- It's better for the baby
- It's better for the environment
- It's cheaper (assuming you don't use a diaper service)
Three reasons, that's it. Very briefly, it's better for your baby, because there are no harmful chemicals being held against their skin. It's better for the environment because you're not dumping plastics, harmful chemicals and human waste into landfills*. It's cheaper, because, even though it's a big initial investment, It's less than half of what using disposables costs. It cost us $450 for our stash, $150 for a mini washing machine (not necessary, but we live in a building with shared laundry) and $50 for a diaper sprayer. That's a total of $650, plus whatever extra water and electricity is needed. Disposables, which run us roughly $26/week would cost us $1,352 in the first year. If we ever have another little one, we won't have to buy cloth all over again, so we'll save huge there.
The 4th, not-really-a-reason-reason is that there are some adorable colours and patterns to choose from.
Our stash consists of 6 Blueberry Basix AIOs (All-In-Ones), 6 Charlie Banana and 6 Bum Genius Pockets, and one prefold cover with 3 soakers, which I still haven't worked out how to use and can't remember the brand of. It's not quite enough to use all the time, but I think another 3-6 AIO or Pocket diapers would do the trick. All of our diapers are one-size, which means that until the little monster was about 10 lbs, they were too big for him (even if they say they fit 8 lb babies, it may not be the case, so read the reviews)
The Blueberry AIO has the cutest shape, giving him a little bubble butt, but the downside is that they take forever to dry after washing (I have to hand-ring them and we hang-dry everything). The nice thing is that you don't have to fuss with trying to find the right insert for the diaper, because it's attached.
I think the BumGenius are my favourites, because they dry really fast and don't seem to leak ever. But they're quite bulky, so on the smallest size (the monster is now on the middle size), they take up a lot of room. It makes sitting awkward for him.
The Charlie Banana, I think start from 12 lbs. With one insert, they're super trim and look great under clothes... but they leak. You need two inserts (which to be fair, they do tell you on the package). With 2 inserts, they're bulky. Not quite as bulky as BumGenius, but not trim. Like BumGenius, they dry incredibly quickly, though not as quickly.
Practically, it does take more time with cloth. But not much more. Diaper changes themselves are just as fast, but instead of putting the diaper in the garbage, it needs to go into a pail, after being sprayed if it's poopy. Washing them takes me a while, but if I had a normal washer instead of a portable one that has to be filled by hand and has no spin-dry, I imagine it would take a lot less time. The majority of my washing time is spent filling the washing machine and hand-wringing the diapers after they're clean.
You also have to use non-petroleum ointments with cloth, which means not the super-cheap Vaseline that we use with disposables. There are some great ones on the market, though.
What we do right now, is combine cloth with disposables. At night, because the little monster never poops and usually doesn't wake up to eat, I don't change him unless he wakes up on his own, or I can feel that it's heavy. So he wears a disposable, because they are better at keeping moisture away from his skin. The first diaper of the day is likewise disposable, because I want him to have some daily tummy time without that bulk until he's able to crawl. And because I'm paranoid, I feel like the bulk of a cloth could make his car seat harness less effective, so if we're driving somewhere, he's in a disposable. The rest of the time, he wears cloth. Because our stash is a little small and we hang-dry, that means I have to wash them daily. I'm looking forward to the summer when I can save time by drying them outside.
We're still using disposable wipes because the cloth wipes I bought ended up being used to wipe away drool, and I don't want to accidentally use the same cloth on his face as his ass. We need to buy more cloth, colour-coded wipes before I'll feel comfortable.
*You're supposed to clean the poop out of disposable diapers before putting them in the garbage. Before the little monster was born, I quite condescendingly mocked people who don't do this. Now that I've had first-hand experience with newborn poop, I understand why no one does.