Over the next several days, I'm going to be writing many "how-to" type articles about cloth diapering. The first one I am writing is about beginning your stash. This comes from my experiences and my mistakes as well as my plans for the future.
If you do not yet have your baby, you will have a more difficult time choosing your stash simply because you don’t yet know your baby’s diapering needs. Will s/he need a longer rise? Will s/he be a heavy wetter? Other such questions will influence what you prefer for a stash. If you already have a baby, you still need to consider things such as your child’s age, build, activity level, sensitivity, and type of wetter.
Personally, Baby “S” is a short "chunker" who is extremely active (we call her the energizer bunny) and is a heavy wetter. For this reason, I prefer pockets with Velcro in a one-size style. I have learned my preference through a lot of trial and error.
If you are just building your stash, I recommend getting a few diapers in each style you think you may like. If you know you won’t want to stuff inserts into pockets at night don’t get any pockets. If you want to go as cheap as possible, stick with prefolds and covers. If you don’t want to have to pack away diapers and buy new ones like you do clothes get One Size diapers so you use the same diapers all the time and simply unsnap the front as baby grows. If you don’t want to mess with snaps, get Velcro. Whatever you choose, don’t spend a lot of money until you learn what your baby will be like.(<---main point here!) I recommend getting a newborn stash (if you plan to diaper before your baby is about 12lbs). Remember that newborns get changed frequently and they usually aren’t heavy wetters yet so you don’t need anything too fancy at this point. You will probably have a newborn stash and a stash for when baby gets bigger. For the next Baby “S”, we will have a newborn stash and a stash of one size diapers (the ones we are using with the current Baby “S”).
If you already have a baby, consider things such as what you prefer (Velcro to snaps, stuffing or not, changing as you go (prefolds & covers) or having the diapers ready when you need them (AIO, Pockets). Also consider if you have a tall or short baby (this will affect the rise of the diapers you want to get), a heavy wetter or a light wetter, and if you are hoping to begin potty training soon (some styles are better for intro to potty training than others).
I’d again like to stress the importance of buying only a few diapers of each style until you know which you prefer. If possible, buy used at first and if you want brand new ones get them after you know what you like. Daddy “S” and I got the Flip System because we thought it would be easier. We soon found out we hate using snaps, and we like to have our diapers ready to go when we want them instead of taking the cover off, dirty insert out, putting the clean insert in, then putting it on Baby “S”. We prefer to use our cloth like disposables in that we take off the dirty one, toss it in the basket, put on the clean one. No muss no fuss. If you ask 100 different people what system is best you will get 100 different answers. The great thing about cloth diapering is that there are so many options you get to choose what will work best for you!