Things have definitely changed since the 1950's. Our cars are no longer land yachts, rotary dial phones are in museums and computers aren't a monstrosity contained in a laboratory. Of course cloth diapers have evolved in that time as well!
Old fashioned cloth diapers were all one type - big sheets of flannel that were folded in intricate, Origami like fashions to fit onto a baby's bum. Today's cloth diapers are as easy as just putting them on, no tricky folding necessary. Also there is a wider range of selection of different material that is more absorbent and much trimmer, then historically.
I am a clutz. Not just occasionally ungraceful, but like four stitches in my hand attempting to cut open a bagel that was already cut open clumsy. Therefore the thought of approaching my precious child with a sharp safety pin that was a necessity in older diapers was truly terrifying. Luckily those are no longer necessary! Most of the diapers today have self-contained closures, like snaps or velcro. For those diapers that do need a separate fastener (e.g. terry prefolds
and flats) the dreaded diaper pins have been replaced by the Snappi
. This diaper fastener has transported cloth diapering into the modern era! Gone are the days of sharp pins to worry about. This pinless fastener is safe and easy to use and can be relied upon to keep your baby's diapers securely fastened.
I don't (luckily) have any recollection of wearing these, but I would imagine that a crinkly pair of underwear that closely resembles a shower cap is not overly comfortable. As far as I know, these were mainly available in plain white, so were anything but fashionable. Fast forward to now, when the waterproof portion of most diapers is made of PUL
, a soft laminated fabric. In many diaper styles it is built in, so there is no need for a separate cover.
Way back when, before washing machines were invented, all laundry, including diapers, had to be washed by hand. And since there was no such thing as dryers, everything had to be hung to dry, whatever the weather. Obviously, the last generation had washing machines, but my mom (who is still young, gorgeous, and reads my blog) clearly remembers having to haul washing out of a laundry tub and through a wringer, so they haven't been around all that long. I'm pretty sure my great grandmother would be mortified if I dared complain about how difficult it is to throw diapers in the machine and press start.
Dirty Diaper Storage
Does anyone with younger siblings remember having a big pail of bleach or vinegar water filled with dirty diapers sitting around? That's how dirty diapers were stored before wash day, and usually involved a strong lumberjack to haul the dirty diapers down to the laundry room. Modern cloth diaper manufacturers now strongly recommend against this system (it can break down the fabrics quickly and is a rather serious drowning hazard) instead recommending a dry wetbag
system. Dirty diapers just go into a wetbag and wait until wash day. No rinsing necessary.
Dealing with poop
Back in the day, there was no other way to deal with poopy diapers other than to dunk and swish them in the toilet. Every household had a designated pair of rubber gloves next to the toilet. We are so lucky now that we have easier ways. Disposable, flushable liners
and diaper sprayers make poop disposal a breeze. Writing this comparison definitely made me appreciate my grandmothers' fortitude, especially the one who raised nine children! They didn't have the option to use disposable diapers (because they weren't invented yet) but they still cloth diapered successfully, even without all of the modern advancements and options available today to make it even easier!