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Archive for January, 2012

Baby gear

Posted by eemilla on January 15, 2012

I guess I was too busy reading about birth and the first few weeks to bother doing too much research on baby gear.  I read some stuff here and there, but mostly I was on retailer’s websites.  From our experience thus far, here are my thoughts on baby gear we have used.

One of the biggest wastes of money so far has been the crib and changing table combination along with the mattress and sheets (the bumper was handed down).  We waited until about a month before the due date to purchase this as neither of us really wanted to shop for it especially since I was leaning so strongly for having LB sleep in our bed.  While I do like the changing table, LB wiggles and twists so much that I think we’re going to have to start changing on her on the floor.  We did purchase the convertible option so hopefully we’ll get some good use out of it as a bed.

The convertible car seat we purchased failed the hospital’s test as it was too large.  Somehow it was rated for a five pound baby, but LB was about 8.5 lbs and over twenty inches tall when it was deemed too large for her.  Seven months in, we are still using the free baby bucket that a friend generously gave us.  Both car seats are too large to fit in the middle of our car without forcing my tall husband to sit way too close to the wheel, which explains why so many families drive massive vehicles.

We avoided a baby tub, opting for the sink until LB was too big and could push against the side (when she was about two months old).  My cousin allowed us to borrow his bathtub.  We removed the spa piece immediately as we weren’t going to purchase batteries for it, and it has allowed her to use the bathtub longer.  We are now using the tub without the sling/seat as she can sit up without assistance, and it will extend her use of the tub as well as keep our water consumption in check without sacrificing her splashing opportunities.  While the sling/seat helped hold her while we bathed her, it is difficult to keep clean.

Some of the most indispensable baby gear has been our wraps, but this is also something I regret not reading about more thoroughly before purchasing.  I registered and received a Sleepy Wrap, and I purchased a second one in black, which I call my dressy wrap (I wore it to my brother’s wedding).  The great thing about this wrap is that it is soft and comfortable for both adult and baby, plus the give can help reposition the baby if when it is time to nurse if you’ve put baby too high on your body. It does require some knowledge and practice to use; I read and reread the instructions and watched videos on youtube and practiced and practiced at home.  My biggest regret is not knowing that it isn’t safe to wear your baby on your back with a stretchy wrap as it is too easy for your baby to lean out.  By the time LB could support her head and safely be worn on my back, I was ready to move her there since the front carries give one the same body shape as a late pregnancy.

By the time I discovered that my two wraps weren’t going to work for back carries, we weren’t really that willing to spend another $50-$130 on a woven wrap, but babywearing is an invaluable tool for calming a fussy baby while still being able to cook dinner.  I found this tutorial, and I sunk about $20 into some cheap muslin (not organic like my Sleepy Wrap) which is enough fabric for two wide wraps (the tutorial makes three narrower wraps).  Then I watched and re-watched some more videos and practiced and practiced for the back carry, hip sling, and hip carry.  The sling carry is fast and can be tied without the baby which makes it good for runs to the store, but I don’t feel that is very secure for long walks and  lots of moving around; I also like to have a longer tail to wrap around my body to meet the shorter tail under the baby’s bum.  While I feel the back carry is the most secure, I prefer to use the hip carry when we go for a walk as the jacket I wore over my pregnant belly will cover both of us up, and I can make adjustments to her hat if she’s on my hip.

We received a handed down structured carrier that does front and back holds, but the few times that I used it around the house to get used to it I ended up with a sore back as I couldn’t seem to adjust the carrier high enough to hold LB’s weight on my upper and middle back rather than my low back.  My husband is saving it for our first festival as a family in the spring.

Two items that we never would have purchased due to their cost and short life are the vibrating chair and a free standing jumper.  LB has enjoyed the use of both, although once she could sit up the vibrating chair had to be moved into the attic for storage.  The jumper is still in use for those times when wrapping her up isn’t a good option, but again if it hadn’t come to us for free we wouldn’t have it.

We may have used the pack and play that was handed down to us more if it hadn’t been for the bouncy chair and the jumper, but it is both too large and too small.  It is too large to leave set up, and I find it difficult to set up and take down quickly.  On the otherhand, it also seems too small for her to play in for much time to be worth the hassle and floor space.

For clothes, we’ve mostly used onesies and sleep and plays rather than bother with too many dresses and outfits.  While the dresses and pants are super cute, the cost just doesn’t work for us given their lifespan.  Even though LB is in her clothes less than three months, many of the outfits have not worn well between tears and pilling.  We’ve been given and have purchased lots of Carters, Gerber, Just One You, and Babies R Us brand clothing, and none of them have worn well beyond a couple of times.  Aside from the wear issues, the sizing is another problem.  We have had more than a few Carter sleep and plays labeled the same size but with a rather different fit.

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Cloth Diaper costs

Posted by eemilla on January 9, 2012

I couldn’t put off doing the math any longer on how much we have invested in cloth diapering.

Diapers and wipes: $388

Essential oils for wipe solution (I estimated how much we’ll use in 13 months based on current usage):  $111

Increased cost of water and electricity: $455 (about $15 per month in higher water bills and $20 per month in higher electric bills for our electric water heater and dryer)

Total estimated costs of cloth diapering at 13 months: $954

Based on GoodGuide’s rating alone, I did the math on disposables assuming we’d use Huggies Pure and Natural from Target.  I assumed LB would use ten diapers daily for 90 days at size one, 120 days at size two, and 180 days at size three.  For the wipes, I kept it easy by only using one wipe per diaper change.  I didn’t go any further because at 13 months the cloth diapers are the cheaper option by several hundred dollars.

Three months of size one: $238

Four months of size two: $352

Six months of size three: $542

Thirteen months of wipes: $268

Total Estimated Cost of Disposable Diapers for 13 months: $1400

As long as the one size diapers continue to work until she’s potty trained, we should plan a fat vacation.  As a note I did look at using generic wipes and diapers, and our route was more costly for the first 13 months.  By nineteen months, the savings with cloth (again assuming we don’t have to purchase any additional diapers) would be about $500.  I also assumed that neither brand of disposable diapers or wipes would cause diaper rashes.

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cloth diapering thoughts

Posted by eemilla on January 8, 2012

We’re over six months in with the cloth diapering, and we’ve taken two two night plus road trips without using disposables (we’re so proud of ourselves!)  Here are my thoughts about what has worked for us.

I’ll start with the least expensive option, which is also the most familiar to anyone who diapered before disposables were available, the prefold.  The prefold is a large piece of cotton, cotton/hemp blend, or other absorbent fabric that has been pre-folded to create a thicker section in the middle; these must be used with a cover.  I purchased six infant (for 7-20 lbs) prefolds and six newborn (4-9 lbs) prefolds in case we had a tiny one.  LB was a good sized baby so we used the newborn sized prefolds as burp cloths although they probably would have been better to use as doublers.

Below from back left to right are a stack of inserts for pocket diapers, wipes, some Bummis baby sized prefolds with a Kawaii Baby prefold (one size), and Bummis infant prefold.  I purchased the baby sized prefolds in preparation for our first road trip where I knew we wouldn’t have access to a washer or dryer, and they worked fine with the covers moved to a larger setting.

prefolds with inserts and wipes

This is an infant sized Bummis prefold in a one size Kawaii baby cover.  Kawaii Baby seems to have some of the least expensive options, but they so far they have been good quality products.

prefold in a cover

Below is a picture of a Gerber prefold that we purchased to be used as a burp cloth; it has never been used as a diaper which means we have washed it much less frequently than our diapers (if the forecast is for sun to dry them on the line we wash daily, but if there is rain forecast we wash every other day).  However, it has not worn nearly as well as the Bummi prefold that follows.

Gerber prefold

Bummis prefold

I’ve only purchased the Bummis and one Kawaii Baby prefold (ignoring the Gerber diapers that we have always used for burp cloths), but based on that sample of two the Bummis are super thick.  While it hasn’t ever leaked due to being soaked, the Kawaii Baby prefold was much thinner even after the three prewash and dry cycles, which has put me off from trying the generic prefolds.  Even though I’d like to have a deeper stash so we could do less laundry, we’re not sure that we will have anymore bums to cloth diaper, and part of the reason we are cloth diapering is to save money.

Prefolds do require covers; below is our collection of covers.  The Kawaii Baby covers cost about a $1.50 more than the used Flip cover (not pictured) we purchased from a local baby store.  Even when LB was gaining height faster than weight, we didn’t have a problem with blowouts or leaking with the Kawaii baby covers.  The Flip and the two generic gusseted covers all leaked with the Flip being at the scene of at least three blowouts.

Kawaii Baby cover flat

front of Kawaii Baby cover

Kawaii Baby cover with a prefold

generic cover with gussets

gusset close up

I did two diaper trials with Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique (which has super awesome customer service plus free shipping) to help reduce our investment in case certain diapers didn’t work for us.  For the first trial I selected a Bottombumpers All in One, a BumGenius Elemental One  Size, and a Thirsties Duo Snap Wrap with a Thirsties Duo diaper.  We had our first ever leak in the BumGenius, and it took forever to dry as it is literally all in one with no removable pieces.  The Thirsties functioned well, but we didn’t like how the double gussets made it difficult to check the status without opening the diaper, plus this was a pretty pricey product ($18 for the diaper and $13 for the cover).  The Bottombumper functioned well, but it is probably the least user friendly diaper we own.  Even on the lowest rise setting, it was too high and covered LB’s stump; they also function like a prefold with very little wicking away of moisture.  Of our diaper supply, these are the worse to deal with when poop is involved, and for the price, it seems a shame the wicking function isn’t any better.  However, it has always fit, even during her tall and skinny phase, which led me to buy another one.

Bottombumpers rise settings

Bottombumpers 2nd smallest rise setting

Bottombumpers snap in insert

Bottombumpers side view

The easiest and most familiar for disposable diaper users are the pocket diapers.  We use these as our over night and road trip diapers as they do a good job of wicking away moisture and are heavy duty.  On the downside, much like the Bottombumpers, pockets are messier to deal with when there is poop involved as the insert does need to be removed for washing.  Pockets generally run about the same cost wise as all in ones, but with their overnight functionality and user ease, they are good diapers to have.  Please note that not all pockets and inserts are created equally.

During the course of my pregnancy, I couldn’t resist buying some locally produced diapers available at the Coop; these are not one sized diapers (all of our other diapers are one size diapers), and they cost about the same as many of the higher end one sized pocket diapers.  They come in cute color combos, but after LB went through her tall and skinny phase we had to stop using the Roly Polys due to consistent leaking.  Finally as she was just growing out of the small size, in a moment of desperation (all of the covers were dirty), I pulled out the inserts that came with the RolyPoly pocket and used a prefold in its place.  This worked fine several times (I just hated to not use these cute and soft diapers), but now LB is too big for the small size (8-18lbs), and we only have one medium (15-35 lbs) and one large (22-45 lbs).  The inside of the diaper does a great job with the wicking, but even after multiple wash and dry cycles, the inserts just didn’t seem to work even when doubled and changed within an hour (they have now been repurposed as wipes).

Roly Poly interiors

Roly Poly exteriors (medium on the left and small on the right)

During the tall and skinny phase, we did another diaper trial to find a good fit as basically only the Kawaii Baby diapers were fitting (barely).  Based on the recommendations from Sweetbottoms Baby, I opted for a FuzziBunz because of the adjustable elastic around the legs.  While it is pain to change the setting, it is a great feature.  Additionally, this diaper is just so soft from the outside to the inserts.

FuzziBunz outside

FuzziBunz leg elastic

FuzziBunz insert

The most cost effective has been the Kawaii Baby pockets (although at this point I don’t think it is worth paying extra for their overnight as their standard insert doubled seems to work great for us).  They also seem to fly off the shelves as they seem to be constantly out of stock.  We have never had a fit problem with these, and they seem to have worn well even with all the washing and drying (my husband has run them through the dryer on high heat on multiple occasions against their instructions).

KaWaii Baby pocket outside

KaWaii Baby pocket outside

Finally, our wipes are BabyKicks plus a handful of homemade flannel ones that I sloppily stitched together and a few Roly Poly ones from the grocery store.

Roly Poly wipes, homemade flannel wipes, and BabyKicks wipes

 For the wipe solution, we fill my peri bottle with water then add 25 drops of lavender essential oil and 10 drops of tea tree.  Whether this helps with having avoiding diaper rash or not we don’t know, but it smells better than any the wipes we used while in the NICU.

At some point I will get around to doing the math to see how we’ve done financially, but we feel good about keeping all that plastic from the landfill.  Plus cloth diapers are just so cute!

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