Monday, January 28, 2013

A break from diapers: my updates!

Howdy!  It's me, the me who's not thinking about cloth diapers at the moment.  (BUT, that's all I've been feeling like writing about lately -- must finish the reviews!!)  Anyway, just so I don't forget my own life later (heh), here are some OTHER minor updates, in case you care.

* Yes, I'm older.  Blargh.  Now my birthday doesn't really count, because I'm a mom, and my kid's birthday (a week before mine, incidentally) is the important one.  (The birthday balloon burst for me last year, actually, at E's first birthday.)  Actually, it was funny, when my parents were here, my mom had to remind me that I was, indeed, still important.  You know, as a person.  I guess!  I did have a blast doing all kinds of fun activities on and around my birthday, and I made my own cake from scratch with an inspirational message (above).  But it doesn't help that now, a couple weeks later, I have just hurt my knee for no reason (some minor twist or something, I've got a brace on it), and I'm just, you know, fat and old.  whee.  OK, self, just stop right there and write something positive!

* I'm still working on learning Hindi!  I took a huge break over the holidays, but I'm back in action.  I look forward to it so much!!!  Three mornings a week (while E. is in her school), I put on my CD and headphones, and practice my Hindi while working a little on my "oshie craft" project, all in a nice half hour chunk.  Alternately, I practice while staring into space or out the window, because it can be hard to concentrate on two things at once, let's be honest.  Then I come out in the kitchen and say random Hindi things to A.!  Hooray!  It's super exciting!!  Did you know Hindi word order seems to be akin to German?  I *knew* German would come in handy someday!

* Speaking of Hindi, I've started again with cooking Indian food.  It's the best way I've found to increase my vegetable/legume consumption.  And I need to do that to lose weight!  Sooo, yeah, I'm specifically trying to lose weight again.  By that I mean that I'm, you know, thinking about it and actually trying and making good choices and I have some goals.  Honestly, I feel like I'm fat no matter what I do, but we shall see.  OK, back to positivity!!  What else?

* My brother verified that I should make quinoa a part of my daily diet, and I have -- to great success!!  Pop that stuff in the rice cooker and you're good to go!  I had no idea it was "a complete protein", like you can eat it without other meat or troublesome beans and still get nutrients and feel full.  I even pronounce it properly now (keen-wah) instead of making fun of it and saying it wrong on purpose. :)  Did you know that quinoa-breaded fried eggplant slices are insanely good?  Cook quinoa, use as breading, fry, eat.  Bring to book club for extra credit!!

* ooh ooh, before I hurt my knee, I was doing situps, too!  That is positive.  We've got the ol' Stargate: SG1 on in the evenings, and we exercise to it.  How about that?!  I've recently done over 100 situps (not all at once; are you kidding?  People, I've got to work up to that), which is 100 more than I've done in the past, oh, seven years?!  Ha ha ha ha haaa!

* Oh, I am slowly working on some life comics here and there, but they're really just for me.  So yeah, you'll have to just sit tight and enjoy cloth diaper reviews and the occasional Etsy offering while I think up some more comicky drawing/writing projects to share.  It'll probably take a long time.

* That's about it.  Things are just slow.  It's OK, life is like that sometimes.  All I really want to think about these days is Hindi, Indian food and healthy recipes, cloth diapers, reading stuff, and playing dorky $0.99 Myst-like adventure games on my Nexus, which I solve in under an hour.  Oh, and watching Daniel Jackson on SG1! hee hee!

PS- For an instant lift, listen to Bollywood music.  It reliably pulls me out of the blues -- so I have it on almost constantly these days. ;)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cloth Diapers: Bum Genius

Ah, Bum Genius!  The Bum Genius 4.0 one-size diaper with snaps is one of my favorites!  I will go into the details after the following rainbow of diaper colors that yes, I own.  I know.  I started with two (actually, I started with two for each brand, now that I think of it), but I've bought a lot over time.  Cottonbabies (the makers of Bum Genius) periodically has seconds sales, and as far as I can tell, there is NOTHING wrong with their seconds -- so I got a bunch of mine that way, super discounted!  Cottonbabies always has free shipping, too!



Pictures from NurturedFamily website, because the Cottonbabies website wouldn't let me save their different color pictures!

"Sweet" (the super-pale green) and "Artist Series: Jet Setter" (blue patterned one) have been discontinued, but I did manage to grab those pictures (see links), just for completeness' sake of the colors I have.  I was really disappointed with Sweet, actually, because it was basically white, and how boring is that?  Now BG is really getting into fun colors and prints.

Now, let me tell you why these are so great.

First off, I went with the snaps option because I had heard that babies sometimes get it in their mind to take off velcro (oh, sorry, I meant "hook and loop") diapers, and they can't get past the snaps as easily.  Luckily Eleanor never really attempted this, but she was in mostly snaps, so who knows?  Also, snaps are supposedly more durable, and sure enough, a couple of my hook and loop diaper tabs did indeed wear out, but none of my snaps have.  Snaps are the way to go!  Sure, little newborns aren't going to be pulling at velcro, and it is easier to cinch them down to size a tiny baby better.  But overall, snaps win!  (Sure enough, a lot of the companies now offer snaps.)

Bum Genius has the vertical double row of snaps -- that is, one up top for the hips/tummy, and one below for the legs.  A lot of diapers come with their snaps all in a horizontal row.  The Bum Genius style is better, in my opinion, because: a) you get a better fit, being able to size the leg and tummy separately.  Yup, babies grow their torsos and thighs at different rates, it seems, so if you can't get a good leg seal, you get leaks.  Especially now that E. is older, she needs a big leg opening, but a tighter fit around the waist.
Another factor of her being bigger: sometimes I can only snap the first (end-of-tab) snap of those horizontal-row diapers, leaving the second snap to press into her little leg, leaving red marks -- ow!  This is why we sadly had to retire all her Smartipants. "One-size" horizontal-snap diapers don't really fit after that second snap is off the front.  (One of the indie diapers I bought actually came with snap covers -- little bits of fabric to cover those ouchie snaps -- what a great idea!) Other brands with the prized vertical double snaps (that I have tried) are Blueberry, Oh Katy, and Rumparooz.  If doing it all again, I wouldn't buy any horizontal-row snap diapers.

Another great feature of Bum Genius is their super stay-dry fleece lining.  It's more like a "suede" type of inside, and it is superior at keeping baby dry!  It also doesn't pill like every other fleece lining did after about 2-3 washes.  (Pilling doesn't take away from a diaper's function, but does make it look more worn out.)  When E. constantly woke up from feeling wet, we made Bum Genius (and the other suede lining style, Smartipants) our "nap" and "night" diaper, because she wouldn't wake when wearing them!  Our scientific minds figured it out quickly. :)  Side note: those Malden Mills stay-dry liners from Green Mountain Diapers were and still are another good option for assured non-waking.  Yes, I've even lined pilly-fleece diapers with them from time to time.

Bum Genius can be reliably triple-stuffed for nighttime with no leaks.  Yes, we've been triple-stuffing at night for a long time now!  Mommy's Touch is our go-to night diaper now, but BG works in a pinch.

I have so many BGs now that I use them at E's nursery school because it's consistent.  (I suppose I could be writing this paragraph about any brand of her diapers that we had a lot of.)  I'm amazed and fairly saddened that E. appears to be the only kid there using cloth (I guess I'm in the cloth diapering community bubble, thinking that everyone's doing it), but the teachers have no issues whatsoever with using the BGs.  Or any of them, really, when other types have snuck in.  Don't be afraid of using cloth in a school or daycare situation!!  At least at E's school, they are happy to work with us and the cloth.  They say that they've had other kids using cloth in the past, but I guess E. is the token cloth kid for now. 

Bum Genius also has a nice smooth lining inside the pocket.  I guess it's the back of the outside PUL material.  Some diapers can get a "sticky" feel in there and your hand catches when putting the inserts in, but BG has always been nice and smooth.  They have all worn really well over time -- that is, they look great! -- considering that I've been using a couple of them for almost 2 years!

Thats right! BG also was the first one-size diaper to actually fit E.  None of the one-sizes fit her right at 8 pounds (we used up our hospital-given pack of disposables and then prefolds/covers), but the 4.0's finally did at a few months.  I need to check my notes, and will edit with exact details!  So far, they have truly gone from 10ish pounds to, currently, 28 and counting.

Oh, and one other Bum Genius item: way back when, I bought a newborn diaper for her (on a super sale for some reason, at the physical Cottonbabies store here in Vancouver) and it was great.
Photo from KellysCloset

Being an AIO, it did take longer to dry than the prefolds/covers we were also using, but it was SUPER convenient and at the time I wished I could afford more.  If I were to do it over again, I'd probably try sewing my own newborn AIOs.  Oh, and this one I bought was special: it was the first pink diaper I bought -- before she was born, we didn't know the gender and the diaper stash I'd assembled was fairly "neutral" -- this was my special girly diaper for her. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cloth Diapers: My Approach

I just wanted to add a couple things about how I went about choosing these various diapers, and why.  Because there are certainly MANY MANY MANY other brands out there that I did not try!  These thoughts crossed my mind as things that you, the internet reader, might want to know.

* Through my research I decided at the outset that I mostly wanted pocket types (which did prove to be my favorite!). I didn't want the alleged long drying times of AIOs (all-in-ones), nor the super high price of fitteds that would still need a cover, too.  Not being patient, I knew I wouldn't be doing any prefold wrapping/snappis/pinning.  And I wanted to be able to put ANY insert in ANY diaper -- so the all-in-twos had potential compatibility issues that I didn't want to deal with. Since I was going all cloth, I didn't consider any of the disposable liners like with g Diapers.  I wanted everything to be reusable! (I've also read that flushing some of that stuff is actually pretty bad, and even eco-disposable-liners still have chemical yuck in them.)

* My mindset was "you get what you pay for", so I pretty much went for pricier diapers, not the cheap knockoffs.  I was careful in my selections and tried to stick to a budget at first.  But then, experience (need more of a certain type!) and obsession (ooh, it's so cute, too!  Need a rainbow of color!) did push me to buy more.  Most of the diapers I got were in the $14-18 range. I think twenty and up is pushing it for the price of a diaper, but I do have a few of those, too.  I have a couple Kawaii (knockoff) diapers -- because reviews on those were positive -- that have held up well, but I was too wary of leaks/falling apart/poor quality to get cheap diapers overall.

* I went with established brands.  At first I did look at some WAHM (work at home mom) made diapers, but again, I chickened out on actually buying them.  The fabric selections, wait times, weird "restocking" schedules, etc. scared me away.  I wanted to be able to a) read tons of reviews on a brand, and b) get more, reliably, if need be.  Now that I'm 2 years into the diapering process, I am way more open to indie/homemade diapers, and have purchased a couple.  But if I had to do it over, I still wouldn't base my stash on indie makers, unless I found someone who was really good.  My friend did make me two diapers (the blue/green spotted one and owl one in the above photo), which were awesome -- and of course now I'm contemplating making cloth diapers myself (whee!) -- but anyhow, starting out I went for the big brands.  I think what makes a brand "big", though, is different from person to person, as there are so many out there!

* I'm really glad I went for the variety approach.  There really are situations when you want different options. The fit on Eleanor changed over time -- for example, the Smartipants fit great for a long time, went through a phase of leaking because her leg had changed shape somehow, and then fit awesome again later on, until we had to retire them as being too small.  Also, sometimes you want diapers that are easily triple-stuffed for nighttime (Mommy's Touch), or that will reliably hold everything in when you go out (Rumparooz), or that are easy for nursery school to use (Bum Genius -- we have a bunch of those, so consistency won out there).  Suffice it to say, if I had bought 24 of one type, hoping to cover all situations, I'd have been pretty screwed.  On the flip side, I probably didn't need so many types, but I had to learn my favorites by using them!

* I tried to buy diapers that were made in the USA or Canada.  A lot of them are!  With cloth diapers having so many positive attributes, why not add another to the pile? :)  And again, more recently, I've supported some indie makers right here in WA!

More reviews to come!  Yay!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cloth Diapers: Green Mountain Diapers

Prefolds!  Fitteds!  Green Mountain Diapers was my prime source for these styles.

Now, even though pockets are great, I do love prefolds for other reasons.  They can be anything!  Looking back, I would recommend getting a dozen GMD prefold diapers even if you don't have kids!!  They are perfect in the kitchen for wiping up spills, cleaning -- shoot, they'd make a fantastic dinner napkin.  They are ABSORBENT, so much so that I have become impatient with other kitchen towels and dish cloths.

For babies, aside from lining a diaper cover, prefolds can be burp cloths, little pillows, little mats when baby is hanging out naked, a liner for a high chair, a change mat, a general rag, put water on it for an impromptu wipe or washcloth, etc. etc. etc. We got a dozen yellow-edge (small) and a dozen red-edge (medium).  The yellow ones just live in our kitchen now!  I'm glad we got the two sizes as she grew.  Oh, and as for actual diapering, we never used Snappi fasteners or wrapped the prefold around E. in any fancy way -- just an envelope fold, laid down in a cover.  Place baby on top, close up the cover, annnnd, done.  Like this:

Before I forget, prefolds can be pocket inserts, too!  Just fold it as you would to put in a cover, but put it in a pocket diaper instead.  We did that a lot to increase absorbency, and it also worked well wrapped around a regular microfiber insert.  Everyone should have some GMD prefolds!  (They really are nice -- I was given some other, possibly Bummis, unbleached prefolds, and they were not as soft as GMD.)

In looking at their website anew, it looks like they're discontinuing the Cloth-eez Workhorse fitted I bought in favor of a (pricier) organic one.  I might not have gone this route had they been $10. each, but who knows?  Photo is of the ones I got; link goes to the ones you can buy now.

At first I just ordered 1 (or 2?) to try it out, and it was so handy, that I rushed to order maybe 4-5 more (yellow size)!  In my zeal, I made the same mistake as the covers: I also got 4-5 larger (red) ones (you know, for later!), which ultimately were not as useful because E. fit into the pockets by then.  And as previously mentioned, I found pockets to be way easier than a 2-piece system.  I must say though, as much as I love prefolds, these fitteds did seem to hold more, and were easy to just snap on.  I thought these GMD fitteds were reasonably priced, but overall I didn't explore the world of fitteds, simply because they were expensive!  I figured if I was paying around the price of a good pocket, I may as well get all the features of a pocket, and not have to deal with a cover, too, you know?

Later on (18 months?), I got a little more use out of the red-edge fitteds as we stepped up our casual pottying, since cotton is a "feel-wet" fabric. (More on potty training another time!)  I would just have her in them around the house sans cover.  This was a good way to "air things out" from time to time, too, clearing up small rashes and what have you.

I also got some Malden Mills fleece stay-dry liners from Green Mountain Diapers.  My friend (hi, Emily!) recommended them as being hefty and not rolling into useless little wads like the Bummis fleece ones did for her.  Well, these MM fleeces were a LIFESAVER, because cotton, no matter its other wonderful properties, does feel wet when wet.  Babies wake up when they feel wet! (Mine did, at least!)  Therefore, for sleep situations, we always lined the prefolds and fitteds with one of these fleece liners.  Magic!  She would pee and stay asleep!  I quickly learned the absolute necessity of stay-dry linings for uninterrupted sleep, so buying cotton-lined pockets (like, say, Swaddlebees or Bum Genius Elemental) seemed silly to me.  More on stay-dry pockets in future posts!

These liners have held up GREAT, and now I use them occasionally if I suspect a #2 is imminent . . . cleanup is easier!

Oh, and it's barely worth mentioning, but I did get a GMD Snug-to-Fit Supreme fitted diaper in some discounted color, and it was just mediocre.  It was huge, first of all, and then never did fit her properly, with the cotton being kind of "hard" and not stretchy.  It was there on the shelf, but I never reached for it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cloth diapers: Bummis

In the beginning, E. didn't fit into any of the pocket diapers (she was about 8 lbs.), so we were using prefolds and covers.  I had bought all Thirsties and Bummis covers, both because I had heard good things about them, and I think they were also cheapest at the time.  Looking back, I actually had too many covers -- four when I probably only needed two.  (You really can reuse a cover a bunch of times before washing it, especially if you're using a fitted underneath -- and if it's just pee of course.)

I also bought sizes small and medium to have on hand before she was born, but this was a mistake -- by the time she fit the medium covers, she also fit into the pocket diapers, which we used all the time and liked better.

I have gotten use out of the bigger covers recently, though, when she demands her flimsy Gerber training pants and I want some peace of mind when we go out!

Anyway, the Bummis covers.  The Super Brites were great, and very similar to the Thirsties Duo Wraps.  The Brites had good leg gussets to really cover up the prefold/fitteds.  They also were such fun patterns!  We have lots of photos of E. in various pastel baby shirts and then these crazy covers. :)

Pictures from Bummis website

The Whisper Wrap was OK -- it was a bit softer on the inside, but didn't have any leg gussets, so was harder to get a good leg seal.  But they did wash up great, the velcro lasted, and generally didn't present me with any disasters.  Even then, I wouldn't buy them again, just because they were harder to adjust around her.

 Pictures from Bummis website

All in all, these were good, basic covers.  At the time, Bummis wasn't making their other covers, like the Super Lite, Super Snap, and Pull-On -- perhaps I would have tried them . . . I do recommend prefolds/fitteds and covers on a small new baby, though; definitely cost-effective.  Hmm, maybe if I were to do it again, I'd make some newborn pockets/AIOs for added convenience.

Bummis also makes the Tots Bots Easy Fit AIO, but I never did try it.  If I had good reason to (I don't), and the funds for them (I don't, either), I'd get some of their fun Easy Fit prints! 

Oh, and one more thing about these covers: I did ultimately turn the blue panda cover into a pocket, and it held up well . . . till the velcro wore out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cloth Diapers: Intro

As I've said in the past, I'm going to periodically review all the many brands and types of cloth diapers I've used on little Eleanor -- right here on the blog!  It's my service to the public!!  This short intro is not comprehensive, but a list of important points I've found in using cloth diapers.  Each post will have its own details and probably bits of general info, too.


1. Cloth diapering is easy, and yes, fun -- why not make this, some might call the least fun aspect of baby care, super fun and cute and cozy?!  Cloth diapering is your path to fun, cuteness, and coziness!  And I've found over time, that Baby enjoys all the different soft, colorful diapers, too! (more on that later)

2. It definitely adds to your laundering chores, but you get used to it.  And it doesn't use all that much extra water -- at least not with a HE front-loader, which we have.  Oh, we use Planet detergent.  Yup, I read the blogs, reviews, etc. and settled on that one as the most accessible, least expensive, good for general laundry use, diaper-safe detergents out there.  (Maybe I'll do a detailed laundering post sometime.)

3. It's true: there's less diaper rash, fewer leaks, more body awareness (I'll do another post on infant potty training or "elimination communication" at some point), and, yay, no gross wasteful bags of poopy landfill-bound sadness!!!

4. You will become obsessed, like me!  All the fun prints, colors, types, "fluff", homemade or "WAHM" (work at home mom) diapers, the soft fabrics, etc. all add up to a special type of caring for your baby that, well, you can't get with disposables.  And they didn't even MAKE minky linings and inserts when I was buying my stash!

5. It's totally worth it to buy a variety of brands.  There have been (and continue to be) times when I was SO GLAD I had all the options.  Some would fit great, then start leaking as she grew, so I switched the types around.  Later on, I'd come back to those same diapers and they'd work again.  I would have been really screwed had I bought, say, two dozen of one type.  They all have their uses!!

6. My stash consists of a few covers and prefolds/fitteds, and then mostly pockets.  Those suited us best, hands down.  I'll touch upon the reasons for this throughout the posts . . . mostly convenience and not having to adjust various bits of cloth around baby's bum ad infinitum!  (Ad infini-bum? ha ha ha!)

Anyway, welcome to my world!  Oh, and the photo above is fairly old -- I have . . . so many more now . . . HA HA HAAAAA! ^_^