Fluff is cloth diapers. The little one that I’m currently pregnant with is going to have a fluff butt.

Now maybe you hear “cloth diapers” and you think of what you or your mom or grandma grew up with. I know that when I expressed my interest in cloth diapering this time around, my mom immediately recalled soaked prefolds that covered her hands in urine, plastic pants, trying to get stubborn poop off into the toilet, and trying to pin the diaper on a squirming baby. That doesn’t sound appealing to me, either, although some people still choose to do cloth that way and like it.

Cloth diapering has a lot more options now, though, and I find myself gravitating to all-in-one and pocket systems. These can be handled very similarly to disposables, especially by babysitters who can just roll them up and put them in a wet bag for me to handle anything else. They also have nifty things like liners and diaper sprayers that attach to a toilet to make handling poop easier now. Apparently fleece liners are the bomb dot com.

Anyways, there’s a few primary reasons that people tend to choose to cloth diaper.

One is savings. A stash of cloth diapers costs only a couple hundred and can last through potty training, whereas disposables can cost a couple of thousand — more if the baby has sensitivities that require more expensive diapers. The cost of a couple extra loads of laundry a week nowhere near outweighs the savings of not buying disposables. Some choose to take this a step farther and do reusable wipes as well, often made from cut up cheap flannel receiving blankets. I’m not sure I’m willing to go that far with it just yet. Finally, cloth diapers in good condition can be sold when they’re no longer needed, usually for at least 50% of the initial cost and sometimes as much as 75%.

Another is that cloth is a greener option. Not only are they made out of cloth instead of plastics (and you can choose to invest in only natural and organic cloth), but since you’re not throwing one away at every change and each one gets used over and over and over, you’re not filling up the landfills the way disposables do. Water use increases only a little, so this doesn’t outweigh the other points, and there’s ways to recycle grey water if one is particularly concerned about it.

Finally, some parents really value being careful about the products they use in their homes and on their (and their children’s) bodies, so using cloth diapers that are free of synthetic materials and which are washed in more ethical plant-based detergents is of great value to them. Some babies have such sensitive skin that this is essentially a must.

I’d say that cost is the top reason I’m interested in doing it with this baby, followed by the environmental benefit. My laundry situation didn’t really allow it before, but now that I have my own washer and dryer (and don’t live 30 minutes from my parents if I need to use theirs anymore) it’s a lot more doable this time. I’ve ordered some cloth diapers already, and will ask for them as the primary gift at my baby shower, since I saved all of Riley’s clothes and we’re having another boy so I don’t need more of those.

If you’re interested in cloth diapering, there’s a few things you should do to start off. First, decide what style you’re most interested in and order that style from a few different brands. Not every baby fits every diaper the same, so the brand that one person loves may leak for another person. Second, check your water hardness, as washing in hard water without a softener will cause mineral build-up in the diapers and reduce their absorbency. Finally, get a good wash routine. I’ve found the Facebook group “Fluff Love and CD Science” to be really helpful for figuring out what a good wash routing looks like for cloth diapers. Some things that people think is okay — Charlie’s Soap, homemade “detergent,” an extra rinse at the end — are actually problematic with cloth diapers. A good routine will ensure never needing to strip or deal with gross smells.

Please share your adorable fluff butt pictures!