Right on the heels of Earth Day and Mother's Day (I feel like we should have a discussion on combining those. Can you imagine how cool the gifts would get?) a parenting post...
I call cloth diapering a hobby, because it is.
It requires money (regular diapers technically cost more, just less at the intervals at which you buy them) time (washing, prepping) and a motivation, a drive to do it.
As a matter of fact, I'd advise against adopting any technique on parenting (besides the required love, support, food, clothing, shelter basics) that you don't have motivation for unless you want to be miserable. I wouldn't go out and bother people to use cloth diapers anymore than I would tell them to breastfeed-all of that stuff is your choice and your time, and your kid isn't going to do worse on one than the other.
There is actually some debate on whether or not cloth diapers ARE even environmentally friendly. They use a lot of water, you normally don't use bleach very often at all, though. But if you use a dryer, then you use electricity. That said, they do appear to have a slightly less footprint. That's mostly how this stuff works-more effort, less impact, but you have to examine that pretty critically.
One of the best articles from one of the best sources is on WIRED, which looks at both sides. Disposable diapers, which you are supposed to remove the poop from via your toilet system, often sit in landfills and leak. Even the brands that boast biodegrading are not really doing that, and also will cost you quite a bit more. Even then, the benefits are somewhat on the fence. So don't do this and go into it thinking you are saving the world. It's a good thing to do if YOU WANT TO. And, honestly, it has saved us some money, and once my toddler is potty trained, we can give this set to someone with a new baby.
The fit underneath clothing is bigger, so just get roomier sizes. I always did that anyway, each child has been really active, so they needed the more comfortable fit.
Or, if you have a girl, invest in some dresses.
It was interesting to hear my mother and grandmother and everyone a bit older than myself talk about their cloth diapering, too. Many were fascinated with the choices you have now if you want to use them. We have several brands-Simply baby, Bumgenius, Rumparooz, and Totsbots Easy Fit. I wasn't as happy with the Rumparooz, the fit is quite tight, and my once-preemie baby is on the smaller side, but mostly you can pick whatever you want to deal with, and you will be fine.
We cloth diaper part-time. I never use them at night (I need sleep, the toddler needs sleep) and it works the best for us. I alternate throughout the day with disposable diapers and cloth as we feel necessary. I also use Grovia Bioliners, little naturally made and biodegradable papers that are dirt cheap and line the diapers to make cleaning up the messier parts of this process easier.
You need a place to put the dirty diapers before laundering, so invest in a good washable pail liner. And you can NOT use regular detergent on any of these. We have had the best luck with Rockin' Green-our sensitive skinned kid can't deal with anything else and we live in a hard water area, so the water softeners are a must.
For a part-time cloth diapering hobby-get 8-10 of them. For full-time, more like 24-32.
I probably own about 28.
Because buying fashionable cloth diaper prints is kind of an addictive hobby. My favorite stores are The Green Nursery, Cotton Babies, and Mockingbird Baby.Hey, some people spend a ton on Easter dresses. I think it's basically all the same principal. Just the thing I spent money on also catches poops.
And maybe, it's a slightly greener choice. Maybe.