Types of Cloth Diapers (Terminology)
Flats - A large single layer of fabric that is folded into whatever shape, and secured with pins or a snappy. You must use a cover with a flat diaper. Flats are the original cloth diaper! Easy to wash and dry very quickly.
I don't own any flats.
Pre-fold Diapers - Rectangular pieces of cloth that are usually divided into thirds. These are usually cotton, the most durable of which come from India. The center third of the diaper has more layers, and is therefore more absorbent than the two outside portions. Pre-fold diapers can be secured with pins or a snappy, or they can be held in place by a snug fitting cover. Pre-fold diapers are not waterproof, therefore, you must use a cover over them.
I use unbleached Indian pre -folds - Premium size 4-8-4
Fitted Diapers - Cloth diapers that are pre-shaped, no folding necessary. Fitted diapers usually have elastic at the leg openings and waist for fit and to help prevent leakage. They come in a variety of styles that may include snaps or aplix closure systems. Others must be secured with pins or a snappy. Fitted diapers must be used with a cover.
I use Mother Ease - Sandy's Fitted Bamboo Diapers in size L - This is our "night time" diaper.
Pocket Diapers - Pre-shaped, waterproof diapers that have a pocket in the interior into which you would place your absorbent soaker pads or liners. You typically do not need a cover with these diapers.
I do not own any pocket diapers.
I use GroVia Cloth All - in - ones.
All - In - 2 (AI2) or Hybrid Diapers -Pre-shaped, waterproof diapers that offer the choice to be used with a removable soaker pad / cloth liner or a disposable liner depending on your needs. Like AIO's they are typically secured with either a snap or aplix closure system, and may have sewn in leg gussets and elastic at the waist to prevent leaks and offer a customizable fit. A separate cover is not needed with hybrid diapers.
I use the GroVia Hybrid diaper system. I use both the cloth soaker pads as well as the disposable bio soakers. This is my "go to" diaper. I use this diaper usually during the day.
Cloth Diapering Accessories
Soaker Pads - Thick sewn pads of absorbent fabric that are placed in a cloth diaper. They may be stuffed into the pocket of pocket diapers, or affixed to the inside of a cover.
Boosters - Extra pads of fabric that are placed inside of a cloth diaper, in addition to the regular soaker pad, to offer extra absorbency. Boosters are offered in a variety of different fabrics including (but not limited to) hemp, bamboo and cotton.
Fleece Liners - Thin strips of fleece that are placed in a cloth diaper over top of the soaker pad. Fleece liners are not absorbent, but are used as a "stay dry" barrier between the wet diaper and your baby's skin. Fleece liners work wonderfully to help prevent diaper rash and other skin irritation.
I use Bummis fleece liners.
Cloth Wipes - Using disposable, chemical coated wet wipes to clean up baby when you use cloth diapers just does not make sense. Cloth wipes are the eco-friendly and baby friendly. They look like facecloths, but the good quality ones have a double layer, so your hands stay clean, and they are super soft. Best used with plain water, or make your own wipes solution. Note: Use bum wipes for bums only.
I use GroVia cloth wipes.
Diaper Rash Balm - When cloth diapering, you must be wary of what you are putting on your baby's tushy for protection. Zinc based and oil based diaper rash creams will cause your diapers to repel, making them ineffective. You must choose a cloth diaper safe balm.
Lil' L has NEVER had a diaper rash. I use the GroVia "Magic Stick" after every single change.
Wet Bags - Water proof bags in which you place your soiled diapers. Wet bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are used to store soiled diapers in diaper bags and purses. They are also used to line diaper pails.
Diaper Pails - A diaper pail is a receptacle where you place soiled diapers until they are going to be washed. You don't need a special pail, a trash bin with a lid works wonderfully. There are two types of diaper pails: wet pails and dry pails. Wet pails are filled with a water & detergent mixture in which soiled diapers soak until washed. Dry pails do not contain anything other than the soiled diapers. Most cloth diaper manufacturers recommend using a dry pail for your cloth diapers as it reduces the wear and tear factor. For safety, all wet pails must have a lid that is well secured and be inaccessible to children.
Diaper Safe Laundry Detergent - You cannot just use any laundry detergent you like with cloth diapers. You must use a detergent that is free from optical brighteners, enzymes, phosphates and dyes. Also keep in mind that different detergents will give you different results based on your water hardness and machine type. Here is a great link that lists many cloth diaper friendly detergents.
I use "Tiny Bubbles" detergent by GroVia (The Natural Baby Co.)
Flats and pre-fold diapers are your most economical option for cloth diapering. They are also typically the easiest to wash and dry by hand if need be.
For full time cloth diapering you should have a variety of options available, as I have learned that the different types of diapers all have pros and con's and when combined, can address all of your diapering needs. For example, I find it easiest to use AIO or hybrid diapers when I am out and about, because they are the easiest and fastest to change. I use a fitted diaper with a booster and fleece liners at night time because that is what offers me the most absorbency and protection from leaks. I use pre-folds in a hybrid cover on super hot days, or when travelling to Ecuador, because they are easy to hand wash, and are the only ones that I find don't take a whole day to line dry. They are also the most durable. I also use pre-folds without a cover for around the house to let Lil 'L's bum get some air, without the risk of him peeing everywhere.
My StashI cloth diaper full time. I have 7 AIO diapers, 16 covers (shells), 25 snap in soaker pads (hybrid system), 6 prefolds (but I plan on buying 24 more for our next trip to Ecuador) and 12 fitted diapers. I also have 12 boosters, and 25 fleece liners. I find that my diapers last me 2-3 days with one baby. I use a dry pail and I wash every second day.
Hope this info has helped to get you started. If you have any questions, let me know. I will keep adding info when I can!