First, block out everything you thought you knew about cloth diapers – the white cotton rectangles, the pins, the plastic rubber pants.
If that sounds vaguely familiar, you’re showing your age.
Another slightly younger generation is somewhat baffled. Diaper pins? Rubber pants? What are those?
Pin it on Pampers.
Once disposable diapers hit the market in 1961, cloth diapers soon went the way of the dodo bird and the dinosaur. But here we are, almost 50 years later, and it’s as if archaeologists discovered a brand new species of diaper. In other words, cloth diapers are back, but your grandmother wouldn’t recognize them.
They come in new fabrics. Ever heard of highly-absorbent organic bamboo velour or bamboo hemp? They fasten with Velcro or snaps, and there are several, breathable options to old-fashioned rubber pants. Today’s diapers are fitted, like disposable diapers with elastic legs, but they come in so many different styles, diapering moms say you have to examine your lifestyle to decide which type of cloth diaper works best for you and your baby.
And one more thing – moms who diaper don’t always call them diapers. Sometimes they call them “reusables.”
Jen Pond, 34, grimaces when she thinks about old-fashioned cloth diapers, especially the pins and dunking dirty ones in the toilet.
“It was a lot more difficult then than it is now,” she says.
Sarah Gesiakowski, a work-at-home mom in Bloomington, says she has seen a steady increase in the local cloth diaper movement since she started PinStripes and PolkaDots (www.pinstripesandpolkadots.com) four years ago.
When she started, she was mainly seeing parents concerned about the environmental effects of disposable diapers on landfills. “Now we’re also seeing the very budget-conscious parent.”
Here, it’s worth inserting a mention of the environmental battle between disposable and reusables. Diaper advocates say it takes something like 500 years for disposables to disintegrate. In the meantime, stinky, feces-filled disposables are clogging the country’s landfills. According to the other side, given the increased laundry costs for reusuables, the environmental impact is about the same. Just know the debate about environmental consequences hasn’t been settled yet.
Cost is another matter. Even with laundry costs and the expense of new-school diapers (the $15-range, less if you make your own), cloth diapers save money.
Logo from PinStripes and PolkaDots.