Friday, November 19, 2010

cloth diaper expert

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What makes an "expert" at something?  I've been reading blogs around the internet about cloth diapering, and I realize that many (most?) of those moms have been cloth diapering for a year or less! Yet, they write with confidence, and present themselves as experts. (*edited to say that I don't mean people are claiming to be experts, but many write with a self-assured "this is how it is" tone.)  I have tended to think of myself as NOT an expert, especially compared to the people behind the brand name diapers and stores who have years of experience diapering babies, and working with other cloth diaper families.

But wait.  I have years of experience.  I have a total of a little more than 5 kid years with cloth diapers (but technically about 3.75 years from the first time I put cloth on a kid).  I've used fitted, pockets, and prefolds. Cotton, hemp, microfiber. Organic, unbleached, bleached. Aplix, front snaps, side snaps. Snappies and pins. One size, sized. I've diapered a girl and a boy (simultaneously!), at night, nap, and daytime.  I've traveled with cloth. I've used top load washers and front load washers.  I've used 5 different diaper detergents.  I've battled stink (and won!) I've used a diaper sprayer, I've scraped, I've dunked and swished.

It's definitely how one presents one's self, and how well one can repeat information others have already said, even if it's not a personal experience.

I guess I don't feel like and expert because I don't have answers for everything. Because I don't use cloth diapers 100% of the time.  Because I sometimes have quit diapers for a little bit in frustration or because I just couldn't keep up the the diapers that week, or because there are some things that I still struggle with (did I mention that the ammonia stink came back months after I had it fixed?). I can't tell you what diapers to use, or how to wash them, or what accessories and laundry products to get.  Why? Because I'm not you.  I don't have your situation, your kid(s), washing facilities, and resources. Because I can't give you a for sure answer, I don't consider myself an expert.

I think I need to re-examine what it means to be an expert!

Mechanics and doctors don't always know what's wrong, or what the answer is. Other people that I would consider an expert haven't lived my situation, and may not know what my personal experience is.  They're still experts though, right?

I tell you, if there were a cloth diapering degree, I'd just about have it by now.  Just don't go looking to me to tell you the one way to cloth diaper, because there isn't one.  I will help you figure out what works for you, though.


Maria said...

I really hope you are not talking about me. I very clearly state on my about me page that I am NOT an expert. I may not have used every single diaper out there, but I've used fitteds, pockets, snappis, pins, aplix, snaps, side snaps, one size, sized, ai2s, aios, organic, microfiber, hemp...

I've cloth diapered for 13 months, naps, day, car rides, I've used 5+ detergents on my diapers along with tons of additives I tried. I've battled microfiber stink, ammonia stink and funk.

I've only used an HE washer, I don't have a diaper sprayer, and I've never dunked and swished (unless you count accidentally dropping the diaper in the toilet!) Does that make me less qualified to share my experience with other moms?

I doubt even a cloth diaper veteran could tell someone exactly what to do, how to wash etc. As I state repeatedly, every situation is different. Even if we have exactly the same size baby, the same washing machine...our wash routines will be different and we will have different diaper preferences. I CAN give people insight on things to try based on my experiences.

I guess I'm just wondering where this post came from? Did someone rub you the wrong way or make you upset? I hope it wasn't me.

Carrie said...

Totally not directed at you, Maria, or anyone in specific. I'm not even suggesting that people who have been cloth diapering for just a little while, or with relatively few products or brands aren't experts. I guess this post is more about perspective on myself.

I'm not upset about a blog, blogger, or a topic. More a realization that I tend to view other people who have more blog followers as being somehow more expert or authoritative than myself, when the two aren't related at all.

One of the awesome things about the cloth diapering community (both in forums and in blogs) is that our collective breadth of experience is a great resource. It can be a challenge for a beginner to try to figure it out, because there clearly isn't one answer or solution, but it's nice to know that there's always someone else with a different experience to call on.

It sounds like you an I share many similar experiences, and I have always enjoyed your posts.

Maria said...

OK thanks Carrie. I guess I worry too much about what other people think of me! I definitely don't want anyone to think I'm full of myself or consider myself an expert!

I just wish I had known about the cloth diaper groups online 6 years ago, then I probably would have cloth diapered my daughter. I was too chicken!

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