I recently participated in a cloth diapering blog carnival called the Freedom of Cloth Carnival (in the event that you didn't see any of those posts) and while I do so love cloth diapering, there are a few things I find less than satisfying. Thus, I'm keepin' it real for all those who I *may* have inspired to think about pursuing cloth diapers because I don't want anyone to come back to me saying, "You never told me about...." Please keep in mind, though, that despite these 'issues,' I still believe cloth diapering is the better choice.
The Diaper Chain: If you purchase diapers that use velcro closures, they will eventually wear out. There is no way around this. Do I still advocate for having velcro? Yes, in certain circumstances. It is much easier for someone to switch to cloth from disposables using velcro the same as it is often easier for other caregivers to diaper a baby wearing this type of closure. However, if you are willing to put a little work in and you will be the primary person changing diapers, buy as little velcro as you can. When they start to wear out, they no longer adhere to the tabs they are supposed to fasten to during washing and will thus create: The Diaper Chain. Subtly annoying, yes, but annoying none the less when you are trying to pull your diapers out of the washing machine and they are all captured by this massive linked chain of velcro tabs. Then you have to un-attach all of them to hang them up properly to dry and it just adds to the amount of time you spend doing diaper laundry. It's annoying. Did I mention that?
Pre-Washing: There are a number of diapers and inserts that must be pre-washed in order for them to work effectively. Hemp and bamboo are the main culprits of this as they have natural oils that must be removed through washing before they will become as absorbent as they dream to be. I know how well good hemp inserts work, given that I have a heavy wetter, but I still find it to be a less than pleasurable experience.
Washing When You're Sick: We all know that parenting through illness is an incredibly trying time, especially if you don't have any help near you, but still having do to laundry just makes it even worse. If you don't wash your diapers, you child won't have any. So no matter how crappy you feel, you need to keep getting up and attending to that washing machine (unless you can get someone to do it for you!). Fortunately, this is only a temporary problem.
The Learning Curve: I'm not sure I've ever met anyone who purchased and stayed with one brand or type of cloth diaper through the entirety of diapering. I could be wrong, of course, but I think that most of us who start cloth diapering often find that as our child grows, they might require a different type of diaper or more accessories. We also notice that while some diapers look awesome and cute when we first see them, they might be horrible to work with or just don't work with our children at all. That doesn't even begin to broach the subject of a wash routine, which as you may know, took me nearly a year to perfect (please note that not everyone has this experience!). The learning curve can be enough to discourage anyone from cloth diapering, but I implore you to press on! It really can be a rewarding experience!
As I mentioned, despite all the problems I have had, there is no way I would ever go back to disposables. I still wish I had switched to cloth sooner and even wish that I hadn't listened to the people who told me not to do it in the first place. I could have saved so much money and maybe my troubleshooting would have pointed me in my ultimate direction sooner. Alas, as I do not like to live in the past, I can only continue to move forward and enjoy my diapers while we're still using them.