Early Cloth History

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Let’s go way back and start from the beginning of cloth diapers. What’s the earliest diaper noted in history? Read on to find out!

If you’re just tuning in- Throughout the next few weeks we will be building a timeline of how cloth/disposable diapers evolved. 

There really isn’t a lot of information available on how people diapered before the 1800s..But I’ve been able to find a few gems to start this series before we dive more into the evolution of our modern cloth diaper. Many sources have information that wrapping and swaddling babies was used as a solution to pee/poo. It’s actually pretty disgusting to say the least so I’ll try to spare you some of the details.

Here’s our first mention of diapering from the Bible itself.

         –  “clean, soft woollen cloth which will not shrink, bruise, irritate or compress unevenly” to wrap the baby immediately after birth and the first bath; the baby was gradually unwrapped after forty to sixty days (Graham 2013: 223-224). 

Of course reading this now you can see how this led to many serious health issues. This solution called “swaddling” was around for a while in many cultures. Some mothers did change their babies often, but other families couldn’t afford more than 1 swaddle. They would have to leave their babies in these swaddles for long periods of time. Babies were potty trained as soon as they could sit up which helped combat this major health issues.

This was a bit of a sadder week for cloth history but it soon changes. I promise! And eventually we were able to perfect the modern cloth diaper. Can you believe how much has changed?

Tune in next week for more cloth history!

Grace @makelaundrynotlandfill

Today’s Blog post will cover the Tudor Era of diapering. This photo was painted in 1581 by an unknown artist. A large number of children born in the Tudor Era did not survive. An estimated 25% of children died before their 5th birthday and as many as 40% died before their 16th birthday. Babies were swaddled as the primary way of diapering till 8 or 9 months. Swaddling consisted of bandages wrapped tightly around the baby’s whole body. These would be preferably changed daily. Typically you would baptize your baby within a few days because the risk of it dying was so high. Midwife’s actually had the authority to baptize babies that were born sick or injured to ensure that they would be welcomed into heaven. 

After babies hit the 9 month mark they began to potty train by wearing long dresses. This helped them to be able to quickly access the potty. If there was an accident, ashes would be thrown upon the pee and poop so it could be swept away. 

Tune in next week as we dive deeper into the history of cloth 


Citations –

“Tudor Children.” Local Histories, 2 Nov. 2021, https://localhistories.org/tudor-children/.

“Babies in the Tudor Era.” Babies in the Tudor Era, http://under-these-restless-skies.blogspot.com/2013/12/babies-in-tudor-era.html?m=1. 

“Tudor Children.” Local Histories, 2 Nov. 2021, https://localhistories.org/tudor-children/.

“History of Cloth Diapers Timeline.” Dirty Diaper Laundry, 16 July 2015, http://dirtydiaperlaundry.com/the-history-of-cloth-diapers/history-of-cloth-diapers-timeline/.

Katharina. “How Did Prehistoric People Handle Baby Poo?” Motherhood in Prehistory, Motherhood in Prehistory, 31 Oct. 2016, https://motherhoodinprehistory.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/how-did-prehistoric-people-handle-baby-poo/amp/.

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One thought on “Early Cloth History

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