I slowly began experimenting with cloth diapers when E was about 2 weeks old, and we fully transitioned to cloth diapering about 1 week ago. I will say that I've been very proud of Ryan's willingness to tackle it, considering he hadn't changed many disposable diapers before he became a father, much less ones with two layers and snaps. I thought I'd go ahead and report on how it was going.
The main hardships in cloth diapering a newborn are the frequency of changing needed (= need a lot of diapers) and getting them tight enough around her small frame, particularly newborn skinny legs. As her thighs fatten up it's gotten easier, but regardless right now my favorite dipes are the ones that are tight enough around her legs to prevent leaks, but not so tight around her tummy that they chafe. With that in mind,
-- Favorite: small g-diapers. They're a totally different system from most cloth diaper models, because they're intended as a hybrid. They have a lycra cloth "pant" that has soft-but-efficient-elastic around the legs, and double-velcro fasteners at the "waist." The little "g-pants" fit her really well and don't chafe or leave marks. They also aren't too bulky. And they've contained everything she's thrown at them, including some pretty extensive poopage. A snap-in nylon liner gets stuffed with either a disposable insert (what we used at first, when I wasn't really up to lots of laundry) or a pre-fold (what we're using now). That allows for multiple levels of waste containment, and it's super-easy to get them on & off of her since it's only one layer with no fasteners besides the waist-band.
-- Second favorites (Ryan's favorite): small Fuzzibunz or Haute Pocket pocket diapers. Like all pocket diapers, these are quick-drying (with relatively quick-drying microfiber inserts) and really soft inside. Fuzzibunz looked HUGE but they actually fit really well once her cord fell off. The nice thing about the Haute Pocket is that it has a fold-down snap so I could put it on her while she still had the stump. Like the g-diapers, these are really easy to get on & off and you can pre-load them for even quicker "pit time."
-- Least favorite: fitted diapers with Bummis Super Whisper Wraps. My aunt used a lot of fitted diapers (basically a prefold in the shape of a diaper, with velcro) so I inherited them and will use them, but I really am not such a fan. They are bulky, and because they're pre-cut I can't seem to get them really tight around her legs without being too tight at her belly. The diaper covers help correct this. When I use these, I prefer the whisper wraps with velcro vs. snaps, because I can get a snugger fit. (I've heard that these wear out quicker and come undone easier, so probably when she's a bit bigger & more mobile I'll reverse my preference) I also don't like how the velcro fasteners on the fitteds have to be "sheathed" (or else they destroy my cloth wipes in the wash) before being thrown into the diaper pail, and they are always soaking wet with pee when I do that... yuck.
-- OK: Pre-fold diapers with whisper wraps aren't bad-- sort of hard if she's yelling and wiggling, but not bad (I use snappis). But since I have g-diaper pants I tend to use them more.
-- I've made my own dry laundry soap and so far it's worked well. I'm using a wet-diaper-pail method until Ryan hooks up our diaper-sprayer (baby gift from our Szrama parents!)-- water in a rubbermaid along with 1/4 cup of white vinegar (neutralizes the urine and keeps the poop from setting). When I wash, every 3rd or 4th day, I throw all the whole wet-pail contents into the machine, do a spin cycle, then wash it on hot with 1 1/2 T of my soap. I finish with an extra rinse cycle, w/ 1/4 c of vinegar added (gets any left overs out and acts as a fabric-softener). (the home-made detergent is also working well on our clothes. I only use 1 T and no extra cycles for them, though)
-- Then it's outside to dry-- the sun has AMAZED me at its bleaching-stains-out- power!
-- wipes: I was given lots & lots of second-hand baby towels & washclothes. I gave the excess towels away but cut the washcloths in 1/2 or 1/4s to use as wipes (the type of washcloth w/o a raised edge). I keep them in a disposable wipe container, wet through w/ water + a few drops of liquid baby wash (eventually I think I'll let a little fragrance-free soap sit in the water instead). Doing cloth wipes w/ cloth dipes is actually easier than trying to sort out disposable wipes before throwing dirties in the pail... although a few disposable wipes accidentally made it into the last load of laundry and to my surprise survived intact!?
The benefit: besides the usual cost & green perks, it's made a huge difference in her diaper rash! I'm not sure if it was the wipes or something in the disposable diapers, or maybe even complicated by something in my diet, but she had a rash from about Day 4 until I switched her to cloth. Using g-diapers (w/ disposable insert) and some Huggies all-naturals a sweet friend gave us did help a little, but it wasn't totally gone until I was using both wipes & dipes on her. I guess she has sensitive skin! :)