No. 2 – Where it all Begins: Cloth Diapers

Full Disclosure: I was raised in cloth diapers.

All my friends were in disposables, but I was in cloth. And I don’t know this because I remember my diaper wearing years (although potty training was for me, I am told, an extended period of time) but because I was the oldest of four children, so I undoubtedly witnessed the repeated cloth diapering of my siblings.

Picture off-white squares of mildly absorbent material.  Old School.


I can still feel them in my hands, being required to fold them after washday, and potentially from changing a few diapers in my older childhood years. The yea old diaper pin with the giant plastic head on it was a staple in our home, like I grew up in the 50’s or something.


You can buy those things now as ‘vintage’ on Ebay.

On the upside (if you are out of touch with diapering culture) neo cloth diapers are a marvel of innovation. We used Fuzzy Bunz with our kids. And now just a few years more into the future, past our own children’s stage of soiling themselves, there are brands like Apple Cheeks which take the game to a whole new level again, fixing a lot of the issues with even the modern style cloth diapers.


(Shameless free promotion, these are made by friends of ours)

But here’s the thing with neo cloth diapers, it’s not just the brilliantly colored exterior (eye-candy marketing) or the fact that those giant scary ‘safety’ pins have been replaced with satisfying plastic snaps, there are also these INSERTS that must be removed after soiling, washed separately, sorted, and returned to the interior of each cloth diaper ‘shell’.

Think kind of like a removable down layer in a North Face jacket, the shell is only half the product. It’s the inserts that do 90% of the work, and it’s the inserts that would get me in all the trouble.

Because my wife had bought our cloth diapers used, we had a massively mis-matched set of inserts. Gross yes, but she washed them, a lot.

Moreover, some of said inserts were home-made, some worked better than others, and so to compensate for this my wife came up with an enormously complex system of insert-pairings that somehow maximized the effectiveness of our stock.

This is a system that I failed to learn.

WIFE: (coming into the room and stopping up short) “What are you doing?”

ME: (helpful voice) “I’m putting all the cloth diapers together!”

WIFE: (pointing) “What are those inserts over there?”

ME: “Um…those ones are left over…”


ME: “Um…”

WIFE: “Leave the room.”

ME: “Yes’m”

In addition to failing to correctly match the inserts to particular other inserts, and then to the correct colored diaper-shell (which were, apparently, more different than just in color), they also had to be stacked in a certain order on the dresser. Some were more ‘favored’ than others, and it was in the best interest of everyone that these ‘favored’ diapers were placed closer to the top of the stack.*

WIFE: “Um, why are the blue ones over the red one?”

ME: “What?”


ME: “We have a red one?”

WIFE: (glaring)

ME: “Oh, the red one…yes…well…all the green ones were used up so…”

WIFE: “Leave the room.”

ME: “Yes’m”

Mercifully we are out of the diaper stage in our home, which has improved communication in our marriage. There’s been some talk of toilet training the cat (thanks Internet) but so far the pet excrement management in our home has been limited to a trial-rotation of several ‘natural’ cat litters, some more effective than others…

*Yes, yes, my wife had a slight OCD issue that she received counseling for and hence has resolved. The diapers were eventually allowed to be stacked in any order on the dresser.



“…I then wondered if the machine could read my thoughts and if he was using it to gauge how best to kill me, based on the readouts, to learn my weaknesses, or perhaps to discover which parts of my body would work best in a stew…”