A More Excellent Elemental?

(Review of the new BumGenius Elemental.)

 

Most of my stash is BG Elementals from when my 2 year old son was born.  I loved that diaper.  Trim, organic natural fibers, super absorbent, simple to use… pretty much the only complaint I had were long drying times.  So how does it stack up against the new Elemental?  Let’s find out…

What’s Changed?

The old Elemental was made up of (as far as I can tell ) 9 layers of BumGenius’s signature buttery soft organic cotton knit.  There were 3 layers that made up the inner base layer of the diaper and then a “handbag style” soaker made up of 2 separate strips of 3 layers each.  A “handbag style” soaker is one that is sewn down at the front and back like the handle of a purse, not at just one end with the other end flapping free.  (Many thanks to Tiffany of Simple Baby for explaining that term to me.) The body layers were sewn in the front and back and sides of the diaper.  To add absorbency you had to just lay a doubler into the diaper unless you had a very small doubler (like the GroVia booster), then you could tuck it under the handbag-style soaker.

The new Elemental has made some changes to address specific issues with the old Elemental.

  1. No more full body layers.  The new design has gotten rid of the full body layer and simply expanded the handbag style soaker (both longer and wider) so that it covers the body of the diaper from front to back and side to side.  It is no longer sewn into the elastic at the sides. This will eliminate a common complaint from the old Elementals, which is that the cotton would wear holes near where it attached to the elastic and near where the soaker was attached due to increased stress on the fabric at those points.  Additionally, having the elastic in leg casings and not attached to the cotton means replacing the elastic on the new Elementals is as easy as replacing it on the Flip cover.
  2. Quicker drying times.  By eliminating 3 of the 9 layers of cotton but making those 6 remaining layers wider, BumGenius has made the new Elemental quicker drying which saves both time and energy.
  3. Easier to add additional layers.  The new Elemental’s soaker is sewn to the PUL in a way similar to if you sewed a Flip insert to the flaps of a Flip cover.  The result is that there is PLENTY of space under the handbag soaker to add a full-size insert.  Plus, you can now use microfiber because the cotton soaker is wide enough to cover it completely so the microfiber doesn’t touch your baby’s skin.
  4. Trimmer.  I can’t say that this is a huge selling point for me since I will always pick more absorbency over less bulk, this could be a big plus for people who are used to the trimness of disposables or who don’t want to have to size up in pant sizes for their baby.

Despite all these positive changes, I do have a few reservations about the diaper.

  1. Absorbency.  The new Elemental has 6 layers of cotton instead of 9.  These layers are much wider than 6 of the previous 9 layers, so perhaps total absorbency is the same.  I’m not sure.  I will say that I was pleasantly surprised that the new Elemental lasted through a nap on my 2 year old.
  2. Exposed PUL.  This is a big one.  Because the cotton layers are so trim, and not attached to the sides, the soakers do tend to bunch up and leave exposed PUL against my baby’s skin.  He is not allergic to PUL so this isn’t as big of an issue as it could be, but it was still annoying, especially when a couple pieces of poop got stuck under the cotton soaker and ended up bouncing around on the PUL while I tried to shake it into the toilet.  Exposed PUL is also the reason I prefer the (old) organic cotton flip inserts  to the stay dry or the new trimmer cotton flip inserts.  The bulk of the old organic insert (now renamed the Flip Overnight insert) meant the insert held it shape, laying flat and going to the edges of the diaper instead of bunching up.

 

 

Will I grow to love the new Elemental as much as the old one?  Maybe.  I plan on adding a few to my stash , but I’m also going to add a few Smart Bottoms AIO’s which are extremely similar to the old Elemental design with full body layers of organic cotton as well as an attached soaker.

Want to try it yourself?  Come into our store or shop our website, www.babiesbottomsandmore.com! (If the listing for the new Elemental is not live yet, give me a day or so to get it up.)

 

Questions I didn’t answer?  Comment below and I’ll try to answer for you!

Full disclosure: I am a BumGenius retailer.  However all opinions expressed are my own.  I did not receive any compensation for writing this review and purchased the diaper for review myself.

Flip Organic Inserts: Old and New

So what’s up with the new Flip organic inserts?  Let’s go over the packaging changes first, then we’ll compare the actual inserts.

 

Flip Day Packs used to come with 2 covers and 6 inserts.  Stay-dry (microfiber topped with suedecloth) was one option for $49.95, and Organic (organic cotton inserts) was another option, for $59.95.  Each day pack would get you through 6 diaper changes (assuming you reuse each cover 3 times).  Other Flip insert options were the newborn stay-dry inserts and the disposable inserts (sold separately).

 

The NEW Flip Organic Day packs come with 2 covers and 8 (not 6) organic cotton inserts, still for $59.95.  So you get 2 more inserts for the same price, but the inserts are thinner.  Which means they’re trimmer, but also less absorbent.  Theoretically, the Organic day pack now has enough inserts for 8 changes, while the stay-dry still represents 6 changes, but to get all 8 changes you would have to reuse each cover FOUR times, which may or may not be realistic, depending on your baby.

bg flip org night 2pk

The OLD Organic Cotton inserts have been renamed the Flip Organic Night-time Inserts and are available in 2-packs for $22.95.  As well as being available in day packs, the new (daytime) organic inserts are available in 3-packs for $19.95, the same price that a 3-pack of the old Organic Inserts, now the new Night-time Inserts, used to be sold for.  Confused yet?  🙂

 

So, what ARE these inserts?  If you want to see them in person, please come visit Babies Bottoms and More in Farmers Branch, TX on a Tuesday from 10-2 or Saturday from 11-3.  Or you can keep reading… the new organic inserts are made of the same soft and squishy organic cotton as the old organic inserts (this cotton is also used in the Elementals.  It’s divine.)  Instead of being folded and sewn down into a 4 layer thick prefold-sized insert, it is simply one single layer that has been serged around the edges.  More like a flat diaper than a prefold.  Not exactly like a flat, because as you can see in the below photo, the dimensions are not quite the same as the Hemp Babies Flat, but are about twice the size of the old style organic insert.

bg flip old new hempbabies comp

To use the old style organic inserts, you tri-folded (folded it in thirds) and laid it inside the cover.  You’d trifold it one direction for smaller babies, the other direction for larger babies who needed a longer insert.  With the new organic insert, you do the same thing – but you first fold it in half crosswise.  In half, then in thirds.  The photo below shows an unfolded old-style insert next to a new insert that has been folded in half one time.

bg flip old new organic side by side

Because the new insert can unfold completely to a single layer, it will be easier to clean and will dry faster.  However since it also just uses less cotton (when trifolded the new insert has 6 layers of cotton, the old insert had 12) it will be trimmer/less absorbent.  Of course, if you need more absorbency one of the beauties of the Flip system is that you can simply stack two inserts on top of each other and use them BOTH inside the cover.  (I kind of wonder if that’s what they were going for when they bumped the day pack up to 8 inserts… it can be 4 diaper changes for a heavy wetter/older baby and 8 changes for a lighter wetter.) So I guess although I personally am almost always in favor of more absorbency even at the cost of trimness, I can see how the new insert is more versatile especially for moms who really want trimness.  The photo below shows a side view of the old vs new inserts so you can see how much trimmer the new one is.

Old on the left, New on the right

Old on the left, New on the right

 

So, what do you all think?  Do you like the versatility and trimness of the new insert?  Or do you prefer the simpler folding method of the old one?  Any other thoughts?

Comparing Diapers

It’s hard to compare diapers online sometimes.  Every photo shows the diaper at its best, and it isn’t until you get the two diapers you’re comparing in your hands, or at least in the same photo, that you can really start to see differences.  In our Comparing Diapers series, we’re going to look at different diapers side by side in the same photo so you can really see the differences.  The point of this post is not to say that no one should buy a particular brand or that a particular diaper is bad, but to give you information.  Weighing price and quality and design is a personal decision.  I am not intending to attack any manufacturer but to educate parents so they can make better informed decisions about which diaper they personally like.  In particular I hope to highlight the actual differences between different diaper brands, to show both which have real differences and which are basically the same diaper.  Hopefully this will simplify the decision making process for parents deciding which diaper to use on their child.

 

For this post I got my hands on a Lotus Bumz diaper, which retails for around $15.  First off I’d like to show you the difference between intact PUL and defective PUL that is delaminating.  Hopefully you all know what intact PUL looks like by looking at the inside of your own pocket diapers or diaper covers. This is a photo looking inside the pocket opening of a diaper. If you look closely you can see that the clear waterproof  polyurethane layer is pulling away from the green knit polyester fabric layer of the outer layer of the diaper.  This is called delamination, and it is a defect.  It can sometimes be caused by washing or drying in too high a heat, but in this case my customer told me that the diaper arrived in this condition when she purchased it new.

You can see here how I can completely pull the clear layer away.  If that layer gets snagged on anything and gets a hole in it, the diaper will leak.  Not good!  Many diaper brands have a warranty against this sort of flaw.  For example, Fuzzibunz has one of the best, they have a lifetime warranty on their PUL and their snaps.  So if you ever get a Fuzzibunz diaper that looks like this, call them for a replacement!

Next I compared the microfiber insert that came with the diaper.  Here is is next to a BumGenius one-size insert that comes in the BumGenius 4.0 pocket diaper.

The BumGenius insert is on top and the LotusBumz is on the bottom.  Hmmmm… I don’t even think I need to comment further on that.

 

Finally, I thought I’d compare two made in China one-size pocket diapers that both retail for $10-15.  One is our old friend Lotus Bums and the other is a Just Simply Baby diaper.  Check it out – they are *almost* the same diaper!

Yes, that is actually two diapers (without inserts) opened up and stacked on top of each other.  The only way you can tell the difference is that the Lotus Bumz has slightly wider snap tabs, and the crossover snaps (that allow the tabs to cross over and snap on top of each other on the smallest setting) are on opposite sides, meaning one snaps right side over left side and the others snaps left over right.  Here’s a picture of the snap tabs up close.  You can see that the Lotus Bums has added extra PUL (see the seam) to make the tabs extend further.

Again, the point of this post is not to say that no one should buy a particular brand or that a particular diaper is bad, but to give you information.  If there is a brand of diaper that you’d like to see compared side-by-side in photos, please let us know in the comments.  Also, we are always looking for sample diapers to use in these posts.  If you have one you think we might be interested in, please email admin@babiesbottomsandmore.com.  If it’s on our list of  “Wanted” diapers, you could be eligible to “trade-up” by letting us have the diaper and you get Babies Bottoms and More store credit equal to what you originally paid for it! At this point we are definitely looking for an Alva, Sunbaby, and Kawaii, and possibly others.

Oh and I am not compensated in any way for any of these reviews.  I just think they’re interesting.

Leaks. And How to Fix Them.

Yes, cloth diapers do occasionally leak.  (So do disposables, by the way).  Here in blog form is the checklist I usually run through with parents who are experiencing leaks with their cloth diapers.  Probably 96% of the leak problems can be solved by going through this list. 

1. Fit.  Is your baby in the weight range suggested by the diaper?  Do the legs and waist fit snugly with no gapping?  Is your baby at least 10 lbs? (Most “one-size” diapers that claim to fit babies 8-35 lbs do not fit well until around 10 lbs.) 

Never use fabric softener on cloth diapers

2. Repelling. If when you change the baby’s diaper, the diaper is dry or mostly dry but their clothes are soaked, you either have an issue with fit (if the legs aren’t snug enough they’ll pee right out the side of their diaper) or repelling.  So if you’ve checked the fit, and the diaper is still leaking but when you change it a large area of the diaper inside is still dry, you probably have a repelling issue.  Repelling is caused by residue on your diapers.  It can be caused by diaper ointments, detergents that aren’t clean-rinsing, or sometimes minerals deposited from hard water.  Make sure that you are using a cloth-safe detergent like Rockin Green or Ruby Moon, NO fabric softeners, and cloth-safe diaper ointment like Grandma El’s or Earth Mama Angel Baby.  You may need to strip your diapers to get the residue out, which can be accomplished two ways.  One, soak for 30 minutes in 3-4 tbsp of Rockin Green detergent, then launder normally.  Two, you can wash the diapers in hot water with no detergent but a small squirt of liquid dish soap.  Then continue to run wash cycles on hot until there are no more bubbles, usually 3-4 cycles. 

Thirsties hemp doublers boost absorbency without adding bulk

 

3. Absorbency. If, on the other hand, the inner of the diaper is completely saturated when you go to change the diaper, then the problem is not repelling but simply not enough absorbency.  There are two ways to fix this.  First, you can add absorbency, for example by adding a hemp doubler to the inside of the diaper.  Or, you can change your baby more often.  Personally I go towards the “add absorbency” method. 

4. Re-waterproofing.  Sometimes PUL (the laminated waterproof outer of a diaper or cover) can get tiny invisible holes in it, usually around the stitching at the legs.  This can be fixed by tossing them in the dryer on medium-high heat for 15 minutes or so.  The heat from the dryer will reseal the PUL. 

If you’re still having trouble after going through these steps, feel free to contact us and we’ll do what we can to help.  You can also call the manufacturer of the diaper.  Most cloth diaper manufacturers are moms themselves and are happy to help other parents succeed at cloth diapering.