Part 2: A quick primer
There are a few basic forms of cloth diaper out there.
1) Prefolds- the classic white diaper that you fold up and pin. They’re cheapest if you’re buying. You can get them in cotton, hemp, and bamboo, including organic fibers, and of different quality. Price varying with those options. I don’t really use them, so I don’t have much opinion. I do have a few around- simple cotton. I have used them for additional overnight absorbency overnight over another diaper, but not often. I also have tried them as a soaker for a pocket style diaper, and they work acceptably for that. Mostly mine have been used as burp cloths and for other clean-up purposes.
You definitely need a waterproof cover if you’re using prefolds. Options include vinyl and PUL. There may be some other options, but since I don’t use them, I can’t offer much advice in that department.
2) All-In-One diapers (AOI). These are made with all absorbent layers, inside, and covering layers built in to one. That means you don’t have to prepare them at all to use- no folding, no stuffing. Some have a waterproof outer layer also. The biggest complaint I’ve seen with these diapers is that they tend to wear more quickly- as in deteriorate and fall apart. The other big problem is that they take extra time to dry, since all of the soaking layer is inside. Even more time if a waterproof layer is built into one side and so the moisture can only escape from the inside. This may be what contributes to the first problem of wearing out sooner. They also seem to be a lot less flexible for working through different sizes and stages.
I’ve never tried much for an all-in-one (AIO) diaper. One of my first trial diapers from an internet pattern was one, but I concluded a few things early on- I want it to dry quicker than an AIO, especially back when I was hanging all of my diapers to dry, and if one part goes “bad” on an AIO, you’re back to the drawing board on the whole thing- you cant take part of it and continue on very well.
Some people love them, though, so they might be worth a try. You may or may not need a waterproof/resistant cover.
3) Pocket style- Your diaper has some sort of pocket, and some sort of an insert for a soaker. There are many ways this can be accomplished (part of the reason I’ve tried so many different designs!) Most of the rest of the info you see here will be about pocket styles. Again, you may or may not need a waterproof/resistant cover.