One of the biggest concerns I have read about cloth diapering comes down to the price! With many of the big named manufacturers selling their diapers in the $20-$30 range, cloth diapering can get expensive fast, at least when it comes to upfront costs*. It can however, be fairly economical. If cost is your concern, check out this list first to find options in your price point! Keep in mind that you do not need to stick with just one type. You can mix and match to find out what works best for you and fits in your budget. So if you want to keep it cheap (pre-folds) but like convenience (all-in-ones/pockets) you can do a mix of each.
*No matter which diapers you choose, cloth diapering can still save you money over the cost of disposables!or one brand.
If you have less than $150 to spend, a great option is pre-folds and covers! Econobum makes a great kit that contains: 12 one-size pre-folds, 3 covers and a small wet bag. This kit is roughly $60 and you will need 2 for full time diapering. I would suggest buying another wet bag to go with these kits as the one that comes with it is pretty tiny (but manageable if needed). You may also want to invest in something to store your soiled diapers in at home, such as a diaper pail or hanging wet bag or pail.
I hesitate to suggest this option as there are quite the number of mixed reviews on using what are often referred to as ‘china cheapies’. These are brands such as Babyland, Kawaii, Sunbaby, Alva Baby etc., as well as eBay no-name diapers. I have no experience with these diapers other than what I have read and what I have been told but I do know that most of these only carry a 30-60 day warranty (unlike a full year that you will get with big brand diapers). A friend of mine uses Kawaii and loves them but I have also heard stories of people getting full orders of diapers that fell apart fast or had many irregularities in size from one diaper to the next. Regardless, this could be an option for you as these diapers are normally under $10 each and most are in the $6-$8 a diaper range. You may be perfectly happy with these and I want to stress that many, many people love these diapers. So, unless you want strictly Canadian/American made diapers or you have moral/ethical issues with buying these (there are a few concerns which I may blog about later) then they could be worth a shot to try out. Even better if you have a shop near you that sells these so that you can pick out the ones that look to be in good shape and leave anything that looks like stitches may have been missed etc. If price is your draw to these but you are worried about quality, there is no harm in trying one or two and see how they work for you before investing in a whole stash (in fact, that is a good idea for any kind of diaper).
Systems that allow you to re-use the cover multiple times could be a great option for you if you are looking for a brand-name diaper and are not into the pre-fold idea. For instance, AMP makes a great 2 piece diapering system called AMP duo. Each cover is about $20 and you will need at least 6 (total $120). From there, to get enough diapers for 24 changes you will need at least 24 inserts. Their hemp inserts start around $5.50 so total cost for 24 would be less than $135. Many retailers offer discounts if you buy a certain number, so this cost could even be cheaper. If you went with a system like this, upfront startup cost (before accessories) would be about $255.
If I had a fair chunk of money to drop on cloth diapers, I think I would invest in a bunch of all-in-ones. Specifically, I would invest in all-in-ones that had fold out soakers to help them dry fast. Bum Genius Freetime comes to mind. For around $23 a piece, these diapers look like they would be all I need. A full stash would run about $555 if there were no bulk discounts available (but there often is). A whole stash of Tot Bot Easy Fits (again, with a fold out soaker) would run right around the $600 mark (before taxes and accessories).
Ok, so you have lots of money to spend and you want the best of the best? I would go with a sized system, as opposed to one-size diapers. You will basically need two stashes for most brands. Take a look at Thirsties AIO Duo for example. They seem like they are very reasonably priced at only $16 a diaper but their two size system means you will need to buy at least 24 of the size one (total $385) and 18+ of the size two ($288) for a total investment of about $675. While it is getting pricey now, there is a great advantage of using a sized system in that they will last longer because each diaper will be in use for less time before they can be packed away for child number 2 (or 3+). You will have less wear and tear on your diapers and they will fit better because they are designed to fit a smaller size range. A two-sized system is especially useful if you have 2 children in diapers at the same time. If the oldest child is in size 2 and the younger one is in size 1, your diapering problems will be solved at least until the youngest needs the size 2 (and perhaps by then, the older child will be potty trained).