Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cloth Diapering Confession

We want to be honest with you, as we always are at Thanks Mama. After using some upscale, super expensive disposables during a recent road trip I realized this - disposables are so much easier. Of course, you knew that already. I was so settled into our cloth diaper routine that I honestly didn't feel like it was a lot of work. But after 5 days of using highly absorbent, European made disposable diapers that are a whopping $0.50 each, I have to admit I'll miss it. So why am I saying this? Surely not to discourage you from cloth diapering! It's okay to use disposables once in a while, because when you do you'll realize why you love cloth so much!

I think the number one reason I liked these sposies, a silly one, is that they are all the same. You see, as a cloth diaper tester, my stash is made up of 40 different diaper brands. My head is crammed with information on how each diaper performs, absorbs, how it washes, what it's made of, etc. A normal cloth diapering mom would probably never deal with this because for the most part a diaper stash is made up of 2 to 5 different brands. This is why I liked my break from cloth, I didn't have to think about all those attributes of cloth. It's a lot easier to have fewer brands rather than a stash of all different ones.

After throwing $0.50 in the trash every time I changed a diaper, I was reminded of the number one reason we cloth diaper - that it saves us a lot of money. We really do not have that extra $600 to $1,000 dollars each year, per baby, to spend on disposable diapers. I calculated that even if we spent our own money on the stash of cloth diapers, we have so far saved $3,000. I would rather spend that on bills or travel than throw it in the trash! 

When it comes to laundry, yes, disposables are easier. It was nice to not think about it for several days. I am not going to insist that cloth diaper laundry is a piece of cake. Sometimes it isn't, like when you are dealing with stinky diapers and trying to figure out what the cause is. It's especially not easy if you have living arrangements that don't offer your own washer, like an apartment. But, we all do laundry regardless, so washing cloth diapers is not a lot of extra work and it becomes barely noticeable once you get into a routine.

We have cloth diapered on vacation before and it was actually quite easy, but my daughter was older and we rented a vacation rental cottage. Cloth diapering on the road is possible if you do some advance planning, I certainly recommend it for older kids who go through fewer diapers in a day! We loved using pocket cloth diapers and prefolds that were the easiest to hand wash on vacation.

What do you use when you take some time off? Cloth? Disposables? Both?

Photo: My baby wearing a disposable diaper in our hotel room ;)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fuzzi Bunz Giveaway!

Have your baby looking just as cute as this in a new fluffy diaper! We are giving away a Fuzzi Bunz Elite and Perfect Size cloth diapers on our Facebook page! If you haven't already, head here and enter to win via the easy Rafflecopter form. This is definitely not the last giveaway, but if you don't play, you don't win! Giveaway ends midnight on Thursday evening, May 24th. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fuzzi Bunz Elite One-Size Diaper Review

Pocket diapers were our first experience with the world of cloth diapering three years ago. We have since tried many other types, but there is always something comforting about the simple design of pockets. We loved trying the Fuzzi Bunz Elite pocket diapers and there is certainly even more to love about them than the Fuzzi Bunz one-size pockets we are all used to. Let me first get this off my mind, this incredible color - I love it! Looks great on our blue eyed babe!

The Fuzzi Bunz Elite One Size is very similar to their regular one-size diaper. There are several improvements however. Our favorite one is the new fabric for the inserts, it is silky smooth minky fabric that doesn't hold in the stinkies as much as regular microfiber inserts. It is very absorbent in our experience and the diaper comes with two, yeay! Perfect for our heavy wetter. I use two inserts in every diaper for him, otherwise he pees right through it. This one has held up very well to his spray zone. Honestly, if I could change all of my microfiber inserts to these minky ones, I would, I love them. It also looks like they do not stain as much either. We've had a variety of surprises in this diaper and never a blow-out, it is very good at containing the messiest of messes. 

Another improvement is the hidden elastic. In the previous one-size diapers it would always come out of the little hole that's supposed to hide it. Well now it is on the underside of the interior diaper lining, so it never touches or leaves prints on the baby. The diaper also comes with an extra set of elastics! So that's perfect to really make it last from one baby to another (and another). I still haven't had to replace the elastic on our original Fuzzi Bunz one-size diaper in the almost 4 years we've been using it. So it's great to know this diaper will last for all of our babies. I can't comment on how easy it is to replace the elastic, so if you've done it - let us know. 

I love this one-size system and that it fits most babies without rows upon rows of snaps on the diaper. Although it isn't as easy to adjust as snap sizing, it only take a minute and it stays put. The fit is great on our 6 month old, with a lot of room to grow. I think the rise may be a little small for really tall toddlers who may still be in diapers, but for the average baby I'm sure it will fit until potty training. The three snap design keeps the diaper where it should be, babies can't get it off, and there is no wing droop - it's solid. 

In case you're wondering, I definitely prefer the Elite over the regular one-size diaper and over the perfect size diapers as well. It is very trim, there is no bulk here! At $19.95 each with two inserts and replacement elastic it is a great deal. It's a very simple system and I wouldn't mind having a whole stash of these. Perhaps the only thing I do not like, and this applies to pocket diapers in general, is that you have to take the inserts out by hand before the wash. Not a big deal, but something I can no longer say "I don't mind" about after so many years of cloth diapering. I highly recommend Fuzzi Bunz and especially their Elite diaper, try it, you'll love it!

Take a look at the Fuzzi Bunz One-Size Elite diaper at Thanks Mama

Saturday, May 12, 2012

BumGenius Freetime AIO Review

I have a new love, the BumGenius Freetime all-in-one cloth diaper! No joke, this is one of the best diapers we have ever tried (out of about 40!). You know, after three years of diaper laundry I am really warming up to all-in-one diapers. This one pretty much annihilates one of the problems with AIOs - that they take long to dry, not the Freetime! It really does free up some time for mamas, so that your little one can say "Thanks Mama for spending that free time with me!"

Yes, I am in love. So much so that I've contemplated ditching my entire stash for a dozen of these cloth diapers! Perfect, superbly trim fit (on our chubby 6 month old, about 18-20 pounds). Doesn't leak on my heavy wetter. Ever. Dries fast, as we've mentioned. No-gross-poop-touch laundry. No stuffing. Baby's bottom stays dry. Masters blow outs and keeps them captive. Great quality snaps that look like they'll last a lifetime. Ton of cute colors. Most of all it's just simple. We like simple. If I ever had to leave my son with grandma, it would be simple enough for her to figure out!

See, it has fold out inserts that are sewn in... Yes, genius, BumGenius! They even thought it through and stitched up the soakers so that nothing gets trapped in there while they are in the wash. 

There is only one, just one thing I would change about these. This is something that would push me over the edge and would justify buying a few of these despite the fact that I have a huge cloth diaper stash already. You see, I have a love/hate relationship with microfiber. I love the quick absorption and the stay dry aspect. Okay, stay dry is a must for me, if I'm using a diaper that isn't stay dry, I will at least place a stay-dry liner inside. But for the life of me, I can.not.ever figure out what to do to eliminate stink issues, and no - I will not have bleach inside my house. Maybe it's my water. Maybe I'm too lazy to try every possible thing. I am certainly too lazy to separate microfiber inserts and throw them in for a separate sanitize wash in my front loader every time (and for some diapers like this one, separating is impossible). I don't have that time luxury! So, it would be perfect for us if the underside of the soakers was bamboo or hemp, the two fibers we love for not absorbing stinkies. I would leave the top against the baby's skin as a thin layer of stay dry microfiber. While right now it is perfectly stink free, I'm afraid that over time it will stink like my other microfiber diapers. 

That of course doesn't mean these aren't perfect for you! You may never even run into any stink issues. You would at least probably be more proactive about it than I am! I highly recommend the BumGenius Freetime, just a warning, you may fall in love with it just like we did. I find myself saving this diaper for going outside and for any 'special' times. The price is right in my opinion for such a great quality, tailored diaper, $19.95, or even less at Thanks Mama if you buy 6 or more. If you have questions about this particular diaper, ask away!

Check out the BumGenius Freetime AIO at Thank Mama!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Learning and Educational Toys

I can hardly believe my toddler turned three this year! She is becoming one smart little girl and curious about the world. A year ago it was easy to give her something challenging to do, now she is asking for more and more. As a 'homeschooling from birth' family we love educational toys that not only entertain our kids but teach them through play. Learning has become part of our everyday life and the kids are naturally exploring the world through everything they do. 

You don't necessarily need a toy to teach kids certain things, but sometimes it helps. Baby E learned to count first with her abacus, it was attractive and interactive to her and I liked that it is contained and creates no mess! Then we proceeded to count everything in sight throughout the day. Wheels on a car, crackers in her snack cup, how many hair accessories she has, fingers, plush toys, forks, etc. 

Right now she is very curious about geography, she realizes that people live in various places and not just where we live. We are planning some travels through the summer and it is the perfect opportunity to teach her some geography. She can show you where she lives and where all her cousins live throughout the United States. Next up I would love to teach her about simple finances with coin and paper bill denominations, the wooden cash register would come in handy with that, though I would fill it with real coins (and hide it far from our 6 month old!). 

We have also been learning about time, the concept of which still escapes my 3 year old's mind! She sometimes says 'tomorrow' when she really means to say 'yesterday'. It's too cute! I almost don't want her to learn the 'right' way! I always point out the time to her on the clock  when we need to be somewhere at a certain time or when it is time for bed, lunch, dinner. The Plan Toys wooden clock is perfect for teaching time, it comes with little activity cards that you can place on top of the clock and the movable clock arms can be pointed at a particular time. It's colorful and engaging, it gives an interactive dimension you can't have with a regular clock unless you wouldn't mind the kids breaking it! 

Moving on in terms of basic physics and math, the balancing monkeys game from Plan Toys is a great way to learn how to balance quantities in a fun, engaging way. Aside from mathematical skills it also teaches perseverance, something my toddler could definitely use more of!  It is made of natural, Eco friendly, recycled rubber wood. It also teaches coordination for younger toddlers (above 3) that need to master that skill. 

When learning takes place as part of everyday life and not just a block of time, kids don't get tired of it or burnt out. Learning remains fun, something that is easy in the early years but may get harder as they mature and especially if they attend public school where learning tends to be forced - not led by their curiosity. So in the early years, take every opportunity to keep educational moments spontaneous, voluntary, and hands on through every day play!

Explore learning toys at Thanks Mama!

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