Diapers in history and non-industrial groups?

Pelusos

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  1. Diaper Lover
Do you know something about diapers in historial ages or in rural/non-industrial populations?
I like history and ethnography I read many books and magazins about it but I have come across the topic very rarely. I read about knights in a french novel, so not scientic book, they had to take much time to put their iron cloths and weapons on, usually they wore them all the day so they took a piece of canvas between their legs in order 'not to be in indecent situation'. It's the one and only I have read about it.

People had to care for babies, helpless sick people and IC was with us always.
What did they do?
Question 2: if people used some kind of diapers, maybe some of them loved them... 😄
 
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Would love some historical knowledge too! Seems that absorbent cloths / swaddling were used, but beyond that... It's just not something that's well documented!
 
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I think the concept of diapering is relatively new in human history. I have nothing to base this on. China and India has practiced having children go in the streets. It isn’t until very recently that they’ve started to diaper their children. Probably due to education on sanitation. I’ve always thought about how odd it is that we secure some type of material to our bodies and allow both solid and liquid waste to be captured held close to our bodies. It makes a mess to clean up. But the alternative is a mess on the ground. So which is worse? It’s hard to say. But I would imagine that through most of human history cloth wasn’t cheap. Not something you had in crazy abundance. So you didn’t have cloth for diapers and you didn’t have cloth for wipes. Because once soiled. You now have to wash them… without modern detergents. Not only do you have to clean the child but also clean the soiled cloths. In a society where every aspect of life was laborious. From tending to livestock or garden/crops. To then preparing food. Literally taking raw food and making it easier to consume. Like sifting grain, grinding it into a flour and making some kind of bread from it. Water had to be transported long distances sometimes. It’s a lot of work to transport water to bathe a child and was their soiled cloths. With how frequently a child would have accidents. I would imagine a child was likely unclothed in warmer climates as we see in much of the equatorial states across the world. I don’t know about in colder climates.
 
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I12BLittle89 said:
I think the concept of diapering is relatively new in human history. I have nothing to base this on. China and India has practiced having children go in the streets. It isn’t until very recently that they’ve started to diaper their children. Probably due to education on sanitation. I’ve always thought about how odd it is that we secure some type of material to our bodies and allow both solid and liquid waste to be captured held close to our bodies. It makes a mess to clean up. But the alternative is a mess on the ground. So which is worse? It’s hard to say. But I would imagine that through most of human history cloth wasn’t cheap. Not something you had in crazy abundance. So you didn’t have cloth for diapers and you didn’t have cloth for wipes. Because once soiled. You now have to wash them… without modern detergents. Not only do you have to clean the child but also clean the soiled cloths. In a society where every aspect of life was laborious. From tending to livestock or garden/crops. To then preparing food. Literally taking raw food and making it easier to consume. Like sifting grain, grinding it into a flour and making some kind of bread from it. Water had to be transported long distances sometimes. It’s a lot of work to transport water to bathe a child and was their soiled cloths. With how frequently a child would have accidents. I would imagine a child was likely unclothed in warmer climates as we see in much of the equatorial states across the world. I don’t know about in colder climates.
I know there's some truth to this for babies, and still is in some parts of the world! Elimination communication between parent and baby was second nature...

For incontinent adults, I wonder how it was managed... Sit on a chamber pot all the time? Be shunned from public?
 
At least for babies at middle-age...
Up to one year, they were wrapped in a piece of cloth the entire day. They could not move and were moved all over on the back.
The mother were giving breast milk for 2-3 years, it was in public and totally normal.
Maybe once or twice a day, they were changing the piece of cloth. Remember that Hygiene was not existing at all (can't imagine rashes)...
After one, they were wearing a dress, regardless of the gender, to facilitate #1 and #2... Around 7 the boys started to wear male clothes...

Remember that in castles, there are NO toilets! Important people did pee or poo behind the curtains and it cleaned up by the huge amount of people working for them... Interesting to see some castles with toilets as this is not common...

People were stinking... Hygiene is something from the 19th and 20th century...
 
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PupSpaz said:
I know there's some truth to this for babies, and still is in some parts of the world! Elimination communication between parent and baby was second nature...

For incontinent adults, I wonder how it was managed... Sit on a chamber pot all the time? Be shunned from public?
Saw a documentary on this once. There actually is an issue in parts of the world where young women become incontinent from giving birth at too young of an age and are shunned for their incontinence.
 
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TabaCrate said:
People were stinking... Hygiene is something from the 19th and 20th century...
Very true, humanity was like livestock in many ways, sanitation and plumbing was for the wealthy.

Forgot about all children wearing "dresses"! Easy access to elimination!
 
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PupSpaz said:
Very true, humanity was like livestock in many ways, sanitation and plumbing was for the wealthy.

Forgot about all children wearing "dresses"! Easy access to elimination!
There are photos of Teddy Roosevelt wearing a dress.
 
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TabaCrate said:
At least for babies at middle-age...
Up to one year, they were wrapped in a piece of cloth the entire day. They could not move and were moved all over on the back.
The mother were giving breast milk for 2-3 years, it was in public and totally normal.
Maybe once or twice a day, they were changing the piece of cloth. Remember that Hygiene was not existing at all (can't imagine rashes)...
After one, they were wearing a dress, regardless of the gender, to facilitate #1 and #2... Around 7 the boys started to wear male clothes...

Remember that in castles, there are NO toilets! Important people did pee or poo behind the curtains and it cleaned up by the huge amount of people working for them... Interesting to see some castles with toilets as this is not common...

People were stinking... Hygiene is something from the 19th and 20th century...
Heck the skin infections!!!
 
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I12BLittle89 said:
Heck the skin infections!!!
Well, at that period, it was considered that it was "protecting" the skin not to wash it too often... Urine was used to clean scars...
And one mother had probably 10 childrens in their life if not more and only a bunch were surviving (if the mother didn't died before).
The average age of people didn't exceed 30 years.. Today it's near 80...
 
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PupSpaz said:
Very true, humanity was like livestock in many ways, sanitation and plumbing was for the wealthy.

Forgot about all children wearing "dresses"! Easy access to elimination!
Humanity, at least the working class, where often housed with their animals in their houses/barns in centuries past. With the lack of human hygiene back then it may well have been the animals that were more offended by the smell than their human owners. I’ve read that lap dogs became popular in the Victorian period in order to help keep fleas off their humans by being a more attractive food source. I guess if everyone reeked than nobody would have smelled worse than anyone else.?
 
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Zeke said:
I guess if everyone reeked than nobody would have smelled worse than anyone else.?
Yeah, the stench of the past would be too much for our noses (especially in towns). Even just within our lifetimes: I remember the 70s as reeking of booze, tobacco and BO (not including the Sat night's stinging stench of aftershave and perfume).
That was the era of smokeless coal, over here, and even though many people still used coal, I don't recall there being much of smell of it around the neighbourhood (mind you, us kids always seemed to have a fire going on wasteland, so noses were probably dumb to it).
And before cars, vans and wagons became common, horses, dogs, cows and goats would be used for transporting people and goods (and somebody had to do the clean up from that).

Information about underwear is trickling through, though. An earlier revelation, to me, about such was that 'underpants' of the bygone eras (stretching way back) were nothing more than [what we would call] diapers; they were pieces of cloth, tied or pinned to the wearer. You can see some modernish examples of such in early photos (inc. upto the 1970s) of sanatoriums and in more 'body liberal' countries.
And 'nappy' has a long history of use (only recently being widely revealed), going back to what is, for all practical and contextual purpose, prehistory. So, they were obviously in use.
Another thing is that most mattresses of yore were straw or suchlike; I think I've only heard one mention of them in relation to bedwetting and I'm a bit hazy about that (could've been in a foreign film that I saw long ago). Not sure how that would affect the stench from bedwetting (given that it doesn't seem likely to have been replaced just for one incident) nor how it would impact bedsharing.
 
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What was the first year that Pampers added perfume? Is there anyway of knowing for certain?
 
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TabaCrate said:
Well, at that period, it was considered that it was "protecting" the skin not to wash it too often... Urine was used to clean scars...
And one mother had probably 10 childrens in their life if not more and only a bunch were surviving (if the mother didn't died before).
The average age of people didn't exceed 30 years.. Today it's near 80...
Low life expectancies back then were skewed by high infant mortality rates. If you made it to adulthood, you actually had a good chance of reaching old age.
 
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And just as the age of time travel is a near a step away, the reality of life of the past leads one to reconsider visiting.

Clothing has long been more of what was available than style for all but the wealthy. Animal skin. Animal hair, Human hair, wool, silk. Then plant based, where availability as they transferred growing cotton around the world. Likely other plants were used (hemp) that could be developed into threads /cords.

What babies wore was likely the hand-me-downs from what the extended families wore. Washing in areas where water did not freeze was likely the local stream or other flowing water source and then down the stream to the next house, village or town. The Spring ice break-up was connected with local celebrations. Now I understand why! A major clean-up, as well!

Canvas first appeared very near Sea Ports as it was created for longer life as sails on ships. Used sails that had been repaired to a point required replacement like found their way ashore and then into the horse barns for buggy covers, etc. and likely there into the underclothing of the knights. From there, maybe to the home and used to better control /hold the wrapping around babies(?).

Someplace around or before 1900 rubber sheets came onto the market, first for covers for the night watchmen /streetlight tenders, railroad staff, etc. Likely someone got a hold of a piece and replaced the canvas under babies. After WWII plastic sheets began replacing rubber and the combination of cloth diapers and plastic pants became widely popular.

Above, someone stated that the hay beds were likely not regularly change and that was likely tied to cleaning-out the animal pens, downstairs in those homes luckily enough to have the barn on the first floor as that allows the upper area to be a bit warmer in the Great White North. As had occurred for generations, the household and barn waste made its way to farm fields in the Spring and Fall, which can provide some idea as to when such things where changed /cleaned out.
 
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