Cloth Diapering Doesn’t Define Me

When you stop labeling parents, you just might learn a thing or two.

Cloth Diapering Doesn’t Define Me
*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!

Shop the post:

Organic Coco Balm

Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less