I tried cloth diapering... twice. The first time was after the birth of my second child. It was no picnic having two rascals in diapers (is it ever?), so I gave it a shot. For one reason or another, it didn't work out for us. The diapers leaked, I didn't know what to do with all the poop and the whole process was an inefficient mess!
However, with the birth of my third-- and the realization that we did in fact want more children-- I gave cloth diapering one last attempt. Now, we're cloth diapering around 80% of the time and loving it.
Here's what works for us:
We use a "hybrid" cloth diaper, more specifically the Flip. I just love them and here's why.
1. They are one size (meaning they will work from newborn to toddler)
2. Their stay-dry insert is super absorbent
3. You can reuse the outer cover all day as long as it doesn't get soiled (and just replace the insert with each changing session). And if the cover does get a little wet/dirty, you can hand wash it very easily, let it dry and be ready to use it again soon. This means that you really only need to buy a handful of covers and many inserts.
Depending how often you want to do wash will depend on how many covers and inserts you need. Let's say you're willing to do 2 loads of diapers a week-- which I think is reasonable-- you'd probably want to have 5 or 6 covers and 20 inserts. Thinking about how often you have to change a newborn, you might need more inserts or might just have to do wash more often or use a few disposables here and there. Generally I use disposables at nap time and bedtime because I still haven't mastered doubling up inserts (which you can do) plus I'm really worthless when I lose sleep so I want to give my baby the best odds of sleeping through the night (not waking up at 2AM soaking wet)!
Flip sells day packs which include 2 covers and 6 inserts. If you want to play it really safe, I say you buy 3 of those and a few extra inserts. I would recommend buying mostly gender neutral colors if you think you might have more children! And because Flip's inserts are kind of pricey when they are sold separately I've opted for another brand of inserts from Bumgenius which are very good and less expensive.
If you were to buy 3 Flip day packs and 1 extra set of Bumgenius inserts from Diapers.com with their introductory 15% off coupon (code FRXX1603) you're looking at around $145 with free shipping. The Cottonbabies website seems to have more color selections and usually offers free shipping as well. Sometimes they offer 5% off with a coupon code. Retail prices are comparable.