Bailey Bouwman balks at the prospect of “cloth diaper expert” appearing in her introduction. “I’m not an expert,” she says. “I’m just a mom who shares her experience with others. And I’m still learning.”
We don’t want to upset anyone, so we’ll avoid the dreaded “expert” label. Still, Bailey didn’t say anything about an aversion to the words guru, authority, or superstar, all of which are equally suitable.
In The Beginning
“I always knew I would cloth diaper,” Bailey says. “I have been a long-term advocate for sustainability,” and it is that mindset that led her to pursue her B.A. in Environmental Studies.
“Disposable diapers weren't part of my long-term diapering plan when I had children,” she went on, “and cloth diapers simply became one of the many instinctual decisions I made in this journey of motherhood.”.
Back in January 2015, Bailey began a personal blog, Simply Mom Baily. Job hunting while in the early stages of pregnancy, job hunting, and knowing she would soon need to go on maternity leave, her first cloth diaper post landed in August that year.
“Did you experience any negativity when you shared how you'd like to use cloth?” we asked.
“No,” “Baily told us, “My mother cloth diapered, my mother-in-law attempted to cloth diaper, and general parenting decisions were up to me.”
Looking back on those first posts, we saw that, at the time, Bailey’s husband loved pre-folds, but she hated them. We asked, looking back, with what she knows now, was there anything she would do differently in those first months of cloth diapering?
“I wouldn't change anything. That first stash of diapers was an incredible foundation to starting diapering. I did despise pre-folds early on, but they would become a staple in my stash, offering the much-needed absorbency for both pocket and cloth diaper covers as my child grew.”
“We quickly went from pre-folds to a full stash of all-in-one diapers in less than three months, and then over the next two years, I would really ebb and flow in what I preferred.”
Cloth Diaper Podcast
This is something Baileys frequently shares on her personal blog and in her Cloth Diaper Podcast.
“I talk about stash diversity often. Sometimes it was best that we use pre-folds and covers because of traveling, and sometimes pockets worked for daycare. It doesn't have to be an excessive stash, but a little diversity helps accommodate a wide variety of options.”
“Now, if I was to do it all over again with a third child – yes, I would build a different stash. I have learned so much about diapering, textiles, and manufacturing.”
Cloth Diapers and Community
Bailey found that for her, the most surprising thing about cloth diapers is something we feel is one of the most important. The community.
“If you told me six years ago that cloth diapering would be the gateway to a community of parents who makes you feel supported, I don't think I would have believed you.”
But what is it about the cloth diaper community rather than the wider parenting spaces?
“You can join all the regular parenting spaces, but they are SO BIG, and sometimes, you just need one smaller community with a common core.” But it isn’t a perfect place, “The cloth diaper community is a messy place, and you can find some bad spaces, but you can also create some incredibly supportive spaces and build relationships in new and creative ways.”
Which is one of the things Bailey went on to do. Between her growing blog, her growing family, and her growing cloth diaper stash, she still found time to share her experiences with others.
Leaving Space for Others
These days, it isn’t challenging to find people who will tell you about their experience, but it is much trickier to find someone who will share while leaving space for the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others.
That’s something that distinguishes Bailey from many of the other people in the space where blogging and parenting intersect. Whether she likes to admit it or not, she is unusual.
In a good way.
Rather than projecting the image of a perfect, self-assured mom, Bailey shares her lows, just as often, if not maybe more so, than her highs. So, when we asked if she ran into any problems using cloth, Bailey didn’t try to sugarcoat it.
Wash Routine Struggles
“Yes, I struggled with my wash routine. I used Nellies (a laundry detergent brand) for the first six months, and it was amazing. But then my child started solids, and Nellies didn't cut it anymore. I spent some time finding a routine that worked for us.”
However, Bailey isn’t one to claim that just because something stopped working for her, that it’s something you need to avoid.
You do You
“I don't think ‘Nellie’s is a bad choice,” she told us, ”It was a fantastic choice when it worked. When I look back at this moment, it normalizes that sometimes wash routines need to be changed. The cloth diaper community often shares this rhetoric of finding the perfect routine – but the perfect routine is one that adapts as your child ages.”
“It's okay to have issues with cloth diaper laundry.”
“You aren't a bad parent. You didn't make a poor decision. You did the best with the information you had and the diapers you needed to clean.”
So, how else did Baily’s cloth diaper use evolve over time?The Evolution of Bailey Bowman
“I went from just a normal parent using cloth diapers to a cloth diaper blogger. So, much of my stash evolved because of my interest to try all the diapers. This was fueled by the cloth diaper culture at the time and the push to #buyallthediapers. I became more of a collector than a user of diapers.”
And, as with all other things, not only did Bailey’s cloth diaper use evolve, so too did her family, and along came baby number two. So we asked, “What advice would you give to those with two in cloth?”
The Best Advice You'll Hear Today
“Keep it simple. You're probably overthinking everything.”
Which made us laugh. We know from experience when it comes to parenting, we are definitely overthinking everything.
But back to two in cloth…..
“You don't need to double your stash to cloth diaper two kids; just a few more to make it through wash day with comfort.”
And true to the form that makes us Stan Bailey more than just a little, she added a simple and effective tip.
Tips for Two in Cloth
“If you can afford MORE DIAPERS, color coding diapers helps a lot. We did prints for my son and patterns for my daughter.”
We are trying to take an "everyone is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all advice" approach to cloth diapering, so we asked Baily If she had to sum up her cloth diapering philosophy - what would it be?
Bailey's Philosophy of Cloth
“My cloth diaper philosophy is to keep it simple. Cloth diapering is just another load of laundry, and you have the wisdom and strength to problem solve.”
“Oh, and you'll probably need to go rogue.”
Which cracked us up again. Going rogue is the last thing we want to do as new parents, but it is everything when you’ve been parenting for a bit. But does she find that approach freaks some people out?
“I had someone message me a while back... she said she'd read all my blogs and podcasts and felt like the advice was just to go rogue and try something different, Bailey shared, “She wasn't sure about that. She wanted rules to follow.”
“But then she followed the rules, and things didn't work out for her. A few months later, she messaged me again... she said, I went rogue, and it worked. I found a routine and combo that worked. It's different, but it makes cloth diapering easy.”
Other Pivotal Cloth Diaper Advice
Does Bailey have any other pivotal advice?
“Also – buy the pretty diapers.”
It’s always a pleasure to spend time with like-minded moms like Bailey, but there were places to go, people to see, and, of course, diapers to wash, so we sadly had to wrap up. Before we came to an end, we asked Bailey if there was anything we hadn’t covered that she would particularly like to share.
“There is so much to learn about cloth diapering that eventually you'll find yourself in decision paralysis,” she said, “I know, I wrote a 250+ page book on Cloth Diapering, and I'm three years into a Cloth Diaper Podcast. I'm learning things every day that I didn't know six years ago and have changed the game. But you can't research yourself into readiness.”
“Eventually, you need to stop reading the blogs, watching the YouTube, and scrolling the Instagram and just do it. It doesn't have to be full-time.”
“Start with just one diaper a day.”
More About Bailey Bouwman