Cloth Diaper Like Your Grandma (and love it!)

Ever wonder how our grandparents diapered their babies, or even your great-grandparents? I did so I asked mine and their interview is one of DDL’s most beloved posts of all time. (Watch an interview with my grandparents about cloth diapering in the 50’s)

Cloth diaper like your grandma and love it.  Lessons on cloth diapering you can still use in modern times.

I got to thinking- what can we learn from their experiences in diapering that would translate and improve on your modern diapering ways?

Grandma’s diapers were natural fibers.

Cotton, either birdseye, gauze, or twill, or terry was all that touched their baby’s bottom.  In grandma’s day she didn’t has access to microfiber or stay dry fibers but that doesn’t mean the cotton she used is a thing of the past.

Why should you use natural fibers? Natural fibers are durable and easy to keep clean and are less prone to the stinkies that plague microfiber inserts.  They also absorb urine immediately, unlike stay dry layers in modern pocket diapers. Another perk? The sensation of feeling wet has been associated with earlier potty training versus disposable diapers or cloth diapers with stay dry layers.

Advertisement for new Riegel flats, 1950's.

Grandma didn’t use covers.

Rubber, vinyl, and plastic covers have been available since the early 1900’s but your grandma never used them! The old covers didn’t breathe and caused baby to have heat rashes or chafe.  Instead, grandma put her baby on the potty every many times a day in case they had to pee and changed her baby as soon as the diaper was wet. Wasn’t that messy? It could be, but it also kept her baby’s skin healthy, reduced chances of diaper rash, and had a huge role in earlier potty training. Grandma used Lap Pads to protect her stylish vintage duds when holding her baby.

Why should you have baby go coverless?  Today going coverless can be useful when attempting full or part-time elimination communication (EC).  Knowing your child’s schedule means an increase in catching a miss next time.  You’ll also know right when your baby wets to change their diaper and your baby will get more airflow than when using PUL covers.  If baby has a rash and airing out completely isn’t possible a loosely applied prefold is the next best thing.  Coverless at home with fitteds, prefolds, or flats even a few hours a day is a great idea!

Grandma line dried.

Those cotton prefolds and flats were hung on the clothesline to dry.  Though I’m sure grandma would have LOVED a washer and dryer she also appreciated pulling a clean load of diapers off the line.

Why should you line dry?  Line drying today can save you money on your electricity bill. The sunlight is also perfect for cloth diapers since it naturally bleaches away stubborn stains left behind after the wash. Today most of you have the luxury of tossing your diapers in your fancy dryer after line drying so that they will be soft and not stiff.


We can learn a thing or two about cloth diapering from our grandmothers and great-grandmothers while still appreciating our modern conveniences.  Simple can be as good, or even better, than modern diapers!  

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