CLOTH DIAPERS?

PAMPERING VS. DIAPERING


When my son was born, my mother bought me dozens and dozens of diapers with big safety pins. Rubber panties, too. And, because she was no dummy, she also got me a brand new washing machine and dryer. They were Maytags and I bet they are both still running somewhere, 47 years later.

Cloth diapers by Gerber

Owen was only a few months old when Pampers, the first of the paper diapers appeared on the market. They were insanely expensive and incredibly leaky and poorly fitted. I checked them out … and stayed with cloth diapers. I liked cloth diapers. They were really useful. Dusting, mopping, polishing, among other things. I sometimes wish I had a few dozen of them. They were made pretty good dish towels.

Eventually, when the kid got older and the price of paper diapers dropped … and their quality improved, he was switched over. By then, he had mostly gotten it together with toilet training anyway.

These day, Pampers and other paper diapers have become a major source of pollution. I wonder if anyone has reconsidered making a u-turn and going back the other way. Of course, cotton has gotten ghastly expensive … but maybe there’s some other reusable material that would work. Because, before everything was disposable, many things were reusable.

It wasn’t such a bad arrangement, as long as you had a good washing machine and dryer.

79 thoughts on “CLOTH DIAPERS?

  1. My only encounter with the subject matter was back in ’56 and ’57 — Baby Brother Anton. As oldest brother I was a “voluntary” nanny. Please respect my privacy on details.

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  2. My mother swore by cloth diapers, said the paper ones (still in their infancy) were garbage. Prophetic words had she but known. Like you stated, the cloth diaper had more hats than just to cover a baby’s bum. They were great dust cloths, floor mops (in the event of a spill, one didn’t worry about them being stained obviously), useful for wiping kids dirty faces after they’d come in out of the rain and had mud all over themselves. Ma also liked to hang hers on the clothesline out back and let them sun and air dry…said it kept them whiter than all the bleach in the world would do, and smelling great. I’m still a big fan of clotheslines, but my HOA wouldn’t permit me erecting one, even if I COULD stand up long enough to hang out my washing. Ah, the good old days. Some things really were superior…

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    • I think what bothers me most is that overall, we’ve developed a “when in doubt, throw it out” mentality. We don’t repair anything and our world is paying a very heavy price for it. I don’t know if cloth nappies were better, but they didn’t fill up the world’s garbage dumps and in the long run, they were significantly cheaper. I used to have one hanging over my shoulder for anything in the way of “cleanup” that might arise. Now, it will be a dishtowel — same concept. I really LIKE things that can be fixed. I enjoy keeping appliances and computers and printers and all that. I keep wondering when we lost our affection for things we’ve owned and loved.

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      • I had a long conversation about the ‘new’ easily redundant technology with someone recently. I was grousing about how one can’t use duct tape and a bit of ingenuity to fix one’s car any longer, one needs a technician and a computer, because if an amateur touches that engine/computer, it voids the warranty and the damn car breaks down faster (IMHO). My own car is 2005, so it is right on the edge of being one of those I’m grousing about, but it is the basic model, so I missed out on all the more annoying when it breaks things. Computers, TVs (my flat screen, bought in 2015 is apparently now “obsolete”). Huh??! It doesn’t ‘talk’ properly to the modem I have and the problem is that (besides being a Samsung (which all my toys are..Android all the way over here) the TV (and the newly purchased last Christmas) DVD/hub thingie are too ‘old’. Oh my GAWD. We didn’t lose our love of our things, the ones providing them to us have lost THEIR damn minds if you ask me!

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  3. Cloth nappies/diapers have made a bit of a comeback here… with many eco-bamboo fibre ones on the market as well as cotton…and even a nappy laundering service that makes them as easy (and as expensive) as disposables.
    There was always something deeply satisfying about a line fullof bright, white nappies in the sun… and you left them out in winter to ‘bleach with the frost’ too, freeeze drying them and prising them off the line stiff next morning ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I remember the frozen diapers, though I’m more a “warm from the dryer” sort of gal. While I was writing this, I saw that they are selling “real cotton diapers” at $139 for two dozen. YIKES. Let’s hear it for bamboo!

      The whole “use it and toss it” mentality we’ve developed — everywhere — is one of those things that will ultimately need to be addressed. I’m shocked that buying blades for razors costs MORE than buying a new razor with spares. We still buy the razors because we can’t tolerate throwing it away after two weeks of use. The same with printers: it’s so expensive to buy a refill for many printers, you might as well toss it and get a new one. There’s something really wrong about that.

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  4. I used cloth myself. No doubt about the ease of disposable diapers regarding space and disposal. There was more work involved in cloth diapers, however, as Marilyn said all you needed was a good washer and dryer and you were in business.

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  5. We fought a losing battle against paper diapers. But one thing nobody has mentioned is that, while your child is crawling around the floor, he’s also dusting it with his cloth diapered bottom. How economical is that? And if he spills something, just set him in the middle of the puddle till it’s all soaked up. Two for one. Very economical, cloth diapers. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. I used both when I had my kids. I used cloth and disposable, cloth for at home and disposable for when we were traveling. Over the years I’ve had friends with babies and it’s been a mixture with them too. A lot of them use one or the other, but like me, a few used both.

    I remember when my daughter had her son (a little over a decade ago), I couldn’t even find cloth diapers in the store. Seriously, I had to hunt for them. Even the people who worked there didn’t know where they were. And they were expensive! O_o We went to four different stores and barely found enough to keep her in diapers for a newborn. That was back in the early 00’s though. I’m sure times have changed since then.

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    • The price for cotton diapers is up there with new iPhones. Someone told me they are making them from bamboo now and they are a little more reasonable. By the time I started using paper, the kid was mostly toilet trained, so that I didn’t need a lot of diapers. They had also improved them enough to make them almost worth buying.

      I am more worried that we don’t fix anything these days. Other than cars and houses, everything will soon be trash. Bad for the planet and kind of stupid.

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  7. A couple of my daughter-in-law-like-women use cloth diapers with their babies. They’re pretty fancy now, designed to compete with paper diapers. Diapers are another one of the reasons I’m grateful I never had kids.

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    • I wouldn’t have minded skipping them, but that would have been very messy. Like not house-breaking your dog.

      Since diapers are not my current issue, I want FIXING THINGS (as a general rule) to come back. I want people to fix the broken things as opposed to dumping everything into the heap of garbage we call Earth. Call me crazy, but spending $1000 for a new iPhone? Seriously? Especially when you haven’t even paid off the last one? I could replace all THREE toilets in this house for that much money.

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      • I agree completely. I have found I have pretty serious ideas about some things — people should have no more than 2 kids. People should use cloth diapers. People don’t need more. Living on $35k/year in a right-sized house is the right thing to do. Greed is destroying the world. Consumerism is a mortal sin. Children should like school (therefore school should be likable and challenging). I have lots of things like that. Most of them I landed on when I was pretty young — early 20s.

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        • Greed IS destroying the world. Every time I see one of these super rich people out to grab every dollar they can squeeze out of their workers and the world, I wonder … What in the world do they need they can’t already buy a dozen of? Why do these people want more money? They have enough to buy three small countries.

          It’s another one of those things I don’t understand.

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        • Being an only child and only grandchild on both sides of the family, I definitely wanted more than one. Had four raised three and now have several grandkids… 2nd son has one of their own and adopted a second, youngest son has three – last one an unexpected surprise, and my daughter had two. There was no way I was going to have an only child – growing up without siblings and close cousins, has had the result that I , growing up on a farm, had a real problem learning to deal with people- as a classmate who had upteen cousons, said, it was the cousins that taught her how to get along well with other people… And now at my age, I can understand that. Still too good at sticking my foot in my mouth, in fact sometimes a past master at that!…..

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  8. My no. 1son had cloth diapers. 5 years later no. 2 son was born. It was pre pamper time, but excellent I had plastic outlines, nothing like super luxury pampers. I bought the disposable pads to place on the plastic and attached them to son no. 2. no washing to do. It was economic and practical. I never had to use pampers, but today I probably would. I worked for two years in a nursery as cook where we looked after kids in baby years to pre school. I helped with the washing. It was all old style diapers and when they were dry, we would prepare them for instant use in the baby department, hundreds. Sorry but give me pampers any time.

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  9. I think there is a growing movement of zero wasters, as they call themselves, at least here in Tasmania there is and I’ve heard of “Repair Cafe’s” in various parts of the world where people can learn to fix things instead of chucking them but it is hard going because many things are designed so you can’t fix them or it costs more to fix them than replace them. I’m not a total zero waster, I don’t have the energy or enthusiasm to make beeswax lunch wraps instead of using plastic for example but I do admire the effort some people make.

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    • We aren’t zero wasters. We’re too old and not handy, but I avoid buying things that can’t be repaired. For example, I won’t buy printers where the cartridge costs more than the printer. My husband buys blades for his razor, even though it would cost less to buy a new razor — the exact same razor — as the one he uses. He can’t tolerate the waste.

      I repaired both my old computers for Garry and my much older computer — I think it’s 10 years old — for Kaity. And I sold two desktops I no longer used and they are working like new — better than most new ones.

      It helps if you buy things that are worth fixing, too.

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      • I agree, it’s better to buy quality than junk. I read the local zero wasters FB page and it exhausts me just to read it. Many of them are just about off the grid. I’m too unhandy to do everything myself and to be honest I wouldn’t want to. I’d like to have a life outside of making everything from scratch but I try not to be wasteful more than I can help.

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    • My car is about ten years old – a Volvo wagon…. got used after the previous one, also bought used, ended up in an ancient chicken coop, minus the chickens while doing a Meals on Wheels run. When my foot slipped between the brake and the gas pedal…. Hubby’s vehicle is a 1995 Ford Ranger. Growing up on the farm in ND, the cars were mostly Fords, used, and lasted a long time, but then we didn’t use them for comuting, justs trips to Minot, to the dr, and other smaller town on the way to Minot.. Chiropractor and the stores.. only about three miles from town and we grew most of what we ate… Love my Volvo wagon.

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  10. The only problem I had with cloth diapers was the pin. Well, not my problem, actually – but I once picked up Cordelia after Gradma babysat and discovered that she had someone managed to pin the diaper right through the baby’s skin. Guess the screaming didn’t tip her off. So, we went to disposable diapers, despite the cost. Then we discovered that when Grandma babysat, she changed the baby every 15 minutes! Talk about expensive!

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    • I know we did a lot of babysitting, but I don’t remember much of it. I was working full time back then, too, so it would have been limited in terms of time. But Kaity lived in this house, so we all sort of took care of each other. I’m pretty sure I would have noticed the blood, if not the screaming.

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  11. They make disposable diapers for dogs now, which is an offshoot of the puppy pad explosion of the past decade. The same people who are too lazy to wash cloth diapers now won’t even take care of their pets.

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    • Actually, we used them on one of our old dogs. Divot was 15. Blind, mostly deaf, but otherwise reasonably healthy for a dog of that age. She had arthritis and could not go up and down stairs on her own. Also, when there was snow outside, she couldn’t find her way home because she could only find the house by scent. Garry carried her in and out in the morning and evening, but she still needed diapers because she had lost her bladder control. We probably should have put her down, but Garry adored her.

      When you use diapers on a dog, it’s usually an old dog … and probably a small one. You can manage a little dog for longer because you can carry them around when they can’t walk on their own. I can’t imagine anyone using diapers for any dog as a choice. It’s much too messy and very inconvenient.

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  12. Pingback: Fleeting | sparksfromacombustiblemind

    • I couldn’t afford them. At the time they came out, they were ridiculously expensive. The price dropped after a while, but by then, the kid was mostly out of diapers anyway. I don’t know what I’d have done otherwise, but they were also not well fitted and very leaky in the beginning. Not a real improvement till a couple of years later.

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  13. You’ve only managed to make me feel even more smug that i got divorced before we had kids! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    As for the other – i find that anything i buy that i COULD fix (or someone could fix for me) generally will cost me around 5 times more to repair than to replace. It’s a very sad and disillusionsing world today.

    love

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    • Well, I’m glad you are happy with what you have or don’t have. I honestly don’t think I would feel I had much of a life without my son or granddaughter. I am pretty sure Garry feels the same way. Life would sure feel empty without them.

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