One of the draws of cloth diapering is the money-saving potential. This certainly was one of the positives for me. Yet many parents have trouble laying out a large sum of money for diapers like pockets and all-in-ones. I had this sticker shock for a while as well until I did some calculations and figured out how many times I needed to use an average diaper for cloth to pay off. It's around 75 times. So how to get many uses out of a diaper? It's not that hard really, if you use a diaper a few times a week or if it's a one-size diaper. One size diapers can see years of use with one child. What if one-size isn't for you? Can you still save money buying different sizes? I say yes, with a small bit of advice: invest in mediums.
Across brands, the medium size often has a large weight and measurement range. This range conveniently encompasses the size of a child over much of his or her diaper-wearing life. Most of the medium diapers I bought for my 5 month old fit her almost 2 years later when she moved into trainers.
Will this be the case for every child? No-some children will move quickly into larges, others stay in smalls for a long time. The size you need to invest in will probably become clear after you see how quickly your child grows. For a great number of children though, the sweet size is medium.
What to do until your child is big enough for mediums? Really, you'll save money even if you buy a complete pocket stash for each size. If you are going for a more dramatic cost-saving route, use prefolds and covers in the smaller stages. You may find that you like prefolds and covers the entire time and will save quite a bit of money. Otherwise, the size to shoot for with pockets and all-in-ones is medium.
I'd even advise you to hold onto your mediums after your child grows out of them, especially if they come too small before your child is walking. Often, walkers will "slim down" from the increased activity and alternate body positioning. It's not unheard of for children to go back down a size after walking begins.
For my first daughter, we trained out of mediums. My second is a little bigger and may get into larges in some brands. It's really too soon for me to tell, since she's months away from walking. Either way, our mediums will continue to be well-loved and will saved us a nice chunk of change over using disposables.