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.