A Crappy Job, Why Would Anyone Do It?

I cloth diaper my daughter.

This is a statement that encourages looks and questions like throwing a piranha into the kiddie pool.  For about ninety percent of the people I say this to (the other ten cloth diaper their children too) the looks range from appalled disgust to… well, morbidly curious disgust.  The range of queries I get have a very wide array of formats, all pointing at the same exact theme: why are you so crazy?  The answer to that question might surprise you: I was against the idea!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m normally a very crazy person;  I have a religious studies degree!  people with degrees in philosophy or communications laugh at me!  I’m politically very leftist and I live in Calgary Alberta! (which is the heart of the right wing in Canada)  I have liked Albert Schweitzer, Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, and Tony Campolo on Facebook!  I own a Dalek!  I like my mother-in-law!  And I cannot stand Tom Hanks! (I don’t know why, he always looks constipated to me)  I am by every cultural standard a certifiable loonie!  So why would I not be a natural cloth diaperer?  I, like most people, am lazy and disgusted by poop!

Poop is gross!  Poop is Icky!  I don’t even like to think of my own poop, let alone someone else’s.  If there was a way to put a tiny “black hole” into a garbage pail so that I could just take a disposable diaper and drop it in there I would do it! It would then cease to exist in both space and time for all intents and purposes and I would be very happy.  I would pay more for that than I would for a brand new flat screen!  That would be a great investment!  If I could train a helper monkey to clean little Mia’s backside (and sometimes her frontside, both her sidesides and all the way up to her shoulderbladesides) don’t think for a second I wouldn’t do it!  I thought about the dogs but I was far too afraid of what they would be using to clean with.

If you are not a parent yet or are a brand new parent (within the last hour or so) I am going to ruin the surprise for you; once your baby is born your life becomes all about poop!  Seriously!  I am so not joking!  You begin to talk about poop all the time (because you’re thinking about it all the time anyway) and you actually find yourself giving a crap about crap!  Poop becomes a topic of conversation; before Mia was born I had never asked the question “has she pooped yet today?” to anyone, EVER, now I can’t go forty-eight hours without asking that question.  Actually, that isn’t entirely true; I can occaisionally go longer than two days without asking because Sonya brings it up!  This is how that conversation goes:

Phone ringing  

Sonya:  Hello.

Travis:  Hi, How are you?

Sonya:  She just had THE biggest poop!

That right there was two adult people having a conversation!  Don’t believe me? that’s because you don’t have kids!  Replace the words ‘Travis’ and ‘Sonya’ with ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ and every parent will give a knowing smile and then wonder if their phone has been tapped.  In the end we’re obsessed with poop because having a baby is one long, smelly, messy, poopathon!  (I can already hear all the phone calls from the vasectomies being scheduled in response to this article)  It’s so weird that, in actual fact, we start worrying when poop isn’t happening.  Just today, for example, Mia hadn’t dirtied a diaper for almost two days and we had both begun to steel ourselves for what was about to happen… poop pandemonium!  This Morning.  At precisely 1222 hours.  The Albatross landed.  She was on her little scooter toy and she began “revving the engine” as it were.  It never ceases to amaze me how much sound a twenty pound child’s digestive tract can muster, it’s breathtaking!  But not nearly as breathtaking as the smell! This is the point at which I wish they not only made disposable diapers but dissolvable diapers so that I could just throw her in the tub and spray her with the showerhead until all the evil was gone!  But no, not me, I don’t get to do that.  Why, you may ask?  Cloth Diapers!

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I cloth diaper my child.  Not only do I NOT get to banish my child’s filth and the abominable vessel it came in into a handy pool of molten lava, but I have to remove it carefully and fold it up so that, after I’ve cleaned my daughter and freshened her diaper, I can go to the washroom and spray all the poop out of her soiled poop-catcher with a toilet mounted sprayer so I can later wash said diaper and repeat the process all over again!  WHY, WHY, WHY!??!  You ask, dear reader, would anyone do such a thing?  Is he a crazy tree-bark eating hippie, obsessed with his “carbon footprint”?  Is he a bona fide cheapskate willing to sift through baby doodoo to save some almighty bucks?  Is he one of those weird, new age, crunchy people that believes in breasfeeding until his daughter goes to college?  Okay, while I may be a little bit of each of those things, I am in no way that much of a fanatic about anything, and I do not cloth diaper for any of those reasons.  Let me take a few moments to be a despicable human being:  1)  I would happily have a campfire burning copies of “Inconvenient Truth” in a pile of fossil fuels and styrofoam to not have to deal with poopy diapers.  2)  I would be willing to pay the extra money at retail with a tip if it meant I wouldn’t have to open up a diaper and hose it down.  3)  Even though I have become some kind of halfway crunchy, hippy parent I would gladly buy some doc Martins, a cardigan from Neiman Marcus, and sport an accent reminiscent of Thirston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island before dealing with dirty, stinky, evil, awful, wretched, lumpy, sticky, strange coloured, deceptively huge, possibly radioactive, physically unlikely, mindbogglingly dry-heave inducing BABY TURDS!

Okay, okay, I feel much better now. I’m okay!

Hopefully at this point you are asking yourself why do I cloth diaper (I know it crosses my mind all the time).  The best answer I can give is that my daughter didn’t give me a choice; I, like most parents before me, once laboured under the delusion that I was the one in charge:  I was dad, she was baby, end of story!  I also used to believe that my mother was the tooth fairy (that’s a long story but I assure you it was all her fault!) so you aren’t exactly reading from a world class genius here.  My daughter informed me very quickly that she was wickedly allergic to disposable diapers; I needed about a month of really bad diaper rash to figure out that she was allergic and in the end it was only because I used cloth diapers that I realized it.  That was my eureka moment; when I realized that there were so many good reasons to diaper with cloth.

My daughter’s rash (and it was a very bad one) cleared up in a matter of days of trying cloth diapers.  Before cloth we were doing everything we could find to help her rash and nothing helped!  Even the prescription strength cream the doctor recommended was slowing its advance without stopping it.  When we tried a diaper trial from a local retailer (“Babes in Arms”, if you live in Calgary stop in and say hi, they’re great!)  I thought for sure it wouldn’t work because you can’t use any barrier cream with cloth diapers; I figured we would be sending those diapers back in a matter of a few days and possibly covering our main floor with newspaper and letting Mia run around naked as, well, as a baby.  As it turns out, naked baby poo-poo bingo was unnecessary, she was fine with cloth and I was an overjoyed dad.

Now that the transition to cloth diapering dad had been decided beyond all shadow of doubt I decided to ask, what’s good about this?  I realized that other than some poopy discomfort for yours truly, cloth diapering was a great idea!  Here’s why:

1)  Cloth diapers are basically clothes that catch poop; they come in a variety of really cute colours and some truly awesome designs (don’t believe me, go here and check out “Lovelace” and “The Albert” http://www.bumgenius.com/freetime.php).  I put one on and she has clothes on!  On a warm day I don’t have to put something else on her and she doesn’t look like a kid running around in “just her diaper”.

2)  Cloth saves money!  The initial cost of cloth diapers is hard to take (our startup cost was about $400 but you can do it for a lot less depending on what diapers you use and how many you want) but they will begin paying for themselves long before your first kid is out of diapers.  Lots of studies would like to say it’s the same cost, the only logic I can see behind that one is that the studies are paid for by disposable diaper manufacturers; I am both a skeptic and a cheap old math nut so I did the math and we save a lot of money!

3)  Cloth is good for my baby’s health.  I know not all babies will have a skin issue like mine did with disposables but you might want to consider why my kid had those issues.  If you are looking for the ingredients used to make disposable diapers you won’t have much luck, which to me doesn’t mean they can’t wait to tell you how natural and healthy they are for your baby.  To be fair these things are used for babies so there probably isn’t any radiation concerns or heavy metals but still, what is in those diapers?  Cloth diapers generally have a fairly easy to understand ingredient list: Uh… cloth!

4). Cloth diapers work better than disposables.  You may not know this but cloth diapers are better built that disposables.  The biggest complaint I have of disposable diapers is the back.  The back of a disposable diaper (the entire back waistband!) is really a pressure release valve which causes what I call the “poop funnel effect”; the “poop funnel effect” basically means that when your child has a particularly energetic bowel movement (and if you don’t know this already some baby b.m.’s can be likened to an extremely smelly, squishy pipe bomb) the excess poop goes straight up the back gusset of the diaper and out!  This is a situation most parents refer to as “your turn!!!”.  You now have to carefully extract your baby from his or her disgusting soiled clothes (hopefully not getting too much poop anywhere else), carefully clean all the offending matter, get a new diaper on, carefully (read: using some sort of long tongs) carry the clothes to the laundry, and commence the two or three minutes of shuddering necessary to recover from the ordeal, and voila! You’re done.  Cloth diapers on the other hand have actual waistbands and legbands to keep the poop actually in the diaper, what a concept!

5). Cloth diapers are fun.  The part I find I enjoy most about being a cloth diapering hippy is actually the part where I tell people I’m a cloth diapering hippy: the looks I get and the responses people give are hilarious!  I may as well tell people I make wine out of frogs or that I’m a competitive snot puller; the reactions are that extreme.  The response I most often get is a shake of the head and an emphatic “you’re crazy!”.

they’re right you know, I am crazy.  I’m crazy, completely, head over heels in love with a little girl and she needs cloth diapers, that was one of the easiest choices I’ve ever made.  Seriously, what kind of man would I be of I was afraid of a little poop?

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About crunchydad

First and Foremost I am Husband to Sonya, my lovely better half, and father to Amelia Parvati Benson, my beautiful little girl. I am a "crunchy" dad in the sense that I parent in a fairly non-traditional way in North America. I use cloth diapers, not out of any environmental concern as such but because my daughter is wickedly allergic to disposables. I babywear because I love it and it is the best thing I've ever discovered; I have literally never used a stroller in my life and, unless I decide to use a stroller when I jog, I never will. We cosleep (go ahead and look it up) and it really works well for us. Finally, and these four are just the major points, we practice baby-lead solids, which means our daughter feeds herself (most of the time) and eats all the foods we eat. I have A Bachelor of Religious Studies degree from the University of Calgary; if you are wondering, no, that does not mean I am becoming a priest (seriously, you have no idea how often I get that question). Studying religion is my passion and I have continued with it after my formal education ended. I have two great dogs, Scotty and Baxter, that round out my little family unit and that is the broad strokes on what makes me the very happiest Crunchy Dad that ever did crunch!
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7 Responses to A Crappy Job, Why Would Anyone Do It?

  1. Amanda says:

    I absolutely love your writing.

    We cloth diaper as well and the main reason I choose to do it was because of the chemicals used in disposibles.

    Gettingmy husband on board was not easy at all – but he’s smart and eventually agreed ; )

    Love the part about Tom Hanks lol

  2. amy says:

    Haha, classic Travis! as you know our kids had similar skin issues. Aiden had rashes again while we were potty training and had him in pull ups. To tell you the truth even though we had a week of LOTS of accidents, putting him into real undies was the way to go for us… another point for cloth diapering is that they are more aware of when they are wet or dirty, and therefore easier to potty train as they can identify more easily WHEN they need to go….Pull ups and disposable diapers pull moisture away which, though a good thing, does make it way more difficult for them to identify when they need a potty. Aiden is now fully potty trained! yay!

  3. jaytee617 says:

    we cloth diapered also…my wife was the catalyst behind the idea and when she showed me how much money we’d save, i was in. it wasn’t really as big an ordeal as i had imagined it would be.

  4. Mom says:

    Your Mother is the tooth fairy- end of story!

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