I come from a country where most of our traditions still leak into how we millennials still act today. There a lot of customs and traditions handed down generation to generation when it comes to pregnancy, giving birth and of course taking care of a baby. Millennials would be caught in a heated argument with their grandparents as to what to do and what not to do in taking care of a baby. The generation now would be insisting on their own ideas and taking on traditional norms. Like, the baby should be wearing a bright red small piece of sewn cloth on his clothes all the time. In tradition, this is a means to supposedly prevent evil spirits or unwanted malevolent attention to come near the baby. There are times when that sewn cloth is replaced by a red dot on the forehead. But if we take a step forward now we won’t see much of the babies bearing this tradition, parents now simply think that it is something that our grandparents just made up. Another tradition that goes way back is perhaps the using of cloth as diapers. Yes, it is still being done and observed by some families. Today we will be discussing cloth diapering, from its primitive forms to what it is now.
The History of Diapers
There is no denying that way back the good old days especially in the days when synthetic diapers were still a thing of the past, the cloth diaper or primitive versions of it ruled households. During ancient times, people had to use natural resources like milkweed wraps, animal skins, as diapers. In some cultures like the Eskimo people, they would use sealskin and put moss. Meanwhile, South Americans cleverly used grass to fill in a diaper made up of rabbit skin. Something rather odd but can still be seen around tropical countries is the lack of diapers itself.
Due to the extreme humidity and weather conditions, putting babies in diapers in these countries would only mean rashes and gashes in the buttocks because believe it or not, it wasn’t a practice to wash diapers in ancient times, they only dried the diapers before using it again. But as time moved and technology advanced so did health care when it came to using diapers.
Way back 1800s from animal skins, we see a movement of using cotton flannel or even stockinet that was eventually folded into a rectangle which was then held together by a safety pin. Then comes the 20th century which paved the way to a lot of patents and innovations when it came to diapers. From using cotton to cellulose tissue to using the “boater” to plastic snaps instead of safety pins. And innovation after innovation we now have the worldwide known and used disposable diapers. Imagine that, from animal skins and leaves to what is now the most commercially available synthetic version of diapers.
Types of Cloth Diapers
For first time mommies like me, sometimes there are just a lot of decisions to make when it comes to rearing our young ones. There’s what to feed them, what shampoo and soap are best to use and now what brand of diapers to buy. I learned from watching the nanny of my cousin when I was still in high school that there are certain norms followed when it comes to baby care. My aunt being well-off would buy tons of stuff for the baby like stocks and stocks of disposable diapers. But when my cousin got Urinary Tract Infection from using diapers all day her nanny quickly told my aunt that it might be best if they used cloth diapers. Back then I only knew of one kind of cloth diapers but as it turns out there is an array of cloth diapers that will suit the different needs of our babies as well as ours.
Flat Cloth Diapers
This is the well-known cloth diaper because this was used even before there were disposable diapers in the market. They are rectangular in shape and you have to fold them up and secure them with baby safety pins on both sides. It is convenient in the sense that you can alter the thickness in areas you want to be thick.
Prefold Cloth Diapers
Prefolds are similar to Flats. The only difference is that there is already a pre-folded feature that holds a thickened area already. So minimal folding is required.
Contour Cloth Diapers
If Prefolds are similar to Flats, Contours is the same with Prefolds. Only that for prefolds, you still have to do some folding around the leg area but for Contours, you need only to fasten the closure as there are no closures for this type of cloth diaper as well, just like the previously mentioned Flats and Prefolds.
All-in-One Cloth Diapers
These types of diapers are similar to your disposable diapers only because there is no more hassle in folding or stuffing. They are just ready to use. They are like disposable diapers that come either in single sizes or adjustable sizes.
All-in-Two Cloth Diapers
Sounds peculiar to have a diaper that is all in two but it does exist. They have waterproof outer covering and have pockets that carry in them inserts which are directly in contact with the baby’s skin.
Fitted Cloth Diapers
These kinds of diapers are somewhat similar to an all-in-one. The only difference is that they don’t have covers that are waterproof. They are called fitted because they are designed to fit around the waist and legs and have closures of their own.
Okay so Pockets are named so because they have pockets for inserts that you can stuff. And like the previously mentioned All-in-one, All-in-two, and Fitted, there are waterproof coverings for these cloth diapers.
Of all the types of cloth diapers available out there, the Hybrid has to be the most expensive kind. It is similar to All-in-two cloth diapers but with a bonus that you can use an insert that is either disposable or reusable. The choice will ultimately be yours.
Benefits of Cloth Diapering
You might think that washing and reusing diapers is not the thing for you well I hope these benefits can sway you to re-think about using cloth diapers.
If you are thinking that cloth diapering is expensive, well then yeah, at the beginning it may seem that comparing the prices of the cheapest disposable diaper versus that of a reusable cloth diaper then you probably will buy the disposable one. But let me tell you this, it only is that way at the beginning but as you go on by with your year you will discover that you have spent a fortune on buying even the cheapest diaper whilst you would have saved half of your expenses if you used cloth diapers. Even if you combine the amount of money you use on laundry you will still have saved half of what you spent for that disposable diaper. So think again, are you willing to throw that much money into the dumpster?
You read it right since we are re-using cloth diapers we are saving mother nature as well. Did you know that it takes about 500 years for a single disposable diaper to degrade? Imagine how much time it would take if a whole landfill was filled with disposable diapers. We might be gone and our babies might already be great grandparents but their diapers will still be there. Reduce, reuse, recycle, the concept that fits into using cloth diapers.
Safe on babies
It is made up of cloth so the chances that they are allergic to it are very slim. Unlike for disposable diapers they are synthetic and have chemicals in them that can cause rashes on your baby’s bum. Some studies made revealed that some diapers have dioxin which is apparently a by-product of bleaching and has been listed by EPA as probably one of the most toxic carcinogens. Some disposable diapers also contain tributyl-tin, a chemical that can affect the hormones of humans and animals. Think about it, you wouldn’t be exposing your baby to such harmful chemicals now, would you?
Simple Tips to Cloth Diapering
If you have decided to go cloth, congratulations. It is a well-made choice. However, you might want to consider the following:
- Choose the most appropriate type of cloth diaper for your baby. Consider his/her needs and your capacity as well. You might be too eager and excited about saving a ton of money but remember you need to put in more effort in cloth diapering especially doing the laundry.
- Create a schedule you can follow in doing your laundry because, with a baby, that will be a full-time work in itself.
- Don’t just throw your waste anywhere. You might be thinking it’s okay to just put it in a plastic bag and throw it in the landfill because it is biodegradable. Consider the fact that when you do throw your waste along with other garbage you are actually endangering your family as well as the waste can seep into the ground and contaminate water sources near the landfill. What you should do is to get rid of it in your toilet. That’s how it is supposed to be done even for disposable diapers but nobody bothers to follow on it.
- If you decide to go cloth diapers you can always experiment and have cloth diapers and disposable diapers side by side or be truthful to being eco-friendly and just stick to cloth diapers. The choice is yours.
- Remember nothing is easy at first but when you get the hang of it then you will feel as though it is just another routine. Always think about the positives and why you chose cloth diapers in the first place and that should motivate you even more.