Monday, November 17, 2008


I can't imagine life without "Google."

I would never, ever think of going to a library and researching through all kinds of media to see if I could find any references to old baby soakers. First, I probably would think there would be nothing there anyway and it would be an awful lot of trouble to go through just to be disappointed. Secondly, I probably wouldn't think it would be all that interesting anyway, because I already knew what they were. But with Google, all things are possible!

In 1941, when I was six years old, my mother used a neighbor lady as a babysitter for my sister and me. In my recollection she seemed like an "old lady" but to a 6-year old, almost everyone is old, so it is likely that she was maybe in her 40s. I have that old lady to thank for my ability to knit and crochet, although the lack of steady crocheting over the years has diminished my skills in that particular talent. But I have always, since that time, knit.

This babysitter started teaching me how to knit soakers. What are, or were, soakers? In those days there were no such things as rubber pants or plastic pants for babies. So knit soakers were used over diapers to help contain the moisture. There were no synthetic yarns in those days either, so we used wool. Obviously the minute the baby wet his diaper, the soaker needed to come off and the diaper changed, because there is not much that smells worse than wet wool!

The soakers I learned to knit looked exactly like the bottom two in the picture above. I made lots of them, and considering there were no babies in my family I don't have a clue as to what I did with them all, except perhaps to use them on my dolls. As I looked at the photos, I was reminded that the little tassles at the end of the ties were a very important part of finishing off the project. Sometimes I used tassles and other times little pom-poms. My soakers were really classy.

By the time I had my own babies, beginning in 1956, plastic pants had appeared and we pulled those over the diapers. Mostly soakers had disappeared, although the picture above is from a 1959 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. All four of my kids wore cloth diapers and for a four-year period I always had two children wearing them. My sweet and helpful mother paid for Tidy-Didy laundry service to help me out with the washing.

With the advent of disposable diapers, even the need for plastic pants disappeared. My kids couldn't imagine keeping any of their children in cloth diapers. (But of course they can't imagine saving money for things they want to buy, either. Charge it! they say.)

Times change. But if you do a Google search on "Baby soakers" you'll find some 200 hits, which represent people of today discussing or asking about soakers. (I'd guess these people are what society now calls "old farts" - those of us who are in our dottage). Seems now there are some soakers made for incontinent adults. Apparently some people who try to live 100% natural use them, although I wouldn't think for soakers, but maybe for underpants (itch, itch, itch....)

Googling is a good thing to do on a Monday so windy that if you step outside you might get blown about a mile down the road and maybe end up in a dairy pasture. So pick your topic, give Google a chance to work its magic, and see what you can come up with. Your topic of interest might be much more exciting than soakers!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now this is nostalgic! I love it!!! Yes, cloth diapers and plastic pants, I remember them very well.

I grew up in a little town in Canada British Columbia and babysat all the time. Late 1960's/1970's. Everyone used cloth diapers back then. Diapers, pins, rubber pants.

One thing I remember well is double diapering the kids before bed at night. At some homes the mothers would have the diapers folded and ready, while at others it was up to me to do the folding.

Off with the rubber pants by way of the elastic waistband, unpin diapers, toss diapers and rubber pants into plastic diaper pail, re-diaper baby and fasten diapers with safety pins, then rustle on a clean fresh pair of rubber pants over top of the diapers for good measure.

Those poor kids waddled in their bulky diapers! And the sound of those rubber pants!!! LOL! I still can't believe I used the same diapers on my own kids...