Cloth Diaper Advocate Learns a (Flat) Lesson from Grandma

Cloth Diaper Advocate Learns a (Flat) Lesson from Grandma

For the past week, many cloth diapering families took the Flats and Handwashing Challenge organized by Kim Rosas, RDA volunteer and the tireless cloth diaper advocate behind Dirty Diaper Laundry. For 7 days, they only used Flat cloth diapers with covers, and hand washed and air dried them all. Many participants found this to be a reasonable solution for low-income families, or at least a legitimate option while traveling. One participant, Brooke Matherne, another RDA volunteer, shares her experiences with the challenge here. When I began the Flat Diaper and Hand Washing Challenge I never could have imagined the path it would lead me on.  It became an emotional journey back home.  Not the literal home, but the figurative home.  The place you go to feel safe, the place you go to be happy, the place you can be yourself, the place that feels like home.  Like Grandma's house, snuggling in her lap for stories, learning how to be a homemaker and for me learning how to care for cloth diapers.

Jungle Love

My cloth journey began four years ago.  I can recall showing my GG the new modern cloth diaper I had bought for my son. I new she would be happy that I had begun my cloth diapering journey.  Just a few months before she had encouraged me to use cloth. I of course had brushed it off as difficult, envisioning old fashioned flat diapers and pins. She taught me about dunking and line drying. I did dunk for well over a year before I finally got a diaper sprayer. Line drying just seemed difficult and as much as I love my memories of GG I also had memories of stiff clothes as a child that never smelled fresh, but of dog. So for me line drying wasn't an option. Funny now I am enjoying those very diapers GG once used and seeing stains fade in the morning sun. There is something to be said for the classics. They are after all classics for a reason, they work. They work for the hurried, the poor, the stay at home mom and the wealthy. They work for night, they work for play, they work for exotic travels and roughing it at campsites. They work for the newborn and the toddler, the wiggler and the patient baby. Mostly for me they work because they are a bridge to my past. They helped me finally grieve for my GG when I had been too busy with new babies and too stressed with unemployment to allow myself to say goodbye. They have brought GG back to our lives. Silly I know, but I feel she is with me while I diaper, wash and hang out the laundry. Her hand guides me as I fold the flat diaper to fit Sophia and then fold it even smaller to fit Adalyn. She steadies my hand as I finally try a diaper pin.

Sophia in a Swaddlebees with diaper pin

I feel blessed to have experienced a different life. A life many live everyday without modern conveniences like a washer and dryer. It has always been my goal as a Real Diaper Association Leader in Training to work with low income families. To help educate others that cloth diapering is possible even without a washer and dryer. I knew it was possible with little money. Diapers like the Econobum system allow you to diaper full time for less than $100! Most spend that in the first month or two of a child's life when using disposables. I must admit though I admired those that lugged their diapers to a laundry mat. I felt I would have given up if that were my life. This challenge has taught me that I can wash at home. I only need a sink, or bath tub or a fancy camp style washer. I still admire that mama I saw on You Tube hand washing her diapers. It is a chore, but like any other of our motherly chores, it gets done. A mother's day is long and washing diapers by hand does add to it, but really it isn't that much more time consuming. I even dare to say I spend less time caring for my diapers now that I don't have inserts to sort and stuff.

Washing diapers in tub with Rockin' Green

Cloth diapering isn't a passing for me during my children's diaper age, it is a passion. It is personal. I watched a child suffer from disposable diapers. I was a helpless guilt ridden mom. My goal as a Circle Leader is to educate parents that they have options. While I knew a little of flats, I really could not help a parent looking for more information on the diaper other than to say they are good for traveling. Now though I can speak from experience that flats are a workable diaper even in this time of modern cloth diapers and hybrid systems. I can appreciate the difficulties of diapering even in inconvenient times.  I already could understand some of the struggles low income families experience as I am one, but I am not the average. I have many conveniences in life and a fancy washer and dryer is one. I have fancy diapers for my children, a diaper sprayer and flushable liners. I never had to find items to use for diapering, like old shirts or towels. I am able to think out of the box now.

Sunning on the garden fence

Even if you were unable to participate or thought those that did were crazy I encourage you to find your own challenge. It could be something as simple as switching from a hybrid system to full cloth or taking the lunge and using that pin. Perhaps you have a young woman's shelter in your town or live near a disaster area and can collect "found" diapers and teach a class on flats. You may just find like me this challenge can lead you right where you need to be, home.

Rita Jo Lathrop aka GG

The above is cross-posted, with permission of the author, Brooke Matherne, from the Eden's Baby Blog.  Eden's Baby is Brooke's family's all natural mom and baby boutique in Texas.  Brooke is a mother of three and an RDA volunteer.



  • by
  • May 31, 2011
What a fantastic article - thank you!! I did not participate in the flats challenge - unfortunately, I found out about it too late! But I think I may get some flats and make a camp-style washer and give myself my own "flats challenge"! :) I also would LOVE to help teach about cloth diapers some day, especially to low-income parents. Before the hearing about the challenge I knew about flats (but never used them) and had a general idea of how to hand wash diapers (but have never tried it). Reading about people's experiences w/ the challenge made me realize that I should try it myself before trying to teach it!
That was lovely! I also felt a connection to my grandmother. I loved hearing her stories of frozen flats on her retractable line. Thanks so much for spreading the flats love!

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.