Two or three times a month, I am a guest speaker at local childbirth classes, where I have the opportunity to introduce new parents to cloth diapers. I admit that, for a while, I led this introduction with the most adorable newborn-sized hot pink all-in-one with a leopard-print inner and velcro closure. (I would include a picture here since it was my favorite diaper, but, alas, it has been appropriated by a friend’s 2 year old daughter for her baby doll and I couldn’t bring myself to take it back!) Anyway, my strategy was to wow ‘em with the cute and appeal to them via the familiarity of velcro and a single-piece diaper (despite the fact that I’d later have to advise them on strategies for washing this microfiber-inner, slow-drying diaper in our hard-water area).
Well, last night, I did something different.
When I entered, I sat quietly while the class went over the answers to the workbook questions (this was a Bradley childbirth class, similar to the one I attended for my first child’s birth). As they reviewed, the students asked questions about the “Natural Alignment Plateau”: “How long does it last?”, “How will we know we’re in it?”, “Does everyone experience this?” The teacher answered their questions with estimations of time, indicators about centimeters dilated, and (questionable) percentages. It was clear that the data neither satisfied nor comforted them. Rather, I think the complexity made them trust themselves less and become more concerned about their likelihood of success.
So when it came time for me to talk about diapers, I started with this:
“If you did the Mud Run up at Camp Pendleton, you’d wind up with some dirty clothes. What would you do with them? You’d wash them. Then you’d probably put them back on for your next workout. It’s the same for diapers. It’s that simple.”
Then (with my cute pink diaper in exile), I pulled out a prefold. I laid it flat, put a baby doll on top, then pulled the diaper through the baby’s legs and Snappi’d it on. I then Velcro’ed a cover on over it and squished the sticking-out parts inside the cover. I explained (in no great detail), that they’d remove it and wash it in their laundry just like their dirtiest clothing (minus fabric softeners). Then they’d put it back on the baby. Simple. Obvious. Nothing they needed to be “taught”. Nothing they couldn’t do.
Did I do them a disservice? I hope not. I was there to introduce them to cloth diapers AND the San Diego Real Diaper Circle, which is an ACTIVE support group that would help them with any more complex intros to cloth diapering (we have weekly meetings). I showed them a simple cotton diaper and a PUL cover, which are both easy to launder.
Research continues to show that we’re overwhelmed with information in this Information Age. People are longing for simplicity. So I took a gamble and sold these new parents their confidence and their common sense.
Use. Wash. Reuse.
Heather McNamara, San Diego Real Diaper Circle Leader
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association