Ok, so you now understand why it might not be the best idea to drop a few hundred bucks on thirty of that diaper that looks super cute and has good reviews without trying it out on your little one first. But you want to start building your stash! Your baby is going to be born soon (or is already here) and those dresser drawers are just BEGGING for some fluff to fill them up!
You have a couple options. One, you can do a diaper trial like the one offered at Jillian's Drawers. These trials let you try a variety of types of diapers and brands, usually for a fairly low initial cost. The one downside is that there aren't enough diapers in the trial to cloth diaper full-time, so you can fill in the gaps with prefolds/covers or (gasp) even disposables. You can keep the ones that you like and send back the ones that you don't like - or send them ALL back and only be out $10! It's a really great way to be introduced to multiple brands and styles of diapers. For a list of trials, to read more about them, and for some things to keep in mind when doing a trial, click here.
(pictured: Jillian's Drawer's trial)
Another option is to watch sales and used diaper sites (see the "Favorite retailers" tab at the top for a list of used diaper sites) and slowly build your stash one diaper and one brand at a time. It's like doing a trial in that you get a bunch of different diapers, except you can try even more brands and you're not limited to the diapers included in the trial package. On the downside, since you're buying the diaper outright, there's no one to send it back to or to refund your money if you don't like it. It also takes longer to get a good number of diapers. However, you can eventually easily get enough to diaper full time by doing this, and if there's a diaper that doesn't work for you, you're not out an entire stash - just that diaper! Often, you can even sell the diaper on one of the used diaper sites for the same price you paid if you have taken care of it. Many moms will collect a number of diapers of every brand, shape, size, and type with the plan of trying them, keeping what works for them and eventually selling off those that they don't like.
You can also see if there's a local cloth diaper co-op or even a friend that is cloth diapering. If so, you might be able to borrow a few diapers at a time...for free! You don't like it? No loss! You like it? Great! Return it and grab a bunch of your own! Like the trial, this won't give you enough to cloth diaper full time at the beginning (unless your friend has a TON of diapers for you to borrow), but it's a great and CHEAP way to try as many out as you want to with no obligation!
Regardless of the route you go, I don't recommend trying more than a handful at a time - sitting and looking at 40 different diapers can be overwhelming. Keep it simple and try a few out at a time. Otherwise, you might get frustrated and overwhelmed and confused (this is especially true for daycares and significant others, who often just want consistency!). If this means you don't have enough diapers to cloth diaper full-time, I recommend prefolds and covers to fill the gap while you experiment with finding your permanent solution. They are cheap and usually work well, especially if you get covers with double gussets at the legs. You don't have to learn complicated folds and work with pins - just trifold the prefold and place it in the cover. Easy!
Of course, some people...like me...love looking at a pile of 40 diapers and experimenting, so diving in with dozens and dozens of diapers works for them.
Once you've played around and found diapers that work for you, you can start filling your stash with more of those brands, whether you buy them new, used, or on sale.
Will you end up with a stash that is 100% of that favorite brand or even 100% of a specific type of diaper? Often, the answer is no. Many people end up with a large number of a specific brand or system that works for them, but then have other types thrown in for specific circumstances.
For instance: you might be an all-in-one (AIO) user 90% of the time, but use fitteds and covers overnight. Or you might use fitteds and covers 90% of the time, but use AIOs at daycare and on outings. Or maybe you prefer snap pockets, but your DH prefers aplix AIOs, so you have a 50/50 mix of the two. Or you might have some cheaper brands on hand that you don't mind messing up (like if your baby needs to use antibiotics that will turn his poop atomic green and stain your diapers - it happens!).
(Note: When building a stash, keep in mind that most one-size diapers will not fit newborns at birth! For more about that, read this post. If you plan to cloth diaper from day one and you plan to use one-size diapers, you will need something different for the newborn stage.)
One last hint: take it slow, especially if you're still pregnant and your kid isn't here yet! Let me say that again: take it slow! When you start buying quickly and impulsively, you often end up with diaper regret. It's sooooo tempting to buy a bunch if diapers right away, when you first start thinking about cloth diapering, but try to resist. Instead, watch for good used deals and sales and diapers that you really like. Otherwise, you could end up like me and have more diapers than you know what to do with (so much for saving money!) and diapers that you got at full price sitting in your stash that are now on sale for 10%, 20%, or even half off - or that you see in EEUC (extremely excellent used condition) for pennies on the dollar. Diaper sales happen all the time and are usually great deals! Of course, if you read this blog you're way more educated at this point than I was, so you probably won't make the same impulsive mistakes I did!
Also, keep it simple. Don't overthink it. Try a diaper. If you like it, great! Get more! If you don't, you can save it for later (if, for example, you don't like it for a reason that might be overcome with time, like it's too big for your child) or sell it. If you're ambivalent about it, try a couple other brands. You might find that in comparison, you really like it, or you may find another brand that you love more.
It can seem overwhelming and it can seem confusing, but you can do it! Just buy a diaper. One diaper is all it takes to start the process!
Finally, it can be addicting. Watch out and put a limit on yourself if you think you might get sucked in...it happens to the best of us!
(Once you have your diapers purchased, click here to see what to do next!)