Modeling the Value of Reusability

I have heard a lot of parents connect their cloth diaper use to the environment AS a gift to their babies. They choose to use resources wisely and prevent massive waste buildup because they don’t want to pass the problem on to their children and grandchildren.

In testimonials at the Real Diaper Association, hundreds of parents have written about “Why I Choose Cloth.” Over and over again parents talk about the long-term meaning of their choice to use cloth diapers.


Wouldn’t You Choose Cloth Diapers Anyway?

If you have a parenting choice to make and you find that it’s both better for babies and less expensive for parents, you wouldn’t hesitate to make that choice, right? Not always, and that confuses me.

Some people (no, I’m not naming names) say that cloth diapers are just too hard. They aren’t, of course. The changing is the same and washing is easy. Why this perception of difficulty?

Even if cloth diapering were more difficult to use than the throwaway alternatives, though, given that it’s better for babies and less expensive for parents, wouldn’t you choose it anyway?

I think about other choices that my family makes now that I didn’t necessarily grow up with: reusable shopping bags and recycling. Both of these are just part of our lives. Both of these practices teach our children valuable lessons. We keep a stack of reusable bags in the house and another in the truck of our car. If we shop, we bring our own bag. That isn’t as easy as not thinking ahead, but I don’t know that teaching children not to plan ahead is the message we want to send. It probably was easier to throw all of our garbage into a bag and forget it, but I can’t say that I find the alternative difficult. We break down boxes, stack up papers, and set bottles and cans to the side. We just take our garbage out in a couple of different ways. We not only teach our children the value of recycling, but we let that lead to conversations about how to reduce the need to bring stuff into our house in the first place. Recycling and reusable bags and cloth diapers are all a little bit more difficult than putting the responsibility on someone else, but we’re teaching personal responsibility to our children. I don’t see the problem with taking 30 minutes a week to wash another load of laundry. It seems to me that it would be yet another teaching moment as we talk about values.


Modeling Values to the Sibling

If you are diapering a baby as an older child watches, every diaper change is an opportunity to model values. Explain why you choose cloth diapers. Explain what reusability and responsible resource use mean.

When my daughter used to watch me diaper her baby brother, I gave her a set of diapers for her dolls. Her dolls stayed in cloth diapers about as long as her brother did. She followed my example then articulated the reasons as she went along. Now, she understands why I remain a strong advocate for cloth diapers.

It’s tough to convince a child of the value of reusability and responsibility if we don’t model the values ourselves.

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