A Video Interview With My Grandparents About Cloth Diapering in the 1950’s


Sometimes on rare occasions I get to combine my actual college degree in History with my chosen profession as a cloth diaper blogger.  When I lived in NC for a few months I seized the opportunity to film an interview with my grandparents and share with the world their experiences with flats and handwashing.  While my maternal grandmother Peggy was camera shy and thus appears less frequently in the film, my step-paternal grandparents Bill and Ann (who are like my own parents) were born storytellers.  I lived with them for a while in high school and fondly recall their stories about their younger days.

The film is 12 minutes long but for anyone interested in how our grandparents used to live, including how they diapered their children, you’ll be glad you watched.   Both of my grandmothers had children during the mid 1950’s and my maternal grandmother continued into the early 1960’s.  Both exclusively used birdeye cotton flats and handwashed their diapers.  They discuss in depth how they boiled the diapers.  My Mamaw Ann exclaims in horror after I ask her if she sunned the stains out of her diapers that she would never hang stained diapers on the line

I definitely consider the information about Flour Sacks to be the most interesting.   While I knew that flour sack towels make great cloth diapers I didn’t realize their origins!  Flour sacks used to come in floral patterns and once the flour was gone families would turn the sacks into dresses, tea towels, bonnets, and anything left over would then be used for diapers.  If this is interesting to you there are a few interviews about this topic on “Farming in the 30’s.”

I appreciate you taking the time to watch this short film. It is out of my own comfort zone (I even rented a professional mic for the audio) but it was so much fun to record, research for, and edit. Anyone interested in historical cloth diaper information should also follow me on Pinterest. There I keep a board on Historical Cloth Diapers full of vintage photographs of babies in cloth diapers, vintage cloth diaper ads, vintage detergent and diaper commericials, and even a few early disposable ads that reference cloth diapers when they were trying to knock the competition.

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  • kae

    I loved the video!! I have a question though how did babies wear the diapers with no cover and not get pee all over? I tried letting one of my babies wear a flat today with no cover and I look over and shes standing in a puddle of pee lol

    • kimrosas

      I’m not sure what you baby’s age is… and what flat you used. With a good fold that places a lot of absorbency in the wet zone there shouldn’t be a puddle but the diaper would be saturated. They changed very often, started potty training when they could sit on the chair, and the babies would sit on other diapers on laps or furniture unless they were wearing rubber pants (rare).

      • kae

        Thanks for the reply 🙂 they are a year and 3 weeks old, it wasn’t a very good fold or flat for that matter so that was probably the issue! Ill have to try a better fold!

  • Trisha Chamberlain

    Absolutely wonderful that you included your grandparents!

  • Jennifer

    This is such a cool treasure. love that you video recorded it. So cool. My grandma loves my cloth diapers! She is amazed how cute they are!

  • Qwertytigger

    I just loved this! It’s so enjoyable and interesting to learn firsthand from people that lived through history. My momma had her first baby in 1960 and her last (me) in 1979. I was the only one that wore disposable diapers and I’m the only one that used cloth on my own kids. lol

    And I just loved your sweet grandparents <3

  • Jordan

    Great video! I’m still dumbfounded by the fact that people back then didn’t usually put a cover on top of the diapers. I wonder why they only put waterproof covers on when going out. Wouldn’t the baby clothes be getting wet all the time and cause so much extra laundry?