My aunt Kiki had her first child when I was 18. She was 16 when I was born. I was the first baby she looked after, and she was the first Mom I really paid any attention to. In many ways, since I hit my twenties, we’ve had more of a sisterly bond than an aunt-niece relationship.
Sure, I judged her plenty (as per my “Stupid Things I Though About Parenting” post), but I also took inspiration from her. She was the first Mom I saw using cloth diapers and babywearing. She gave me a lot of her kids’ things to use on my kids. Here’s me wearing my cousin, and then wearing Cub just five years later!
Kiki has recently gone back to school to become an editor. Notice the impeccable grammar and lack of typos in my blog posts lately? That’s because she’s honing her skills on my posts! I thought it would be fun to interview her about her own experience using cloth diapers, since she finished using cloth just a bit before social media became the vector of cloth fanaticism!
When and whom did you cloth diaper?
I cloth diapered both of my babies—a girl born in 2002 and a boy in 2007.
How did you decide you were going to cloth diaper?
My best friend had her first baby seven months before I had my daughter, and she was using cloth diapers. She worked for Environment Canada back then, so she was keen to do her part for the environment. She showed me how easy it was. And to reel me in, she organized the gift of one month of cloth diapering service for us.
What brands did you know about?
Hmm . . . I don’t really recall any brand names! But there was a store in Kitsilano called Hip Baby that was the shop for cloth diapers. (Even Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke shopped there when they were expecting their first!) I think they had their own brand of Velcro diapers.
Where did you find information about cloth diapering?
From Hip Baby and probably a bit online . . .
What diapers did you use?
I had a stash of prefolds that I bought from another friend whose oldest daughter is about four years older than mine. I had some of the fancy (at the time) shaped cloth diapers with Velcro closures from Hip Baby that were probably shower gifts and I even had some the cloth diapers my older sisters made (but honestly, I didn’t use those ones very much because they were more finicky compared to the “modern” Velcro diapers!)
If there’s an argument for choosing cloth, it’s that those pre-loved prefolds that Kiki used on her two children were then used on my child, then donated to Cloth for a Cause! I also used those very same flannel fitted diapers on Cub when I visited my parents for Cub’s first Christmas! They didn’t have leg elastics, so they were essentially a cut piece of flannel with velcro closures, and a flannel soaker sewn in the middle.
Do you remember some of your costs?
I don’t remember what I had for breakfast . . .
How did you wash your diapers?
Let’s begin with the diapering service. If you ever want to convince a newbie to cloth diaper, buy her one month of diaper service. Just drop the dirty diapers into the provided pail and let the service do the rest. It’s like having a diaper fairy.
Once you have the knack of cloth diapering, you soon realize that washing them yourself will be no big deal. I honestly can’t remember any particular details other than using Hydrox 2 to wash them, which is a hydrogen peroxide based cleaner that was sold at, you guessed it, Hip Baby. Solids were plopped into the toilet and then the poopy diapers were pre-soaked in a more concentrated solution of Hydrox 2. So you had to wring them out before putting them in the machine with the other diapers. That was the worst part. Eventually, we filled a spray bottle with Hydrox 2 and water and just sprayed the soiled diapers and tossed them into the bin with the wet ones.
I also used flushable liners when we got to the “solids” stage. Until our sewer backed up. When the plumber snaked out our line he pulled out a long tangle of white which my husband deduced was a collection of flushable liners.
I have pressed Kiki for more details on her washing, because I cannot believe she only used what is basically OxiClean to wash her diapers. She must have used some kind of detergent, too!
Kiki’s response: I just double-checked with my husband. We did not use a detergent as well! Just the Hydrox 2 and hot water. Diapers came out clean, white and odour-free. Oddly enough, just this week we finished using the last of the Hydrox 2! (It was sold in 4 litre jugs.)
What was the reaction of your entourage to cloth diapering?
If I recall correctly, most people were impressed that I cloth-diapered. But, confession time, I rarely cloth-diapered outside of the house. It was just easier to pop baby into a disposable for outings and not worry about packing dirty diapers home. That was with my daughter. With my son, I used disposables a bit but I was less put out by bringing wet diapers home. I even went out and bought a scrap of waterproof fabric with every intention of making myself a wee wetbag. I still have that scrap floating around here somewhere . . .
Luckily, early in my son’s baby stage I discovered gDiapers. They were the perfect solution for me. I loved the cute covers! The inserts were flushable! So for him I used a combination of gDiaper covers with the flushable inserts or with my prefolds inside.
When Kiki used gDiapers, they didn’t make washable inserts yet. Maybe they got the idea from her! I also remember she would have friends from the States bring up the disposable inserts for her since they weren’t yet available in Canada! The gDiapers stash that she used was later passed on to a friend of mine. (I never got into gDiapers … I much preferred just a regular cover and prefolds.)
Kiki’s response: I forgot all about my friend being my diaper mule! But I think it was just because they were so much cheaper! I don’t think I would have started using them if they weren’t somewhat available in Canada in the first place.
Did you have many friends who were also using cloth?
Well, there’d be the two I mentioned already and I can’t recall if anyone else was. I’m thinking not.
What were some of the challenges you faced using cloth diapers?
Containment. It was tough to find a cloth diaper that fit well enough around the thighs to contain blowouts so sometimes we’d run through the covers almost as quickly as the diapers! Also, there weren’t covers that fit newborns well so both times I used disposables in the early days. Also, the Velcro tabs on the old covers could be kind of big and sharp around the edges so they would chafe around baby’s belly.
How do you think social media has changed the cloth diapering game?
I’m not sure I can answer this one since I’m no longer in the diapering game. But it seems to me that there is a healthy community of cloth diaperers out there connecting with each other. So even if your in-person entourage isn’t cloth diapering alongside you, it seems pretty easy to find other like-minded folks on the web.
If you had a baby in cloth in 2016, what do you think would be different about your experience?
Well, I see an awful lot of cute cloth diapers on your feed. I’d probably be a little more spendy on cute cloth nappies! Oh, and I’d have one of those diaper sprayers you recently reviewed!