I am the first to admit, I used to think cloth diapers were gross. I said I would never use them. They seemed difficult and stinky and like way too much work.
But then I got pregnant, and one day while I was down in the Pinterest rabbit-hole, I saw a blog that talked about how easy cloth diapers are with modern styles and, you know…automatic washing machines. So when my generous bosses at the time offered to pay for a few months of diapers for us (it was a very small company and I was taking all my time off unpaid), I decided to just save us both some money and get a little starter stash of cloth diapers instead.
Organizing the diaper area and folding all those cute fluffy diapers wound up being one of my favorite things to do when the nesting hit. I spent hours researching wash routines, laundry soaps, and brands. I learned that while a baby is exclusively breastfed, their poop is water soluble, so you can just toss the whole load into the washer and walk away.
However, I also received a lot of disposable diapers from baby showers, and I didn’t purchase any newborn cloth diapers. So from the beginning, I knew I wasn’t going to be hard-core dedicated to all cloth, all the time.
So how did all this planning wind up playing out in real life? And why am I even talking about this?
Well, I used disposables for the first few weeks with both my babies. It was just easier for me. Once they grew into the cloth I had (around four weeks with both), I pulled out the cloth stash.
With my son, I actually got into a really good wash routine for the first year or so. I only used disposables for long outings or travel. During second year, we changed apartments and I just could not keep the diapers as clean as I would have liked with my new washing machine. I dropped down to using cloth about 70% of the time.
By the time we moved again, this time across the country, my son was almost two and I assumed he would potty train soon. (Spoiler alert, he just finished potty training at three and a half.) So I packed up the cloth and stored them away for next time. It was somewhat of a relief to take a year off of the constant washing of diapers.
Now my daughter is almost six months old, and I would say I use cloth diapers about 60% of the time. With a three year old running around, I just don’t have as much determination to use cloth as I did when my son was little. I use them at home during the day, and my husband usually will reach for a disposable before he grabs a cloth, just out of habit.
So why does any of this matter? Why do I think you will care about my family’s diapering habits?
Well, here’s the thing. When I first started cloth diapering, I read a LOT of comments and posts from a LOT of people that basically shamed anyone for ever using a disposable. People get really passionate about the topic. And I can see why! Disposable diapers really are not great for the environment, or your wallet. But the mommy-shaming I was exposed to before I was even a mother made me a little paranoid.
Was I wrong for using disposables at night? Was a terrible human for not taking my cloth diapers on the trip across the country to see Grandma? Was I just not dedicated enough to the environment, my kid’s health, or saving money?
I would get frustrated at my husband for ever using disposables, I would worry when I would use them, and I basically was always on edge. And I have talked to so many moms who feel the same way about things they have chosen to do or not in regard to raising their babies.
Whether it’s cloth diapers, pacifiers, potty training, baby-led weaning, or sleep training, every mom has a thing they would like to do a certain way, but find themselves doing differently out of necessity or convenience. Life gets crazy, and often we beat ourselves up about not doing a thing “perfectly” instead of being grateful that we have choices and the capacity to prioritize.
So if you don’t cloth diaper as much as you think you should, or if you are buying jars of baby food when really you wish you could make all your baby’s meals for them…just know you are not alone. You are not a bad mom. Most likely, you are prioritizing your own mental health or making practical choices on how to spend your time.
And you know what, you are making those choices for the good of your family. You are making them so that you can be a present parent, one who isn’t trying so hard to do all the things perfectly that you forget to actually be with your kids.
So whatever your “cloth diapers” are, give yourself some grace. Do what you can, take care of yourself, and spend some time with your kids. Because in the end, they won’t remember what was on their butts…but they will remember who took care of their hearts.