*Brooklyn mom Emily May, co-founder and Executive Director of Hollaback! and co-founder of the People’s Supper, shares her parenting story, in partnership with Diaperkind.
We never thought of ourselves as “natural parents” before we had our baby. We do think deeply about the ways we make an impact on the world, but we’re also real about what we can and should be doing. It’s easy to read articles or talk to friends and hear that there is a right and a wrong way to be a parent but, as with most things, we’ve realized that choices are a spectrum and everyone needs to figure out for themselves what is right for them.
In all of our pre-baby research, it was clear that cloth diapering aligned with our values: better for our baby, better for the planet, and better for us (including our bank account). A few of my friends had used cloth diapers and amazingly, had no gross stories of diaper blowouts, so we went to a cloth diapering class at Diaperkind, a cloth diaper service in NYC, to see if it was a good fit for us. We left filled with the confidence that cloth diapering was not only a viable option for our family, but that in many ways it was the easier choice. We were even able to register for Diaperkind Gift Certificates which enabled our friends and family to buy us diaper service as opposed to a bunch of plastic toys that don’t fit in our apartment anyhow!
When Ari was born, we used disposables at the hospital, and when we got him home, I found myself feeling a bit anxious about the drawer filled with beautiful, unsoiled cotton diapers and accessories that Diaperkind had so lovingly delivered a week before he arrived.
But I set my anxiety aside, and within the first 24 hours, we totally mastered the cloth diaper (despite having very little sleep). Swaddling and breastfeeding definitely had more of a learning curve! And when Diaperkind came by for the first time to pick up our dirties and drop off a free batch of clean diapers, we were all in. It was so easy!
Since then, we’ve been getting diapers picked up and dropped off right at our apt door on a weekly basis, complemented by Diaperkind’s organic skincare products, laundry detergent and diaper pail filters & fresheners.
Sure, we’ve been tempted by the lure of how “easy” disposables are. Once, when my husband David was traveling with the baby without laundry access, he tried disposables for about a week. He learned quickly that “blowouts” were very much in Ari’s skillset, it’s just that the extra structural layers of cotton of his cloth diaper and the waterproof cover (the two-part Diaperkind diaper) kept his most ambitious poops inside the diaper where they belonged.
Here’s what I’ve noticed since we started cloth diapering: we don’t have blowouts. We don’t have that dirty disposable diaper smell. We don’t have diaper rash, since our diaperkind diapers are 100% organic cotton which is great for my son’s sensitive skin.
What we do have though, is a lot of questions to answer from our family, friends and caregivers about our choice for diapering our baby. Some of our friends were ready to pin capes on our backs as some sort of moral superheroes. And I’ll admit: cloth diapers has been an easy way to feel like good stewards of the planet and using a local, women-owned small business to support that decision is even better.
But people give us too much credit or insist that they could never do cloth diapering because they aren’t ‘good enough’ people. It’s like they understand and align with the values of cloth diapering, but got lost understanding what it actually takes to do. We insist that it’s not hard, and in fact in many ways it has made our lives easier!
We sometimes feel a little bit judged by our daycare providers — even though they learned the cloth diapering process quickly and easily. As one of very few families that have used cloth diapers, they seem more confused about our choice than anything.
There’s a perception that all cloth diapering parents are 100% natural/attachment/stay-at-home/breastfeeding/fill-in-the-blank parents. But cloth diapering doesn’t define me as a parent. It’s just how I diaper my baby!
Holding ideas about 100% anything when it comes to parenting (or being a person) is a recipe for disappointment that we don’t have any desire to be cooking up. We’ve used disposable diapers, both of us have full-time jobs, Ari happened to like breastfeeding, but certainly learned to sleep through the night on his own at about 3 months. We’re trying to love each other as much as possible and be as kind to each other as much as we can.
I’ve got another baby due in a few months, and this time around, we’re freaking out in totally new ways! How can you have a two and a half year old and a newborn? Will we ever sleep again? Will they like each other? We feel much more locked in about the skills we learned with Ari — cloth diapering, baths, swaddle wraps, food.
To all my friends who are about to become parents, I say: you got this. All the choices you make will be right in some ways, wrong in some ways, and helpful in making better choices in the future. We are happy to tell you some of the things that worked for us and some of the stuff we’ve loved and learned. But ultimately, it’s up to you, and we’ll love and support you through it as best we can.
Diaperkind is based in Gowanus, Brooklyn and provides weekly diaper service to NYC and Hudson County. They also offer home laundering products and mentorship to families across the county. If you’re local to NYC, be sure to check out one of their monthly Cloth Diapering 101 classes.
Want to try cloth diapering with Diaperkind? Mention Well Rounded in the Special Notes field during checkout and they’ll credit you back 15% off orders of $100 or more!
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