For example, as someone who didn't start college knowing exactly what I wanted to do (you pre-med crazies that practiced surgery on your dolls at the tender age of four know who you are) and I'm not they type to just dive in and take classes willy nilly (and yes, I still regret not taking tractor driving) I had to develop a systematic way of making this monumental decision(sarcasm implied). I looked through the entire college catalog and made a list of anything that sounded remotely interesting and still in the realm of possibility given my academic abilities (anything involving math? I think not.) Then I noted all the prerequisites my choices had in common and started in on those classes first. That way I could still change my mind before any major commitment had been made.
But I digress...now that I have a college edumacation (and even a masters) all of my knowledge and my finely honed decision making skills can be put to the test and I can make all kinds of important decisions...like what kind of diapers to use for little jellybean (who will be making her debut shortly.) Sarcasm about becoming a stay at home mom aside, choosing what kind of diapers to use is actually an important decision, both for economic reasons and environmental ones. Hubby and I knew we wanted to cloth diaper but I knew nothing about this mystical world when I started my research. Weeks of diligent research later I came across several websites that organized all of the information out there. Like this one, and groups like this one. Did you know there was several different cloth diapering systems? I didn't when I started.
A fabulous website that has helped me make sense of it all is Babyworks. They explain the plethora of choices as two basic systems- diapers that are used inside of a cover and diapers with a waterproof layer built in.
These can be subdivided further. There are three kinds of diapers that are used inside of a cover- prefold, fitted, and contour. These types of diapers are all different types of an absorbent layer that is then used inside of a waterproof cover. There are also different options for what to use as the waterproof cover. These vary by what kind of material the cover is made out of (synthetic, wool, etc) and how the cover is closed- velcro, snaps, or pull on.
Then there are two kinds of diapers with a waterproof layer built in- a pocket diaper and an "all in one." Pocket diapers are two piece units- with a waterproof outer layer that has a pocket in which the absorbent inner layer insert is placed. Finally, "all in ones" are diapers in which the absorbent inner layer and the waterproof outer layer are attached, so when you change the diaper you change the whole thing, just like a disposable!
Okay now how do you choose from all of these options? Some are more expensive than others, some are more labor intensive, some offer "cuter" design choices (like we care at 3am) and so on. This is what I am going to do. I am fortunate enough to have received a sample pack from a friend (that ultimately chose to go the disposable route, score for me) so now I have a sample of each type of diaper- prefold, fitted, contour, pocket, and all in one so I can play a little and see which baby likes best. And even though I just mocked the whole concept of design when it comes to diapers, I admit I'm a little bummed that this sample pack is all boyish colors. Please feel free to call me a hypocrite and throw things.
But in the meantime I still need a system (because the system of diapers then dictates the pail you get and the laundering system you use, no seriously there's so many choices!) and I am going to choose....prefolds (these kinds) with covers (this kind.)
Think that's all there is to it? Then you haven't been paying attention. I still need to figure out how I'm going to store all of the dirty diapers, how I'm going to keep these puppies so fresh and so clean clean, and whether I am going to use disposable wipes or cloth ones. There are even choices within choices- make your own wipe solution? Use a wipe warmer? Use natural detergent for laundering? Dry them on a clothes line? The list goes on and on.
As I embark on this adventure I plan to share my trials and tribulations with you readers (aka mom) and hopefully help to simplify the process for someone out there considering cloth diapering.