Baby in a cloth diaper


What I Miss From The Baby Days Are The Piles Of Cloth Diapers — No, Really

Jul 11, 2019

There are a lot of things from our childrens’ baby days to miss once they’ve passed us by — and a whole lot we gladly say good riddance to. The late-night feedings for one, the sometimes unexplained crying and relentless hallway walking for another.

But there are items and events that hold a degree of nostalgia for parents which are not easily explained; things that somehow simply become ingrained as sweet, peaceful memories, rubbed into our minds over time and through repetition. For you, it may be the feel of your baby’s warm, soft skin as you nursed near a winter window, or the logical routine and satisfying feeling of lining up sterilized bottles ready to do battle another day.

For me, I miss the diaper days. And more specifically: the cloth diaper days.

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Whenever I see a little one in a soft flannel diaper, my heart catches and holds the image. I recall our diaper days here in my home — through two babies, for a total of only a few years. But I can easily recall the styles and amounts of each diaper, cover, pin and accessory on each shelf and folded in each basket. I never found the work to be exhaustive or even remotely difficult. I loved it for all the reasons you would expect and even some you would not, including the daily routine of cleaning, which to me, gave my days a centre on which all activities ran around.

Whenever I see a little one in a soft flannel diaper, my heart catches and holds the image.

There was something about it. The meditative folding and organizing of the pretty patterned flannels each afternoon when babies napped, the huge fluffy ball of bundled cloth velcroed together when I opened the dryer after a long tumble, the little containers of pins and snaps and a warm-weather clothesline full of fresh flapping linen, drying in the sunshine and smelling like a new start — the exact thing a baby is.

I didn’t set out to use cloth diapers. And truthfully, the newborn baby days were (in my opinion) best spent temporarily adding to landfills, but removing from my mental stress as a new first-time mother.

But once I tried cloth diapers, I knew that there would be no turning back. I may have started out of curiosity, the desire to save a few dollars and yes, even because I enjoy a bit of a challenge, but I long continued with cloth because it felt right. And seeing a toddler bottom with terry or flannel against it made me think of a time before I was a parent, and it created a connection with a collective of mothers who had come before me.

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Washing and cleaning cloth diapers is so much easier now than it was for previous generations given our relative ease and proximity to washing machines — and I am thankful and acknowledge my privilege to have such a thing, as I know not every family has been granted the benefits I have been. 

... I still have one (or four) of my children’s tiniest cloth diapers and a pin or two in their memory boxes when I need the nostalgia hit.

But there are also amazing and supportive online and real-life communities of women committed to cloth diapering for any number of the reasons you can imagine, from environmental to budgetary. These communities taught me about diapering options and more, and being bonded by this one commonality in parenting was the first place I truly realized that, even though we all parent very differently from one another, we all want what is best for our children — and the parents in this community helped others when it was needed.

Diapers changed hands, but so did recipes, and advice and even financial support when members hit hard times. Sure, this happens in many parenting support communities, but the cloth diaper community was where I saw it first for myself and it reinforced how I feel when I think back to those fleeting days.

These days our house smells more of sweaty sports equipment, printer ink and microwave pizza, but I still have one (or four) of my children’s tiniest cloth diapers and a pin or two in their memory boxes when I need the nostalgia hit.

Article Author Jeni Marinucci
Jeni Marinucci

Jeni is a writer with a guilty conscience, a love for humour and a questionable home-haircut. After her children were old enough to make their own sandwiches, she returned to university to complete her B.A. in English Literature — a designation which has provided her with an extensive library and crushing student loans. When no teaching college wanted her, she had to choose between taking orders through a drive-thru window or from an editor. She chose the latter.

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