What a Difference a Little Cloth Can Make

Beautiful fabrics make all of the grossness that drips and spews out of babies a little less offensive. I fell head over heels in love with some flannel prints a while back and decided to make some cloth wipes. Some rockets, some dinosaurs… The softness of the flannel is so sweet against my baby’s skin when there’s spit up dripping down into his shirt and lodged under his neck. When I’ve been hit… like that time the spit up fired directly into the hood of my freshly washed sweatshirt, the soft flannel rockets were the way to clean up my little guy’s face. And the more textured terry on the reverse helped me scoop the rest out of my hood.

There’s nothing like being out and about with your adorable baby all by yourself, and having an unexpected wave of grossness hit. To me, it feels like hundreds of eyes are on me and they’re all waiting to find out, “is she prepared?” But, after whipping a rocket ship cloth wipe out of my shirt (yes, tucked under my bra strap like a grandma) in the line at the market the other day, I wondered if cloth might always distract onlookers from their investigating. While I collected the mountain of drool, the only thing the customers around me seemed to notice was the adorable cloth wipe. “We didn’t have things like that when my kids were small” and “what a beautiful burp cloth!” Meanwhile, my worries that the drool soaking all the way through my Boba wrap and onto my skin would leave me somewhat exposed (think scary wet t-shirt contest) were abated.  

Wiping Up Baby Poop, With a Little Help From My Dog

When I started this cloth journey, I promised not to stress myself out. I’d give it a whirl, but there would always be disposable diapers and wipes in my house… guilt free! I wanted to take it slow and ease in. I knew I could use disposable wipes with my cloth diapers, and evaluate the wipe situation later. Why add any undue stress, right? Wrong.

Imagine this: You’re changing a disposable diaper, using some regular old disposable wipes, straight out of one of those facial tissue style pop up boxes. You wipe up what ever stinky mess your little one has created, putting each wipe into the soiled diaper, only to roll up the diaper (full of the used wipes and mess), fasten it closed with the hook and loops, and toss it into the trash.

Now rewind. If you stuff those same disposable wipes into a cloth diaper, they’ll end up in the washing machine with the diaper. Does that sound good? Of course not! But if you don’t… where will you put them? That’s what I wondered, as I held a poop covered wipe in one hand and my baby’s (still messy) legs in the other. I gazed over at the trash can… but that didn’t feel right either. So, after awkwardly dropping each soiled wipe into a plastic shopping bag my husband held… we made the switch to cloth wipes. And, I kept that habit of putting messy wipes into the messy diaper and rolling the whole mess up. I just toss it into a wet bag instead of a trash bag. And, on the subject of moistened wipes. Again, Pinterest and blogs and FB groups had so many different suggestions, that I felt overwhelmed. I was scared that if I used the wrong essential oil, my baby might have a reaction, or if I pre-moistened them and stored them, they’d grow mold. So, after days of hemming and hawing, I decided this was too big of a decision to make, while sleep deprived and delirious. In the meantime, I grabbed the spray bottle we used to quiet our dog when the UPS truck came, and sprayed each wipe as I needed it.

 How could a pooch this cute possibly have a behavior problem?!?
How could a pooch this cute possibly have a behavior problem?!?

That spray bottle became a staple on my changing table. And for 99 cents each at IKEA, I later bought a sea foam green TOMAT spray bottle for my diaper bag, another for the changing table downstairs, and a handful more just in case. And eventually, Chloe the Wonderdog came to fear, or quiet down, both when faced with her original pink spray bottle as well as each of the sea foam green IKEA spray bottles.

Fear of the Wrong Diaper

Still not having any clear picture of what cloth diapering would be like for me, I decided to start a registry. I thought it would be best to register for a wide variety of diapers so that I could experiment and see what I liked best. The act of registering helped me process what I had learned about cloth so far and start to make sense of terms like: AIO, AI2 and fitteds… I didn’t actually receive many cloth diapers though- which I get. I mean, two years ago, I probably would have considered cloth diapering crazy too.

 Left to right: Bumkins Fitted, Flip AI2, Simplex AIO, FuzziBunz Pocket
Left to right: Bumkins Fitted, Flip AI2, Simplex AIO, FuzziBunz Pocket

I did buy myself a couple of newborn diapers at a consignment sale. And just having a handful of cloth diapers at home made me feel like this could work. I didn’t plan on doing much with cloth for the first few months. I learned in that workshop that the OS (one size) diapers wouldn’t fit very well in the beginning. So, I figured when the baby was around 3-4 months, I’d give it a shot. In the meantime, I would follow the FB group Fluff Love & CD Science closely, so that I could learn from others’ questions and comments.

Why on Earth???

I was pregnant and reading everything I could get my hands on. That kind of reading you do when you’re searching for something, but don’t know what. Blogs, articles, advocates of this, naysayers of that. During this time of intense research about nothing in particular, but everything ‘baby,’ I somehow came across an interview with Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers in NY News & Politics that left me feeling inspired and uneasy all at once.

Lauren Singer has made it her mission to create no waste. All of her trash from two years fit inside a Mason jar. Here at my house, we had just paid for another 10 yard dumpster to take away the ‘trash’ from remodeling. Lauren writes on her blog, about a professor encouraging her to live her values, which tugged right at the guilt I was beginning to have about always practicing what I preach and leading by example… to this baby growing in my belly. I knew the Mason jar was out of reach… but what wasn’t?

Some of the Google searches that followed, pointed me toward cloth diapering. I read that every baby who wears disposable diapers produces 2000lbs. of garbage in two years.

I didn’t know anyone who had cloth diapered their kids except my nana, who did it in the 50s, and thought my doing it in 2015 was nuts. I suddenly felt very strongly that for me- disposables shouldn’t be the default choice in diapering. I wouldn’t beat myself up over it if I needed to use them, but I should at least have a reason to use them. I needed to talk to someone who wouldn’t just dismiss my thinking as crazy- someone who had done it herself.. recently.

Enter Bellani Maternity in Warwick, RI, a cute maternity shop selling a little bit of everything and offering all kinds of classes and workshops. I found a cloth diapering workshop on their website and signed up. Finally, I would be able to ask questions to someone who actually knew the answers, or at the very least- had actual experience with cloth diapers. 

The best part of the workshop was that everyone there was at least considering cloth diapering. I took copious notes (that are still on my iPhone). The woman who facilitated the class had used cloth on both of her two children and was preparing to do it all over again with her third. This was doable. I left that workshop armed with notes, a place to return with questions and the name of a Facebook group that would also be a great resource.