Emergency Diapering- The Day the Baby Wore Grandma's Kitchen Towel Home

Emergency Diapering- The Day the Baby Wore Grandma's Kitchen Towel Home

When you become a parent (starting during pregnancy), you begin experiencing lots more little “emergencies”. There’s a food emergency when you’re in the car and can’t fathom making it home before the baby inside you eats you alive so you HAVE to stop at the drive-thru. There’s a laughing-pee emergency that sends you straight home from work for new pants. Then, of course, there’s the I-think-I’m-in-labor emergency which sends you rushing off to the hospital only to find out it’s not nearly as fast as it is in the movies.

After the baby arrives, there are many more little emergencies. It’s nearly a full-blown crisis if we run out of snacks, the water cup goes empty (gets dumped), or the favorite toy is left behind. When I look back on the early baby days, I have to chuckle at all the bodily-fluid-related emergencies. Our first kid once spit up all over me so badly that I didn’t know what to do so I just sat there calling for my husband to help. We both had just had a bath, but spit up was running down both my front and back as I sat in our rocking chair, with literally nowhere to turn. Babies are masters of manipulating gravity and the physics of liquids.

Now, I know I’ve saved the best for last: poo-mergencies! Somehow, it gets everywhere. You open up that diaper to find a lake of poo, and your baby promptly kicks her foot down and then up, gracefully and efficiently depositing poop in places you won’t find for a week. If you’re lucky, your baby might manage to kick the diaper off the table before you can take it away. Well, it was time to mop the floor anyway…With a 3yo and a 1 ½yo, I can look back fondly at those memories without a desire to be there again (just yet, anyway). You really will laugh someday!

One emergency that I felt better prepared for than most was a diaper emergency. The moment you’re on the road and realize you’ve gone too far to turn around and get the diaper bag you left on the kitchen counter: yep, we’ve been there. Being a cloth-diapering family, we learned to take this in stride, and we found a way to handle it. Since we hadn’t gotten used to relying on disposables, stopping in a convenience store to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a small package of diapers didn’t really enter into our minds as an option. So, what did we do? Improvised, of course!

First, we crossed our fingers that we didn’t have a poopy diaper while we were out. That always makes things more complicated (but not impossible) in a diaper emergency situation. I’ll get back to that later. The most common outing we went on when we forgot our diaper bag was to my in-law’s house, a brief 20-minute drive away. Our first non-diaper we used in this diaper-bag-on-strike situation was a kitchen towel. Using pockets, we pulled out the wet insert and then laid the folded kitchen towel on top of the shell. Not perfect, but it sure worked! This saved us many times. I’m pretty sure we used an extra pair of baby pants folded up in a diaper like that once, too. Cloth diapering helped me realize what kinds of fabric absorb well, and I got good at thinking fast about what we had laying around. Extra blankets in the car weren’t clutter that I kept avoiding cleaning out, they were diaper emergency insurance! Eventually we switched to regularly using flannel receiving blankets in our pockets because they absorbed so well (and we had so many). T-shirts, cloth napkins, pillow cases…just about any piece of fabric can be wrapped or folded around your baby’s bottom in a pinch!

If you use all-in-ones or experience the simultaneous diaper and poo-mergency, you may need to get a little more creative. It’s all about keeping the fabric on the bum. Let your imagination run wild, and don’t be constrained by practicality or thinking about only long-term options. A T-shirt folded around and Scotch-taped (carefully) will probably get you to your next destination, despite its lack of runway-caliber couture. You can also use their pants to keep the fabric in place!

Here’s hoping you’ll always remember your diaper bag, you’ll have remembered to reload it with diapers, and you’ll have brought enough for the day. If ever that isn’t the case, know that you now have a trick up your sleeve and an extra blanket or pair of baby pants in the car. Keep calm and diaper on (or t-shirt, or blanket, or towel…)

Making good use of those Bookstore Tshirts!

About the Advocate Author
Megan is a member of the Real Diaper Circle of Butler County, mom to two amazing little girls, and an Instructor in the Department of Family Science & Social Work at Miami University.  She has been cloth diapering for over 3 years, and is an active volunteer in her circle, helping to organize the local Great Cloth Diaper Change and teaching Diaper Repair classes.  


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