Last time I wrote about cloth diapers, we were still undecided as to what we would do (whether to go for disposable diapers or something else) for the first couple of months until she fits her Bumgenius Elementals*. After reading your advice and researching a bit more, we decided to go for the simplest option, that would allow for some versatility as well: prefolds (also known as flats).
We went for 20 cotton prefolds in size small and 4 PUL covers**, all of which are supposed to fit her from 2.5 to 5.5 kg (from 5 to 12 lb). We also got 2 wet-bags (to put the dirty diapers in the diaper bag when going out), 2 mesh-laundry bags (for the diaper pail), 5 rolls of flushable stay-dry liners, 6 Snappis, some neutral-non-enzymatic powder detergent and a nappy bucket.
For now, we are folding the diapers using the origami fold, where most of the absorbancy is in the center all the way from the front to the back. It is quite easy: you fold the diaper in 4, then take a corner and 'pull' it to the other extreme, turn the diaper around and fold the remaining piece in three. Of course you wouldn't understand anything by reading my explanation. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is one:
After we fold the diaper, we lay a flushable-liner square in the center of each diaper and voilà, they are ready to use. I thought folding and prepping the diapers was going to be lots of work, but it actually goes quite fast, it's something we do while watching TV or hanging out in the couch and talking.
As for the washing, it really does turn out that with a baby you are doing laundry all-the-time anyway, so it really isn't more work to throw them to the laundry every day and a half or so. Actually, in our specific case, it would be more work to walk out the house to empty the diaper pail, than it is to walk to the washing machine at the end of the hallway. We have a high-efficiency washing machine, that does not allow a soaking program, so we start with a cold rinse, then we do a hot wash cycle with 2 scoops of powder detergent and after that we put them in the dryer or, when the sun is shining like it has been in The Netherlands this last few days, we hang them in the balcony to air dry. The sun really does miracles. We have had a few stained diapers, but the star-closest-to-us bleaches everything and the diapers end up stark white, disinfected (UV light kills nasty germs) and ready to use. Afer about a month of using them though, even when they looked and smelled clean after washing and drying them, they started to smell really strong of ammonia as soon as she soaked them just a bit, so we stripped them (as advised by cottonbabies): again starting with a cold rinse, followed by a hot wash (90ºC) with a tablespoon of Dawn dishwasher detergent, and finally by a second hot-wash without detergent. It was like magic, they worked as new.
We are really, really happy with our cloth diapers so far. They contain the mess really well (we haven't experienced [yet] the famous, explosive, breastfeeding-poop blowouts) and we've only had leaks a few times, when we accidentally left a bit of fabric sticking out of the diaper cover, or when baby Yu slept really long (4.5 - 5 hrs) and the cotton could not absorb any more.We are still learning, so the times when we have gone out for the whole day we have used disposable diapers. Also, the first 25 days of her life, when she was at the hospital she was on disposable diapers the whole time.
We wash the shells by hand once a day, or occasionally more often, when they are dirty or too moist, but it is quite a fast process. She has not had a diaper rash (cross our fingers), but since we are using the stay-dry flushable liners we are allowed to use creams, and sometimes we use a little bit of white Vaseline on her bum. My mom did use cloth diapers (the terry type) with me and my brother (not my sister) and she says that diaper rash will inevitably happen to babies at one point or another regardless of the diaper (she used both types, disposables on my sis).
We decided to use the biodegradable paper liners that get thrown away in the toilet, as because of the way our toilet is built we could not install a sprayer and we like the principle that the paper lets pass the moisture so that the baby stays a bit drier than if it was sitting directly on its stools.
She is growing fast, so we are figuring out new ways of folding the diapers, and just very recently have started experimenting with the Kite fold, with a small piece of folded-cotton acting as an in-layer. This makes the whole thing quite bulky, so we are hoping to find some alternative folds that will be trimmer.
Does anyone have any advice or experience?
*Pieces of Anna wrote good overview on her experience using and taking care of the Bumgenius Elementals,
**We got the Rikki diaper covers from Mother-Ease, two in small and two extra-small in the "Oceans", "The Wetlands", "Rainforest" and "Asia" patterns. They work really well and they are super cute, I particularly love the turquoise one as it reminds me of Finding Nemo.
For those of you in The Netherlands, we got all of our diaper supplies at KaatjeKatoen, and we were impressed by the quality of the service. Before making our decision we visited one of their consultants, who are all over the country and provide free advice. She showed us the diapers and explained the different systems. She was also available to answer our questions by email all along. When we finally ordered the diapers got to us really fast (in a matter of three days). When I was researching I found another two shops that sell cloth diapers in Holland: Babybum and Bumaround, with more or less the same pricing. But Babybum was not able to offer advice at the moment we needed them and I only found out about Bumaround weeks after we had already made our decision, through an ad in a pamphlet that came in a goodie box.
Images of the diaper folds via Blueberry diapers.