Friday, August 28, 2009
Ease of use....
Velcro (also known as aplix, or hook& loop) is definitely the easiest of the two: just touch the hook side to the loop side, and voila, you're good to go. This is nice if you're dealing with a squirmy baby who likes to make diaper changes a challenge! With snaps, you will have to fasten two (or four, or more!) snaps closed, as simple as that may sound, if you're dealing with a baby who doesn't lie still during diaper changes, it may be a bit of a pain.
With respect to noise, velcro can be the louder choice of the two, not usually an issue unless you have to change junior's diaper in the middle of the night (and you likely will for those first 4-6 weeks). The ripping sound of the velcro opening could disturb junior. The snaps 'pop' when they're opened, but it's not as disruptive. Yes, this may sound totally trivial to you newbies still rubbing your bellies, but once junior is here, you'll realize that sound at 2am can be an issue... you want the baby to stay asleep during his diaper change!
In terms of adjustability, velcro is the hands-down winner since you can close the cover wherever you want -- most velcro covers also have overlapping tabs so you can get the cover *that much* snugger on your baby. With snaps, you're limited to pre-defined settings -- you may find one setting too tight, but the next setting too loose. To remedy this, you can always close the cover tighter on one side to find an 'in-between' setting. Side-snapping covers can offer a nice fit because they allow you to adjust the waist of a cover independently of the legs.
Kidproofability (yes, I made up a word!)....
A lot of people make the switch from velcro covers to snap covers under the misguided belief that junior will not be able to open his snap covers. Not true. Junior will figure those babies out within 5 seconds of putting them on, trust me. If you're considering making the switch for this reason alone, save yourself the money and don't bother. Snap covers are just as easy to open as velcro covers, junior will figure it out, do it for a while, then figure out something equally (if not more) annoying, and he will move onto that. If the diaper-opening really bothers you, keep junior in a onesie or switch to a pull-on cover like Bummis Whisper Pants -- it's just a phase though, and it won't last long.
Lastly, when it comes to durability, snaps closures will always come out ahead. You can certainly extend the life of velcro by closing it on itself, however, over time, velcro will eventually wear out, this is especially true with respect to velcro on a diaper (as opposed to a cover) which is washed every single time it is used (like bumGenius one-size diapers, for example). If the velcro on your diapers (or covers) wears out, it's not a hard thing to fix if you have access to a sewing machine (I've done it, and I'm no Martha Stewart), with respect to more expensive diapers like bumGenius one-size pockets, for example, it's certainly worth the investment of paying someone to repair the velcro if need be. Most manufacturers will warranty the velcro for a limited period, so keep this in mind when you call me three years and two children later to report that the velcro on your diapers is starting to lose grip (yes, it happens). Snaps, on the other hand, typically have a longer warranty, in some cases (Kissaluvs, for example), they are warrantied for the life of the diaper.
Do you want my opinion? Do you just want me to give you some direction? OK then. If you're buying a diaper cover (or an AI2 system), I would personally pick velcro over snaps. The ease of use and adjustability is worth more to me that the durability of snaps (covers aren't washed every single time they're used, so the velcro isn't subjected to as much wear & tear). If you're buying a pocket diaper, an AIO, or a fitted diaper (something that's washed every time it's used), then I'd pick snaps over velcro, simply for the durability.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Alrightey, let's start this product comparison by defining a soft structured carrier (SSC): an SSC is comprised of a rectangular body, two shoulder straps, and a waistbelt. Both Ergo and the Manduca are buckle SSCs, no tying is involved because the shoulder straps and waistbelts are fastened with buckles.
The term SSC used to be synonymous with the Ergo brand, however, as more and more SSC-type carriers have entered the market, the SSC has broken out as a category all its own. People like SSCs because they are easy to use, and they distribute the baby's weight better than a one-shouldered carrier, so they are great for people with back or neck problems, and they are great for longterm babywearing (if you come into our store, you'll often notice our staff members wearing their babies, since we're at the store for four hours at a time, and many of us wear our babies for the duration of their naps, you'll notice a lot of us sporting our own SSCs).
The Manduca carrier features an internal seat that accommodates infants from birth until they can sit in the carrier with their legs out. This infant seat features a narrower crotch so that baby is seated with his legs out, but baby's legs still remain within the body of the carrier (not dangling out). The infant seat suspends the baby in the body of the carrier so that his weight does not rest on his legs within the carrier.
Once baby is old enough to sit in a SSC with his legs out of the carrier (around 3-4 months), both the wide body of the Ergo and the Manduca carriers keep baby in a seated position, which is ergonomically better than a carrier that features a narrow crotch. A carrier with a narrow crotch places the baby's weight on the base of their spine; a SSC distributes the baby's weight better.
Both the Ergo and the Manduca carrier enable front and back carries -- they can do hip carries, but neither carrier is ideal for that position (could be done in a pinch, but I wouldn't recommend either carrier for this purpose, Scootababy is the SSC for that job!). Neither carrier accommodates a forward-facing carry, but that's OK, we always point out to parents that when baby is facing you, he can look sideways and still see lots of the world, but he can also look up at mom or dad for reassurance, and he can turn away from stimulation. When a baby is forward-facing, you can't see his face to read his expression (ie, if Junior is getting upset), and baby cannot turn away from stimulation (not to mention well-meaning strangers who have boundary issues!). Front-facing carriers also force the baby's spine into an unnatural position, whereas the Ergo and Manduca both follow the natural curve of baby's spine.
The body of the Ergo measures 35 cm, the body of the Manduca measures 33 cm, however, the Manduca carrier features a nift zipper that lengthens the body of the carrier to a whopping 41 cm, which makes it ideal for taller babies and toddlers.
All Manduca carriers are made from an organic cotton/hemp blend, Ergo makes a regular line of carriers (cotton, low-impact dye) , and an organic cotton line. The body of the Manduca is significantly lighter than the body of the Ergo, which is more padded.
The Ergo features some bells and whistles that the Manduca carrier doesn't have, namely the pocket on the body of the carrier, however, you can purchase a pouch to afix to the Manduca for storage, and the Manduca carrier comes with a free storage tote. The Manduca has padding behind all of the buckles so that they never touch the user or the baby, though I've never had an issue with buckles or webbing irritating me or the baby when I've worn the Ergo. I will say that the padding on the Manduca is just an example of the thoughtfulness with which this carrier was crafted, if not a nod to the whole German-attention-to-detail-thing that my mother is so proud to point out whenever possible. There are some other features that point to this, such as the loops that allow you to tuck excess webbing away, and the additional buckles at the top of the carrier that allow you to snug baby *that* much closer.
One last difference between the two carriers is the fact that the Manduca allows the user to cross the shoulder straps when wearing baby on the front, allowing for a better distribution of weight across the back and shoulders.
So there you have it, my great big Manduca lovefest (what can I say, new carriers are always fun!). Yes, I still love my Ergo, but Manduca has managed to tweak the SSC to make it that much better for both babies and baby wearers alike. Pricewise, the Ergo retails for $120-$140, dependent on the model, and the Manduca retails for $160-$180 (for limited editions).
If you are local to Ottawa or Waterloo, come on in and try them both on for size, it's always nice to compare for yourself! Both carriers are also available for sale on our website.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
- Don't write off your cloth diapers if they are in need of repair. As we all know, cloth diapers take a lot of use and abuse, especially one-size diapers. If the diapers need some TLC, you can sell them for a lower price, or you can invest in repairing the diapers so that they sell faster, for a higher price (never write off a diaper simply because the velcro is shot, or the elastics are busted, these are easy fixes!).
- Don't try to sell stained diapers. Those stains will lower the value of your diapers, but fear not, it's an easy fix. Wash your diapers in baking soda (a natural whitener), followed by a vinegar rinse (to restore pH), then hang them out to dry in the sun. The sun's UV rays will do a great job of fading any remaining stains. Alogng the same lines, if you have velcro diapers, take a needle and pick any hairs, lint, etc. out of the velcro tabs. You want your diapers to look good all over!
- Don't take your used cloth diapers to a consignment shop -- they won't know the true value of your used diapers. I had a friend who used to scour consignment shops for used diapers, only to turn around and sell her scores on eBay, where used cloth diapers sold for a higher price. eBay no longer allows the sale of used cloth diapers, however, you can easily sell them on Kijiji, UsedOttawa, or Craigslist.
- Don't try to sell your diaper stash as one big lot. Often times when people are looking to buy used cloth diapers, they are testing the waters, or they're on a tight budget (although as we've already proven, no matter how you cut it, you will always save money using cloth diapers). If you try to sell your stash as one collective unit, it will be tougher sell, and you'll get a lower price per diaper. If you have 24 small Fuzzibunz, for example, break them up into 6 lots of 4 diapers. People tend to ask for less money for a large lot of diapers (ie, $240 for the 24 small Fuzzibunz), but a smaller lot allows you a little more flexibility in the price (ie, $48 for 4 diapers). In terms of establishing a price for your used diapers, if they are a well-known brand, and they are in decent shape (elastic still has life left in it, velcro still closes, inserts are not thread-bare), you should expect to get back *at least* half of what you paid for your diapers.
If you're done with your diapers, but you don't want to sell them, there are some organizations that will gladly take them off your hands to pass on to less-fortunate families who could put them to use. Miracle Diapers is based in the USA, but you can ship your diapers to them; alternatively, Mothercraft is a local organization that provides (among other things) an outreach program to mothers at risk, and they will gladly accept your donations.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
In the seven years that I've been in business, one of the things I'm proud of is that my vision has never altered in terms of the products we sell. If you've never been to the store, we have a great selection of cloth diapers, slings, and breastfeeding essentials. Over the years, our offerings have expanded to offer more choice, however, we have managed to steer clear of the increasing number of baby gadgets that are available these days. So here it is, my list of things you probably don't need.
1) Babysafe Feeder. So the gist of this product is that you put baby's food in a mesh bag, so junior can suck on it safely. Mmmmm, tasty! Would you like to eat your food like this? Read their "Why?" page, and most first-time parents will likely run out and buy one (holy scare tactics!). When you are introducing solids to your baby, use common sense and supervision. Your parents didn't have the Babysafe Feeder, and you turned out OK, right?
2) Dunston Baby Language DVD collection. Is this for real? Seriously? Interpret your baby's secret language of crying? I saw this on Oprah Winfrey and just about peed my pants, I'm not sure what was funnier, the concept, or Oprah's wide-eyed reaction (she has no kids, remember?). Then I was contacted by a sales rep to see if we'd be interested in selling it, and I laughed so hard I almost choked on my tongue (hmm, perhaps I could have used a Babysafe Feeder after all!). Spend a little time with your baby, and you'll eventually figure him out. There is no 'secret language of crying', save yourself the $50 and pass on this nonsense.
3) Pee-pee Teepee and other variations thereof. So you're changing your baby, and he keeps peeing on you. What's a gal to do? Simple, put a tiny little triangle of fabric (a teepee, get it?) on top of his penis, and voila, problem solved. Except junior's powerful stream of urine would knock that puppy off before you can say "What a dumb idea", assuming it didn't fall off as soon as junior kicked his legs (babies move, ya know?). If your baby is constantly peeing when you change him, just potty him!
4) Stretchmark cream. Any brand. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there's pretty much nothing you can do to prevent stretchmarks. It's genetic. Take a peak at your mother's belly. No stretchmarks? Well, you're likely in the clear. Of course, I didn't know better when I was pregnant with #1 and I oiled myself up before bed like a WWF wrestler (I'm dating myself here), and guess what? I still got 'em! Maybe the cream will make your belly feel better, but don't count on it to prevent stretchmarks. FYI, I also exercised my ass off and drank liters of water everyday, and it got me nowhere. I'm not going to tell you to wear them like a 'badge of honor', but I will tell you they fade over time, and I mean come on, did you really think you were going to start a swimsuit modelling career after you had the baby? Is it really that big of a deal if you get stretchmarks? You will get over it, trust me.
5) Change tables in general. This is a complete waste of money and floorspace. You will not haul ass to the nursery every time you need to change junior. Just get yourself a little folding change pad or two, and keep them handy where you tend to spend most or your day -- ie, in the TV room or kitchen. This is far more practical. We have a change table in the nursery, although a more accurate name would be "the spot where I pile all the baby crap I never use" table. Right now, it's full of winter pyjamas and toys. Yes, clearly, I win the most-organized-mother-of-the-year title, but lay off me, I've got 4 kids and I'm self-employed, I've earned the right to be disorganized!
So what about you? Have you bought anything only to find out it was a waste of money? Let us know! Perhaps you can prevent someone from making the same mistake. I'll pick a comment and you will receive your choice of laundry detergent, on the house. Comments submitted before August 17th are eligible.
Friday, August 7, 2009
When most people look at the shell set initially, it's easy to confuse that $31.00 price tag for the 'per diaper' price tag, but once you factor in that the shell is reused, the cost shrinks considerably.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Put junior in cloth diapers from day one. I really believe that disposable diapers, like infant formula, can be a slippery slope. Once you're used to the "convenience" (I'm doing air quotes here, picture it!) of wrapping up and tossing disposable diapers in the garbage, it's easy to put off using cloth diapers. You will have a baby. You will be doing laundry regardless of whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, I can promise you that. Washing cloth diapers is a simple load of laundry. You cannot avoid laundry! If you never use a disposable diaper, you won't know what you're missing. For the record, I have the same theory about twins. Hope for them on the first try, b/c if you've never had a singleton, it will be all you know! If you don't want to invest in newborn diapers, consider signing up for our newborn diaper rental kit, spots are filling up, but it's a pretty nifty idea.
Buy cloth diapers you know you will use. OK, I'll admit it, there's too much variety, but would you really want to walk into our store and see *one* type of diaper? Half the appeal of cloth diapers is the fashion! Vanity aside, we have simple diapers and more complicated diapers (insert disclaimer here: when I say "complicated", I'm referring to the simple act of trifolding a prefold and laying it in a cover. I can do that faster than you can put a disposable diaper on a baby, I guarantee it!). If one of your reasons for not wanting to use cloth diapers is that you find them too "fussy" (air quotes here, picture it!), then go with an easy diaper like a pocket diaper or an all-in-one. Yes, the cost of prefolds is attractive, but if you buy them and don't use them, you're no further ahead. No matter which way you slice it, even if you buy an entire stash of Fuzzibunz diapers, you will save money in the longrun.
Buy more than 12 cloth diapers. It's true, you could get by with a dozen cloth diapers in the first 4-6 weeks, however, it will be tight. You will be washing diapers every single day. Every. Single. Day. Yeah, I know I already said it's "just a load of laundry", but I have four kids already, it's also "just spit-up", and my husband's favourite, "just poop". Point is, I have a thick skin. Back in the day when I had just given birth to my first child, washing a load of cloth diapers every single day could possibly have left me a crumpled mess on the laundry room floor. If you're eyeing the super-fly Fuzzibunz sized pocket diapers, but you don't want to invest in 2 dozen of them (completely understandable, I am, afterall, as cheap as the day is long), pad your stash with a dozen prefolds and a couple of covers. You don't have to love them, but squeezing an extra day out of your diapers until junior stops pooping every 5 minutes will certainly help the perceived workload.
Get dad onboard. He's just as responsible for diaper changes as you are. Is he hesitant to use cloth diapers? Bring him to one of our handy-dandy cloth diaper workshops, held on the second Saturday of every month. It's a great way for you both to sit down and have the information handed to you (bring a non-perishable food donation in exchange for a $10 gift certificate). Once he sees how easy they are to use, and how much money you can save, you'll win him over. If you're both on the same page about cloth diapers, you'll be more successful!
Buy your diapers from a B&M store. When I started my business in 2002, such stores were virtually unheard of, but as the green movement picks up steam, and parents become more aware of the impact of their choices on their children, more and more natural parenting stores are popping up. Yes, shopping online is convenient (you can do it in your underwear, if you're so inclined), but nothing beats seeing and feeling the diapers. If you have inherited a stash of used diapers, most stores are willing to help you sift through them to determine what, if anything, is still needed. Videos that demonstrate how to use a prefold are nice, but having a chance to it in-person is better. Shop with a store that has knowledgeable staff, and you will be better-equipped to handle cloth diapering your little one.
Keep it simple. Like anything in life, using cloth diapers can be as easy or as hard as you make it. I use a simple washing routine: hot wash, cold rinse (now that I have a fancy-dancy frontloader, I add a sopping wet towel, and I do an extra rinse, more on that here). If you get caught up reading online forums about cloth diapers, you may see that some people have very elaborate wash routines that involve double-this and triple-that. Ignore those women. Worried about storing your diapers? The same women take 15 trillion pictures of their color-coordinated stashes folded and sorted neatly under the change table. Yes, you could do that, or you could do what I do, which is store your diapers and covers in a laundry hamper, digging through it when you need something. Not picture-worthy, but considering how quickly you will go through diapers in those early days, folding and sorting them is a big old waste of time. The laundry hamper gets the job done, trust me!
Good luck, and may the force be with you!
Monday, August 3, 2009
- send a good wetbag to daycare. If she's worried about the space used up by a diaper pail, show your caregiver your portable laundry bag (she can hang it in the closet with junior's coat). Planetwise Inc. offers a fabulous hanging wet/dry laundry bag with two zippered compartments - one for clean diapers, and one for soiled diapers. The waterproof lining flips out of the bag, so you can wipe it down at the end of the day, using more than once between washes. We expect to have these bags instock early next week.