Category Archives: Product Reviews

Cloth diapers: the winner is…

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Well… if you take the money factor out of it, there’s a tie: GroVia Hybrids and TotsBots All-in-Ones!

Gro-via.com

Gro-via.com

However, since one of the major attractions of cloth diapering is to save money, GroVia is my hands-down choice for cloth diapers. In fact, since I last blogged about it, I went ahead and purchased enough to last us 2.5 days – Earth Day was last week and the sales helped me with my purchases. And with the exception of one child, one night* – we’ve been fully cloth diapering since Sunday morning. As a testament to how awesome these diapers are, we’ve had zero leaks, even at night (I was worried, but my worries have so far been unfounded).

Later I’ll briefly describe why I didn’t go with the others that I ordered, but for now I’ll give you a run-down on GroVia.

So, what did I buy? Here’s the list:

GroVia Part Time package – 6 shells and 12 organic cotton soakers
4 Kiwi Pie fitted diapers
– 2 additional stay-dry soaker sets (4 soakers total)
– 2 stay dry booster sets (4 total)
– one pack of 12 terry cloth wipes
– 2 packs of size 3 prefolds (6 total)
California Baby diaper area wash

In addition to the above, I already had one shell and two stay-dry soakers. I posted about my “stash” on BabyCenter’s Cloth Diaper forum and quickly discovered they didn’t think I had enough, so I panicked and bought 7 more stay-dry soakers, 3 organic cotton soakers, and 4 more shells off Craigslist. The stay-dry soakers were in great shape, but the shells and organic cotton soakers were not what the seller described, but we’ll still make use of them.

Anyway, what that gives me is a total of  11 shells,  28 soakers, 6 prefolds and 4 fitted diapers. I haven’t needed the prefolds (thought I’d need them for overnights), so essentially 32 diaper changes gets us through 2.5 days with the three kids (oldest only uses 2 changes, nap and nighttime). I end up using one shell/day for my oldest, 2-3 for my middle child, and 1-2 for our youngest – 6 has been our max for a day.

Wow, there are a lot of numbers above! And lots of different cloth diaper terms! I’m hoping to post later with descriptions of some of these terms, but as this blog wasn’t supposed to be a solely cloth diaper blog, I don’t want to bombard everyone with the info all at once.

* My husband was in a hurry to get the kiddos ready for bed, and when one of them had a number 2 in her freshly changed diaper, he said “forget it!” and put a disposable on her. So it had nothing to do with the cloth diapers!

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The Wonder Weeks

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Have you ever come across a book or web site that sheds light on some aspect of your life? I found that in The Wonder Weeks. In my case, it turned out to be an iPhone (iPod) app, but there’s also a web site and a book you can get if those are your preferred methods of getting information.

The Wonder Weeks

The Wonder Weeks

What is The Wonder Weeks? Well, it’s a great source of information about what your baby goes through developmentally in the first year of life, and can explain why somethings things seem to be going so smoothly and then all the sudden your baby is super fussy, clingy, and won’t sleep well for a few days. Not all growth spurts are physical – this app details the mental growth spurts, or leaps, that happen in the first year.

As an example, my son is currently 13.5 weeks old. This app bases the leaps off of the age your baby would be if they were born on their due date, so that would put my son at 10.5 weeks. As I’ve been following the app, I’ve noticed instead of being 3 weeks behind, he’s hitting these leaps about 2 weeks behind – so I’m going to go with 11.5 weeks – we’ll see if he continues to follow that pattern.

So what does that mean for him right now? That means he’s coming up on the leap called “Smooth Transitions“- and the best description of this comes from the Wonder Weeks web site: “Your baby’s world is becoming a more organized place as he discovers the constant, flowing changes around him.” Physically, his movements are becoming less jerk-y/robotic looking, and more fluid and purposeful. He’s also noticing changes in things – like changes in voice pitch, or the lightness and dimness of different rooms.

I’ve been so fascinated to follow along with this app with my two girls and now again starting over with my son because it’s been so accurate at showing what’s coming next, what to expect behavior-wise, and also giving tips on what activities can help them with these transitions. I’ve recommended the app to many of my friends with new babies, and the feedback has been super positive, so I wanted to share it here too!

No canned tomatoes… so, then what?

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Since canned tomatoes are one of the products that has the highest amounts of BPA (due to the acidity of the tomatoes, more lining is necessary on the cans), they were one of the first things I got rid of out of my cupboard. As someone who didn’t have a ton of experience in the kitchen, but tended to use a lot of canned tomatoes in what I did cook, this was without a doubt the hardest part about getting rid of BPA for me.

Just as an example, here are a few of the “staple” meals in our house before I began this journey:

– Chili (stewed tomatoes)
– Goulash (diced tomatoes &  tomato paste)
– Spanish rice-a-roni (diced tomatoes)

So, what are the options if you don’t use canned tomatoes?

Fresh tomatoes – this would be ideal, right? Garden fresh (or grocery store fresh) tomatoes for all meals requiring tomatoes. Except… who has time to blanch, skin, and slice tomatoes before making a meal that would otherwise only take 15-20 minutes to make?  This was not an ideal solution for me – I tend to decide what I’m cooking about 5 minutes before start. Besides, fresh tomatoes aren’t always the best year-round.

BPA-free cans – Muir Glen, a General Mills family product, announced in 2010 that they’d be switching to BPA-free cans for their tomatoes “at the next harvest.” In 2011 I came across an article that pointed to these being in stores. I apparently don’t shop at stores that carry this brand, as the only time I’ve ever seen them was when I was working at the General Mills headquarters and I stopped by their on-site store. One thing that makes me nervous about these is that they still have to be lined with something due to the acidity of the tomatoes. Muir Glen/General Mills, as far as I know, haven’t provided info on what they’re lining the cans with now.

Alternate commercial packaging – jarred tomatoes and tomatoes in cartons (or Tetra Pak) are the two options I found here. Both are surprisingly hard to come by. In fact, I have never seen either option at Target or Walmart. I did find tomatoes in cartons on Amazon from Pomi. The downside to these is that they’re expensive, and they don’t come in the traditional sizing that canned tomatoes are in, so you have to plan a bit when following a recipe. I also haven’t been able to find them locally. The company seems pretty committed to providing a quality, BPA-free tomato product, and so far they’ve got an A+ in my  book.

Stewed tomatoes

Stewed tomatoes

Home canned (jarred) tomatoes – my mom and I canned about 40lbs of tomatoes this past fall. My mom has canned many times, but this was my first time participating as an adult. It wasn’t the most awesome experience ever, but it also wasn’t horrible, and I’ll be doing it again this fall – hopefully with home-grown tomatoes. We made stewed tomatoes and tomato soup. Besides the time and effort needed for this, a downside again is that the jars aren’t the typical sizes called for in recipes. I am aware that the lids of these jars contain BPA, but since I personally canned them, I know that the tomatoes didn’t touch the lids. There are BPA-free lids that can be used, but from the research I’ve done, I want to be a bit more experienced with canning before I use them.

Frozen tomatoes – this is an option I need to explore a bit more. Though my freezers are currently close to capacity (some organization would likely help!), the convenience of having tomatoes in the freezer might even be worth adding another freezer.

So – there are definitely options if you decide to get rid of the cans in your home. As you can see from my descriptions, I use several options together – sometimes certain options work better for a recipe than others. It’s all pretty much trial and error – hopefully this post will eliminate some of the error for others!

The Honest Company Family Essentials

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Overall I’m not really into the 100% natural trend that’s out there right now, but there are a few things that I definitely search for all-natural or “more natural than the rest.” I really wanted to try Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company diapers, and while I was at it, I decided to sign up for the trial of the Family Essentials bundle as well. I ended up getting the bundle for about 3 months before I cancelled the subscription, so I tried several of the products.

My main reason for cancelling was I’m kind of a spur-of-the-moment/last-minute type of person – so running out of dish soap or hand soap means I have to run to the store and buy more NOW… and you can’t do that with these products. They’re also a bit expensive if the all-natural movement isn’t your thing.

Anyway, some of the products were good and some we didn’t like as much, so here’s a rundown of what we tried and what we thought:

Honest.com

Honest.com

Healing Balm

This wasn’t my go-to product when we purchased it because I’m a big fan of MotherLove products, and we’ve been using them for our diaper rash needs. However, recently my oldest had a pretty nasty cold. She was obsessive about having her nose wiped, and thus ended up with super chapped cheeks, upper lip and nostrils. This was the only thing she would let us put on her face, and it did a pretty good job. Could the MotherLove products have done the same thing? Probably, but this did a great job, and is much easier to find in the diaper bag than the small tubs of MotherLove balm. I don’t think I’d start up a subscription again just to get this, but the tube will last quite awhile anyway.

Shampoo & Conditioner

I really wanted to like these – they have a kind of orange dreamsicle smell to them that reminded me of the Schwann’s orange sherbet push-ups we used to get as kids. Unfortunately, I felt like the shampoo was overly drying and the conditioner wasn’t able to make up for that. My hair felt brittle after using it, and I wasn’t sure about using it on my girls after feeling that. As of right now the bottles are sitting in the bathroom cubpoards not being used.

Body Lotion

I wasn’t a huge fan of this, but I’m not sure I’m qualified to review because I really dislike lotion overall. The smell was fine, I just don’t like the feel of having lotion on my skin – so I don’t use it and I don’t put it on my kids either. I have given away one bottle of this, and have one more in storage.

Hand Soap

This is probably my favorite product of the bundle. I love the lemongrass smell! It also doesn’t have that slimy feel in our soft water that a lot of soaps tend to have. Again, I don’t think I’d restart the subscription for just this – but maybe I would and just fill my whole lineup with the soap, and then cancel after one month? Who knows… we’re almost out of what we have right now!

Hand Sanitizer

Neither my husband nor I like this at all. It’s very slimy feeling and takes longer than other hand sanitizers to dry on your hands. We also weren’t fans of the smell, but I can’t quite identify what the smell is that we don’t like.

Dish Soap

This one I’m pretty neutral on. We don’t wash a ton of dishes by hand (my rebellion from a childhood of not having a dishwasher… everything goes in the dishwasher here!) – but when we have, I’ve noticed the bubbles don’t stick around too long. Regardless, it seemed to get the job done, and the smell wasn’t overpowering like a lot of other dish soaps we’ve had.

Overall, these Honest Company products are pretty good, and as I mentioned before, the customer service is great!

Honest Company Diapers

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One of my first reviews is of The Honest Company diapers. I want to focus on this product because one of my big searches right now is for the perfect diaper – and I’m not really convinced it actually exists!

The Honest Company currently has three ways to purchase diapers, but none of them are local yet:  new_logo[1]

– Purchase online from their web site
– Purchase online from Zulily.com
– Get a subscription for diapers and wipes bundle, from the company web site

The cheapest route is to get a subscription, but cheap is a relative term here, as these diapers are rather expensive. If you compare to other “natural” diapers, they’re a pretty good deal, but if you’re comparing to store brand these are at least twice as expensive. It’s difficult to determine the exact price per diaper if you’re using the subscription service because the wipes are included, and there isn’t a breakdown of how much of the $79.95/month goes towards wipes and how much goes towards the diapers.

As far as whether or not the diapers work? For us they worked great. We tried out size 1 and size 3, and never had leaks with either size. We even put the size 3 on my oldest (she’s a few pounds over the weight guidelines) and had no issues. The biggest bonus for me was that these diapers didn’t have that icky chemical smell when they were wet.

The downside with these, for us, was that they were just too expensive. Even during the time that we had the subscription, the package size decreased while the price stayed the same – so the price is even a bit higher than when I had initially calculated it. In fact, the main reason I cancelled our subscription was the fact that they downsized both the wipes and the diaper packages – and unless you were paying close attention, you might have missed that fact. I don’t believe they were trying to be dishonest, but they weren’t exactly transparent about it either.

One other thing that I didn’t like about the subscription part of this was that it was just way too many diapers. My youngest is our first to have grown very quickly, and we ended up not needing about half of the 200 diapers we were sent in size 1. This of course isn’t the fault of the company – my baby just grew fast! However, he’s not a big guy, and I’m thinking most people’s babies grow pretty fast, so I have to wonder if other people are having the same experience with the early sizes.

On the plus side – the company is really great about customer service. If you have enough diapers that you won’t need a shipment the next month, they’ll let you delay a month.

Oh… and the prints are their diapers are SUPER cute!

We also took part in their Family Essentials bundle – I’ll write a review of that later!