What were diapers like in medieval times?

So can you include a magic diaper/nappie from a strange great aunt?

The baby is newborn to six months old in the story, and he’s a boy, so a dress is out. :slight_smile:

I could, I guess. :slight_smile: At the moment, I have the “mommy” character (a teenage girl – shock, horror :P) making disposable diapers by magic, then making them disappear when they’re dirty. But that’s…very magic-y. I don’t want one of those societies where everything is possible through magic, so there’s no struggle or anything.

Kai dang ku

Actually my oldest brother, who is 58, is pictured as a baby in a dress. This whole pants for babies is pretty new.

Many kaidangku are quite baggy, so you don’t notice right away that they are split. When my grandparents were visiting China, my grandma was taking a picture of a cute toddler, when he abruptly squatted. Great vacation shot! :wink:

Yeah. Until the early twentieth century, both boys and girls wore dresses until age two or three.

I think baby ass in a story meant for kids is…a little too real.

Not to mention that the idea of people just letting their kids randomly shit everywhere like naughty dogs is really, really gross. :stuck_out_tongue:

Why does reality have to be so icky in this case? :frowning:

Let me ask you this; if your story was set in modern times, would you devote any pages to changing a disposable diaper?

I suspect not, unless it somehow lent itself to moving the plot along. For example, if while in the restroom the mother met an important character, or ducking into the restroom to change a diaper confused someone following our protagonist into thinking she had already left.

So why would you devote any more time to it in a quasi-historical / not-really-historical novel. I can understand touching on it in passing if you wanted to educate the reader. There is actually a passage in one of Jean Auel’s novels where a female character carrying a baby holds it out so it can pee (I think) as they are walking along. I think Auel is trying to communicate some of the lifestyle of the time period. But Auel’s level of detail is determental to her storyline in a lot of cases. YMMV.

Well, I was thinking about it more as, there would be occasional references/glimpses of a diaper, and I wanted to make it a reasonable diaper for the era – made of leaves, bark, skins, whatever people used. I didn’t expect to hear that the whole world used to be a minefield of baby shit. :frowning:

What makes you think it was just baby shit?

I don’t. This just contributes to the general shittiness. :slight_smile:

And unlike, say, horses, who are just animals and can’t help pooping in the street, babies are humans, cared for by other humans, and I had thought that some care would have been taken, that’s all.

There was spit up, too, right?

I think that was them taking care. It was just a lot more effort back then.

Yeah, when people rode horses everywhere, and cows and pigs roamed freely about, baby shit was pretty inconsequential.

A dress on a boy infant is WAY more historically accurate than a magic disposable diaper, y’know…

If you’re dealing with a fantasy realm (as you are, if there’s magic), then make it whatever you like. The easiest thing for today’s young readers to visualize will be a cloth, wrapped and tucked or tied to stay shut. That’s certainly within the realm of Stuff People Used Once Upon A Time.

If she’s traveling and doesn’t want to wash it regularly, she’d pack the cloth itself with something more disposable, like leaves or shredded twigs or wool gathered from fences or thornbushes along the path she’s walking. Anything not too stiff that can be contained and kept in place by a cloth and then discarded when wet or poopy. Chances are very good that someone who’s traveling is going to be improvising each day, not stopping off at Ye Oldde Walgreene’s for the same diapering option all the time.

Thanks. I never thought of there being wool on fences but I guess there would be when there are sheep about.

I think I will allow her magic cleaning spells, since I’m taking away the magical Pampers spell. And it would just be too confusing to have the baby in a dress (this story is being written with an eye to it having a visual component) so we will have to make a small exception and give him a little medieval onesie. :slight_smile:

Indeed, not just baby shit, but people shit. Indoor plumbing, public toilets, and personal hygiene in general are all very recent innovations. The Palace of Versailles, for example, was original built without bathrooms; nobles and servants alike would use the staircases, gardens, and other places to pee and poop, if they didn’t have access to a chamberpot (which were often emptied by tossing the contents out the nearest window.) From here:

Yes, actually, tons! I was surprised how much wool was stuck on the rough stone walls when I was walking around in Ireland. I managed to easily gather a handful just aimlessly. If I’d been intent on it, I’m sure I could have picked up enough in an hour to pack a few nappies.

Now, I don’t know what the legal situation (then or now) would be - it might get her into trouble with whomever had legal ownership of that wool. Could be the sheep’s owner, or the shepherd, or a local poor widow with gleaning rights. If it’d be useful for your story, I’m sure there would have been some time and place where picking the wool out of the bushes would get you into trouble with the locals. At least, were it in a story like yours, I’d not question it.

Does anybody remember a novel where characters poop or pee? Other than the aforementioned description in a Guareschi short story… I don’t think I’ve got much. The few times anything like that is mentioned, it’s either with the intent to show the reader how “primitive” the people Our Valiant Hero is now with are (for example, Our Valiant Hero asks for the outhouse and gets directed to a ditch), or to provide a chance for someone to approach Our Valiant Hero on his way to the outhouse (rather than in the crowded inn, you never see someone going to the outhouse in a farm, only at inns).

A stanza from a classic Spanish Christmas Carol:

La Virgen lava pañales
y los tiende en el romero
los pajarillos le cantan
y el agua se va riendo.

Our Lady washes diapers
hangs them on the rosemary bushes
the birds sing to her
the water leaves laughing.

For the people who wrote that and who’ve sung it for centuries, cloth diapers that got washed daily were nothing squicky.
(Out of time, sorry)