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How Cloth Diaper Use Started

Since time immemorial, parents has used cloth diapers before the invention of disposables. They were made of linen and flannel, shaped in triangle and fastened onto baby using safety pins. Due to the frequent changes it requires and the amount of washload it entails, came the invention of disposable diapers.

In 1947, UK's first disposable diaper was invented by Valerie Gordon-Hunter called the Paddi. The Paddi is a sustainable nappy system considered to be the world's first disposable nappy. It was a two-part garment made of old nylon parachutes, tissue wadding and cotton wool. Mrs. Gordon-Hunter came up with the idea after getting tired of the laborious washing of traditional cloth nappies. Several of her friends asked her to make some for them too and she ended up sewing hundreds of this which she supplied to them. Along the way, she modified the design to improved it. Mrs. Gordon-Hunter, together with her husband, applied a patent of the Paddi in 1948 and signed an agreement with Robinsons. And in 1949, it was mass produced and manufactured. At first, the public was resistant to using them with some doctors advising against its use due to the recommendation that it might be harmful to the babies' skin. Also, the idea of throwing them away after every use was not very acceptable. The company came to a decline with the arrival of the big American brand, Pampers, in 1960.

In 1950, American Marion O'Brien Donovan changed the traditional way of using cloth diapers, where after folding and pinning cloth towelling, a pair of rubber pants is tugged to protect from wetness. Ms. Donovan invented what is first to be known as a modern cloth diaper. Tired of washing wet dirty crib sheets everyt ime, she thought of cutting her shower curtain to shape like a diaper and sewed it with snaps instead of safety pins to make a diaper cover. This would be a better option than slipping a pair of rubber pants which causes severe rashes to babies. Eventually, the shower curtain was replaced with a breathable parachute cloth. It was called a Boater, an envelope-like plastic cover with an absorbent washable insert. It was patented in 1951 and paved the way for the development of modern cloth diapers.

For the longest time, the general public has shifted to using disposables as the main choice for diapering since its invention. However today, modern cloth diapers are widely available in different innovative designs and features that come close to the convenient use of disposable diapers. And lately, with the awareness of global warming and the adverse negative effect of disposables to the environment, the use of modern cloth diapers is in the uprise and many companies such as Cutie Patootie, are lobbying to make modern cloth diaper use mainstream.