Monday, August 19, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review : CJ's BUTTer

A few weeks ago, the folks at CJ's BUTTer sent me a message to see if I'd be interested in reviewing some of their products. I don't do a lot of reviews and turn quite a few requests down, but for CJ's I made an exception, because it was already a product I use daily and I knew I could give them a wholehearted recommendation.

We got the package and they were so generous with their samples - and then made even more fun when I got to play "Match the Scents to the Name" when my 2-year-old decided to "help" and opened all of the containers.  Let's note here that I'm not the only fan of CJ's - her first exclamation upon opening one of them and smelling it was "YUM!"  I've also come into her room before to find her absolutely covered head-to-toe in CJ's, so I highly recommend putting it where your kid can't reach it (or remembering to put it away if you normally keep it high up...or finding a new place if you discover your child can scale the dresser and climb on top of it to reach all the fun things up there...ahem).

Since she was born I've regularly used three of the products: the classic CJ's BUTTer, both in stick and tub form, and the CJ's PLUS formula (liquid spritz version) for any rare yeast outbreaks.*  With the samples that they sent, I was able to also try out their lotion, lip balm, vegan formula, and cream version of the PLUS well as a couple new-to-me scents!

*Note - I've heard anecdotal stories that some kids are sensitive to the oils found in the PLUS formula, so you may want to test it before using it, and use it only in times of yeast rash and not daily. We never had any issues with it.

We use the original BUTTer in both stick and tub/tube form almost every diaper change, and especially if she seems to be getting a little red, which is rare. The BUTTer creates a barrier that keeps in the natural moisture of the skin and keeps out the irritating urine and poop, which helps keep the skin soft and clear.  We really slather it on at nighttime, when she's most prone to waking up red. I can definitely see a difference if I go a few days without using it. It's also great for chapped cheeks and chin - whether from cold wind or from a drooly, teething baby (she lived with a shiny face for a while when I was slathering it all over the bottom half of her mouth).  I've used it on dry patches of my own skin as well. Neither Carys nor I have eczema, but I know a couple people who have used it on outbreaks with good success.  As far as stick versus tube versus tub, it's just personal preference. I like the stick for the diaper bag and the tub or tub at the changing table.  Obviously, the stick is a solid version and the tub and tube are both creamier versions. Because of that, I like using the BUTTer from the tub/tube at nighttime since I can really slather it on.  Verdict: LOVE. Use daily.

Slightly different consistency/color than the original cream formula, but otherwise no difference that I could see! Worked great.


She didn't have a yeast outbreak while we were trying out the samples, so I didn't get a chance to use the solid form of the PLUS formula in time for this review, but I've used the PLUS Spritz before. I try to always have a bottle on hand to start using at the first sign of yeast, and 90% of the time that's as far as I need to go and it will clear up before it really turns into an outbreak or rash (after a couple outbreaks I learned to identify the telltale dots early!). The smell is....well, not pleasant, but not awful. It smells kind of medicinal - it's the neem and sesame oils. As I said earlier, I do know a couple people who have babies who have shown a sensitivity to it, so you may want to test it first, but limiting use of it to times of need (i.e. when there is an actual yeast rash) rather than using it daily helps with that if you do find a sensitivity.  Verdict: Use when/if needed; works well to clear up early yeast rashes. More severe outbreaks may need prescription medicine.

So I'm pregnant and I've been using the lotion on my stomach and I haven't gotten any stretch marks. MIRACLE WORKER! No, just kidding - I know they're genetic and I didn't get any (much) the first time around either. But the lotion is heavenly for the itchy pregnancy belly. I love it - it's soft and not greasy and the scents aren't too overpowering.  It's more light/fluffy than dense, if that makes sense. Verdict: New fan! Love it!

The lip balm was great. It's slightly greasier than commercial lip balms, but that's the nature of homemade products that aren't mass-produced and full of preservatives and artificial ingredients. Because it is homemade, it can melt at high temps (as can any of the CJ's products), but if that happens, their customer service is happy to help you re-solidify it. There was no taste and a nice light scent. Verdict: I like it! It's not my favorite lip balm ever but I definitely use it and like it.

Whenever CJ's comes up in conversation or on a forum, people always ask what scents they should get. The answer? ALL OF THE SCENTS.  Honestly, I haven't tried them all, but there hasn't been one yet that I didn't enjoy. And they're not overpowering, sickly sweet scents. They're strong enough to smell, but they don't linger in an obnoxious way.

That said, I've now tried:

Essential Oils/EO Blends
- Mango, Sugar, and Mint (light and refreshing)
- Lemon Grove (pretty strong - reminds me of floor cleaner, but nice)
- Sweet Orange (sweet and refreshing)
(I really want to try Narwhals and Unicorns, because NAME!)

- Blueberry Crumble (strong blueberry/cake smell, makes me want a muffin!)
- Love Spell (very light and sweet)
- Lullaby (very light and sweet)
- Monkey Farts (strong banana smell!)
- My Pixie Pie (light and sweet, a fave of mine)
- Oatmeal, Milk, Honey (very subtle scent, a fave of mine)
- Pink Sugar (light and sweet, a fave of mine)
- Warm Vanilla Cake (FAVE!)
- Unscented (duh)

Descriptions of each of the scents can be found on their site here (scroll down a bit). There isn't one I wouldn't recommend and there are quite a few I want to try. (Hint: Can't decide? Do a sample pack! That's how I got to sample so many scents way back when Carys was a baby [on my own dime!]).

Check back next week (planning on Monday but don't hold me to that!) for a CJ's giveaway - a tube of their CJ's BUTTer in one of their most popular scents!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Quick and Dirty* BumGenius Elemental Comparison

*Like, literally dirty. There's a pic of a dirty diaper in this post. FAIR WARNING. Also, I apologize in advance for the picture quality; these are just cell phone pics.

So in news that has the cloth diaper world abuzz, BumGenius redesigned the BumGenius Elemental (aka BGE), their natural-fiber all-in-one diaper. As an avowed fan of the old-style BGE - it's over half my stash - I was both incredibly excited and totally apprehensive about this new development. I love these diapers. Would I have to fiendishly horde my existing diapers, or would I desperately want to replace them all with the new BGEs?  And of course, testing new diapers is a total rush, right? RIGHT? Please tell me I'm not the only one to get excited about a new diaper.

So I bought one pretty much immediately.

If you want to skip to the summary, here it is: I'm not a fan. I hate to say it, CottonBabies, because I love everything you do for the most part, but I dislike the redesign. If you ever see this, my recommendation would be offering the redesigned version as a cheaper version of the BGE and keeping the original BGE as the Elite version. Or something. These kind of suck. :(   <-- Look, you've made me go and use an emoticon in a non-text-message setting. Now that's saying something!

Ok, so let's look at the differences.

The Differences

1. Width
The new cut is much wider than the old.  I never felt like the old version was particularly narrow; in fact, it was one of my wider diapers.  I feel like the new version bunches up between her legs much more and is baggy-er (baggier?) (WHY DON'T EITHER OF THOSE LOOK RIGHT?). At 18 months, she was just shy of 34 inches and was 25 pounds, and she's still on the middle rise and has plenty of room to grow (I like them with a low rise, as you'll see in later pictures).  I'm not sure how being wider is supposed to make the diapers fit a wider range of babies - when I do hear complaints, it's about the rise, not the width.

Old BumGenius Elemental (in Bubble) on top, new BumGenius Elemental (in Mirror) on bottom.

2. Inner
Previously, the BGEs had a cotton lining under under the inserts. They've removed the cotton liner so it's just  PUL underneath. Again, this is not a change I like. I know PUL isn't a delicate flower - I have some covers that are the same and they've done fine - but it FEELS like it's delicate, and I don't like have it exposed!

Also, it looks/feels cheap.

New BGE on the left, old BGE on the right.

Also also, the inserts bunch up while being worn. See pic below (WARNING: ACTUAL BABY PEE PICTURED) (HOWEVER I ASSUME YOU PROBABLY  HAVE OR ARE ABOUT TO HAVE AN ACTUAL BABY WHO WILL ACTUALLY PEE SO IT'S OK) to see what I mean. Now, this was taken mid-pee, as I was just trying to quickly change her diaper to get comparison pics, so it's not a full, um, void. But you can see what happened - as she was wearing it, the insert bunched up in the middle.  Again, this was a small, er, drain, but you can see it already reached the sides of the insert. With a big could easily hit the exposed PUL.  Sure enough, the next use had a regular size, uh, output, and it happened. Pee directly on the PUL. Leak. If you've ever had a pocket diaper with a too-small insert that didn't reach the sides and leaks because of it, it's the same situation.

It also means that the laminated side of the PUL is touching her, which doesn't seem like it would be as comfortable, but since I don't wear the diapers, I can't say whether that's the case or not.

Obviously, the lining was also absorbent, so removing that has removed a bit of absorbency. I'm not sure if they added extra layers to the insert to make up for it, but the inserts looked similar from what I could tell.

Finally, the new insert seems to be longer, and it was much harder to get it to lay flat. I had to tuck one end under (as you can see in the pee picture above), and that created a thick ridge in the diaper.

3. Leg casings
In the pic above, you can see that the leg casings of the new BGEs are encased in the PUL. The older ones had a rolled leg elastic, which you can see below.  Supposedly, this is designed to help prevent leaks and wicking, as the cotton isn't sewn to the outer/non-waterproof side of the PUL. Also, BGEs are known for their wear holes in the cotton, which tend to manifest along the legs since there is a lot of wear in that area. This is not something that I've personally had issues with in the 1.5 years of use, however, I do know people whose diapers have developed these holes. They don't affect the function of the diaper, and you can mend them or put FrayCheck on them if you want. The new design will eliminate those holes.  HOWEVER, the encased (new) elastic casing is not nearly as gentle on the legs as the rolled (old) casing. The new diaper, on the same snaps, left red marks on her legs, which the old diapers have never done. The new design does, however, avoid the "tucking" of the fabric that the old diapers required most of the time. Again, this was not something that ever bothered me, but I do know people who were irritated by it.

Old BumGenius Elemental on the left; new BumGenius Elemental on the right.

4. Miscellaneous
While I haven't tried it yet, the new BGE should make it easier to fit extra inserts into the diaper. I've never needed to do so with the old style, but I know people who do it in order to use their BGEs overnight. The new BGEs are supposed to dry faster, and while I found that to be true, it wasn't a significant enough time difference to make a big difference.

On the Bottom

With actual use, the new version looked bulkier and droopier and baggier.

Front is not incredibly different, but you can see there's more extra fabric between the legs with the new one (on the right) than with the old one (on the left). 

Old (left) versus new (right) - Not much difference from the back. 

 Here's where the difference really manifests. Both are trim, but the new (right) has 
much more extra fabric hanging loose than the old (left). 

All in all, I much prefer the old version. It looks and feels nicer, seems to be more absorbent, and fits my kid better. Your experience may vary, so I encourage you to give it a try and see what you think, but we won't be purchasing any more. 

Non-Scientific Theory Time
I have absolutely NO basis for this theory, but my totally non-scientific guess is that the redesign is actually a cost-saving measure, rather than a functional redesign, and that they are just packaging it as a functional redesign. Cotton is expensive, and the original design uses a lot of it. The original design is also much more complicated and therefore more labor-intensive. My guess would be that the new ones are overall cheaper to manufacturer and that the profit margin is greater on them. HOWEVER, that's just a guess. It could be totally wrong.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Top 5 NEW Reasons to Cloth Diaper

Everyone know the typical reasons people cloth diaper. The environment. Saving money. Better for baby. Blah blah blah. (Just kidding, those are all important!)

Butt (ha! that typo was unintentional but it's funny so I'm leaving it in) there are some unexpected benefits to cloth diapering that you may not realize.

1. The Cute Factor
Fluffy butts are damn adorable. Diaper fabrics can be adorable. If you're using disposables, there's one option: white. Sometimes with cartoon characters. Oh, and there's the weird jeans diaper, and at Christmas you can get the Santa diaper (does anyone else think that those look weird printed on what is essentially paper??). So three options. With cloth? COUNTLESS. Each diaper change is like getting to change their outfit. It's fun collecting colors and prints that coordinate with outfits, and fun to get to pick out your favorites.

2. The Community Factor
No, not the show. Although that too. But the cloth diaper community is a strong, vibrant one and just the mention of cloth diapering can be an instant friendship-maker. Prepare to be completely drawn into the world of hippies...fair warning!

3. The No-Blow-Out Factor
Yeah, blow-outs are virtually unheard of with cloth. It's pretty amazing. Giant poops that go RIGHT UP TO THE EDGE of the elastic, but rarely come out. It's wonderful. In two years of CDing, I think we've had ONE blow-out, and that was user error.

4. The Earlier PLing Factor
Potty-learning is the PC way of saying potty training, because babies aren't dogs, yo. (Although...are we sure about that?). But studies have shown that cloth diapers lead to earlier potty training, for a multitude of reasons. That's always good, right?

5. The "Told You So" Factor
SO SATISFYING. You'll have naysayers left and right who say things like, "Sure....we'll see how that goes. You'll be in disposable diapers in a month!" Changing a cloth diaper in front of them a year later is extremely satisfying.

6. The "The Sun is Amazing" Factor
Watching the sun get stains out is like magic. It's kind of addicting. You'll see. I promise.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Microfiber vs. Natural Fibers

You hear all the time that you should layer microfiber over hemp or bamboo in order to accommodate a super soaker - that the microfiber absorbs faster than the natural fibers and will soak it up right away, and then the natural fibers will slowly absorb what the microfiber can't hold.

Guess what?

That's wrong! Check out this video from the Eco Friendly Family!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Washing Your Diapers (AKA: OMG! It pooped!)

You've bought your diapers.

You've prepped your diapers.

You even put a diaper on the baby.

But then...IT happens. Your baby USES the diaper. And not as a hat. But for its intended purpose!


Actually, no. No horror! We promise. It is very easy to clean a cloth diaper, and the visions of a poop-filled washing machine you have in your head? Not gonna happen!


To wash your diapers, you will need a washing machine (or your hands and a bathtub if you are going to hand wash them!) and a cloth-diaper safe detergent.

Most wash routines consist of three parts: a pre-wash or rinse, a wash, and an extra rinse.  The specifics of each part can vary from person to person and machine to machine. Some people start with just a rinse, while some do a full wash. Some people use a small amount of detergent in the pre-wash, while some do not.  Much like the diapers themselves and the detergent, there is no one set solution that will work for everyone.

We recommend starting with some variation on the following:

1. Cold rinse (or quick wash) with no detergent
2. Hot wash with detergent
3. Extra rinse

That very basic wash routine is generally successful for a large number of people. The first rinse or wash on cold gets most of the poop off without staining. The hot wash (the hottest wash short of sanitary, which is too hot for the PUL in your diapers!) cleans the diapers. The extra rinse ensures that every bit of detergent is gone and helps prevent build up.

There is a wide range of what works within that basic set up. Some people do two full washes with an extra rinse. Some people skip the pre-rinse. Some do all cold washes; some do all hot washes. Some people use detergent in the quick wash and the hot wash. Some do two rinses at the end.  If you're having issues, you can usually tweak routine to fix them. For example, if you're having issues with buildup, you might want to try another extra rinse.

Some people find that their high-efficiency washers don't seem to work as well as regular top-loaders, because they use so little water to wash. There are a number of ways you can add extra water to your HE machine to ensure that the diapers are washed and rinsed thoroughly: you can usually add water to the cycle through the detergent drawer, you could stop the first rinse/wash cycle before it spins out so that the diapers are still soaking wet when you begin the hot wash (this tricks the machine into thinking there is more laundry in the drum, so it sends more water to wash them), or you could add a wet towel to the hot wash cycle (again, this tricks the machine into sending more water).

There is a huge variety of cloth-diaper safe detergents out there, and they work completely differently from person to person. The hardness of your water, the exact chemistry of your child's urine (seriously!), the type of washer and dryer you have, the type of diaper you use...all of these factors come into play when determining how well different detergents work. Some people swear by Rockin Green; some find that it doesn't get their diapers clean at all.

You can find a list of cloth-diaper safe detergents here:

Regular washers

HE washers

Many people choose based on what is easily accessible and what is affordable for them. If you have friends that live nearby and have a similar washing machine setup, you may want to ask them for their recommendations. You can also check this table of different wash routines to see if there is a setup similar to what you have, and try the detergent listed there.

Unfortunately, because there are a number of factors that come into play when choosing your detergent, we can't make a blanket recommendation. Try one, and if after a period of time you notice your diapers don't seem to be getting clean or don't smell fresh, try another one. Many people don't have issues, though, and the first detergent they try will work just fine for them.

How much detergent? That's tricky. You want to use the least amount of detergent possible to get the diapers clean.  Most cloth-diaper safe detergents have good guidelines on the package (for example, Rockin Green recommends 1 tablespoon for HE machines and 2 tablespoons for regular machines, and that's a good place to start for most powdered detergents).  Watch the last rinse cycle - if there are still bubbles or suds at the end of it, you might be using too much detergent (or you might just need to add another rinse cycle). If you're using too much detergent, you may get ammonia build up. If you're using too little detergent, you may get a barnyard or dirty smell (smelling the wet diapers as they come out of the washer is a good indicator - they should smell fresh!).

Most people just use detergent in the main wash cycle, but some will throw in a bit during the first wash as well. Whenever you're using more detergent, be sure that there are no residual suds at the end of the extra rinse cycle!

If you talk to ten different people, you might hear ten different things that they add to their wash cycle. Vinegar. Bleach. Tea tree oil. RLR. Blue Dawn. Grapefruit Seed extract. Funk Rock. ecover.  They all have different purposes - softening, freshening, stripping, disinfecting, etc. Because there are so many, I'm not going to discuss them in detail here, and I generally recommend keeping your wash routine as simple and purse as possible. But you can Google any of the above with "cloth diapers" and find information.


Pee diapers are a cinch. Throw them in the wetbag. Wash them. That's it! Some people do choose to rinse pee diapers out, as they feel that it lessens the buildup of ammonia (a natural byproduct of urine), but others see no difference.


There are two stages of cloth-diaper washing: pre-solids (breastfeeding or formula fed) and post-solids.

If you are nursing or formula feeding your child, just throw the soiled diaper in the wetbag. Then when you have a load's worth of dirty diapers, wash them. No, really, that's it.  No separating pee diapers from poop diapers. No rinsing or scraping. Breastmilk poo is totally water soluable and will simply dissolve away in the washer. Formula poop should be as well, but I can't personally vouch for that as I haven't dealt with formula poop.

You CAN rinse or use a liner, but there is absolutely no need to do so and you're just creating an extra step for yourself. Of course, some people are uber-paranoid about the thought of poop spinning around in their washing machine, and if that's you, then by all means do what you have to do in order to ease your mind! But you don't have to do anything other than wash the diaper.

Breastmilk poop (and I assume formula poop) may stain your diapers a bright orange. That's okay. Sun that stain away!

(Note about meconium - it will come off, though you may want to swish/spray/scrape the diaper [see below], and any stains will sun out!)

Depending on how you introduce solid foods into your child's diet, you may immediately see a change in their, um, output, or you may continue to see the breastmilk- or formula-type poop for several weeks or even months. We started solids using the baby-led weaning techniques, and it took two months for her poop to change from the seedy, sweet-smelling (seriously!) breastmilk poop to the "real" poop of people who eat real food. Some people, though, see the change almost overnight.

Once your child's poop has changed - and it will be obvious, trust me - you will need to start dealing with the poop. This is the point a lot of people bail. However, I promise - I've yet to get poop all over the place or even touch poop. I promise you if you were using disposables, you would have had to deal with a poop blowout at least once, if not regularly! Also, if you were using disposables correctly, you would be dealing with the poop anyway - you aren't supposed to put human waste in the trash, and are supposed to remove solids from the disposable diaper prior to throwing it away!

Eventually, your child's poop may become "ploppable," meaning you can just turn the diaper over the toilet and the solids will drop right off into the toilet.

In the meantime, your kid's poop may range from peanut-butter stickiness (um, you may not want to eat during this post) to hummus textured to mashed potato-like.  Those poops, you can't just drop into the toilet. They stick. They cling. They don't want to leave the diaper.

You have several options on how to deal with those types of poops.

1. Swish
You can hold the diaper in the toilet (by one corner, usually) and swish it around in the toilet water, eventually flushing the toilet while holding the diaper tightly so that the rushing water cleans off the diaper. Be sure to have a wetbag nearby, because you'll have a dripping wet diaper to dispose of! This is minimally messy, but it can be difficult to fully clean the diaper.  Plus? It's free and needs no additional equipment!

2. Spray
You can install a diaper sprayer on your toilet (or some enterprising cheapskates use their removable showerhead - brilliant!). You then use this sprayer to spray the poop off the diaper while holding the diaper over the toilet bowl. The key here? Don't use the full force of the spray, and spray DOWNWARD, not into, the diaper. If you spray into the diaper at full force, you will end up with a bathroom full of poop. There's a bit of a learning curve to spraying diapers, but they get diapers quite clean. You do have to purchase a diaper sprayer or make one yourself, however, and again, be sure to have a wetbag immediately available because the diaper will be dripping wet.

3. Scrape
Using a (I hope) dedicated spatula, you hold the diaper with one hand and use the other hand and spatula to scrape the poop off into the toilet, sometimes finishing up with a swish. This is a cheap and generally fairly un-messy option, though some blow-out type poops that get in the elastic areas may be difficult to get off this way. If you don't swish afterward, the diaper remains relatively dry.

No choice has a huge advantage over any of the other choices, and they can each work equally well at cleaning the solids off of the diaper. Once the solids have been removed from the diaper, you can put it in the wetbag and wash it as usual.

Solid food poop also stains, and also suns out beautifully.


If you can, line dry the diapers in the sun. It helps the PUL and elastic last longer, and the sun acts as a natural sanitizer.  Your natural-fiber diapers and inserts might get "crunchy" (stiff and rough) when line dried. To combat this, you can toss them in the dryer for five or ten minutes on low to fluff them back up.

If you use the dryer, dry on low or extra low, and don't stretch the elastic until they've cooled down.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Welcome Back Giveaway : Heavy Doody Wetbag

As the cloth diaper turns....or something like that. Pretty much all of May was taken up with preparation for my sister's wedding and my sister's wedding (yes, my daughter wore a cloth diaper that matched her beautiful Zara dress!), and now June is running away with me in preparation for my daughter's first birthday! Lots of posts in the works - just need to find time to actually FINISH them!

In the meantime, who is up for a GIVEAWAY?   Today I'm very pleased to offer a Heavy Doody medium wetbag in this fantastic bird print! (For you cloth diaper beginners, a wetbag is one way to store dirty diapers until it's time to wash them.)

How gorgeous is that? And such a great, cheery print that would work for almost any decor!

Mary R. is the mama behind Heavy Doody, and she started Heavy Doody a short time ago after struggling to find an affordable wetbag that she really liked.

I have a Heavy Doody wetbag that I use in the kitchen for dirty towels and bibs (because I sadly learned about Heavy Doody after I already had purchased my beloved Rumparooz wetbags and my not-so-beloved PlanetWise wetbags).   Mary's quality is second to none, and she uses a nice, thick, heavy duty PUL as a liner.  I haven't thrown any sopping wet diapers in mine since I use it mostly in the kitchen, but I've stuffed it full of wet kitchen rags and had no leaks!  Besides dirty rags and dirty diapers, you could also use it for wet swim suits, at the beach to keep things dry, for dirty clothes while camping, or a hundred other things!

Wetbags are really useful and really versatile, and while you can certainly cloth diaper without one, you wouldn't want to after you've used one for a little bit!


This picture shows the HUGE amount of stuff that you can fit into one of these medium wetbags:

That's four diapers, eight inserts, three bibs, four wipes, two burp cloths, a shirt, a onesie, and pants.

 Be sure to visit Mary's shop, Heavy Doody, over on Etsy!  I am absolutely head over heels in love with the "Tree Rings" print and am trying to convince myself that I don't need it.

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! Note: if it asks for additional information, like the URL of a Tweet, I will discard your entry if that additional information is not provided.

a Rafflecopter giveaway