Latheefa’s Story of Cloth Diapering in the Maldives
Latheefa shares her cloth diapering journey from the Maldives.
This is a story of the incredible strength and wisdom we all have to problem solve and cloth diaper our families.
About the Cloth Diaper Podcast
The Cloth Diaper Podcast is just that a podcast dedicated to sharing stories of cloth diapering with parents around the world. This is not just your everyday mom podcast or parenting podcast. We're about connecting you with your favourite cloth diaper brands and retailers, the instagram influencers you follow, and the people making big changes within the cloth diaper industry for a more inclusive, supportive community.
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The Lilly & Fank online store is now filled with natural cloth diapering productions to support you through your cloth diapering journey. We carry such brands as Sloomb, Bee Green Naturals, Bumby, Planet Wise, Peapod Mats, Unicorn Clean and Dimple Skins.
Listen to the Podcast – Show 40 with Heather Seguin
diapers, cloth diapering, people, washing, cloth diaper, Maldives, hand washing, disposable diapers, resorts, island, big, inserts, life, thought, brands, conversation, pocket diapers, friend, buy, fitted
Latheefa, Bailey Bouwman
My name is Latheefa not and I started cloth diapering food full time cloth diapering when I got my second baby, but I had been interested in it with even with my first baby, but it was not accessible to me back then.
So, you’re in the Maldives? Correct. When we talk about the finances of cloth diapering versus disposable diapers, what does that kind of look like for you? Is it that the upfront cost is too expensive? Or is it the long-term cost?
Yeah, I wanted to tell you how it was made possible for me. Yeah, actually, when I got pregnant the second time, my second baby, that was my second marriage, and I had gotten really sick. And I was hoping you were saving money for the delivery of the baby.
And then I asked one of my friends actually, whether she knew anyone who were willing to donate, it was like my last shock, you know, I didn’t think it would work at all. And then actually, she is one of my biggest inspirations. She is also an Instagram and she got diapers full time her both daughters.
So, she actually gave me these diapers I started with. So, it was So, sweet offer. She gave me like, maybe 10 or more diapers. And I started with those. And then after the delivery, and I didn’t have to save any more. So, I got some more money. And then I bought some more for myself. And only after that was able to fold and go deeper. Before that I was part time doing it even when I wanted to time. So, yeah, that’s how I started. All right.
Bailey Bouwman 07:23
That’s, it’s So, cool to have a friend who is able to help you start helping free the class. That’s So, amazing to have somebody in your life who can support you in that way.
And the funny thing is, I have never met her. We only got we became friends through Instagram, you know. Yes, yes. A lot of people I only know I should totally have her on your show. Because she actually like I have seen her traveling to different islands and spreading awareness about it. And like encouraging other people to do it. Okay, and then
Bailey Bouwman 08:03
I’m going to take it, then that cloth I bring is not super common in your area.
And it’s not, but it’s trending now. So, people are leaving the interest. That was actually one reason I wanted to do it too. It was like it looked cool. big reason for me was obviously taking care of the environment. And the second reason was, I thought it could cut costs.
Bailey Bouwman 08:27
It’s definitely becoming a little bit of a trendy thing type of diapers are you using Latif and how do you wash them and what does that look like for you on a day-to-day bit? life?
Alright, So, I started with the G Nappies, And I loved those. I mean, and they were So, cute. And actual my friend gave me those. She gave me 3 nappies and these biodegradable disposables, like we could dispose them, but they were biodegradable. Are you familiar with those? Have you? You know?
Yeah, I started with those. And then when I ran out of them, I started with the inserts. I think they’re microfiber, but I’m not sure. Probably. So, I started with that. And I was I had a C section. So, I was still, and I had complications still. So, I was still recovering. I was Yeah, I was recovering. So, my husband mostly did that. Like, we were washing them my hand. And at that time, we were in the capital. It’s called mala city. So, they’re, how do I put it like it’s very congested, So, you don’t get a lot of sunlight. It’s like a bunch of you know, it’s a concrete Jungle people say it’s a concrete jungle. So, the buildings are really high you get you don’t get a lot of sunlight. So, it was like, it was really, like when I think about it now It was So, fun. Like we would hang the inserts to dry in a particular spot where only the direct sunlight would fall only on one spot. So, we would like position the hanger there. And we would try to dry the inserts there. So, it served like, even think about one more thing like in that house. I was staying in my sister’s house then. So, because I don’t live there, right. I live in another island. So, I don’t live in the city. Okay, I went there to deliver. So, in that in that house, the sink was pretty big and the that it was really easy to wash the inserts there. So, at first we that was what we were doing. And then later when he outgrew the Jena piece, we switched to me think it’s called all in one or pocket. Not all in one pocket diapers. Yeah, okay, you put the insert inside that one. So, those are actually my favorite. I tried to use pre falls, because the friend who gave me the diapers, she she speaks very highly of those. But I just couldn’t get them to work. Like maybe I wasn’t folding properly, maybe, I don’t know, I just didn’t like my washing card. The washing part was harder with them. So, I just stuck to the pocket diapers, and they never used the peripherals after that. So, and there were these two diapers I don’t know what they are called, again, it has a frog at the back. And it the material is definitely different from the microfiber inserts. I think maybe it is bamboo fiber or something. I’m not sure. So, they leak. Right. I mean that. I’m not saying I didn’t mean leak. I mean, they are not waterproof, like the other one. So, I think maybe needs a cover. And I cannot seem to fit it properly. So, I didn’t use them as well when I first started.
Bailey Bouwman 12:29
So, you’ve tried a bunch of different diapers. Hey, trying to find a thing that doesn’t leak. And that is easy for you to watch.
I’ve been using the pocket diapers. And remember when I told you that I bought the big diapers for my first baby when he was almost out of diapers.
We were hand washing. And then at that time, there was an outbreak of COVID in Marla city.
So, we couldn’t come directly to our island without a quarantine stay at another island. So, we have to stay at a resort. So, it’s one of those luxury resorts. So, the government was like keeping people in those resorts. For like it. Yeah, it was a vacation for us.
So, you can imagine the size of the sink there. It was, again, pretty big. And we had lots of space, lots of sun. So, by then I had like start recovering and I started washing as well. But I still had this like disgust because you know, this disgust you feel during pregnancy doesn’t go away. Right after you give birth right. So, I was still a bit disgusted with poop and error. But I was washing with my husband too. So, that that was fun. And then after we came to our like home to our island original, like very live, we don’t have too big sink, right? So, we actually started trying to hand wash. We tried to hand wash, but it wasn’t working for us. So, we switched to using machine like, it’s an auto machine like you don’t have to take it out, or anything, just put it in just pressing buttons.
Bailey Bouwman 15:36
Is that okay? So, I excuse my naivety because I don’t know what life in the Maldives is like, is an automatic? What is an automated washing machine? a normal part of day-to-day life or a luxury item? Or what? What is that?
It is pretty normal. These days now Yeah, it used to be a kind of a luxury thing when I was younger. But now it’s becoming normal. And I want to, I wanted to tell you something about the wash routines. I read your article. And thank you so much for writing it. Like I was doubting myself. I was like, I didn’t know what a wash routine is, until this week, because someone else was posting about it. And I was like, What the hell am I doing? Am I doing this wrong? Like, am I washing the diapers wrong? But after reading your article, I was like, ah.
Bailey Bouwman 16:35
You went into cloth diapering not really knowing what to do or how to do you’re just kind of winging and winging it. Yes. Because that’s amazing.
The friend I was talking about who gave me the diapers. She also didn’t talk about wash cycles or anything. And I did look at a few YouTube videos. And they just showed that just put, put the diapers in the machine and wash. like nobody talked about washing once or twice or anything. Early until recently, I found out and I was doubting myself. And so, at the right time I ran into you. I mean, I stumbled upon your article. So, that’s great.
Bailey Bouwman 17:19
Well, it’s great that you were doing the right thing to begin with that you trusted in yourself and you’re trying to figure out watch routine. Because it doesn’t, I mean, I feel a little bit silly because I write about washing machines from a very North American perspective. And so, I never want to assume though, that that is going to work for other parts of the world.
How do you dry? Like do you get a lot of sunlight.
Bailey Bouwman 18:07
Yeah, I mean, yes, it’s 10am or it’s 9am. And it’s still dark. In North America, I would say that if you’re living on the grid, it’s really common to have a dryer So, I wash I dry everything in my dryer.
I cannot even so when you say you, you have a dryer.
Bailey Bouwman 20:59
Yeah, I mean, but how long? My question would be like, is our disposable diapers? Have disposable diapers been around for very long and the Maldives?
I have never seen anybody using cloth. Like, really until, you know, Instagram.
Bailey Bouwman 21:19
Instagram. the globalization of the world is such an interesting conversation in itself too, right? Like learning from other women around the world? Yes,
it’s such it’s such a great team actually. Right? Like, imagine if I hadn’t like stumbled upon your website or like my friend, like, I would still be like sitting at home and thinking, oh, I wish I could cloth diaper and then not being able to do it. Right?
Bailey Bouwman 21:46
Well, yeah, but you’re It sounds like you’re doing a fantastic job in navigating through the resources that you do have and how you can figure it out yourself. And that’s really inspirational an Latheefa because it’s something that I really, I really want women to know that they can do it even without the internet that they can trust themselves to do it.
So, what has been something that’s been like a huge surprise about cloth diapering, that you never thought that’s been just, you’re like, wow, I never thought cloth diapering could do this for my family.
Hand washing, like I never thought like getting pulled out would be So, easy. And oh, really just wash. Yeah, I thought it would be like stuck to it. And you know, I wouldn’t be able to remove. I thought it would be the machines job. But actually, hand washing is So, easy. Like, if we had like a lot of space and a big thing.
Bailey Bouwman 22:44
A big think makes a huge difference with hand washing the right amount of space to get
I keep I keep bringing up the sink because it’s like I have certain health issue which it’s difficult for me to sit down and bend and do stuff, you know, I can do stuff like standing. That’s why I keep bringing up the sink.
Bailey Bouwman 23:36
What what’s the feeling? what’s the what’s the trend? Like if you were to meet other women and you talk about cloth diapering? Is there an instant sense of disgust or shame or excitement? Like what do your friends think when you talk about cloth diapering?
All right. Well, most people are like, in total, I put it like, they’re really surprised, actually, that someone would willingly You know, when they have such a convenient option. Why would anyone, like stop using that and like when we say cloth diaper, people usually think it’s the flat you know, the ones our mothers and people used to use and they imagine that that hassle, you know that why would we choose to?
Why would we choose that hassle when we have such a convenient option? And then when we and then the other thing that surprises them is how beautiful they look. Right? Like right, like the prints and the color. So, everyone tells me like when you said cloth diaper, I thought it’s like the white cloth that people used to use. These are So, beautiful. And then they asked like, they usually asked like how you do this and then I show them the insert and how I put it in. So, I try to promote it with everyone who asks for you’re having the same conversations that we’re having, and which we’re trying to be like, hey, no cloth diapers have come a long way since our parents, So, they are these really beautiful things. Usually, I don’t have a lot of real-life interaction with people because I’m living in my husband’s Island. So, I didn’t grow up here. So, I only married him, like, two years back, and I moved here. So, I don’t have a lot of friends in this island as such, but then online, I do try to like, I do have friends. And I’m able to get in have in depth conversations about things. So, here it’s like, in real life interactions is a very short, you know,
Bailey Bouwman 25:50
What is my curiosity is the cost of disposable diapering? What is the cost of disposable diaper in compared to the cost of cloth? I pray for your family.
Um, it’s definitely cheaper to get disposables, you know. So, but then in the long run, like, if you especially if you plan to use it for all of your children, then it’s definitely cheaper. But then then, but then there is the electricity aspect. Yes. And the detergent aspect of it too. So, I’m not sure like, through family it’s cheaper to do clock anymore. But then I saw again, I saw one of your posts, it was about receiving blankets. So, I think I’m going to I’m, I might try that because I might, my stash is pretty small. I need to increase it. But I don’t want to like buy an expensive one. I don’t want to buy expensive diapers again. So, I might, you know, yeah, repurposing old materials is a great way to save your costs. Yeah, but I never thought receiving blankets could be used as diapers,
Bailey Bouwman 27:22
anything well absorbs anything that absorbs liquids you can use as a as a cloth diaper. I think like, t shirts receiving blankets, like if it absorbs p, then you can use you can fold that up, and you can use it as a as a diaper
Like, don’t get me wrong, okay? When I say affordable, it’s not like, really, really cheap. But compared to buying cloth diapers, it’s definitely cheaper. I think like that initial investment you have to spend, like if you are planning to full time diaper cloth diaper before you get your baby. Like if you have to buy a stash, then that cost is pretty high. You know? That’s what I’m trying to say. Okay, I think what do you mention about receiving blankets, or even old current t shirts? I think if we could, like, pitch that idea to people, then people might be interested in that. Like instead of, yeah, these hi fi brands, you know,
Bailey Bouwman 29:12
and I think that was a conversation that I was really having with Romi from Argentina the other day too. And somebody else I had on the show, too, we were really talking about needing to shift a lot of our conversations from always needing to buy new to the fact that we can repurpose, and then sometimes the only thing that you need to buy new is the waterproof cover or the waterproof pocket diaper, right? It’s just that’s a lot of that’s a big shift in conversation. It can be it’s a I know here in North America; it can be sometimes uncomfortable for people to talk about repurposing and reusing things. So, it’s been a bit of a challenge. taboo kind of think like, it’s just like a sense of pride thing. Yeah. All right. And now you’ve got me thinking about like global economies of cloth diapers, a lot of the cloth diapers that you’ve made. today are big international brands. Where do people buy cloth diapers? If you were to buy if you had some money today and you want to buy a brand-new cloth diaper, where would you go?
That’s and that’s a great question. My friend who gave me the diapers, she said she bought all of them online. She brought it abroad. And the other ones that I bought afterwards. I bought it from Instagram pages like Instagram shops, you know. So, even they would ring from abroad. Okay. Anybody locally, do you know like in the Maldives? Yeah. No, no, not at all. We don’t we actually don’t produce a lot of stuff here. It’s a tiny, teeny place. We the but the only thing we do produce is fish and fish products, fish and fish.
A lot of people actually mix it up with Mauritius, or people think it’s from Middle East. You’re So, you’re off the coast of India. Okay, that’s definitely not where I thought, India, but then we are not like Indians. Like
Bailey Bouwman 31:29
there’s a lot of there’s a lot of cloth diapering going on in India right now. A lot of bras. Yeah, you know. Yeah, I have. I’ve worked with a super bottom from India, and the great cloth diaper changes coming up. And there are a lot of great cloth diaper changes that happen in India. So, the cloth diaper conversation in India is changing. Okay, you guys are this is a super tiny. This is a super tiny country.
Yes. Like I said, it’s really tiny place and we don’t manufacture a lot of things. So, here are the two biggest industries are the tourism industry and the fishing industry. So, a lot of your heard of people coming to these seven-star resorts and stuff.
Bailey Bouwman 32:36
But I yeah, in small countries like this, I would see that life would be very different than these beautiful blue ocean resorts. Does that mean that all of your goods and services are shipped in or flown into the country? Actually,
I think a lot of likes, a lot of stuff is important. Like there is a farming going on too. But then you know, even most of the food is imported. Like I said, it’s only tourism and fishing the which are like the main biggest two industries. You know, what,
Bailey Bouwman 33:13
what do you guys do? What do you guys do for your weight? like where do where does garbage go in the Maldives?
We burn it. Oh, open burning. It’s terrible, really. I mean, like in the islands, mostly the compostable waste, they throw it in the ocean, and other stuff that can be burned in the building. Like in an open burning setting. It’s really sad. But air pollution pretty bad. Not as bad as like, not So, bad that people realize it’s bad. But obviously it is. You know, like out of sight out of mind. It’s all right. It’s all good. Okay, I’m proud to say that we have NGOs and people trying to raise awareness and actually do things even in the policy making level. You know, the president actually did ban certain single use plastic items as well. And in some islands, they do have recycling plants and interesting things are going on, but it’s way too slow. You know, we’re in a climate crisis, right?
Bailey Bouwman 35:10
I guess. Yes. Maybe not the healthiest choice but important to recognize in this in this conversation. Okay. This is this is, this was super interesting learning a lot about the Maldives, about what life is like, I think these are really great conversations. I know we before I hit the record button Latheefa, you were like, I’m not sure what I can offer. But what you have offered is a great insight into what diapering might look like in another part of the world, about things about your journey, I think your journey and exploring cloth diapering is really empowering and a good reminder that we don’t need to know all the answers, and we can just trust in ourselves to figure out what we’re doing. And if somebody was listening from around the world today, what’s like your one big? Like, what’s that one thing Latheefa that you would tell a new mom about cloth diapering?
I would say like, if you are interested even a little bit, then just go for it, like dive right into it. You know, because you if you heard what I was talking about, you must have known that I had pretty much no idea what I was doing. But then, you know, there was a lot of trial and error. I was experiencing problems with leaking and all that. And I just, you know, I didn’t tell anybody. I just tried to fix it like me and my husband. We both like talk with each other. And we use trial and error to overcome all of that. Because we knew, like the moment we tell someone else, you know, it’s leaking. They’re like, yeah, I told you it’s going to leak, you know, So, we didn’t want to face that, you know. So, after like, my babies now nine months, So, we’ve been part time doing it from two months, and full time. I think maybe four months. So, now I think I’ve got it figured out figured out. So, yeah, if I can figure this out, like I’m still figuring things out. So, it’s best to just dive right into it with the resources that you already have.
Bailey Bouwman 37:19
And you started part time for a little bit there until you could get the resources that you needed to go full time. You found that balance. So, you didn’t let that fact that you couldn’t go full time. stop you. Yeah, yeah. I love that too.
That is that is actually I have to thank the people like you and my friend and people on the internet for that actually. Because there was like, there are So, many encouraging posts, like you don’t have to go full time. Like it’s not an all or nothing thing. This cloth diapering. So, encouraging was just like that really helped me
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Bailey brings 5+ years of cloth diapering experience and conversation to the cloth diaper space. She's not just your every day mom blogger sharing her experience - Bailey is immersed in the cloth diaper community learning from other parents and growing as an individual. She wants to find the cloth diaper solution that truly works for you.
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The Cloth Diaper Podcast is a somewhat regular podcast sharing stories from cloth diaper parents, brands and retailers from around the world.
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