A note about how we use inserts:I find these really simple to use with our shells. This is the best thing about shells instead of all in ones.
We simply insert the liner, snap or velcro the shell and are good to go.
If the diaper is wet or poopy, we just take the liner (insert) out and put another in. Or if the shell is also soiled, we replace the entire diaper setup. The Gro-via shells dry incredibly fast, so unless they're soiled or really smell stinky (pee), I just leave them out to dry and wash the next time the inserts are washed.
Soiled Shell & Prefold Insert - no pins!
The good old Prefold:We have about 24 newborn prefolds, 36 medium sized prefolds, and I've just ordered 12 large sized prefolds. I think we'll be getting more large ones as our son keeps growing. I just didn't think I should invest in more until I try them on, since every kids a different size and I'm not sure quite what size he is right now. To be clear, the mediums still fit but we are going through them really fast, even though we have so many. I've been washing laundry once daily or sometimes every two days, but if I go that long, I'm running out before they're dry. We have found it's good to have disposables on hand, but don't like to have to use them.
I really have enjoyed using prefolds. They are old-fashioned, simple, and easy to wash. They dry relatively quickly compared to some of our other inserts, and have a pretty high success rate at keeping the pee and poo inside the diaper, though that really seems dependent on the cover we're using.
Benefits to prefolds:
They lay sorta flat on a shelf instead of taking up extra space. (insert image)
They are cute!
They wash & dry easily.
They are super-absorbent.
We used the orange (newborn) and blue, not pictured below, but equivalent to mediums.
Here's an image of Green Mountain's cloth diaper prefold options:
(Go to this page to see more of their diapers and really cute pictures of how they fit on babies. The author of the site even lists their ages and weights, which helped me to plan ahead.)
Inserts come in many styles. We have tried several. I really like flat, rectangular ones the best and have enjoyed some made of bamboo that we were gifted.
I prefer prefolds, but have found some inserts to be really useful. When we first got started, my hubby was helpful with diapers but really didn't like using the prefolds- found them cumbersome & bulky.
The Gro-Via inserts take longer to dry than the prefolds, but can be dried in the dryer. The leg gussets do not work well for us at all. I noticed these do not have very high ratings from other users, and though they are "easy" to use with the Gro-via system, are not as good for keeping our son clean.
I do love to take them along places, and keep them pre-inserted in covers for quick changes on the go. These are also really great for hubby & other caretakers as inserting them is very direct.
I lucked out with an insert score at the consignment shop, and got six of them all half off the new price. Here's what they look like: (ours actually look only kinda like this, must be an old version)
Disposable Inserts:These are pretty cool.. innovative. I like them, but we use them rarely. We always have one or two along, just in case.
Warning: you DO NOT want to wash them in your washer (like I have) They breakdown very easily. Unlike the Seventh Generation disposable diapers I've washed (whoops!) which come out completely engorged with water and intact, the biosoaker came apart almost completely... (urgh) Luckily our washer has a "clean" setting. It seems oK.
Gro-via makes some awesome biodegradable disposable inserts. I do not prefer to use anything disposable, but they make diapering pretty easy for grandparents and some occasions (can't actually think of any right now. Maybe just tired ;)
Here's an image of Gro-via's biosoaker on a hook & loop shell: