As a new mother you want the best for your child and with that comes a great deal of seemingly bizarre choices. To breastfeed or not to breastfeed (what?) whether to eat one’s own placenta, the endless amount of gear that one can buy for their baby, are among the hundreds of decisions that a new mom has on her plate. One of the not so new, but recently popular choices that mothers are making is that of cloth diapering their baby. At first glance, cloth diapering seems like a Sisyphean task that could marry you and your babies poop for the next 2 years, but mothers from far and wide are choosing to put away their disposable diapers and join the cloth revolution.
Just like any decision, why mothers make this choice varies depending on whom you ask “In my personal life, pre-baby, I leaned toward organic products so when I started searching for natural items for my registry, I encountered cloth diapers. They are much more mainstream than you would think. To my surprise a variety of cloth diapers are even available at Babies R Us” says new mother Quiana Godek. Godek began to research cloth diapers and discovered a large amount of information regarding the chemicals in disposable diapers. To her, this was a long and daunting list of “harmful ingredients with potential side-effects to the immune, nervous, endocrine and reproductive systems”. One of the chemicals sometimes found in disposable diapers, dioxins, are listed by the EPA as carcinogenic “I didn’t want my baby to come into contact with any of these chemicals” she says. For others, it is an environmental choice that is such for Christine McCarthy “It just feels better…better for the baby, better for the environment, better for our bank account. We try to keep the amount of plastic in our lives at a minimum so wrapping our baby’s bottom in plastic feels counter-intuitive. We reuse, recycle, and compost whenever possible so the idea of throwing away so many diapers into the landfills doesn’t make sense for our family”. The last group of cloth diaper revolutionaries fall into an entirely different category that is where many of these moms ultimatley wind up, and this is style. There are so many styles and fabrics to choose from in a cloth diaper that you can buy and collect them like a cheap and chic fashion accessory “It speaks both to my desire to be a good citizen and to shop for cute baby things”. says Stacey Haynes. Cloth diapering never used to be a leftist, environmental, and social choice that received public criticism, and until the 1950s, cloth diapers were the norm, in fact, many of our own mothers were cloth diapered as were some of us; but never before in such a stylish and modern way. To call this revolution may be a bit of a stretch, but given the amount of articles with this very title, it seems fitting.
Many mothers do not make the decision to cloth diaper at birth though some are determined to give it a try immediately, many moms make the switch when they are “out of the woods” and adjusted to life as a new mom. Quiana Godek started cloth diapering when her daughter was three months old after she began to see absorbent gel coming out of a diaper and on to her baby’s skin. She decided to take the leap and give cloth diapering a try and has never looked back. Now, many months after making the change to cloth diapering, Godek has amassed a collection in all manners and styles of beautiful cloth diapers for her daughter and is self-admittedly obsessed. She buys them online, seeks them out locally and will even peruse the many online diaper exchanges that have popped up where mothers who are done with their collection can resell them to someone else. As an outsider looking in on this throwback phenomenon, the types of cloth diapers can be daunting, but a mother tends to choose one type of cloth diaper and stick with it, but it can become addictive and fun. Shopping for cloth diapers online seems akin to buying trendy shoes, but with an environmental function.
There are many stigmas that accompany cloth diapering that mothers who engage in the practice address with the non cloth diapering public “The number one stigma that I hear from other moms is that it is too much work.” says Quiana Godek “For me it (only) comes down to another load of laundry, which isn’t much work. All I have to do is press the button and the washer does all the work”. The cleaning is not that big a deal.
The largest obstacle in cloth diapering is not what you would imagine, laundry, difficulty, and the mess, but simply figuring out which cloth diapering “method” is right for you. There are countless brands and types of cloth diapers, along with a set of vocabulary and acronyms to interpret which can make this choice seem daunting, but also a tiny bit fun. Distinguishing between pre-folds or all-in-one’s, or determining if one wants to buy an EUC (excellent used condition) HTF (hard to find) but “luckily there are many, many websites and Facebook pages dedicated to cloth diapering which can help the process along. The cloth diaper community is very enthusiastic, so any questions you ask in a forum are answered quickly and by multiple people”. says Quiana Godek. With the endless choices of diapers also comes multiple diaper delivery and washing services. Moms need not bother with dealing with dirty cloth diapers because there are services that will pick up and drop off diapers right to your door. So which cloth diaper is best for you to use? That also depends on whom you ask. One-size pockets with minky inserts, Tiny Tush, AppleCheeks, prefolds with wool covers, Green Mountain Diapers, and Osocozy are among the many styles and brands that moms recommend.
So will you be the next mother to join the cloth diaper revolution? As with any parenting decision, the options are endless and that is part of the appeal.