My earliest memory of cloth diapers is from my childhood, but the diapers weren’t used for my younger sister, brother, or even for myself. My great-grandmother gave my mom some soft prefolds when I was born. We used them to dust the house. I would spritz some kind of artificial lemon-scented dust-busting spray on the quilted surface when it was my turn to wipe down the furniture. I don’t remember thinking of them as diapers at that point- to me, they were just rags that my mother had been reusing for years. It wasn’t until I started learning about cloth diapers, over 20 years later, that I made the connection and got the back story from my mom. She said the convenience culture of disposables was too tempting when compared with those folded cloths, sharp pins, and plastic underpants.
I married somewhat young, right after I graduated from college. My husband was in the Army and within a few weeks my life changed substantially. I started my first adult-type job and moved to a new city in a new state. The only person I knew, was my husband. I was so thankful when he introduced me to Jennifer, a bubbly and warm woman who took me under her wing despite our difference in ages. Jennifer’s house was one of those places filled with humor and creativity. Her two children benefited from their mother’s incredible energy, love, and her insanely well-honed cooking skills. Jennifer and I loved to shop online together, showing each other Doc Marten’s and wrap dresses we longed to be able to afford. “Next payday!” we would say. And this simple ritural of online window shopping, revealed to me to world of modern cloth diapers.
Jennifer was never one to do what was easy or what was the social norm- she would embrace the more challenging path if she thought it was the right thing to do. When she became pregnant with her third baby, she started telling me all about the amazing cloth diapers she was discovering online. She told me that it was going to be easy to deal with cloth diapers- which seemed unrealistic to me at the time, but then again, I saw how she was capable of anything. She talked a little bit about all the money she was going to save, but at that point I mostly saw the sticker prices of an individual pocket diaper. I wondered how people could afford enough diapers if each one cost fifteen dollars or more. I wondered if her washing machine would be able to handle the mess. I wondered if it would be a huge pain whenever she wanted to leave the house. And despite all of the doubts, I also had a feeling that she was on to something really smart.
It would be another five years, and a move to Germany, before I was pregnant for the first time. I hadn’t spent much time considering cloth diapers during that time, but it was one of the first things I began to research after I got a positive test. I spent so many hours reading about cloth diapers- the different styles, positive and negative aspects of various designs, about a million different laundry routines and opinions on the best brands. I started realizing that if cloth diapering was something I really felt compelled to do, I could find solutions for all of my early doubts. I set aside money from my own paychecks so that I would be able to afford to try a variety of diapers. When I presented my well-researched desire to cloth diaper to my husband, he was actually excited! He listened to my endless debating over which items to purchase online. We were doing everything with only our internet research- like so many families, the first time we actually saw a modern cloth diaper in person was when our first box of “fluffy mail” arrived.
I chose a fairly representative variety for my original diaper collection, including pockets, all-in-ones, hybrids, and prefolds with covers. My husband and I practiced putting the diapers together and wrapping the prefolds around teddy bears. As our fingers fumbled with the Snappi (“Am I going to stab him?”) we bonded over this new adventure. From acquaintences, I regularly heard that I was “crazy” and that I would give up pretty soon. My friends were more supportive, hopefully because they realized that I like to follow through when I make a decision, but possibly because they didn’t want to be rude or incur my pregnant anger.
When my son arrived in 2010, my husband and I had been given a few packages of disposable newborn diapers. We used them along with our newborn-sized prefolds, until the disposable diapers ran out. At that point, we stuck with our cloth diapers. Every time I changed a diaper for those first few weeks, I was so happy- I could already tell that I was going to save money because of this choice. When my mom visited, she said she wished these modern diapers had existed when I was a baby!
At home full-time with a young baby, I had a fair amount of “down time” for a little while. My son liked to nurse very frequently. I would sit with him, nursing, and reading things online pretty often. At the same time, I had friends asking me lots of questions about cloth diapering. I found myself typing the same answers repeatedly. I decided to start a cloth diapering weblog, where I reviewed diapers, talked about the money I was saving, and discussed different laundering routines and options. Cloth diapers became a hobby and I loved helping friends and complete strangers alike. As my son became more mobile, I had less and less time to write in my blog. But thankfully another exciting life change was just around the corner.
When my son was eight months old, we moved from Germany to Colorado Springs. An internet search prior to our move revealed that the Springs was home to real, live, brick-and-mortar cloth diapering stores. I visited one the day after I arrived. It was so exciting to me that I was living in a community that was able to support multiple storefronts dedicated to cloth diapers. In the past two years I have worked at one store, taught Cloth Diapering 101 classes there, and was even its interim owner and operator. I love meeting families who are considering cloth diapers and watching their eyes light up as they realize how many options they have. It is pretty amazing to help someone overcome obstacles and make a plan to use cloth, and to see them succeed with their goals over time.
I’m thrilled to be involved with the Bottombumpers blog. I hope that I can provide helpful information and relatable anecdotes to those of you following along. Happy cloth diapering!