A Short History of Diapering in America

I’m a history teacher and a cloth diaper geek. As such, I’ve spent far too much time wondering just how everyone diapered their babies in different eras of American history. In fact, in my research for this piece I came up with several other upcoming post ideas including the history of potty training in America and a brief explanation of how people diaper their children in other cultures. I tried to make this short, but there was too much fascinating information!

Obviously, Native Americans were the first to deal with diapering on the continent and their solutions were environmentally ideal.  In warmer climates, babies went without pants and potty trained early while in colder climates Indigenous people used a disposable diaper that was fully biodegradable—and completely free.  They packed milkweed with peat moss or grasses, or sometimes filled animal skins with similar contents.  The result? A diaper that could be easily left behind to break down into the soil in just a few weeks.