hen I was a "tween", I attended a child's birthday party with my sister and baby brother. It consisted of about a dozen little tykes scurrying through a play place at the local McDonalds. (See also: what today would be known as my personal hell.) The party was almost over when a commotion was happening in the playground equipment. Parents were calling to their children and trying to coax, or threaten, them out of the area. Apparently one of the moms was an advocate for cloth diapering. Like, a piece of cloth and safety pin diapering. I thought I was disgusted when I learned that poop had escaped said diaper, and made it's way all throughout the plastic palace. But it was in fact when I learned that my brother was trapped inside of it and refused to come out alone. It was a scarring experience that filled me with distaste for cloth diapers. This is why I understood the looks I received from older generations when I said I would be cloth diapering.
First of all, the cloth diaper game has changed and improved times a million. Gone are the days of safety pins (Luckily for my child, because he would be impaled.) and hand washing the mess in the toilet. It's a little more work than disposable, but easier than it ever was before and with some pretty great perks.
REASONS TO CLOTH DIAPER/
It's good for the environment
Disposable diapers seem to hang on forever. It's estimated that they take over 250 years to decompose. On the days when you don't feel like spraying some shit in the toilet, think about how many diapers you're keeping out of land fills. It helps most days.
It's a great option financially
Starting out, it's a bit of an investment. (Prices vary brand to brand.) We use the Bum Genius brand which ranged anywhere from $25-$30 when we were buying them, but are only $19.99 now on Amazon. Babies usually go through 2,500-3,000 disposables in their first year alone. That can add up to or be more than $550. We have 10 cloth diapers, which has been a good number for us and if bought now would be about $200 and would last the entirety of your child's diaper days, and any children you have after. You will still need disposables for certain instances, but a lot less than that.
You don't have to worry about sensitivity in your child. (Especially when pairing with natural detergent, which is recommended with the Bum Genius brand.) And they are free of any toxins that may be present in disposables.
It may be a helpful component in potty training
I can't personally attest to this one yet, which is why I'm saying it's possible. In Potty Training in 3 Days- by Brandi Brucks, She states that cloth diapers encouraged quicker training in some cases because the child is more aware when they are wet, and want to change that. I'm hoping that's true in our case as well...
WHEN YOU MAY NOT WANT TO CLOTH DIAPER/
In those early days it's not an exaggeration that baby just eats,sleeps, and poops. Because the frequency of pooping is almost that of eating, it's understandable to give yourself a break where you can find it. Between feeding and pumping and changing diapers, I barely had time to sleep for the first month or so, so I wasn't going to spend precious minutes cleaning and washing diapers. (This is also how we got away with only having ten diapers.)
This one is pretty obvious. Cloth diapers are less absorbent than disposables, and spending that much time in a wet diaper would be rash city. We do overnight diapers for bedtime.
It's not impossible to cloth diaper while traveling, just inconvenient. If you will be spending an extended amount of time with family or somewhere with laundry options, it's not a big deal to take the diaper sprayer with you and wash them as necessary.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED/
After you settle on a brand, there are a couple additional items that make life easier when cloth diapering. First off you'll most likely want a diaper sprayer. It hooks up to your toilet and all you have to do is turn the switch at each use. It's super simple and powerful. (I also use it to clean our tub.) You only have to spray the poopy diapers and we keep all of the dirty ones in a small trashcan with a lid by the toilet.
Because the sprayer is so powerful, you may want to use a shield. I admit on some of my less enthusiastic days, I'll just hold the diapers really low in the toilet to spray out. But if you just go to spray it like normal without the shield, you're going to spray poop everywhere.
It was recommended that we use a dye and fragrance-free laundry detergent, not only for the diapers, but for baby's skin. Now we use this detergent on all of our clothes.
If you are considering the cloth route, I highly encourage you to give it a try. It's really not much more effort than disposable. (Especially as your child grows and doesn't poop every few hours.) We've never had any complaints from the kid and have never had a blow-out. They should be changed within a reasonable time to prevent leaking like any disposable, but are cinched to keep all that mess in there. Some brands do leak, I cannot speak for any others because we have only used Bum Genius and have never had a problem and will continue using them for our little girl. I hope this gave some insight or help if you're considering, scared of, or even starting the cloth diapering journey. Good luck!