The little white granules that come out of disposable diapers suck. We used disposable diapers with our first daughter, and it seems that the thing I remember most is wiping the leftover gelatinous substance (as well as poo) from her behind. Well… that and the mounting cost of the diapers.
Mostly because of the cost, with our second child we chose to use cloth diapers. After quickly deciding my wife wasn't going to be making them out of old flannel shirts, and talking to some friends, we decided to evaluate two brands, Haute and Bum Genius. Almost as quickly, it became clear that the Bum Genius diapers were the way to go. This was because even when our dryer was on low heat, over about two months, there was noticeable wear on the Haute diaper. It was as if the waterproof layer didn't agree with heat at all. So six months after choosing Bum Genius, I've chosen to evaluate three categories: cost, mobility, and ease of re-use.
This is definitely a major advantage of using cloth diapers. We purchased 12 diapers, and as of now (6 months after birth), they've paid for themselves. However, we have found that on extended trips it is easy to buy a pack of disposable diapers so that we don't have to worry about the transport or washing of cloth diapers. You must be cautious when doing this, because it can become very easy to slip back to using disposables 'in a pinch,' which will very quickly eat up any savings you have gained.
Unfortunately, this has become a bigger issue than I thought it would be. Initially, it seemed like the only adverse side-effect was giving my daughter a baby junk in the trunk type of look. However, then she started trying to roll over. I hesitate to say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it prevented her from rolling over sooner, but it did provide a higher degree of difficulty. Now that she is sitting up, the drawbacks are more noticeable. Because of the junk in the trunk, when sitting she is shaped more like a Weeble, who wobbles, and also falls down. Also, since the diapers don't hug so closely (more leg covered), the range of motion is limited so it is difficult to fully lean forward. As she grows, this should become less of a problem
Ease of re-use
I am glad that we purchased a high efficiency washer that cleans very well (we don't presoak before washing, only remove big turds). But getting the diapers into the washer is another story. After sitting in a diaper pail for even a half day, these things stink. Maybe it's my daughters diet, but whew! On the positive side, it is very easy to remove the cloth inserts and chuck them in the washer. Over the past six months the white inserts, as well as the inside of the diaper has become somewhat dingy, but not too noticeably. The biggest issue is trying to make sure that while tumbling in the washer, the velcro doesn't start sticking to the inserts and other diapers. This has caused a few diapers to show a bit more wear and tear than normal. Overall, if you're willing to hold your nose long enough to load the dryer, you're good to go.
I would recommend cloth diapers to anyone.