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Here's one for Earth Day, a day early.

I'm happy to say that things have changed for the better since I had Mr. Froggie Pants. When I was pregnant and reading about how to have a green baby, everything seemed very fringe. The products they recommended were astronomically expensive, available only by mail order (I'm ok with mail-ordering diapers; paint, not so much) and looked like they would fall apart under normal usage. It all seemed so scary that I just ignored most of it.

book coverGreen Babies, Sage Moms by Lynda Fassa

Now comes this very accessible book, full of solid advice on every aspect of keeping dangerous chemicals out of your baby’s life. It's geared towards pregnancy and baby care, but since just about everything in the house affects a baby, it covers enough to be useful to anyone wanting to improve their health and the environment at the same time. Here's a short list: food, beauty products, gifts, cleaning, baby gear, clothes, detoxing the home, outside play, winning over family and neighbors, and connecting to other mothers. The advice is solid, and comes from a woman who didn't want to give up mascara or spend all her time in the kitchen cooking. The reasons for going green are covered without being too scary, and sources are given for everything she recommends. She has numorous small contributions from experts in the field, including makers of chlorine and gel-free disposible diapers and makers of cloth diapers. Every chapter ends with a summary, dividing steps to be taken into three levels of green: evergeeen, pea green, and spring green, with the easiest and most important steps under spring green. That makes it easy to determine your level of commitment or to take things in smaller steps. For example, for food, spring green is buying only the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables organic, pea green is buying all organic, and evergreen is buying all local organic. The resource guide at the back includes even more resources than are given in the main text. This is a great start for anyone looking to go organic.
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The diapering world is nearly all on-line. Really, I haven't seen anything in a regular store worth using except as a burp rag. On-line, there are zillions of players, from the relatively big small businesses, to tiny places where mothers make diapers as they have time and then sell them. Here are the places I've shopped:

Places I regularly go to:
http://www.naturalbabies.com - The navigation and site design here are pitiful. But Colleen carries all the most popular brands, including our favorite FuzziBunz and SugarPeas. Her prices are standard to cheap, and she ships things right away. Usually that day if you place an order before noon, and the next day on orders placed at night. She’s in Northville, just a couple towns over from us, so the combo means I get my stuff super fast.

http://www.zensicallife.com - This site was brand-new when I first visited in December. She has bulk discounts on Sugar Peas (carries other brands as well), and loyalty discounts after you spend set amounts of money.

http://www.babybunz.com - This is the only site I’ve seen that sells the ultra-cheap Snugglebottoms diapers. Not our favorites, but like I said, cheap. This company is big enough to do a print catalog, too.

Read more... )
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Yes, I was asked, so I wrote up how we wash diapers. But to spare you non cloth-diapering types, I investigated the lj cut feature.

How to wash diapers my way )
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Cloth diapering resources

I really love cloth diapering. And while I could write pages about why I love it, so many other people have already done so that it would be reinventing the wheel. Here's my short list:

- I'm convinced it's more comfortable for baby – would you choose plastic underwear?
- Yes, I am a card-carrying tree-hugger
- I also think it's healthier
- I'll take doing laundry over taking out the trash and extra shopping trips any day
- Money saving – at least a little
- Cloth diapers are so darn cute!

Information Articles:
Just about every diaper shop has its own series of articles on why cloth diapering is better. Here are some of my favorites:

The Diaper Shop Q&A Lots of the standards on the health benefits, but also a priceless article on "The Princess Method" of cleaning dirty diapers, and (for those of you worried about stink), an article about the author camping with her baby using cloth next to a baby using disposables.

The Diaper Dollar from PunkinButt - This article nicely breaks down the cost of using cloth diapers including the cost of washing them.

Diaper Cost Comparison from Katie's Kisses - This article gives you two cost figures for cloth, one using the cheap prefolds, one using premium diapers. ( Most places just give the figure for prefolds.)

I know somewhere, once upon a time, I found a really great article explaining the different kinds of diapers out there, but can I find it now? Of course not!

In the meantime, if you're wavering between different types of diapers, try reading the reviews on
Diaper Pin If you're trying to find something to start with, I wouldn't recommend this – there are just too many options out there, and you'll get all confused.

If I have time, coming next… more fun places to go for diapers.

Diapers

Jan. 4th, 2005 01:21 pm
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Well, I'm stil way behind on my book reviews, but amnachaidh suggested that I post reviews of the cloth diapers we've been using here. And, since someone else emailed me asking for the same info, here it is:

We've tried four kinds of diapers so far, and five different covers. Here's the breakdown:

Diapers:
Kissaluvs size 0 - these are soft terry diapers with snaps, and cost about $9 each. We loved them for the first two or three weeks because they were small enough to fit, and they can snap down to be out of the way of cord stump. Now, though they still fit at the biggest place, they're just not absorbant enough for him anymore. I'd say great for newborns, not so great afterwards.

Snugglebottoms and Snugglebottoms with Velcro - these are flannel contour diapers, with or without velcro (hold in place with a cover if there isn't velcro). They cost about $17 a half dozen, which makes them the cheapest non-prefold diapers I've seen. These work just fine, though I prefer them with velcro. I don't like them as well as some of the other dipes, I think because they look worn and crumpled all the time. It's irrational, but there it is. For the long haul, I don't think flannel will last as long as some of the other fabrics out there, and velcro tends to go sooner than snaps. Also, they have more sizes than some of the other diapers out there, which makes them a little more expensive per diaper, though still cheaper than premium diapers.

SugarPeas 2 size - these are usually hemp blend fitted diapers with snaps, and run about $12 each (or $14 for organic cotton). They have a snap-in doubler, which we like to get with the microfleece topping that keeps the moisture away from baby's skin. These are our favorite fitteds. They are really absorbant, very pretty. The two-size concept means that they have lots and lots of snaps, so you'd need only two sizes of diaper all the way through, while getting a better fit than with a one-size diaper. The snap-in doubler means they still dry quickly. The only bad thing I've ever heard about these diapers is that they aren't the trimmest fit out there, though this doesn't bother me. They aren't the cheapest option, but you can get a bulk discount some places, and they will last forever.

FuzziBunz - this is a pocket diaper with a waterproof outer layer, and a microfleece inner layer. You put your own filling in the pocket these two layers make. The diapers are $15 each, plus whatever you put in them ($4.50 for a good hemp insert.) This makes them the most expensive diaper we've used, but they are really nice. No cover means only one layer to put on a wriggly baby, and they are quite trim. They come in 3 sizes. They are especially great for night, when you can double stuff the pocket. Again, the microfleece keeps baby feeling dry. Happy Heineys are a similar diaper, but with velcro - haven't tried them, but I've heard the fit isn't quite as good. FuzziBunz have two rows of snaps, one to adjust the fit at the leg and one for the waist - we've not had a leak yet. They have a high resale value (around $10), too, so if you don't want to save them, you can get most of your money back.

Covers:
PUL covers:
Litewrap - I guess it's fine, but neither of us really like it. No reason why - maybe it leaks more, or is harder to put on?

ProWrap - This is the basic cover, and it does work just fine.

Bummis - This one we really like, though it will soak through if the diaper is too wet.

Bumkins - This is nice too, though it can leak out the back vent if the diaper is too wet.

Wool covers
We didn't want to try wool at first b/c they do absorb the pee, and this sounded gross. Also they run around $20 each, which is pricey. But now we've tried a couple, and they are our favorites. They just don't leak, and you don't have to be as careful with the fit. With a PUL cover, if any of the diaper underneath is showing, it will leak, so you have to get it nice and tight with nothing showing. Wool just holds the moisture in no matter what. We've used both the SugarPeas Wool Cover, which works with snaps like the diaper, and the Aristocrats Wool Soaker, which is a pull-up stretchy thing. We love them both.

Buying the diapers
Everything I mentioned above except for the Snugglebottoms is available from Naturalbabies.com. They have a kind of confusing web site, but the owner lives in Northville, and I always get things super fast. Everything she sells is also available on other sites, so you can look around and sometimes find better prices (though she does price matching, too.) The Snugglebottoms are only available from http://www.babybunz.com/ Check out diaperpin.com for diaper and store reviews, and to find stores carrying specific diapers.

I haven't bought any cloth diapers used. Some stores, like http://stores.punkymoms.com/ have exchange programs, where they'll give you store credit for used diapers you send them, which they then sell for you. I have just figured that even if we buy the most expensive diapers we've used so far - SugarPeas and FuzziBunz - we'd probably spend around $900 (as opposed to $400 for prefolds). With the cost of disposables at around $2000 per child, and the cost of cloth spread over two babies, we'd still be spending a quarter of what we would on disposables.
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In a continuation of parenting titles, I found two more crying/sleep books, one random leftie baby book, and one Baby Tome. Yeah, I should probably find a couple more Baby Tomes with different approaches, but I'm not sure how many 700 page books I'll make it through. As always, I'm open to suggestions of titles you've read or want me to try first.

Calming Your Fussy Baby: the Brazleton Way by T. Berry Brazleton My research into crying/sleep books continues with this title. Dr. Brazleton is a well-known pediatrician (I discover); he’s best known for his “touchpoints” or stages of baby development. He seems to me to be fairly middle-of-the-road in his parenting philosophy. This book, then, covers crying by age – why a baby might cry at different stages, and appropriate responses at each. Unlike Dr. Karp, he doesn’t assume a single solution in each case, but presents a variety of options. Again, it’s hard to say without trying, but his approach seems geared towards first understanding your baby, then figuring out a solution.

On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam Yes, this is a third “how to get your baby to stop crying” title. I think I mentioned earlier that it’s a little hard to guess at an author’s parenting philosophy from the back cover of the book, so I was excited to find this book – a really, really conservative approach to baby care. [livejournal.com profile] amnachaidh, on hearing me talk about it, described this as the Ann Coulter of baby care, and it’s a pretty good metaphor. If you agree with the conservative philosophy to begin with – that you must put your baby on a schedule from birth and train him to sleep in his own room right from the beginning by letting him cry until he stops – then the advice in this book is straightforward. You can either skip over or enjoy the vitriolic attacks against attachment parenting, as you prefer. If you are liberal in your parenting philosophy to begin with, you will find this book highly disturbing. And if you are not really sure where you are, I would not recommend reading this book. While the advice on how to put your baby on schedule is straightforward enough, and may in fact be the perfect solution for your family, the science that he cites to support his views is shaky at best. As I’m currently reading Dr. Sears on attachment parenting, I can say with some certainty that the attachment parenting philosophy that he uses as an example of bad parenting throughout the book is a straw man, more extreme than AP doctors would recommend. As an example of bad science, at one point he says that letting your baby cry it out will make her smarter, and has an endnote to a study. The study that he cites was one that showed that four and five year olds who could wait 15 minutes to get two marshmallows rather than getting one right away did better on their SATs than the ones who ate their marshmallow right away. I don’t think that this proves that waiting makes kids smarter, and I certainly don’t see how a study performed on children old enough to talk and reason could prove anything about caring for a baby. He says throughout that doing anything differently than what he says will resulting in spoiling your baby – which I object to on the grounds that different things work for different babies; and throughout that one shouldn’t trust one’s emotions or instincts for baby care, or any decision-making, despite research on the subject to the contrary. This book is really popular, but I’d still say that Dr. Spock will give you advice on putting your baby on a schedule, with better science and less guilt.

Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet guide to natural baby care : nontoxic and environmentally friendly ways to take care of your new child by Mindy Pennybacker In search of more liberal baby books, I found this one. It’s one to read only if you have lots of money or are willing to ignore lots of warnings. Do you really want to know what the chemicals in paint, carpets and plastic toys can do to your child? Especially when the alternatives appear to cost at least twice as much, and often even more? (The easy way out: air out things like plastics and paint that smell when new for a couple of weeks to disperse the nasty VOCs. Use natural fibers whenever possible, and wash new clothes several times before putting them on baby.) There is some more practical advice in the later chapters on food, and a nice chapter on raising a nature-loving child. Otherwise, sadly, you have to be really, really committed to a low-chemical lifestyle for this book to have practical information for you.

The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears This is the first baby tome that I’ve reviewed, recommended to me by at least four different sources. It is indeed a wonderful book. Dr. Sears is an advocate of attachment parenting. For the uninitiated, this means he believes that the first duty of parents is to teach their children that they will always be there to take care of them. To this end, small babies should be picked up when they cry, carried a lot (whether or not they are crying) and so forth. No, he does not say that co-sleeping is the only right way to do things, and yes, he does include instruction on how to encourage your baby to sleep more at night without using the cry-it-out technique, as well as how to wean your baby out of your bed should you decide to sleep with your baby for a while but not want it to be permanent. For those of a more liberal persuasion to start with, he also includes discussions of vaccines and controversies surrounding them, though he is in general in favor of them. But this is just a small look at places where his book gives a unique view, particularly touching on issues brought up in the other books I’ve reviewed or that have come up in discussion. Overall, this book is aiming to be the only baby book you’ll ever really need. It covers pregnancy and childbirth briefly, and then focuses on baby’s major needs: eating, sleeping, development, health and comfort. Although all of the information looks like it would be invaluable to have on hand, I was very impressed with the health section. Split up by illness (with a separate first aid section), it covers what the symptoms are, treatment options, when to worry, call the doctor, and what to tell him or her. The Sears are both medical professionals as well as parents of eight children, and I found their advice knowledgeable and reassuring. Like Dr. Spock, they stress knowing yourself and your baby and finding solutions that work for you. If you want a general baby book with a liberal-ish bent, this is for you - either as a sole resource for the die-hard AP types, or as a liberal point of view to balance another book with a more conservative approach.
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Panic time – I’m in my third trimester, and we have purchased not one major item for baby, nor have we registered for such. What does he really need? Which brands to go with? What do we need to know before picking up that scanner gun at Babies ‘R Us? The panic hit when we got back from vacation, and I pumped a thousand pages or so in two weeks. Here’s my run-down on the books:

Baby Stuff by Ari Lipper With the aged copyright date of 2001, I really only checked this one out because the more recent books were already checked out and I needed to read something right then. In fact, this turned out to be a fantastic book. Lipper is both a parent and the owner of a private baby store, so he has lots of experience with what works and what doesn’t, and what things get brought in for repairs. Each item has a little shaded box that lists how much you’ll need it, when you’ll need it, whether it’s a good thing to borrow or not, and important features. Then, there’s a nice little discussion of things to consider when deciding on the item. For bottles and nipples, for example, he says that whatever the brands claim, your baby will have definite opinions on this subject, and you’re better off buying a small stock in several different brands to find out. Specific brand and model advice is pretty minimal, limited mostly to brands that are so bad or so good that they need to be mentioned by name. His advice is straightforward, concise, and funny at the same time, and the whole book was quick to read. One caveat: he is a city dweller, and his advice is slightly skewed in this direction. OK, maybe if I lived in NYC, I’d consider an infant car seat an optional purchase, too. But really, for quick, reality-based advice, this book is great.

Baby Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields I was already familiar with the authors from reading their Bridal Bargains book, and this one offers much the same kind information-packed advice. The focus is on getting the best for less, with discussions on features, safety, and places to buy followed by reviews of brands and specific recommendations, based on their own experience and reader feedback. At 700+ pages, it’s easy to get a little bogged down, though their layout makes things as easy as possible, and they also have a good sense of humor. I feel obliged to give them kudos for giving decently fair coverage to cloth diapers and where to buy them, a topic avoided in most other books. What more to say? This is the most comprehensive book I’ve seen on the subject, and since it’s updated every two years, the information is current.

Best Baby Products by Sandra Gordon and Consumer Reports Ah, Consumer Reports! I was looking forward to this book for answers to everything – and wow, I was really disappointed. The good thing about Consumer Reports is that they do extensive, hard-core safety testing on baby products, which other books can’t duplicate. The bad thing about Consumer Reports is that they aren’t focused on baby products, and they won’t give any opinions on things they haven’t tested. So, while the advice on the few products they’ve tested is OK, most of the items list what features are available (not how useful they are), and then run down a list of brands and prices, with no advice at all. Some of the limited advice they gave seemed downright suspect to me – dress your baby in polyester because it’s cheaper and easier to care for than cotton? Also, ratings focused fairly exclusively on safety, with less discussion of practicality, reliability and other factors. They do cover cars, cameras and camcorders, which other baby books don’t. But you could get that advice in their regular buying guides, too, and just look at Baby Bargains, which will tell you when their ratings differ from Consumer Reports and why.

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