Isn’t it interesting how cloth diapering is always talked about as the new and latest trend in parenting? Yes, it’s true that the invention of the FuzziBunz pocket-style cloth diaper and using fleece inside the diaper are newer innovations. But when you really think about it, cloth diapering has a very long history, longer than the disposable diaper.
Disposable diapers are a mid-20th century invention. Before that, there was one way to make sure your un-potty-trained child didn’t have an accident: wrap their bottoms in layers of absorbent cloth. Hear that? Our ancestors cloth diapered their babies. Cool. I was curious about the history of diapers and why the media portrays cloth diapering as a trend (and keeps wondering if it will stick), so I did a little research.
Whoever came up with the idea that diapers should be thrown away forever changed the landscape of child-rearing. While disposable diapers were invented in the 1940s, they didn’t really go mainstream until the 1950s. Pampers was launched in 1961. During the next couple of decades, the industry spent a ton of time and money improving their products until no baby registry would dare be without disposable diapers.
By the time Tereson invented FuzziBunz in 2000, after she couldn’t clear up her son’s diaper rash, there was already an attitude shift among moms. After several decades of tossing out diaper after diaper, moms who couldn’t remember a time when we didn’t throw out diapers, began to really question the environmental impact of trashing several thousand a year. By taking advantage of modern innovations such as Velcro and PUL and designing the diapers to function more like the disposables people were used to, FuzziBunz and the other cloth diaper manufacturers gave people a diapering option that was easy-to-use and better for the environment.
I’m sort of a history buff, so this stuff really interests me, but I’m especially intrigued by shifts in society and how that affects the way we look at life. I think/hope that if we look back in 100 years, the disposable diaper will be a little blip on the history of diapering. Maybe something we’re even a little embarrassed of, like “why did we think that was a good idea?!”
So next time someone questions our decision to cloth diaper, let’s kindly remind them that their great-grandmothers cloth diapered and their children probably will too!
Sarah is a mom of two and blogs about her adventures in motherhood, cloth diapering and everything in between. Catch her “Cloth Diapering Unwrapped” series on the FuzziBunz blog every Tuesday.