This post is contributed by Smart Bottoms' guest blogger, Hali Pearce.
My journey to cloth diapering was a convoluted path with several twists and turns before I ever actually used a cloth diaper. It began when I was pregnant with my first child; who is now about to be five! I had just turned 18 and I knew next to nothing about babies or how to take care of them. So, I listened to the well-meaning advice of everyone around me. I had expressed interested in using cloth diapers a couple of times and always got told how nasty they were, how expensive they were, and how I was going to be so exhausted I wouldn’t be able to keep up with cleaning them. So, I was convinced that disposables were the modern option, and therefore, the superior option.
Not too long later my husband and I were expecting our second child and I began to research more into cloth diapers. I was overwhelmed by all the different types of diapers out available and there were so many blog posts about wash routines, prefolds, and AIOs that I closed my computer and put cloth out of my mind, yet again. By happenstance I wandered into a consignment shop that had a small selection of pre-used diapers and I couldn’t walk away from them. I must’ve picked up every diaper they had and inspected all of them. I was fascinated and asked the store’s cashier a million questions. Alas, I was shopping with my mother who had been one of the driving factors in convincing me not to use cloth diapers with my first child. So I put the diapers back in the basket and out of my mind for a long time.
I had two kids in disposables for over two years. In that time I dealt with so many blowouts and leaks and the awful smell of a trashcan full of poopy diapers (did anyone else not know that you’re supposed to dump the poo in the toilet with disposables too?!). I dealt with all of that and continued to shell out the money for disposables nearly weekly. With two kids a $25 box of sposies don’t last long. To add insult to injury, all of the diapers we were buying started giving my daughter a terrible rash. Every diaper change was miserable for her and I. Her poor baby bum was bright red and I felt like an awful mom. No creams were working, more frequent changes didn’t make the rash better, and I had no idea what to do.
Through all of this I was still curious about cloth diapering and the awful rash was the last straw. I am a firm believer in science and research, so I pulled out my trusty laptop and again set off to find out everything I could about cloth diapers. I joined a local Facebook group for cloth diapering parents and posted a desperate plea. It went something like: “I have a little girl who is almost two, we’ve used disposables her whole life but now she’s having a really bad reaction and I can’t get the rash to go away. Would using cloth diapers help?” Within a short period of time several women commented back offering advice and validating my intuition that cloth could help my baby. One wonderful woman even offered to let me borrow some of her own cloth diapers so I could see if it’d help without having to spend any money. I drove to meet her in a parking lot in the pouring rain because I was so desperate that I’d try anything. She gave me some quick wash routine advice and pointed me to a couple Facebook groups for cloth diapering and off we went.
For the next several months I consumed all of the blog posts and Facebook posts about cloth diapers that I could find. My daughter’s rash went away and she was a much happier little girl. I bought some more diapers second hand and tried pockets, covers with prefolds, and AIOs. I began to love the world of modern cloth diapering and realized just how wrong everyone who tried to discourage me had been. They cloth diapered 30 years ago with flats and plastic pants (which are still a valid option, but that’s not the only option now) and so their advice wasn’t accurate. Through trial and error I discovered how much I loved AIOs and I began to be more concerned about the environmentally friendly aspect of using cloth, especially cloth made with natural fibers.
I discovered Smart Bottoms through Facebook groups and in 2015 I discovered the Rainbow Love diaper, an exclusive of Abby’s Lane. It was the first Smart Bottoms diaper I ever bought and I still remember the thrill and fear that came with trying to “score” in a fastest fingers stocking for the first time. When Rainbow Love came in the mail I immediately took pictures of it and sent it to everyone in my family’s group chat. I couldn’t wait to get it out of the package and into the washing machine to prep. Over the next couple months I began to buy more Smart Bottoms and converted my stash to Smart Bottoms exclusively. Additionally, over the next several months both of my children potty trained at the same time. I have to admit that I was really sad that I hadn’t switched to cloth sooner and that my youngest had decided to potty train when her brother did. Thankfully, my sister had a baby and I was able to convince her to use cloth diapers part time and I was able to lend her some of my Smart Bottoms.
Over the last year and a half that I haven’t had a baby in diapers I have been amazed at how many other millennial parents that I know have also chosen to use cloth (and many of them are also avid SB fans!). I definitely think that cloth is making a comeback, especially because so many parents now see disposables as cost-prohibitive and realize the long lasting impact that they have on our planet. When a single disposable takes hundreds of years to decompose it just makes sense to use reusable and sustainable cloth diapers.
My husband and I have no immediate plans for another baby, but we both agree that there’s probably at least one more in the future. While we wait we have a collection of our old Smart Bottoms on the wall and I am happy to know that they’re not sitting in a landfill; instead, they’ll still be good for another little fluff butt to use in a couple years. Additionally, I haven’t quit buying the retailer exclusives even though we won’t use them for a while. I figure I won’t have the time or energy to track down my favorites in a couple years when they’re rarely available on buy/sell/trade sites. And so, I have been able to continue to support Smart Bottoms and small cloth diaper retailers even though my fluff bums aren’t little anymore. Someday in the future I’ll have another baby and this time I won’t let anyone talk me out of parenting the way I want to parent: sustainably, eco-friendly, and adorably.
Hali Lawrence is a full time mother, nursing student, dog mom, and wife. She lives in coastal North Carolina and is passionate about baby wearing and cloth diapering. Her friends are fond of saying, “If Hali gets excited you know she’s about to show you a picture of a diaper.”