Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bohemian Mama: cotton-bottomed baby

Recently, a friend expecting her first child informed me that cloth diapers were not an option for them - “we just don’t have enough space” she told me, “and we don’t have a washer and dryer,” it’s not practical. I laughed, looking around at my tiny home. Space is never the real problem, but it is a safe, comfortable excuse. I didn’t want her to feel as though she couldn’t be honest with me, I know and respect many parents who chose to go the disposable route now. I would, of course, encourage the more attractive, and environmentally friendly cloth option to anyone, but it's not quite on the level with breast-feeding and lots of love. I can understand, “no, we’re not into that” I can't really understand “Well, we’d obviously love to, but…”.

I’ve always been attracted to the idea of soft cotton diapers wrapping baby-bottoms, to the bright white of clean diapers drying in the sun, to thick pillowy diaper protecting baby-butts from sudden falls. When we were anticipating the birth of our daughter, my husband and I fell naturally into the assumption that we would use cloth to diaper our baby. We were surprised to hear the concerns of those around us: “you don’t have a washer”; “you don’t have the space”; “how will you clean/store/avoid…”; “won’t disposable be easier?” Our answer was always the same, “I guess we’ll see.” We didn’t want to completely commit ourselves, in case of failure, but we were expecting success.

It wasn’t until a few months before her birth that we decided we would, for certain, use cloth on our baby’s bottom. In the rain-soaked parking lot of a local grocery we saw the slushy remains of a disposable, torn, scattered, and swollen on the asphalt, looking like grey snow, or dying, twitchy bits of jellyfish. I loathed the thought of my daughter’s fresh skin wrapped in this spongy mass. I knew I’d sacrifice a good deal to avoid it, though in the end I sacrificed nothing. We were blessed with an abundance of used diapers, which fold and store ideally in just one of the laundry baskets we’ve had for years. Dirty, they go to another basket, complete with lid and liner. I store a bucket in this basket and occasionally pour vinegar borax over the dirty ones to prep them for laundry day. Laundry day is changeable. It began as Tuesdays, moved to Thursdays, and now is settled in the weekend, as we limit our driving more and more. The “Mega Load” washers at my favorite laundromat can fit a week’s worth of diapers, clothes, sheets, and towels with no trouble at all. Drying is often done at home, but in a rush I can pop them in for a few minutes to speed up the process.

It’s not just that I love fat-bottomed babies and loathe spongy silicone. It is primarily that, but it’s also a desire to limit my trash output, to keep my daughter’s super absorbent, baby-skin away from chemicals and dyes, and the avoid the awfulness of a trash bag full of dirty diapers spread around the yard by raccoons at night.


  1. Great post! I loved the image of the nasty, torn diaper, or as you put it, the "dying, twitchy bits of jellyfish".

    I think you have proven to everyone that anyone can cloth diaper.

  2. Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. I guess it's because I was pregnant and hungery that the torn diaper made such an awful & lasting impression..but it really did!