When we were having our son more than 3 years ago and Meg brought up the topic of cloth diapers, I kept an open mind, but admit, my lack of knowledge on the subject made me pretty darn skeptical.
We tried , but as with many things that go with the whirlwind of a first child, it didn’t exactly go as planned and after a few attempts, ended up going the route of disposable diapers until he was out of them and into big boy undies.
When our little girl arrived four months ago, we had decided to try again. While I still was slightly skeptical, I realized this time that any skepticism was mostly due, once again, to my inexperience with cloth diapers.
I had questions
But how do you wash them?
What do you do with the poop?
Is this sanitary?
I had a lot of questions. But, as with many things when a second child comes around, parents find themselves a little more at ease having been through it before. So, this time, as my wife was determined to make this commitment, I was determined to learn more and get on board with it.
It took a few diaper changes to learn how, but man, was this learning curve easy. We’re not talking about the old cloth diapers from the old Disney and Looney Tunes shorts with a wrap of white cloth and a baby pin. No, no, no. Those still exist, but truly, I can’t believe how far cloth diapers have come. The material, the styles, the sheer variety (pre-fold, pockets, all-in-one – all phrases I never thought I would know, let alone use) is mind-boggling.
We stocked up in an effort to be prepared, because if you’re going to do this, you’re going to need quite a few. Think about how many diapers you go through in the course of a day, then think about if you had to wash and wait for each to dry before using.
So, there’s a lot of bins filled with these patterned and colorful diapers that look a bit like a bin of Easter eggs. As I say, variety, variety, variety.
I was certainly game and as I say, the changing of them was a quick learn. Unsnap/unbutton (yes, they have buttons/snaps these days!), fold up, put into a vinyl diaper bag (instead of the trash), wipe as normal, and then put a nice, new, cushy cloth diaper on those little buns. And voila, we’re changed! That vinyl bag of diapers fills up over time and when it’s full, the diapers get washed, dried, and if the weather’s nice, put out in the sun for some added sunkissed sanitation and whitening.
Of course, I’m still going to admit how new this is to me. I have not yet actually done a load of these cloth diapers in the wash yet. Meg has. So I am sure there is a whole other layer to this I’ve yet to explore in my ignorance. But I will say that in terms of the changing, it’s been a piece of cake.
The proof is in the pudding…er…in the poop
The true test, though…what really pushed me over the edge and on board…was, well quite, frankly, the poop.
Like so many babies, our little lady has had her fair share of blowouts in the first few months of her life. You know what i mean. It goes everywhere. Up the front, up the back. Everywhere. And I can’t tell you how many outfits have had poop go right through, calling for a whole new cleaning and outfit.
But, knock on wood, not when she’s been wearing her cloth diapers. I certainly can’t rattle off the brand names to you, as I don’t know them all, but I have noticed the little tags on them while I’ve changed, and two that spring to mind are Thirsties and BumGenius cloth diapers. And these things are thick. Thick, yet soft. And puffy. And based on every time I’ve had to change a blowout diaper, I would take a cloth diaper over disposable to handle those explosions any day of the week. They absorb, they keep it all in, just where it’s supposed to be, leaving daddy to just wipe and change the diaper versus wipe, change the diaper, wash her and change an entire outfit that got soaked through.
I am all about this.
I now find myself a father and husband completely on board with the idea of cloth diapers.
They’re soft, they’re re-usable, and man, do they absorb and hold in so much more than the disposables. We all have our fair share of baby blowouts and I feel pretty confident now in saying that in those blowout moments, I’d much rather have her in a cloth diaper than a disposable, keeping in everything we don’t want getting out (if you know what I mean).
Things will change
And yeah, once she reaches the stage of solid foods and stops nursing, things will change – as poop from a breastmilk-only diet is water soluable, that solid-food poop – not so much. That will mean trips to the potty before the diapers can be washed to dump out each diaper and spray it with water when the time comes. So will I be singing the same tune then? I hope so, but, I admit, we will see when the time comes.
Don’t mistake my appreciation for a full-on lifestyle change or an implication that anyone else needs to feel the same way. As I’ll be honest, we still use disposable diapers during the overnight hours, we still use them at grandma’s house, and we still use them when we’re not at home and out and about.
It’s a balance.
But, the mere fact that they are an option to us, allowing us (if even a little) to cut back on how much we spend, how much we add to the trash pile, and to really soak up those baby poops a little better, I’m all for.
What’s that they say about a child’s laughter?
There truly is nothing quite like it, I’m convinced.
With both our little guy and the new little lady, we’ve been amazed at how early children start to shine through with their happiness, with smiles that light up an entire house with the mere stretch of a muscle.
I’ll never forget how infectious the little guy’s laugh would get once he’d start. One of the most vivid memories being the laugh riot that would ensue from him when I’d read The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems. Specifically two pages broken down into a series of small panels where Pigeon will find anything and everything wrong with the the bath – “too hot! too cold! too much water! too little water!” It was the kind of laugh fit that a stand-up comedian dreams of for their material.
And silly as it may sound, it just made me so incredibly happy through sheer proximity to that kind of joy. And now I get to do it all over again.
Our little lady’s laughs have gone from what sound like a little cough to an actual, audible laugh, wide smile across her face, at things that just seem pedestrian to you and I, but to her, are hilarity.
The other day I sang her name. That’s it. Just sang her name to her. It was slightly to the tune of Lovely from the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, but I’m no Sondheim, so that’s all it really was – her name. And she smiled, cooed, and then giggled the whole time.
And my heart soared.
There are times when I question what life is supposed to be. Am I at the right job? Am I doing what I should be? Are my talents being put to use? Am I being all that I can be?
But when I see the smile on the face of that baby girl, or that little boy, when I hear the uproarious sound of laughter come from those grinning faces, it’s hard to not catch some of that joy in its purest essence. And when I do, I realize I’m exactly where I should be – there, in that moment, to bear witness to this unadulterated, happiness.