A Man of the Cloth: One Dad Gives Up Disposable Diapers

Safety Pin Trouble

It's not easy to diaper Isaac even when folding and pinning are not involved. Recently, he decided that he's far too busy for diaper changing, so just for kicks he zooms off mid-procedure.

It's our own little father-son vaudeville routine: Isaac zips around the apartment smiling, his half-open diaper hanging from his side, and I scurry after him with a tube of A+D cream. The Snatch-and-Diaper is a tricky maneuver with a disposable, but as it quickly became clear, it does not work at all with a cloth diaper. In the process of tucking the diaper under and around Isaac, my Birdseye kept falling apart. After five tries, I decided to forget about the fold.

I placed the unfolded square of cloth between Isaac's legs and pinched two edges on one side of his waist. With my other hand, I opened the safety pin and lifted it to my son's side. Isaac squirmed. I closed the pin and put it down.

I would rather let a few icebergs melt than risk pricking Isaac every time I change him. Maybe, I thought, the disposable diaper is one of those inventions, like toilet paper, that the Western world just can't live without -- no matter the environmental impact. After all, if we really wanted to, we could wipe our own butts with cloth and throw the cloths into the wash every night.

I wasn't ready to give up. People have been using cloth diapers for hundreds of years. There had to be a better way. Had the saleswoman been more helpful, she might have mentioned an invention called the Snappi, which, I later found out, offers a much easier and safer way to keep cloth diapers on because no pin is needed. She might also have told me that almost everyone who uses cloth diapers also uses some form of cover that both protects from leaks and helps keep the diaper in place.

But the saleswoman did not tell me any of those things, so I had to think for myself. And what I thought of was taking out my roll of blue painter's tape and wrapping it around the diaper. (If the idea of taping the diaper came to me quickly, it was likely because on the previous Halloween my wife and I had dressed Isaac as a Frenchman. And since he was too young to carry a baguette, I'd had no choice but to tape it to him.)

toddler in plain cloth diaper

The taped diaper wasn't exactly stylish, but it didn't fall off. Isaac didn't seem to notice the difference, and, to my surprise, it held up fairly well. The diaper got much wetter than a disposable diaper and had to be changed immediately, but it didn't leak.

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