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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Totally legit product reviews: Cloth diapers! Alvababy, Kawaii, bumGenius AIO, and Swaddlebees Simplex AIO

Time for another round of Totally Legit Product Reviews, in which I give an honest but also kind of ridiculous review of products I've used!

Today we're here to talk about CLOTH DIAPERS. We've been using cloth dipes on baby's bum since she was 3 months old or so, and I've used several different brands. Here's my review and recommendations:

bumGenius Elemental All-in-ones and Swaddlebees Simplex All-in-ones (AIO)

If I'm being honest, I have no choice but to admit to being a pretty lazy motherf***er. If I'm in a situation where I can pay more money to make something easier for myself, then I will gladly do so because doing extra work is for chumps. ("But then why would you cloth diaper at all? Isn't that more work than disposables?" you ask. And I reply shut yer mouth, your logic is not welcome up in here. Also, check out this post which explains why I decided to cloth diaper. Hint: it was because of poop).

For this reason, I started out with a stash of all-in-one cloth diapers. "I don't know anything about cloth diapers," you say. "I thought this was a humor blog, actually. So I have no idea what 'all-in-one' means." Well, it means that the entire diaper is one piece -- like a disposable, except ... cloth. So you put it on baby in one go; you take it off; you run it through the washing machine and the dryer; then you put it away. There are no additional steps. It's just a regular ol' diaper that is made of cloth with waterproof fabric on the outside. And it fastens with snaps instead of that velcro-y adhesive you find on disposables.

The snaps look like they'd be tricky but they're really not. Even on squirmy babies.

I started out my diaper stash with a dozen Bum Genius Elemental AIO diapers, which is the diaper in the picture above. From the side, they look like this:

These diapers are wonderful and I love them. The only potentially annoying thing is that when you're spraying poo out of one into the toilet with your amazing toilet poo spraying jobber ...
This thing is not optional for cloth diapering, by the way. Unless you like touching poo with your hands. You freak
[It's a bumGenius diaper sprayer.]

... sometimes poo can sneak between the layers, and without going into details let's just say this is "something of an inconvenience."

The other bummer (ha!) about the BumGenius AIO diapers is that they're pretty pricey -- $25 each. And unless you want to be washing diapers every single day, then you're going to need ~20 of them to be happy. Yikes. [note: this is still cheaper than disposable diapers over the entirety of a kid's diaper years, and it's especially cost-effective if you plan on using them for multiple children]

My other favorite AIOs are the Swaddlebees Simplex. They work pretty much exactly as well as the BG. If you put a gun to my head and demanded I choose which one I like better (and why the hell would you do that? What's the matter with you?!?), I would probably just pee everywhere and not really give you a definitive answer.

The Swaddlebees are constructed a little bit differently than the BG, in that they have this big long flap thingamajig, whose purpose is to give you options for what kind of fabric you want against baby's bum. 

I was going to label the flap, and then I was like "seriously? How dumb do you think these people are?" So I gave you the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully you are able to locate the flap on your own.

The flap has a fleece side, so you can lay the flap on top and now your baby's tush is resting against fleece, which helps them to feel dry. 

Or if you just want organic cotton touching baby's arse, then you can tuck the flap inside the diaper. I read somewhere one time that the fleece side is more likely to cause diaper rash, so I've been tucking it in compulsively and have never once checked to see if this is necessary for me to do. It's likely that I've wasted hours of my life doing this, for no benefit whatsoever. Especially since the diapers later in this review have fleece interiors, and they've never caused a rash. Yep, I'm an idiot.

Now, tucking in this flap is an extra step in the process. I pull the diaper out of the dryer, feed my hand all the way through the pocket, and pull the flap through to the other side like so:

This takes roughly 4 seconds to do. On the plus side, it means there are no pockets or crevices for poo to go hide -- the poo always just sprays right off into the toilet. 

So, pros and cons of the two different AIOs: bumGenius dipes require zero extra steps to get them ready to put on baby, which is nice. And they're $1 cheaper apiece. But the Swaddlebees make it impossible for poo to get into crevices, and they come in super cute designs if you want to turn your baby's bum into art: 

They're both great and I'm very happy with both diaper styles.

So anyway, there I was, happy as a clam with my stash of fancy expensive AIO diapers. But then, there was The Happening and it all went to hell.
The Happening: there was a new hire at Audrey's daycare, which led to some shenanigans with another baby who also wore cloth diapers, and once the dust settled after all the shenanigans, four of my fancy diapers were gone. Missing. Into the f***ing wind. And if you've been paying attention, then you remember that 4 diapers * $25 per diaper = I AM VERY ANGRY.

The fact is, when you send stuff to daycare, you send it with the HOPE that it will come back home to you ... but you dare not do more than hope. So after learning this lesson the hard way, I decided to invest in some inexpensive diapers to use at daycare. Here's what's up with those:

Alvababy "Colorful Snap Diapers with Double Gussets"

If you clicked the above link, then you probably noticed that Alvababy's website looks like it was designed by your cousin Darryl for his sophomore web design class in high school back in 2001. "Does my computer have a virus now?" you ask me, with a bit of a judgey tone. To which I say ... probably not? 

Alvababy is based in China, so you'll want to use PayPal to purchase because otherwise your credit card will probably get declined (because seriously, CHINA), and the shipment will come via DHL all stuffed into a too-small envelope like your mom in her prom dress (ha!) ... but I assure you, it's legit.

The Alvababy diapers I bought are called all-in-two, which means they're like an all-in-one except you need to stuff an absorbent pad thing into the diaper before baby wears it, or else it's like wearing non-absorbent but waterproof underwear (which sounds incredibly unpleasant, actually). So imagine the Swaddlebees Simplex diaper, but that fleece flap isn't attached (the flap on the Alvas does attach with a single snap, and I always do this, but I don't think it actually confers any advantage and I really ought to stop doing it).

To "stuff" the pocket of the diaper, you need to feed your hand all the way through the diaper to grab one end of the flap, like so:

Also, in the background of this picture, you'll see my baby's butt in her Swaddlebees Simplex "Baby Blooms" diaper. Because when you wear cloth, pants are optional, baby.

Once you pull the end of the flap through the pocket, you have to tug on both ends to get it to lie flat:

... and then you're good to go. Note: when baby is still small so you have the diaper snapped down to a smaller size, this is a giant pain in the ass. Like, you don't even understand. It's a HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS. You are trying to make a strip of fabric that is one length fit into a pocket that is a different, shorter length. "But how is that even possible?!" you ask, incredulous. And I say that it is possible, but you will hate it.

But, the diapers don't leak and they cost $7 each. I hate them passionately and refuse to use them at home ... but that's because I'm spoiled. My AIOs are like the Cadillac of diapers, while the Alva diapers are base level Honda Civics from 2003. They do the job, but there are no seat heaters and the windows are manual and the doors on the passenger side don't open from the inside anymore so you have to get out and let all your passengers out individually like a chauffeur.

Naturally, I prefer my Cadillac diapers.

Also, sometimes when you have them snapped down to the smaller size, they will unsnap as you pull the tabs to actually do them up. Like, you're wrestling a squirming baby and trying to get the damn diaper done up, and then you hear a little click as the diaper is like "haha f*** you!" and snaps itself out to '20 lbs and up' size. 

But they are $7. Did I mention that fact? Well, in case I didn't: they are $7.

Oh, and they will often turn completely inside out in the wash. Because ... the universe hates you and wants you to kill yourself.

"Go take a hot bath with a razor lol nobody will miss you."

However, once your baby is large enough to wear the diapers snapped all the way out to the largest size, it's pretty much smooth sailing. And by this point, you will be a master at stuffing the pockets so it will only take ~5 minutes every other day to stuff all the diapers while your baby crawls on you and knocks over your neat piles.

Wow, that baby is certainly ... muscular.

Kawaii One Size Snazzy Minky

The Kawaii diapers are also pocket diapers like the Alvas. They look almost exactly like the Alvas. I even bought them in the exact same fabric, so there's no point taking another picture. Just scroll back up to the one above and look at it some more.

But there are key differences -- in other words, I hate the Kawaiis too, but for very different reasons.

The Kawaii dipes I bought were $7.75 apiece, and like the Alvas, they work fine and don't leak and I have no problem with them from a functional perspective. As far as stuffing the pockets, though, they are a different kind of pain in my ass.

Unlike the Alva, which has openings on both ends to stuff the flap through, the Kawaii only opens on one side. This makes it much more difficult to get the flap into the pocket.

First, you have to grab the flap and hold it in such a way that it will hopefully stay flat as you stuff it into the diaper. And then start shoving your hand into the opening.

That's what she did not ever say.

Don't give up! Keep wiggling your hand, trying to hold the absorbent pad flat as you work your way to the top of the diaper!

Hey look, you made it! I always believed in you and knew you could do it.

Now you have to grab it from the outside and try to pull it until it lies flat.

Just like with the Alvas, getting this pad to fit when the diaper is snapped down to a smaller size is likely to drive you to homicide. But unlike the Alvas, the Kawaiis never turn inside out in the wash. So, pros: never inside out, and they're fleece so they feel nice and fluffy and I want to wear one on my face. Cons: $.75 more apiece, and a bit harder to stuff.

What's my final answer?

Favorite: bumGenius Elemental All-in-one, because they are the only true "no extra steps" diaper. Pull em out of the dryer and slap em on your kid's butt. Yeah sometimes the poo gets in the crevices, but meh, that's why I have a washing machine.

Second fave: Swaddlebees Simplex AIO. 4 extra seconds out of the dryer, but no poo crevice issues. And they have omg-so-cute patterns, which are great when it's summer and pants are for peasants.

Tie for last place: Alvababy and Kawaii. Look, I don't regret buying these, especially for daycare. If a few go missing over the next couple years, I really will not miss them. As for which is better? I'd say do what I did, and buy half of one and half of the other. That way, when you're stuffing diapers after washing them, you can diversify your pissed-offness, which is invaluable in preventing ritualistic backyard diaper fires.


There you go! Hope you enjoyed this review. Next post, we'll be back to our regularly scheduled bullpoop, I promise.

UPDATE: It is now October 2014, three months after this post was first written. When Audrey started drinking water and juice from a sippy cup, she started peeing much more voluminously, which caused the Alva and Kawaii diapers to leak when she had a big pee. The Cadillac diapers have still never had this problem. But, I just had to start double stuffing the pockets on the cheap diapers, and no more leaks. Problem --> solution --> life goes on.

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