Old-fashioned diapers

By Darlene Neff

Part 1 of a 2 part series on past and present experiences with cloth diapering.

The year was 1964 (Sept) and I had just given birth to my first child, a little boy. In those days we spent several days in the hospital so we could recover from the birth but also so they could teach us things about our new babies. One thing they did was teach us how to fold diapers as well as how to change them on our new little ones. It was nice that they chose to use my baby to use as a model. The cotton fabric was a rectangle. You folded and pinned them differently for boys and girls. Of course they taught us how to prevent sticking the baby when pinning the diaper on.

At home we had a diaper pail to put the diapers in along with some water. When the baby had dirty diapers I dunked them in the toilet to get rid of anything I didn’t want in the washer and then deposited them in the diaper pail. I washed the diapers in a load by themselves using my wringer washer. I would wring out the diapers before putting them in the washer. (My husband would sometimes dump the diaper water on the maple tree in our yard which we think helped the tree to grow quite big.) In those days I hung the diapers out doors whenever possible instead of using the dryer. The smell of clean diapers when I brought them inside was wonderful.

To keep the large safely pins sharp I would slide them through my hair which worked very well. I would also keep my fingers between the baby and the safely pins so the baby would not get stuck, which never happened. I was so good at changing diapers I could do it at night without having to turn on the light to see what I was doing (they were usually just wet at night and you could smell if it wasn’t).

My son was potty trained by the time he was two. I was glad of that as I had a little girl just before he was three. In July 1967, I was still using the cloth diapers saved from my first child, plus a few new ones. About that time I started getting information about disposable diapers. That was something I did not want so I never did buy any.

I think one reason that it takes so long to get children potty trained today is that the disposable diapers keep the moisture away from the body so the child doesn’t feel it. When you have a cloth diaper it stays wet and the child feels it and wants it gone. My mother-in-law used to say that she trained my husband before he was a year old. Not sure I really believed that.

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