I’m not entirely certain where the term “crunchy mama” came from, nor who started it, but it has stuck for those who have chosen to go a more traditional, eco-friendly, organic route to baby-rearing. I am not saying that those who’ve chosen a more convenient route are in any way wrong. I believe that everyone needs to have the freedom to choose how to rear their kids. Judgments on one group or another should be avoided entirely. Everything that I’m discussing here is based upon my personal choices and experience for the way that I’ve chosen to care for my wee Bumpkin. I’m putting it out there with the hopes of enlightening those seeking this information or helping those confounded by the endless resources out there on the web or whose family doctor perhaps doesn’t know and/or care about such topics. Remember, in the end, you are the parent. It’s your call which way to go.
This is a really long post, possibly the longest I’ve ever written for this blog. For that reason, I’m going to put the cloth diaper review last. In fact, I’ll be writing about these topics in reverse. Please feel free to skip about the blog post to whatever topic interests you.
Have you ever considered what goes into those tiny but costly jars of baby food on the store shelves? It might not seem like much at first, paying half a dollar per jar depending on brand and their organic claims. (FYI: just because a label says it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s 100% organic; the only thing the USDA requires for the term to be applied is that some of the products within need to be certified organic–here is their list of qualifications for the various grades of “organic.”)
Beyond the organic debate, how fresh are those jars really? I know jarred foods can last quite a while, but some of that stuff might have been sitting on shelves for months or years before it makes its way into the grocery store light. And even if it does end up going to the store right away, what makes it last so long? A lot of the preservatives out there just aren’t that great and it’s sneaking into our babies’ foods.
Of course there is also the amount of sugar and salt dumped into some baby foods. With the growing concern for the rise in overweight and obese kids, these additions to what ought to be tasty, healthy foods not only run the risk of giving your babies sweet teeth but also pose higher risks for developing diseases like Type II Diabetes, heart disease, and some kinds of cancer. Science Daily reports that Canadian baby food might have more than 20% of the excessive calories consumed by babies and toddlers coming from store-bought food, while the University of Glasgow said that babies who get homemade food need half as much as those who eat prepackaged food.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that wholesome baby foods are simple to prepare and easy to store. If you aren’t certain where to start, check out Amazon for baby cookbooks, like 201 Organic Baby Purees, The Baby & Toddler Cookbook, and Cooking for Baby, amongst others. Not only do they give you tips on how to prepare baby food without having to buy high-priced items like the Baby Bullet, they offer great ways to store the extra food Bumpkin doesn’t eat that meal. My favorite, thus far, is the fun-looking ice cube trays that you spoon one tablespoon of food in per slot, freeze, then pop out and place in a freezer bag; they’ll last up to eight weeks.
Some are going to state that they don’t have time to make homemade baby food. My advice: set aside one day a week to prepare baby foods. A lot of the Stage One foods, like bananas and avocados, are easily mashed up with a fork right there for meal time, but for those that need a little extra preparation, like cereals, cook them once a week and store, even if it means doing so while you’re watching your favorite TV show. Once you get the hang of the basics, the options are limitless!
There is nothing more precious than a healthy, thriving child and one of the simplest, best ways of keeping your baby that way is to feed them whole, homemade foods. Your child is worth every moment you invest into them. Take the time. Cook for baby. You’ll never regret it, and it might become a favorite activity the two of you do together later, increasing the bonding time between mama and kiddo.
I always knew that I wanted to carry my baby on my body before she was born. To me, it just made sense. People have been hauling their kids around on their backs, fronts, and sides for thousands of years. Why would I do anything different?
Yet I really didn’t know much about the benefits of babywearing (BW) until I started researching woven wraps. I’ve been using a Moby since my daughter was born, and it’s done us well, but it’s stretchy and therefore limited to front/side wear only. Additionally, the two soft structure carriers that we ended up receiving from family and friends are
both front-wear only front-wear (Baby Bjorn) and reversible (just discovered this on our Ergo 🙂 though I’m not a huge fan of backpack-style carriers). I really need to move her to a back wrap technique so I can use both hands while doing daily things like shopping and she won’t throw herself out of the wrap, as she’s lately been inclined to do.
What really got me thinking about BW was a two-day online prenatal/postpartum course I took on creativeLIVE with Jill Miller, who was then pregnant herself. One of her guest speakers was Esther Gokhale, who gave a fascinating talk on posture and the benefits babies who are worn on their mothers’ backs receive. (If you can afford to purchase even that talk alone, it’s worth the investment.) As I’d just had my daughter, I was wrapped up in learning the ropes of motherhood and tucked away the information for a later time.
Now’s that time.
I’m currently doing research on BW, and look forward to bringing more information here, but I wanted to pass along a few good places to begin researching for those who are interested in BW. These places give the basics, discuss different styles of carriers, and offer groups–even regional weekly/monthly meetings–for those seeking support and knowledge. Babywearing International is one of the largest organizations, with new regional support groups cropping up regularly. On Facebook, Babywearing 102 (a closed group, so request to join) is a great place to pick people’s brains about anything and to check to see if you’re wrapping right. There’s also the blog, Beginning Babywearing.
For those a little futher along in the BW process and seeking a new wrap or looking for various sizes (yes, BW is a lot like cloth diapering–there are sizes involved), there are Facebook buy/sell/trade groups like Babywearing on a Budget (closed group; request to join). For those seeking new wraps, there are online stores like Woven Wraps, NatiBaby, Didymos, Oscha Slings…the variety is staggering. Once you find what you like, you may have to save up a bit to get the BW gear you particularly want.
Don’t just think this is a mama thing, either. There are plenty of BW daddy pictures circulating the web. All I have to say, I’m still trying to get Hubby to do it, because once he does, I’m certain he’ll enjoy himself.
Furthermore, in my opinion, BW is another cost-saving measure. Babies grow up so quickly, and within a year or so, they’re walking. I ended up picking up a stroller from a thrift store and have barely used it. (I know some women use theirs more than I do.) If buying new, strollers can cost anywhere from $100-$500 or more. Why not spend that money on a wrap or carrier that’ll allow you to carry Bumpkin around when they get tired (after they being walking) for several years? They usually get too heavy before they outgrow the wrap!
A word on woven wraps. They are expensive! However, they keep their resale value for years, and many of them (like Didymos and Oscha) are hard to find. If you really need/want it, save your money and purchase it. When you’re through with it, if it’s been taken care of, you’ll earn most of that money back.
Thoughts to consider…? Any BW advice, please leave it here! I’d love to hear your experiences.
Cloth diapering (CD) has been a phenomenal experience from the get-go. I’ve personally enjoyed every moment of it, even with having to wash diapers every few days (it gets easier as they get older, I promise). There is a learning curve, of course. Everyone makes rookie mistakes. Here were mine:
- I went with pre-folds and covers for a main daytime diaper. I wish I’d purchased more in the newborn size. (I had 12. I recommend doubling that if you don’t want to do laundry every day.)
- I knew I had hard water. I figured that any kind of CD-safe detergent was okay. Nope. First off, I needed a water softener: I got Calgon (good choice). Then I learned that some detergents are weaker than others. So, I’ve had to purchase another more mainstream brand (always look for detergents free of fabric softeners and fragrances–free and gentle/clear are good bets to buy) and must now do a bleach soak in order to get the “barnyard” stink that has begun creeping into my diapers out before it gets horrible. Currently, it’s barely there. I will leave the bleach soak directions at the end of this section that I received from knowledgeable ladies a closed Facebook CD group. (If you’d like more information about them, please message me.)
- With said first detergent, I had to do a pre-soak while prepping my diapers. Instead of ensuring that my natural fiber diapers and manmade ones were separate, I soaked them all together. BIG MISTAKE! Natural fibers like cotton, hemp, and bamboo have oils that will be absorbed by manmade fibers, making those diapers and/or inserts repellant. And it’s a bugger to try and get them to absorb again! Therefore, if your detergent calls for pre-soak while prepping, keep them separate! This has caused me a whole lot of grief.
- Go with your gut on how you want to diaper. Yes, CDing is a whole lot cheaper in the long run, and you can CD on a very limited budget. For me, however, I wish I’d just gone ahead and spent the money from the off buying wool covers rather than trying a variety of brands to go with my pre-folds in addition to those I’ve been gifted. (I’m a newbie and I had no idea what I wanted. There were so many options with great reviews.) Now that I know that I want to use wool as part of my stash, I’m feeling a bit guilty about spending the money on other kinds of diapers. Not that they aren’t useful, mind you. I call them “daddy-friendly” and Hubby is extremely thankful to have them around. Plus some of them make excellent nighttime diaper options.
- Look for good deals when buying used. My first buying-used experience was a bit of a rip off. She sold me half a dozen BumGenius diapers that had been used regularly for several years and that needed new elastic (and I’m no seamstress) for $60. The deal came with six each of newborn and regular inserts. They weren’t bad diapers but I think it was a lot to ask for diapers that were several years old and in good but not very good condition (there is a use grading system among CD moms; you’ll learn it as you go).
- Prep before the baby comes, if possible! This was something I did and I was extremely thankful not to have to try and do this while learning the ropes with a newborn. It took me almost a week to finish prepping.
I’m certain there are more, though these are the ones that really stick out for me. As when beginning anything, always do your research. I researched CD’s for four months and still had a hard time choosing when the time came! (Here‘s a great place to start, if interested in CDing!)
On to reviewing those diapers I have personally tried. Below I’ll list the brand, style, kind of insert, pros and cons, and cost figures. Where necessary, I’ll also note which diapers I picked up off buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook. I highly recommend searching such groups for good deals in addition to getting in touch with friends who CD and family members who’d be happy to help you out, as in my first review!
1. WAHM CD Products: or in my case, WAHG covers! (WAHM = work-at-home mom; the G = grandmother.) My mother-in-law was so tickled that I’d decided to use cloth, as she’d done with Hubby, (in addition to being uber-excited about her first grandchild) that she decided to learn a new sewing trick: diaper covers. Not only has this saved us money, but she picks kid-friendly cute patterns that were gender-neutral (we didn’t know what we were having; now some of them are girly).
- Pros: this option can save you a lot of money. Depending on the vendor, you may also have more options available to you.
- Cons: you might get a substandard product. It may also be cost-prohibitive, especially if items are auctioned. (I’ve seen an auction exceed $1400. Don’t ask me what the diaper was or what it possibly came with. I just saw posts about it.)
- Cost: for me, thus far, nothing (and I’m grateful and use them regularly, with good results). If you choose to go with a WAHM product, however, expect to pay a little more, as these diapers are made in small batches and often come in limited fabrics and with the best kinds of inserts the producer-mom can afford to use.
2. BumGenius: with microfiber (a manmade product) inserts, one-size. I can see why so many people enjoy them. They are easy to use and are great go-to CD’s. One-sized (OS) diapers also grow with your child and can often be used fairly soon after birth. (My child was on the small side, at 6 lbs., but I was able to put her in OS diapers within four weeks.
- Pros: good value for quality of diaper, especially if purchased in packages; come in a variety of colors, closures, and styles (currently Freestyle and Elemental), and BG often has limited edition prints come out too.
- Cons: the elastic can wear out and need replacing (they do sell refresher kits), microfiber can begin smelling if washed improperly, and the hook & loop (their term for velcro closures) wear out more quickly than snaps, though they give a better fit for babies. (FYI: babies learn how to undo velcro quickly; mine figured it out around five months!)
- Cost: excellent cost for quality of diaper, mid-range as far as diapers go; package deals are good.
3. Rumparooz (RAR): I’ve tried four kinds of their diapers–A) Little Joeys, for newborns: these were the first I tried, and I had a hard time for them because I prepped them improperly (see above comments in newbie mistakes), but had I not I would have liked them a lot better; B) RAR pocket diaper, OS: love it, as it’s highly-absorbent and comes in a plethora of amazing colors and patterns, though the microfiber insert and double show hard water and stains quickly; C) RAR diaper covers: love them, as they’ve got great gusseting in the legs; and D) EcoPosh: the most expensive of their diapers I’ve tried, made from natural fibers and recycled plastics, comes with a hemp insert that’s highly absorbent but difficult to stuff into the cover, which isn’t leak-proof (need a diaper cover to go over it) but is a great nighttime option.
- Pros: I really like RAR products as a whole and find that they fit various-sized babies well (mine is long and skinny, so it’s hard to find diapers that fit her legs, but I suspect that mamas with chunkier babies say the same thing).
- Cons: inserts show stains and hard water, and will begin to stink quickly if your washing routine isn’t right for your kind of water. EcoPosh diaper feels a little rough after several uses.
- Cost: varies but are decent for the quality of diaper.
4. Thirsties: I’ve tried three kinds of their diapers–A) sized (Size 1) all-in-one (AIO): did well while my daughter was small but leaked easily when she’d held her bladder or had an explosive poo once she got bigger, yet they absorbed nicely for a newborn; B) sized (Size 1) cover: it does its job as a cover but I didn’t find anything special about them; and C) sized (Size 1) pocket: cute, with a good insert, so long as the interior lining of the pocket cover doesn’t get any repelling diaper cream or natural fiber oil on it.
- Pros: they come in cute patterns and both kinds of closures, and are on the smaller side for smaller/thinner babies.
- Cons: they leaked occasionally and seemed to be a bit short for a tall baby.
- Cost: average, around the same as BG’s. Some people swear by them; my experience is mixed and it’s not my first choice of go-to diaper. However, I found it useful for a newborn.
5. KaWaii Baby: both of the kinds I’ve used with this brand are pockets and are fabulous. A lot of people call them “China cheapies.” They may be made in China but they are ethically produced. All of my KaWaii diapers are OS with snaps. Some came with microfiber inserts, some with bamboo (Green Baby line). I also bought several from a Facebook group, and ended up with minky (soft, fuzzy fabric on the outside of a diaper) with cute patterns. I love both kinds of inserts.
- Pros: highly absorbent and one of my go-to night diaper solutions. Budget-friendly.
- Cons: are made on the larger side for bigger babies; I had to wait to get into these until my daughter was a little older. Bamboo lining on diapers tends to hold stains permanently, though they fade after sunning.
- Cost: a very inexpensive solution for those looking to get pockets without spending a great deal of money.
6. Blueberry: I only have one “deluxe” simplex pocket from Blueberry and I love it! When I received it in the mail, I knew it was a high quality diaper. I could tell just by holding it. One of my go-to nighttime solutions.
- Pros: very absorbent, high quality PUL (waterproof fabric) and inner lining. Though mine came with microterry inserts, you can order inserts of different materials to replace them if necessary.
- Cons: pricy. Cover needs some time in the dryer if it has bamboo lining, as it can feel rough. If line-dried instead, a fleece liner is suggested.
- Cost: on the higher end of the diaper continuum, yet worth the price even if you only use it for a nighttime solution.
7. Pre-folds: I’ve used two different brands, Bummis and Osocozy. Both are unbleached Indian cotton. I love how soft they’ve stayed after daily use and frequent washing. These are my go-to daytime diaper, and I wouldn’t consider switching. I also have a couple Econobum pre-folds which are just starting to cycle into rotation (they were Size 2 and too big for the Wee One at first), so I’ll be interested in seeing how I like them.
- Pros: cost-effective, good quality material that is nice to baby bottoms. So versatile, you can use them in everything, or wrap a more absorbent insert in one and place inside a cover or pocket diaper.
- Cons: while absorbent, must change often (every 1-3 hours) and wash regularly (every 2-3 days) to prevent stench. Will stain, though sunning will reduce and/or get rid of the stains entirely.
- Cost: one of the most inexpensive solutions to CDing!
8. Sustainablebabyish/Sloomb: I’ve lucked out in my purchases for this brand because they are expensive. The diapers themselves usually range in the mid-thirties. I’ve managed to get my hands on some Sbish snapless OS and Overnight Bamboo Fitteds (Size M), both of which are very absorbent and great nighttime solutions. Sloomb wool covers start at around $40. It pays to patiently stalk buy/sell/trade groups for well-kept Sbish/Sloomb products, however,
because they live up to their name. They are incredibly soft, plushy and easy to use. You can tell they’ll be nice to a baby’s bottom. I’ve just purchased my first wool covers (yay!), so I’ll let you know how that experience is going once I’ve received them in the mail. I also have some Sbish inserts, which I’ve used in other diapers, also liking them.
- Pros: exquisite diapering keeping sensitive baby skin in mind. Wool covers need only to be washed about once a month–just let dry and reuse. There’s no stink!
- Cons: need sunning when stained. They also need to have fabric softener soaks in fabric softener that is made from natural plant sources. (Ecover was recommended to me.) Very pricy.
- Cost: as I’ve previously said, these are on the high end of the diaper continuum, but even if you were able to get a couple for overnight solutions, they’re well worth the investment. Just beware that the sized diapers will require you to purchase more in the future as baby grows older. However, if you join their mailing list, they generally notify buyers of when they have sales (often around holidays), particularly on wool. (NOTE: wool has excellent resale value, and a lot of moms purchase their sized products only to turn around and sell them again when they need money for the next size up. There are ways to be economical about wool!)
9. SoftBums: I like the quality of this pocket diaper really well, and like that the fact that the inserts snap onto the shell. Though they say to make certain you remove them from the shell before washing, mine have always agitated out on their own. The inserts themselves are good quality but soon after I began using them regularly, I found that they didn’t absorb as much as I’d like. (That could be because my daughter is a heavy wetter.) I keep the use of it to daytime.
- Pros: nice quality fabrics on both shells and inserts. SB also comes out with a calender diaper each month, limited edition, for those who are into such things.
- Cons: not absorbent enough for me, or else you have to really stuff it full of inserts. (You can always mix and match inserts, by the way. No reason to stick with the brand’s if you find a solution that works for you, whatever diaper shell you use.)
- Cost: mid-range, slowly climbing up toward a higher end diaper once you buy inserts (they come separately, at least that’s how I purchased mine). With hard water, they take several washes to become absorbent.
10. Lotus Bumz: one of the “China cheapies” brands I tried when I saw them on Zulily, the only brand I purchased from a non-CD site. Honestly, they weren’t bad but they didn’t leave an impression either, so I sold them so I could have funds for better diapers (needed nighttime solutions about that time).
- Pros: decently absorbent with plenty of room to add more inserts in the shell, which are often cute and colorful. Never saw a stain on them.
- Cons: they felt cheap, only came with one microfiber insert.
- Cost: another inexpensive solution for those looking to CD on a budget and desiring CD’s that are easier to use than pre-folds/covers.
11. Kissaluvs: I purchased two newborn AIO’s from this company, and loved how absorbent they were when my daughter was a wee thing. I’ve not tried any of their other diapers, most of which come in sizes, many of which need covers. (Not shown in photos.)
- Pros: absorbent and nice fit for newborn babies.
- Cons: inside fabric can begin feeling rough after several uses and washes. Would not use them as a nighttime solution.
- Cost: I thought they were a great deal when I purchased them. Would do so again in the future.
12. BabyKicks: I actually received the one BK diaper I have as a freebie with an order. It does a great job, though it’s a bugger to stuff. It’s a very tailored CD and to my mind fits thinner children better, but the legs are large so they might fit chunkier babies too (I’ve no experience here). They only weird thing I have to say about them is that they snap opposite every other “easy” diaper I’ve ever come across, and I’m not sure why. I have also purchased some of their hemp inserts, which do a fabulous job.
- Pros: absorbent, decently priced CD’s, excellent inserts. Easy to prep diaper cover.
- Cons: odd snap placement, come in minimal colors (for those who care about that sort of thing), and have a very narrow middle which makes it difficult to stuff and/or use additional inserts. Takes multiple washes for inserts as they are made with natural fibers (mine took at least five prep washes).
- Cost: mid-range. It is worth picking up the inserts separately, if you want to mix and match or use with pre-folds, as they’re good quality and do a great job.
13. GroVia: I only have one cover with this brand and use it with inserts. I have friends who swear by this company, using it almost exclusively. It is also fabulous because it is a part of a hybrid system, where you can either snap in reusable inserts or disposables. I’ve only used those inserts I’ve purchased; I have none from GroVia.
- Pros: versatile for those looking to have the best of both worlds (CDing and ‘sposies). Good quality cover (from what I can tell) made on the larger side, and will grow with child.
- Cons: inserts can add up, and the system is fairly particular to itself (unless you just lay your own on the inside of a shell, as I’ve done).
- Cost: decently priced. Packages may be more cost effective than buying individual diapers.
14. Planetwise: I purchased one sized (Size 1) cover from this company. I like the quality of it, how durable it feels. I also got my wet bags from this company, save one (a WAHM product and baby shower gift), and absolutely love how well they’ve stood up to multiple washes (the pail liners) and how nicely to travel (smaller wet bags).
- Pros: good quality materials used. Cover comes in an average size that will grow (to 15 pounds) with your child.
- Cons: can be hard to get in the right size/pattern you like. Also, if you want to keep the same pattern for the cover, you’ll have to purchase the next size up.
- Costs: mid-range but good for quality of fabrics/materials used.
One word on “China cheapies”: there are a whole slew of diapers out there you can purchase at bargain basement prices, many of which are manufactured in China. There can be many issues with them, including (but not limited to) delamination of the waterproof material, snaps breaking, stitching unraveling, inserts not absorbing much, chemical sensitivities with babies, and so forth. But the biggest issue with these diapers is that they flood the CD market with very inexpensive options, undermining the (often) small manufacturers who are producing ethically-produced, eco- and baby-friendly options. While it isn’t horrible to purchase these (this is not to make anyone whose purchased these for their stashes feel bad in the least, only as a learning opportunity–you must do what you feel is best), it always behooves us to do our research for each and every company we choose to purchase from. If you don’t have the time to do that, then I highly recommend buying through a legitimate CD retailer to limit having potential bad experiences while helping maintain the CD community’s reputation for good quality products strong.
It seems like a lot, but I promise there are dozens more brands that I’ve not even covered. Please feel free to read my other posts on CDing. There are a couple other, more extensive CD reviews in the links. I’ll finish off by leaving you with the bleach soak ratio that I was given for when diapers gain a “barnyard” or ammonia smell:
Use clean diapers only, soaking them in cold water with given amount of bleach (with at least 5.25% sodium hypochlorite) for 30 minutes (some do it up to two hours). Rinse in hot water, and then wash normally. Amounts given below are for HE top-loader; double bleach amounts for a regular top-loader. Tub soak and small vessel soak also given.
- Small load: 1/4 c. per load
- Medium load: 1/3 c. per load
- Large load: 1/2 c. per load
- Small: 1/4 c. for 1/4 full tub
- Medium: 1/2 c. for 1/2 full tub
- Large: 3/4 c. for 3/4 full tub
- 1 Tbs per gallon
If done with the correct dilution, none of your diapers (even minky) will fade, and the stink will go away. If a bleach smell remains, consider washing them once more or leaving them out in the sun to finish drying and/or air out. It’s amazing what the sun will destroy.
If you’re hesitant about bleach, don’t worry. There are other ammonia/stink killers out there, including Rockin’ Green’s Ammonia Buster and RLR. However, some people say that these don’t keep the stink away. Still, everyone’s CD experience is uniquely theirs. Don’t knock it before you try it, I say. (One last word of caution when it comes to cleaning diapers: Cascade soaks destroy the waterproofing on diapers. Please avoid it.)
Author’s note: all CD and BW photos are taken from my own stashes. Also, I’m not an affiliate for Amazon. I simply suggest that place because it’s easy to locate the things I mention there. Shop around for the best price!