I have a 6 week old baby who, except for the first few days of her life while we were in the hospital, has never worn anything but cloth diapers. I'm not going to give you the environment as the impetus for choosing cloth because I'm sure there are legions out there in internet land who will argue that the water and electricity that I use to wash the diapers offsets the absence of poopy disposibles in the garbage dump.
My husband is partial to the diaper rash argument...that the incidence of diaper rash skyrocketed with the rise in use of disposible diapers. Frankly, that too will be written off by mothers who will argue that more frequent changing would abolish much of those incidents.
Originally, I think that the decision to cloth diaper was driven by the fact that the concept is entirely aligned with how my husband and I live. Nothing in our life is disposible - everything is solid, heavy...and will last 100 years. I actually liked the idea that all of our children will have the same diapers. There's continuity in that - history. These are OUR family's diapers now and forever.
So, now after 6 weeks of hard daily use, what do I think about cloth diapers? Are they worth it?
Absolutely. I wouldn't change a thing. She's happy in them. I'm happy with them. I have several cute diaper bags made for me by Kelly at Petunia's. The XL ICKY bags hold 1 load of dirty diaper laundry for my front loading washing machine. I have a few regular sized ICKY bags that I take on the road with me, while we're strolling around town and stepping over/rolling through the raw sewage that seems to be spilling out of several manhole covers near our apartment building (ah, yes...cholera anyone?).
Exclusively breastfed baby's poo is completely water soluble - meaning, I don't dunk anything or whatever you're thinking. I remove the diaper and throw it immediately into the diaper bag, poo and all. When the bag is full, I overturn the bag in my washing machine and then throw the bag in, too. Voila. I don't touch anything.
One cold water rinse and then a hot cycle using special cloth diaper detergent from Clean Rinse and the dipes are clean - enough to pass the most rigorous olfactory and visual tests (which is more than I can say for Zadar streets after a rainstorm). For whatever reason, I've always finished them off with a second cold water rinse with about a half cup of vinegar (for softening) and a few drops of lavendar oil (for scent) but it's not required.
Now, there are a variety of cloth diaper covers (not all cloth diapers require covers...but mine do). I went entirely wool - no PUL covers. I have a full stash of Aristocrat and Disana covers (pictured on the right). I embellished the covers with the crocheted flowers that you see. And despite being a natural fiber with a bad reputation, even the covers couldn't be easier to care for. In 6 weeks of daily use, I've washed and relanolized the covers once - once! And that, only because I thought I should rather than any particular need (meaning, they weren't leaking and they weren't stinking).
So, friends. My foray into cloth diapers has been an unequivocal success so far.