Paradigm Shift: Cloth Diapers and Homemade Baby Food

At what point did we just assume that when we had a baby we would buy disposable diapers, add water to powdered "milk" and feed with a silicone nipple screwed onto a bottle and later, buy tiny portions of store-bought baby food in glass jars?

Is this really a convenience? A mind-set? Or marketing genius?

Think about it. Entire aisles in the grocery store are dedicated to the promotion of consumable (mostly plastic) baby products. They keep you coming back. They keep your dollar in their store. They offer convenience.

Just two generations ago, moms did not have a choice. They used cloth diapers (begrudgingly), breast-fed their babies and made their own baby food by mashing over-ripe fruits, steaming vegetables and pureeing everything else.

Smart people in consumer goods companies realized a mass-market appeal for ready-to-eat, prepared foods, plastic feeding devices and disposable diapers. They introduced them as convenience items, but quickly realized their brilliance at creating products that generated recurring revenue. They began to market them to parents who would Only Give Their Best to their children. Products that emulated Mother's Milk (DHA!) and that included numbered artificial nipples that flowed "just like mom's" at certain stages of a baby's life.


Or is it? With so many marketed choices , what should a good mommy buy for their precious little one? Sometimes, too many choices can lead to anxiety.

Can we please just take a step back, learn from June Cleaver (but - did she use a "Mother's Little Helper?"), and acknowledge the simple things? We don't need all of those THINGS.

Just the other day, I was feeding Bodie in his highchair. He was semi-interested as I shoveled Earth's Best Organic Wild Apple Something into his mouth. On a whim, I gave him a bite of my Thanksgiving-Dinner-Made-Into-A-Soup that I was noshing on as I fed him. His eyes lit up and he signed "more" for the first time (I swear!). I got out my Cuisinart Hand Blender and pureed the soup. He pigged out! After we both had our fill for the evening, I pureed the rest of the soup and froze it in ice cube trays. Now I have instant baby food in little cubes stored in Ziploc bags in my freezer. How convenient. And frugal. The equivalent of 20 cubes would have cost me $20 at the store! Light bulb.

Don't get me wrong. I am all for convenience. I admit to buying tons a jars of Earth's Best for feeding on the go - or when my creative juices aren't flowing and I don't feel like cooking.

For convenience sake, I can also rationalize the insane amount of money I spent on cloth diapers BEFORE opening BumRite Cloth Diaper Company. For example, after hearing the disgusting stories from my mother about the toilet-swishing/dunking/swirling/soaking/scrubbing of cloth diapers, I just had to buy the BumGenius Diaper Sprayer to blast off the poop straight into the toilet. The bumGenius Diaper Sprayer is convenient and powerful. It also doubles as an adjustable-spray "poor man's bidet", and an all-purpose chemical-free cleaner for microfiber mops, bath tubs, sinks, toilet bowls, and potty training chairs.

Today's reusable cloth diapers are just as easy to use as disposables. With the advent of velcro on breathable, yet waterproof covers and super absorbent, yet trim natural fibers - cloth diapering is a breeze.

So - now we are in a reverse-marketing game. I just saw a paid-search Google campaign by Kimberly-Clark (manufacturer of Huggies) denouncing the environmental benefits of cloth diapers. They maintain that the water and energy used to wash cloth diapers negates the fact that disposables never biodegrade in a landfill (WHAT!?). I humbly counter - how many times do you flush a toilet a day as an adult? That is about the same amount of water it takes to wash a load of cloth diapers. AND the poop and pee is directed to a facility where they can treat the water and return it to the Earth. Disposable diapers are made with 1 cup of crude oil per diaper - a natural resource, yes. But not a renewable resource. Disposable diapers are also responsible for a large carbon footprint with regard to transportation, distribution and ultimately, their disposal.

Each child requires upwards of 5,000 diaper changes from birth to potty training.

Today's newest cloth diapers are made from renewable materials like hemp, organic cotton, and wool. Yes - it takes energy to weave, sew, distribute and use cloth diapers. Yet each child, at most, only needs 36 diapers (unless you are me and become obsessed with all of the cute prints, designs, etc). But I digress. Cloth diapers can be REUSED with subsequent children. Or as kitchen towels, car wash rags, etc.

We don't throw away our underwear every day. We wash them!

Kimberly-Clark must be concerned about their market share, right? Why would they pay top dollar for every click on the topic 'Cloth Diapers Vs Disposable'? It seems like a defensive move.

Collectively, we must all experience a paradigm shift in our attitudes toward disposable anything. We cannot continue to be a throw-away society.

It is time we all rethink convenience for convenience sake. It doesn't take that much effort to whip out the hand blender and puree the food that we've already prepared for our families or to throw in an extra load or two of laundry per week.

We could save a lot more than cash.

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