We started our cloth diaper journey when Alex was around 5 months old. A friend introduced me to the idea and was so kind as to send us a big box of her own diapers to try out so we could ultimately decide A) if it was for us and B) what brand we liked the best. It was really exciting to think of all the money we could save and the environment, too!
Pretty much from that moment, we were in. You can’t get around the fact that cloth diapers can save you thousands of dollars. Especially if you use the same diapers for more than one kid; which we were planning to do. We bought a modest amount of diapers and never looked back. We used most of the same diapers for Christian that we did for Alex and maybe bought a few more here and there. It felt good that we were doing something great for the planet while simultaneously saving ourselves a bunch of cash! We even used cloth wipes for a while on our journey!
Here is where the story takes a little turn. Sweet Madison comes along. Madi was SO SMALL when she came home from the hospital; less than 5 pounds. The newborn cloth diapers we had for her didn’t fit her for another 2 months at least and even then, her legs were so skinny, they wouldn’t get a snug fit. We stuck it out using disposables for a while until she grew into her brothers’ old diapers.
When she finally could fit into the diapers we had, we started cloth diapering full time again. She would get the occasional rash where I would have to switch to disposables in order to get rid of it, but I never thought much of it. Both of the boys had pretty sensitive skin, too, so it wasn’t anything new.
Once she started eating baby food is when it really went south. Her occasional rash turned into an almost constant rash. I took my time introducing new foods to her because of this, but nothing seemed to make a difference in that department. Either she could’t eat ANY food or something else was going on.
My next idea was to strip the diapers. I mean, at this point, the diapers were 4 years old and had been through 2 kids. I figured they could use a really good cleaning. So, I followed instructions correctly and stripped the diapers. Still, nothing changed. After a week, the rashes came back.
We decided to throw out all of the old diapers and were able to get a really good deal on some brand new diapers for Madi. We figured this would definitely solve the issue since they were brand new! After prepping the diapers, we tried again to use cloth. It didn’t take long for her rash to reappear and I was ready to scream! As a mother, the first thought is always “what am I doing wrong??”. I had done this with two kids before and had never had this much trouble, what could be the issue here??
I finally made her an appointment and the pediatrician because the rashes had gotten so bad I could no longer get rid of them and if I could, it took over a week. My sweet girl was miserable and so was I. When I brought her into the doctor, it didn’t take him long to tell me that some kids just cannot have any wetness sitting against their skin. Basically, no matter what I did, she probably couldn’t wear cloth diapers. I mean, he ran his stethoscope along her stomach and the skin started to inflame; her skin is THAT sensitive.
I foolishly kept trying to use cloth diapers until Madi was about one. I regret not switching sooner. I was so caught up in the idea that I NEEDED to use cloth diapers to be a good, environmentally conscious mother. I felt I had already been labeled as a “crunchy mom” because of my cloth diapering, baby wearing, homemade remedy, healthy snacking ways. I was so stuck in that rut and I didn’t know how to get out without feeling terribly guilty. I was blocked mentally into being a “cloth diaper mom”.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that you can’t do it all. Sometimes, you’re going to get a curveball that totally throws off your parenting game. You have to choose what is best for your baby and your family and you SHOULD NOT feel guilty about it! So what if people give you a funny look for a hot second because you don’t use cloth diapers anymore? I’m sure some would disagree with me, but using disposable diapers is not going to cause the collapse of the environment.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do believe you should be conscious of how your choices affect everything around you. I don’t take lightly the fact that I am increasing my carbon footprint by switching to disposable diapers. It still irks me a bit that we can’t use cloth diapers with Madi, but at the end of the day, we tried our best and exhausted all of our options before making the switch. Madi is happier and healthier and I don’t feel guilty anymore.
What about parenting has made you feel guilty or ashamed? Have you had to make a choice against your values to best take care of your child?