What’s old is new again, naturally upcycling as common sense, or… you’re just different

One of my Facebook statuses from yesterday:  “Someone recently said they’d been called a ‘new-age nut’ because they used cloth diapers and breastfed. “Those” parenting practices are so weird. Odd, because they were completely normal from the beginning of time until about 50 years ago. How short are our memories…and how much of history ‘doesn’t count’ as normal because it’s not in YOUR living memory? Hmm.. this is my ponder…”

Responses were few, but thought provoking:

“Key words were beginning of time and 50 years….it’s 2011 it is weird… Not saying wrong or bad but weird–I should say different”

“It is not “new age” to use cloth diapers or breast feed your babies, but it is a different practice than what is used today, it doesn’t make you a nut-case, it is just a choice you make. I breastfed but used disposable diapers, I wonder which catagory I fall into?”

“Couldn’t agree more, Jill!!!! Macro vs micro views… And how in the world is breastfeeding new age or weird? What did God put them on women for??”

“‎’new age’ is a matter of perspective… “nut” I disagree with. It’s a choice – options open to all moms…I was unable to cloth diaper because my daycare would not support me on it…unfortunately.”

So I guess from the first comment I’m supposed to think that the last 50 years trump the eternity of time. The third says the exact opposite, and the rest fall in between. What do you think? Has our short term memory completely affected the way we live our lives? If we can’t ‘remember’ it ever being done, does that mean that it’s so outdated as to be ‘different’? Should something that was ‘normal’ for thousands of years be so easily forgotten as the latest celebrity arrest? Does it depend on where you live or how you were raised? I think so. My mom  used cloth diapers on us, although they were the pin and rubber pant kind that most people (mistakenly) associate with modern cloth diapers. The assumption is that in the diaper market, because disposables exist, no other frontiers could possibly be blazed, I suppose? My parents happened to be about 10 years old than most of my classmates’ parents, therefore, a bit more old fashioned. However, with a handful of die-hard disposable users having babies get horrible rashes from a name brand last year, more people are approaching cloth with curiosity. Some, feeling as if they have no choice, plunge into cloth diapers and then discover: what do you know, it’s not so bad… then they tell their friends, and so on. It’s insane, isn’t it? All it takes is a baby’s blistered bum to advent a changing of the tide. Don’t get me wrong, the statistics are now pretty much completely reverse of the 1940’s– where disposables were used for traveling only (unless you had a ton of money), to today, where about 10% of the population uses cloth, and the other 90% goes for ‘technology based poop removal’. So is it different, weird, abnormal?

Let’s take another instance, breastfeeding. A lot of moms start out in the hospital breastfeeding, but give up once they get home. Without proper support, and with a job to return to, a lot of women only last as long as their maternity leave. Certainly most women don’t do so beyond 6 months, a year, 2 years? The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests one year, or as long as is mutually agreeable to mother and child. The World Health Organization now suggests 2 years of breastfeeding as healthy and appropriate. (I’m pretty sure the first commenter would barf his socks up at hearing that suggestion). Other women nurse their babies as long as they want, sometimes nursing 2 at a time (tandem nursing) if another comes along within that time frame. Now I personally did not use formula beyond what was shoved on us at the hospital due to Keeley’s health (calories in = jaundice out)– she projectile vomited it anyway; but I did pump and bottle feed for 3 months. So I have some idea of the time and effort it takes to prep a bottle, wash them out, etc. In fact it was the continuous washing and rinsing and utter disgusting nature of having that much prep work that prompted me to uhh, force my little one’s mouth so to speak, onto breastfeeding. Soon afterward, I was facepalming myself as to why I hadn’t done it before. The pump was packed away, no more bottles to wash, no more nipples to rinse out, no more rings to dry so they didn’t leak all over me. Whew. Although my husband could never take over a feeding, it was actually so unbelievably easy compared to pumping and prep work. I know formula usually comes in powdered form, but it needs to be mixed with water, warmed to the right temperature, and then held for the duration of time it takes to empty the bottle. That means you have to go to your prep area, mess with a bottle, scoop of formula, water, shaking or stirring, warming, and so on– this is all while the child is screaming bloody murder. Then you have to go back and wash all the stuff later, not to mention paying something along the lines of $20 a can and running back to the store. Plus, if one formula doesn’t agree with your little one, you have to go buy another one, and another, and another, until you find the right one. The alternative (because let’s face it, formula feeding is considered the norm), is actually a lot easier. Open the shirt, stick baby on, wait until it’s done eating, burp, the end. True allergies/intolerance to breast milk is VERY rare. A mom can usually change her diet a tiny bit and have a perfectly healthy baby. I for one didn’t have to do anything different. I ate chili, pizza, pasta, every meat imaginable, and so on. The only thing that seemed to crank my little one up was caffeine, and since I hadn’t had it for the duration of my pregnancy and more, it didn’t bug me to go without. So if it’s so easy, why isn’t it common sense to ‘upcycle’ a natural fluid your baby produces when you give birth anyway? Why is it considered different to do what nature aka God intended? It’s like someone saying ‘here, here is free food for your family for one year or more, just keep eating it and it will keep producing itself for you, appearing like magic’, and you say, ‘no thank, I’ll just spend my hard earned money on the grocery store brand, it’s more convenient’.  Which makes more sense?

In these times of recession, sometimes fewer children are born, parents wait a bit longer between kids, get one out of diapers before the other one goes in, and so on. After all, kids are expensive. True. very true. Well, wait. Hospital bills are expensive. Braces are expensive. Babies? Generally, they’re not very expensive at all, at least in my household. We got tons of 0-6 month clothes, which we will happily use again. I purposefully overbought on all our daughter’s clothes, assuming we’d have more children and that they’d get some good wear out of them. I usually bought them on sale. Had I registered for cloth diapers, instead of not doing ANYTHING about it, I could have saved a couple hundred bucks in disposables up front, and not had to buy so many cloth. On the other hand, since I have officially ‘won’ around 20 diapers, and had more come to me out of the sky, baby #2 (and any future kids) will basically be diapered for free. As long as there is nothing wrong with my lactation, I’ll feed the kid for free for the first 7 or 8 months as well. After that, I’ll make my own baby food (aka baby led weaning) and voila, that basically is free as well. Which makes me wonder: if more people took the time to be ‘different’ and registered for and received cloth diapers for their baby showers, and if they breastfed (investing in a pump if they had to return to work), how many more kids would be born to loving parents, who, after a hard day’s work, didn’t have to run to the grocery store for diapers or mix up formula, but instead, sit on the couch as a family and just enjoyed each other’s company? Would more unplanned pregnancies become welcome gifts instead of a burden to bear? Maybe. If we followed our age-old ideals instead of ‘the modern normal’, would we be a happier, richer society? Certainly a lot of moms in the circles I run in think so. They are somewhat sad when their kids are out of diapers, they have another baby to put ‘cute fluff’ on, or they sell or donate them to charity. There is no financial relief when breastfeeding is over, an end to diapering days don’t mean an extra $30 in your wallet come payday–it just means another step toward growing up. Meanwhile, mom and dad have more fun, because they don’t have the outpouring of expense…it’s a win/win, common sense in my opinion. It may be ‘different’, but it sure is cheap!

What other examples can you think of that makes you think: my grandma did that, and it was normal, but now, people are doing it again, because it saves them money…. ?


  1. Lots of people I know are just generally more thrifty/mindful of not wasting than I remember in the past. Some of it reminds me of things my grandmother does as a reaction to having lived during the depression. Reusing foil and plastic bags come to mind…

  2. Can’t think of any examples of what my grandmother did, but my mother reuses the cardboard containers that packaged meals come in.

    And no cloth diapers for me, but I did breastfeed, and I have the saggy boobs to prove it!

  3. You should throw co-sleeping and babywearing to them – see that reaction too!

    hehe. Unfortunately society is all about convenience (in the diaper situation) …. but how does that explain the aversion to breastfeeding. Je ne sais pas. I personally LOVE breastfeeding and cloth diapering. Love them.

    the end.

    (your newest follower)

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