IT"S TOTALLY WORTH IT.
Let's start by defining the four basic types of cloth diapers. In general, you have All In Ones (AIOs), Pockets, Shaped (also called contoured) and Pre-Folds. I just listed them in descending order of cost (generally speaking). Here's a link that describes each one in more detail with pics. Here's a quick definition from me:
- AIOs are pretty much the same as disposable,
- Pockets are the same as AIO except you add in the absorbent bit yourself (called a soaker),
- Shaped are pre-folds already cut into a generic diaper-shaped curves,
- and pre-folds are your basic, old-fashioned nappies from the cave-man age of cloth-diapering-- generally used with the ginormous safety pins (except now they have snappis, which are awesome) and plastic pants or water-proof covers of some sort.
Each of the above types comes either in several sizes, or in a one-size-fits-all style with various snaps and folds and such-like to adjust to your child's growth.
The world of cloth diapering can be totally over-whelming at first because there are literally dozens of different variations on each of those four basic types. I'm really even making it more complicated than it needs to be, because Pockets and contours are pretty much just variations on AIOs and pre-folds.
In addition to all these variations, there are also all kinds of gadgets and labor-saving devices you can purchase, like wet bags and liners and scrapers and sprayers and buckets and flushable wipes. But since this is The Cheap Mama's Guide, I'm just going to stick to what I consider to be the basics and y'all can get all fancy on your own :)
The first thing you should know is that it's not at all necessary to buy an entire diaper system from a single brand. In fact I recommend against it. Cloth diapering is a personal thing-- you won't know what your favorite type is until you try several. There's no point in locking yourself into a $300 investment with a style of diaper that doesn't work for you. Plus, you can do it waaay cheaper my way! I'll whet your appetite by telling you that so far, almost a year into cloth diapering Jamie, we've spent under $75 on our diaper stash.