the bags of dirty disposable diapers that would be trashed. We also use a plastic trash bag liner to keep the sides of the pail from getting dirty, I can reuse this plastic bag for several days, if the pail starts to stink, the liner gets thrown away.
Diaper Wash Routine:
Soiled diapers and wipes are put into a diaper pail. Our pail has a lid, but I found that the pail actually smells better if you leave it open. I think it allows the diapers to dry out a bit and keeps the stinky bacteria from growing. I do a diaper load each day, so this also helps with the odor.
Just before bed, I fill with wash with hot water on the smallest size load and dump in the pail of wipes and diapers. With a breastfed newborn, the poop is very runny so pre-rinsing is not needed, I just let the washing machine handle the first rinse, rather than me. I allow the washer to agitate for about 5 minutes, then drain off the water and refill with hot water and a scoop of detergent, leaving the washer lid open. This water soaks the diapers overnight. In the morning, all I have to do is close the lid and allow the wash cycle to do a full run. Most days, I am able to hang the diapers out on the clothes line to dry. On rainy days, the diapers go into the electric dryer and often take more than one cycle to dry. Since the dryer is one of the bigger power users in our house, I hate using it to dry diapers.
We were so pleased with how well cloth diapering worked for our first child that we have happily used the same setup for our second child. The biggest draw back is what I call 'mushroom butt' not a gross fungus or anything, but just the giant padded butt the kids get while wearing the cloth diapers. Both kids needed a full size larger of clothing if they were weraing a cloth diaper instead of a disposible.