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.
Carolyn Tompkins says
I completely agree. If a business sells diapers and covers that leak and wear-out quickly, they are either going to have to replace them for their customers when they are not happy, or customers are not going to come back. I am a lactation consultant and have recently started a private practice and have added cloth diapers to my offerings. I cloth diapered all my daughters and have tried just about everything for the long term, long enough to discover whether a product is durable as well as easy-to-use and cute. When deciding what to carry in my web shop and farmer’s market booth, I very carefully tested and researched everything: whether it was something I used and loved or a diaper new to the market that I carefully researched.
Suzi Satterfield says
Sure, I’m a blogger… and I totally and completely trust my retailer. (She also totally and completely trusts me.) We’re an amazing team… and combined, the two of us can fix pretty darned near anything. That being said, we do spend a LOT of time trying to undo the bad advice from a massive “my way or the highway” group who believes that they are right because of their numbers. Fun times.
The Green Mommy says
This is an excellent post Julie! You raise some great points!
Thanks for the post Julie! I would really say the benefit with working with a large or active retailer, and why they tend to give the best advice, is because of the thousands of customers they have helped. A blogger or mama friend, while helpful, just simply hasn’t heard feedback about the same diaper from hundreds or thousands of parents, accumulating all the reasons why that specific diaper works in some situations/water-type/washing conditions/body type and not others. It’s one thing for one mom to try a diaper for a few weeks and then describe their experience versus a retailer that’s heard from hundreds of moms about the same diaper! I think most retailers are in this business because they love helping other cloth diapering mamas, not to make a lot of money, so help from a retailer is mostly unbiased.
I don’t have a local cloth diaper retailer and I tried everything the retailer told me with my diapers with no luck at all. I joined a cloth diaper Facebook group and explained my situation, I was asked about every single aspect of my cloth diapering wash routine, hardness of water, machine, detergent, baby’s sensitivities… Everything… The great thing is there are soooo many people in these groups that you are hound to find a few people in a very similar or same exact situation that can help you out. I tried the retailers ways and my diapers reeked and I tried the cloth store I visited out of towns advice and got soap build up because they told me to use actual soaps (charlies) and not detergent. (There’s a big difference apparently) and my son got ammonia/chemical burns because my diapers weren’t getting cleaned enough and the ingredients were harsh. I wouldn’t be cloth diapering if I hadn’t found that Facebook group.
I think the problem is that there is SO much conflicting information – even from manufacturer to manufacturer. They each have their own list of “approved” detergents. Then, people get frustrated when they end up with problems, because everywhere they look says different things. It’s hard to make sense of it all with all the conflicting “rules”.
Then, if you talk to the older generation who used cloth, they just washed it like it was regular laundry. And some of them even used wet pails with a little bleach. And those prefolds are still around, working just fine (I have some that my mom used for me, and they work fine on my son!). Then you wonder why, if it worked for mom, can’t it work for you?
Thank you for this! I’m just a regular ole mama trying to navigate the cloth diaper world. I don’t know anyone in “real” life who cloth diapers so I turn to the WWW for advice. And man oh man can I find advice…often conflicting. Which makes me even more confused:) This post helps a great deal!
Amen!!! I am a cloth diaper retailer with a physical store so I see people daily and help them with their CD needs. Do I “push” what I carry? YES. Do I sell the brands I have in the store? YES YES YES. Because I wouldn’t carry something that I could not stand behind 100%. I would not sell something that I have not researched, and tried myself. I would not sell something that my employees have not tried and liked. I would not sell something just to “make money”. What good is a sale of an item that will fail and loose me a customer? That makes no sense at all. I sell the products and brands that I trust, that I use, that I like and that my employees like. I give honest advise on what I recommend for the particular family I am working with. I may recommend something completely different from one customer to the next. Because I am there to help and build trusting relationships with my customers!
Tennille from Apikali says
Fantastic and unbiased blog, showing the best and bad bits of each corner of the cloth nappy community to gather advice. All have their place, but I believe when looking for unbiased advice based on alot of experience, then long term independant bloggers or retailers who have a very big range, are the way to go. The Facebook groups and mothers groups are vital in spreading the word of how fantastic cloth nappying is, but as a place to gather advice for your own practices can be plagued with unfounded scientific advice. Thankyou
Yvonne Welser says
Thank you for your great article! I have another one who you can trust in :-D In Germany we built a clothdiaper-school! We are coaching multplikations. Professional clothdiaper consultants! Our cloth-diaper consultants are ready to visit families and do workshops for showing cloth-diapers and how to handle it, surching the right sytem and help with decisions, telling about washing an material. We are working companyindipendent and we got the ambitious aim of spreading cloth-diapers in our country! Since oktober last year we got 20 consultings now and in this year we have classes every month. So if it runs good we will have 150 clothdiaper consultants in the end of this year! A big dream of mine!!
I only use cloth diapers and always have. This is an excellent post Julie.
Kaycie Knarr says
I just talk to other mom’s. They have nothing to gain, but spreading their loved for their favorite cloth diaper ;)
Sara Walden says
This is an excellent post! it really helps, i usually just talk to fellow cloth diapering moms.
Rachel N says
I think the best people to talk to are experienced cloth diapering moms who live in your area or a local retailer. If that fails I go to online groups:)