This topic has been on my mind for quite some time and I'm reminded daily of the dangers of giving or receiving bad cloth diaper care advice. It's not uncommon for cloth diaper addicts to become cloth diaper experts and eventually bloggers. Retailers, well they're trying to run a business, right? So who can you and who should you trust?
Fellow Cloth Diapering Mom
She's experienced, loves cloth diapers and has her cloth diaper wash routine down to an exact science. She's even got some tips and tricks up her sleeve that you've never heard of. You're impressed by her enthusiasm and willingness to help so you turn to her for advice when you need help in a hurry.
Online and via Facebook or Forums, you can find cloth diapering moms eager to help in a variety of places round the clock.
PROS: Helpful, knowledgeable, friendly, available
CONS: May not have the same water type, washing machine, detergent or even use the same cloth diapers you use. Additionally, babies differ and can have sensitivities to products and fibers that work wonders for others. In other words, what works for Fellow Cloth Diapering Mom may not work for you.
Cloth Diapering Blogger
She's often the Fellow Cloth Diapering Mom mentioned above but she's taken her passion for cloth to the next level, she's become a blog owner. Her advice can now be found on her blog, in writing, making it easy to access for anyone, anywhere and at any time.
PROS: Cloth diaper focused bloggers are usually pretty well immersed in the cloth diapering community and know the difference between good and bad advice. They're also often hip to the latest and greatest products, tips and tricks. Often posts are based upon a combination of what worked for them and others. Research can also often go into their cloth diaper resource posts and advice. You'll know when a post has research behind it vs. when it's just personal opinion and experience.
CONS: Anyone can start a blog. Whether they have one day of experience with cloth diapers or have personally used cloth on their ten children, the presence of a blog does not mean the person has years of experience or that they're necessarily an expert or certified in any way to be giving you ‘expert' advice. If you find a blogger you like, do a little research on the people or person behind it before you drink their kool-aid.
Independent Cloth Diapering Groups
Cloth diaper support groups, via Facebook especially, are growing in popularity. People use Facebook A LOT and group memberships tend to rise quickly, the number of members should lend NO credibility to the advice or recommendations within. Cloth Diaper Groups can and may be owned and operated by bloggers or by individuals not affiliated with any brand, blog or website. As with blogs, ANYONE can open or start their own Facebook Group or Forums. Groups can vary from helpful, friendly, and welcoming – to the ‘it's our way or the highway‘ rules and guidelines.
PROS: Easy and often instant access to cloth diaper support and troubleshooting. While managed groups tend to be more organized and like to give consistent advice, this still does not ensure their methods will be the solution to all your problems.
CONS: No liability. Posts can appear and disappear in an instant. Receive bad advice that ruined your brand new stash of diapers or caused baby to break out in a blistering rash? Too bad, sorry about your luck. If they don't kick you out of their group for suggesting they gave bad advice, you can at least rest assured they'll delete your posts so you can't complain or attempt to hold them accountable.
Retailers, Manufacturers and Industry Leaders
I often see the “they sell XYZ, that's why they recommend it” or “I wouldn't trust them, they're just trying to make money” and similar comments online, suggesting you can simply NOT trust anyone's advice if they have something to gain. Truth is, they do have something to gain, but they have MORE to lose by giving you bad advice. Do you really think a retailer would give bad advice in order to make a few bucks profit on a product knowing that their business can only thrive if they earn customers trust and repeat business? This industry is built around products that require support and retailers succeed when you have a GOOD experience with cloth diapers and return to buy more. That's why I'd personally trust them most when I need help.
PROS: They have a lot to gain by giving you good, solid, accurate advice to the best of their abilities and they aren't afraid to spend a lot of time, for free, trying to help you with your cloth diaper issues. Every brand or retailer wants to earn your trust, your loyalty, your patronage-they need you just as much as you need them.
CONS: Retailers, manufacturers and industry leaders do often recommend products they carry, brands they've created or product lines they represent-although in my opinion this should not discredit their recommendations or advice.
Where retailers are concerned, I can personally attest to the fact that they're exhausted and sometimes perceived as being short with people needing help. They take the time to provide support on products they know you didn't even buy from them, hoping they might earn your business, knowing that they have to try. It's a story I've been told many times; a mama asked about cloth diapers, a retailer took the time to tell them what to buy and how to use them, the mama purchased the diapers elsewhere and then returned to said retailer for support when she needed it and in some cases even to try and return diapers she did not buy there. Please keep these things in mind.
Sheesh! This has turned in to quite a post! My goal, is not to tell you I know everything or that there is a person or place that knows everything. My goal is to tell you whom I think you can trust, what you should take into consideration and why. I don't feel I've called out any one particular person or place you shouldn't turn to for advice. I simply hoped to point out that often you can receive the best advice from people who DO have something to GAIN and A LOT to lose by giving false or bad cloth diapering advice.
So…tell me who do you trust?
I'm Julie, a former cloth diaper retailer who discovered a passion for the industry. Now, instead of selling cloth diapers, I advocate them and promote small businesses I love who sell and manufacture them.
I'm the wife of a fireman and mother of three. I have a daughter and identical twin sons.