How do moms go from making a choice that’s environmentally and wallet friendly to an obsession that has them hiding purchases from their husbands and eagerly checking the mailbox in desperate hope that their new fluff has arrived?
I think a lot of it has to do with the community that has sprung up around cloth diapering. Moms have so much to talk about: nighttime solutions; daytime solutions that work for heavy wetters; quality diapers versus the “cheaper” alternatives. There are lots of different types of diapers to try, too: prefolds and covers; fitteds; pockets; all-in-ones; all-in-twos…and then there are hybrid systems like Flip and Best Bottoms that don’t seem to fit into any particular category. As moms cycle through the groups and get excited about each one, the temptation to join in and try out at least one of everything is overwhelming. It gives them something to talk about, something to share with one another, and something to get involved in—particularly stay-at-home moms, who often feel isolated from adult contact throughout the day.
There is also a tendency, within those communities, to assume that if a diapering solution is no longer working, it’s time to try out a new diaper. Are your pockets leaking? Well this pocket works so much better! Can’t seem to get a good fit with your current diaper? This one worked great for one mama’s long, skinny baby. Another diaper worked fantastically well for that mama’s short, chunky darling. Yours is somewhere in the middle, or alternates between the two depending on whether or not she’s in the middle of a growth spurt? Try them both out! You never know what will end up working perfectly. Often, troubleshooting consists more of recommending something new (new detergent…new diaper…new type of diaper) than it does of trying to make your current solution work. Often, old diapers can be freshened up to work well again with the addition of new inserts or a quick repair of the Velcro or elastic; but the cloth diapering boards are filled with moms who are quick to recommend selling them off for someone else to deal with this challenge while you purchase something shiny and new.
Then there’s the thrill of shopping. Most moms will admit that they love getting out and spending a day shopping. Online shopping is, in many ways, double the thrill: there are deals to be acquired, chased from one site to the next; colors and prints to be chosen; choices to be made…and then there’s another thrill all over again when the purchase comes in the mail and you can finally hold them in your hands for the first time. In a day that often doesn’t hold many true thrills and in fact holds a great deal more spit-up, poop, and fussing, “fluff mail” takes on a fascination and importance that it might not otherwise have. It’s not just another purchase; it’s a little treat in a day that might not have had many others.
Retailers and manufacturers also add to the hype. There’s nearly always something new happening in the cloth diaper world. This manufacturer has drastically improved their Velcro. That one has developed a new type of pocket system. Someone has added double gussets, or taken them away, or altered their style. Another one has come out with brand new colors or prints. And speaking of colors and prints, there are often prints that are “limited edition,” lending the feeling that if you don’t buy them now, you’ll be missing out forever! Even prints that you don’t particularly like take on a new level of importance when you consider the possibility that you might not be able to find them anywhere if you decide that you like them later. And hey, that retailer is having a really good sale, or is offering a free diaper with a purchase over a certain amount, or has free shipping….
A fluff addiction is easy to justify, too. After all, it’s something for your baby, right? And babies have to have diapers. Every time a problem with your current diapering solution arises, it’s easier to just replace with something new (especially something that promises to work “better”) than it is to troubleshoot what you have; and besides, the baby needs it. You don’t want them waking up with wet sheets/waking up needing to be changed/leaking whenever they’re in the car seat, right?
Realistically, there’s nothing wrong with a cloth diaper addiction. If it makes you happy and you have the extra money to play with it, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy buying diapers to your heart’s content. Everyone has to have a hobby, and a hobby that helps increase your joy in your new addition isn’t a bad one. However, being aware of what can happen makes it easier to stay wary—and to keep your stash from passing the point of “fun” and becoming overwhelming.
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