This blog post comes from Jessi Johns, TCO Advocate from Colorado & mom of three.
When we were expecting our first baby, my husband and I excitedly decided to cloth diaper. When we shared this idea with our families and friends, however, the response was less than warm. Being the first of our generation to start having babies within our circle, we met skepticism from all sides. Here are some of the reactions we received.
Cloth diapers? Gross!
At the time, pretty much none of our friends had their own kids yet. For them, the idea of using cloth diapers was downright gag-worthy. They couldn’t imagine dealing with the poo, and were horrified at the idea of tossing diapers in the washing machine. When this comes up, I just have to laugh. It’s almost always someone who hasn’t had kids. I kindly bring up the fact that babies and kids are just messy; it’s a fact of life. There will be poo (and pee and slobber and vomit and spoiled milk…) – on everything. A parent’s washing machine is getting a workout whether they cloth diaper or not, and it’s silly to think that anything that is ever really soiled should be thrown away. I don’t think many people toss messed pants and sheets and car seats either. I don’t believe diapers are inherently different.
Cloth diapers? So complicated!
Our biggest hurdle was, surprisingly, my mother. While she had no doubt been raised on cloth in the 60’s, she had happily used disposables for me and my sister back in the 80’s and 90’s. When our son was born, she offered to watch our son for a few hours a couple times a week so that my hubby and I could have some time to ourselves. Her one stipulation: she would NOT use cloth. Don’t get me wrong, we were anything but frustrated or upset. Free babysitting? She could do whatever she wanted. We gladly stocked her house with disposable diapers and she did things her way. When we picked our son up, we would change him into a cloth diaper on our way out. After a while, I think curiosity got the best of my mom. She watched. She learned. She got comfortable with it. …and eventually, she just started using them! She’s old hat, now. I think she was simply unfamiliar and maybe intimidated, but seeing us using them so easily helped to teach and normalize the idea without arguing.
Cloth diapers? Whatevs.
It’s been over four years since our first son was born. Now almost all our siblings and friends have gone on to have their own kids, and we’re split about 50/50 on families that use cloth vs. disposables. Some use only disposables. Some use only cloth. Some regularly use a mix. The funny thing is: while it was a topic of curiosity and even debate at the start, no one has to talk about it anymore. Cloth is just as “normal” to all of us as disposables are thanks simply to exposure and education.
The bottom line– if you’re among the first in your family or group of friends to cloth diaper, be prepared for a variety of reactions. The key thing to remember is that unless they have personal experience with cloth diapers, their opinions and advice are about as useful as a stroller with no wheels. Stay strong and know that you get to decide what’s best for your family. Hopefully those naysayers will come around once they see that cloth works.