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.

Photo Review: Flip Trainers

Several of you have been asking for a review and photos of the new Flip trainers.  Here you go!

For $34.95 you get 1 adjustable waterproof shell and 5 organic cotton inserts - enough for 5 accidents. If your toddler is still having poopy accidents, you might want to get 2 boxes (i.e., 2 shells) but if you're just working on the wet accidents, 1 box should do it.

The shell has waterproof PUL (blue) and stretchy side tabs (orange). It has a snap-down rise and adjustable waist snaps as well, to fit 18 mo - 2T

These side panels are on the largest setting right now. Plenty of snaps make sure they will not pop off when your child pulls them down.

The shell, unsnapped and opened up. See the flaps in front and back? The insert tucks under the flaps.

Inserts attach to the shell with hidden velcro under the flaps. This insert is attached with velcro on the under side. The velcro you see above it is a self-closing laundry tab, so the velcro doesn't pick up lint and get caught on stuff in the wash.

There is another velcro strip under the front flap. The insert has multiple velcro strips which you can fold different ways to fit S-M-L. Put the extra folded over part in the front for a boy, in the back for a girl.

In the last picture the insert was unfolded and on the Large setting. Here it is folded all the way down on the small setting.

Once attached, you can see how the insert makes a nice absorbent inner for the shell. It is not as thick as the Flip DIAPER insert, nor as absorbent as a full diaper.

When the sides are all snapped up, you can see how it makes a pull-up training pant with waterproof outer and soft, absorbent inner

Any questions you still have?  Let me know and I’ll do my best to answer.  You can get your Flip Training Pant from Babies Bottoms and More by following this link: http://babiesbottomsandmore.com/bufltrpa.html (It says they are currently out of stock as of 2.28.12 but I will change that tomorrow I hope. We do have a limited amount in stock – 3 boy, 4 neutral, 1 girl.)

 

Best Diapers For…

Frequently we will have new parents come to the store and ask us “What’s the best diaper?”  The thing is, I can’t answer that question, because it’s not the same for everyone.  But after getting to know the parents a little bit, learning about their lifestyle (stay at home parent or daycare?  Washer and dryer in home or laundromat?), preferences (Need the easiest solution?  Want only natural and organic fabrics?) and budget, we can help our customers find the perfect diaper for their baby.  Here’s a list of some of the “bests” for certain situations.

prefold diapers cost just $2-3 each

Least Expensive

The least expensive diaper will be a prefold or a flat diaper with a cover.  Used is even cheaper (we have quite a few gently used prefolds in stock right now).  We will teach you how to fold them and put them on with a snappi fastener (no need to use pins!) or you can fold them in thirds and lay them inside the cover.  The least expensive cover is the Econobum, a one-size cover for $8.95, however it will not usually fit a newborn.  The least expensive to fit a newborn will be the Thirsties XS cover at $11.25, or for $1.50 more you can get a size 1 Thirsties Duo Wrap which will fit up to 18 lbs.  You can also make your own wool covers from upcycled sweaters from the thrift store – super cheap!

Flat diapers dry the quickest because they are just a single layer, folded

Quickest Drying

A flat diaper is the quickest drying since it unfolds to only a single layer of fabric.  Pocket diapers with microfiber inserts also dry pretty quickly.  A quick rule of thumb is that man-made fibers dry quicker than natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, and hemp.  All-in-one’s generally take the longest to dry, except for the Mommys Touch all-in-one, which due to its unique design and being made of microfiber, will dry faster than even a prefold. 

Best Bottom shells are one-size but the inserts are sized - very trim.

Trimmest

In my experience there are two things that contribute to a trim diaper: cut and fabric.  A diaper that has absorbent material only down the center of the diaper and none wrapping around the baby’s hips will be trimmer than one that wraps thick absorbent material around the baby like a prefold does.  As for fabric, microfiber tends to be “fluffy” while tightly knit cotton, bamboo, and hemp can be denser and therefore trimmer.  Finally, a diaper that is sized as opposed to one-size (or at least that has the inserts sized) will be trimmer on a smaller baby because you will have less material on the smaller size.  Some of the trimmest diapers that we carry are the BumGenius Elemental (all-in-one) and the Best Bottom Diaper (all-in-two).  The hemp/cotton insert is trimmer than the microfiber insert in the Best Bottoms. 

BumGenius diapers are easy to change from small to large

Best for Two Kids in Diapers

The nice thing about one-size diapers is that when you have two different-size babies both in diapers, you can still use the same diapers on both kids.  So, one-size diapers are a given, but which ones?  For easier switching between sizes, steer clear of diapers that change size by adjusting the elastic (like Fuzzibunz, Charlie Banana, Rocky Mountain Diapers, and SoftBums) and pick one that changes size by snapping down in front.  The external snaps just pop open or snap down quickly so you can easily change the diaper’s size to fit whatever kid you happened to grab!

Best Overnight Diaper

Although some parents have success using pocket diapers overnight, for those that don’t, we recomend a  double-layered prefold or heavy-duty fitted diaper such as the Tiny Tush Trim with an extra doubler or a Happy Hempy stuffable fitted stuffed with a hemp prefold.  Usually PUL covers work fine, but for a super-soaker baby you can try a wool cover like the Tiny Tush organic wool soaker. 

What about you?  What special situation makes you seek out YOUR perfect diaper?

Cloth Diapering a Newborn

With three weeks of trying out lots of different newborn diapers on John Paul under my belt, I can’t wait to share what I’ve discovered about various newborn diapers!  Here is a list of what we’ve tried and how we liked them. 

Thirsties Duo Wrap over Infant Prefold on a 7 lb baby

Infant prefold (with snappi) + cover.  This is about 2/3 of our newborn stash.  We picked the infant prefold (7-15 lbs) instead of the newborn prefold (5-10 lbs) because we were expecting him to be at least 7 lbs (he was 7 lbs 13 oz) and because I would gladly trade trimness for absorbency at this point, and the infant prefolds are more absorbent than the newborn ones.  We’re using a mix of Thirsties XS covers (6-12 lbs) and Thirsties Duo Wraps (size 1, 6-18lbs).  I don’t notice any difference at this point between the two, although the Duo Wraps will fit him even after he outgrows the XS.  One thing I do notice is that I reach for the velcro ones first over the snap closures, because he HATES my cold hands touching him so with the velcro I can keep my cold hands away from his skin more.

You can get infant prefolds, snappis, and Thirsties Duo Wraps by clicking on the following links to our store:

http://babiesbottomsandmore.com/infpfd.html

http://babiesbottomsandmore.com/sncldifa.html

http://babiesbottomsandmore.com/thirsties-duo-wrap.html

At night, or when we expect him to be sleeping for a while, I’ll add a GroVia booster, folded down to make it shorter, or a Tiny Tush Deluxe Wipe folded in thirds to the prefold to boost absorbency.  The Deluxe wipes are two layers of thick cotton fleece, which makes them almost as thick as a booster/doubler, but they’re tiny enough to fit in his little diapers. 

Pick up your boosters and/or Tiny Tush Deluxe Wipes with these two links to our store:

http://babiesbottomsandmore.com/grobaorbo2pa.html

http://babiesbottomsandmore.com/tiny-tush-deluxecotton-fleece-wipes.html

Also for nighttime I’ve tried the SoftBums Echo diaper and have been extremely pleased that it really does fit a newborn just like they say.  Finally, on the high-absorbency front, we have a Babykicks hemp prefold (infant size, green edges) that we really like. 

Read more about or purchase the SoftBums system here http://babiesbottomsandmore.com/soft-bums-perfect-fit-ai2-basic-pac2.html and the Babykicks hemp prefolds here http://babiesbottomsandmore.com/bahe.html

Rumparooz Lil Joey - our favorite newborn AIO

For daytime, especially when we’re out and about, I like the all-in-one’s we have.  If you’re in a small space like a public restroom changing table, I think it’s a lot easier to velcro or snap on an AIO instead of folding a prefold, getting the snappi, and then putting on the cover.  The two AIO’s we have in our stash are the BumGenius Newborn (http://babiesbottomsandmore.com/bunge30deaio.html) and the Rumparooz Lil Joey’s (http://babiesbottomsandmore.com/rumparooz-lil-joey-newborn-allinone.html). 

The BumGenius are a little bit less expensive at $12.95, but in my opinion the Lil Joey’s ($29.95 for 2-pack, so about $15 per diaper) are well worth the extra $2 each.  They have an umbilical cord snap-down, internal gussets, and are more absorbent than the BumGenius.  I don’t know if my little guy is just a super-pee-er or what but we have to change the BumGenius Newborns quite often compared to the Lil Joey’s.  The umbilical cord snap down was great because although the BumGenius Newborns are cut lower and usually were able to go under his umbilical cord, sometimes they would ride up but the Lil Joey’s never did. 

One thing I wish we had more of (and I’ll probably pick some up at the store next time I’m there) is cloth wipes.  I had forgotten than newborns poop so much!  We’re basically using a cloth wipe with each diaper change, plus the wipes we’re using as doublers, so I could use a dozen more or so.

Contours and Fitted Diapers

Contour Diaper
We’ve gone through the pros and cons of prefolds, so now we come to two more types of diapers that are used with a separate waterproof cover.  (Flat diapers are the fourth type used with a cover, but they deserve their own post complete with folding instructions). 

Contour diapers are like a prefold, but without the folding.  They are already baby-shaped, so you simply lay the baby down on the contour diaper, fold the diaper up around the baby, and put a cover on top.  You can use a Snappi or pins for extra security (I do) but it’s not strictly necessary with a contour.  Contours are slightly easier to use than prefolds, since they don’t require any advance folding, and slightly more expensive than prefolds.  A diaper service quality prefold will cost $1.50-$4 depending on size and quality, while a good contour diaper costs around $7.  Contour diapers are actually my favorite diaper to sew myself.  I like to experiment with different fabrics, maybe something in a cute print on the outside, and super soft cotton fleece or bamboo fabric on the inside to go against the baby’s skin.  When choosing a contour diaper, I prefer ones made out of knit fabric, not woven, because they can stretch to fit baby in a way that woven fabric can’t. 

Fitted diapers are one more step up from contours.  They have elastic around the waist and legs, and some way of fastening the diaper on the baby, usually snaps or velcro.  Fitted diapers, like prefolds and contours, work well with a wrap cover, but they also have some other perks.  For one thing, if you are home with your baby and want to put them in just a fitted diaper with no cover, this is a good way to get more air circulation around baby’s bottom.  The velcro/snaps and elastic make sure the diaper will stay put on an active toddler, even without a cover.  Fitted diapers are also very popular with mama’s who like to use pull-on wool covers.  The elastic around the legs helps contain EVERYTHING, keeping the wool cover cleaner longer, which is important because wool covers have to be hand-washed, so it’s good to keep them clean as long as possible.