I remember the first time I attempted cloth diapering. Huggies had just pulled off the market in the UK and they were our main choice for our eldest child. I was a first time mom and like many of my other choices they were dictated by mainstream information and pulls and tugs from other moms who were older than me. I think like a lot of first time moms I found it overwhelming and difficult to navigate the entire experience that is motherhood and it would not be until a few years later that I made the important realisation that my experience of motherhood was my own. It does not matter ultimately what other people did, whether they preferred to purée feed their little ones when weaning, follow a baby led approach or just wing it and try a bit of everything, it does not matter if the best choice is to baby wear or pram push your infant, because for many aspects of parenting there is no “best choice” but the choice that is right for you.
Back to cloth attempt number one. My very first impression of cloth was the dreadful feeling of poos and the idea it would be very difficult to keep a dry bottom. I had no clue what to do and the price of the main brands I could find seemed way out of my price range since I was used to the day to day disposable cheaper price range. I found a very very cheap pocket type diaper with cheap inserts. I got a handful of these and on my relatively young infant they did a relatively ok job considering the fact I was not using them the most efficient way and so needed constant supervision and often changes. It turned to be a relatively exhausting experience and I burnt through it pretty quickly, sure the prints were cute but I felt so out of my depth and it quickly added to me feeling as if I were maybe not enough of a dedicated mother for failing at this. Back to disposables I went and the cloth only came out when we were running low of disposables.
Fast forward to our twins. A lot by then had happened, I was now a much more experienced mother and more confident in my choices, I would do my research and stopped worrying about other people’s opinions, I’d politely thank them for the advice when it came up but ultimately follow what worked for me and I knew I could stand by as a decision because it was my informed choice. We loosely planned on cloth diapering but I had not the leisure of doing all the research I wanted on the subject since I found myself quite busy. I planned on doing my research and completing last purchases such as the cot and clothes during the last month to keep myself busy and have something to look forward to by then. Our babies decided otherwise by arriving early on schedule and some difficult choices had to be made that we did not expected and we put cloth on hold. It was a difficult choice at the time because by then I was a lot more acutely aware that cloth diapering was a more sustainable choice for the environment.
One of our boys as fate would have it has very sensitive skin, we went through most disposable diaper brands from big name to supermarket brands and his poor bottom just wouldn’t tolerate any. I had read previously of babies having reactions to diapers but had never thought much about it until this became one of my worries, I decided to look more intensely on the subject then and it was another layer of the Pandora box that opened right in front of my eyes, from the testing of diapers on animals to the level of chemicals used in disposables that was horrifying. I first found biodegradable diapers that were absolutely adorable and did not seem as harmful. We tried them successfully but they were only available through online orders or in one pharmacy in town which after a few months started to prove difficult from a logistical point of view. This is when I decided to revisit the cloth idea.
I have a lovely friend from back home who is a consultant for new parents on cloth diapers. She has workshops and explains how she prepares her diapers so I decided to check on the basics from her. I learnt a very first important step which was that the secret to cloth diapering isn’t waterproofing but appropriate absorbency. Layering is key and learning the different type of materials that cloth diapers come in is very helpful. Different diapers come in different shapes and we bought a little to try and once we found something that worked well for us we invested in more cloth diapers. This was a wonderful moment because at that time we were confronted with a new problem we hadn’t had faced with our daughters who each were clean at night all by themselves by the time they turned one (daytime clean was another story), with the boys however nighttime was still punctuated by diaper changes once again by the time they turned one because no diaper could contain them for a full night sleep and cloth proved to be a worthy contestant for nighttime.
Another advantage I had found with cloth before the boys even were a thought was when it came to potty training. You see when our eldest was about to turn four she wasn’t fully committed to the potty, she loved the independence she had with diapers and disposables are quite close fitted and keep you feeling dry for a while so she was fine with it but she really disliked cloth and would go to the potty if cloth was on the table so the week before she turned four I told her we had ran out of diapers and she went to the toilets from then on without problems. Our second daughter was about to turn four when we decided to embark full time on cloth again with the twins and I knew that cloth was not right for her so in this case it was myself who encouraged her toilet training full time. Our twins are now on the verge of turning three and one of them has started by himself asking to go to the toilets several times during the day, while he isn’t there yet for full time toilet time both he and his brother are aware of their bodily functions and come to ask being changed which is a first important step towards toilet training that is often more difficult when dealing with disposable diapers.
Last but not least for today, cloth diapers never run out, they come with delightful colours and have cleared all the skin breakouts on my twin with sensitive skin. They necessitated some learning time which is not something always afforded to new parents but in the grand scheme of things they are a much more rewarding part of our parenting journey than I had first anticipated. If you are interested in starting with cloth please do not hesitate to visit my Mermama YouTube channel where I update some of what I have learnt in my cloth journey and come back to visit the blog as I will be sharing more of what we love about cloth. It is never too late to start using cloth and it is so pretty!