You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘product reviews’ category.

It is estimated that a baby uses six to ten diapers each day, which translates to about 2,000 to 3,000 diapers each year. That’s a lot of diaper changes.

When Jack was a newborn, I previously reported that we ran the gamut of various conventional diapers. Thanks to gifts from friends and family, we had the opportunity to try out all the big brands like Huggies, Pampers and Luvs. But unfortunately like many newborns, Jack exhibited the traditional signs of super sensitive skin. After those endless diaper changes throughout the day, I’d notice that his butt was bright red by evening. I knew it wasn’t just a diaper rash; I was convinced it was more. Could it be the long list of chemicals in those conventional brands?

According to the Journal of Pediatrics,

54% of one-month old babies using disposable diapers had rashes, 16% had severe rashes.

I’m neither a scientist or an experienced mom, but in my effort to be both, a hypervigilant parent and educated consumer, I wanted to seek out the alternatives.

According to ecobaby,

the super absorbent chemical in disposable diapers, sodium polyacrylate, absorbs and holds fluids in the diaper.

Wired reported that

Sodium polyacrylate was removed from tampons in 1985 because of its link to toxic shock syndrome, a bacteria-caused illness. But no such connection has been proven for outerwear, including diapers, incontinence products and feminine napkins, which all contain the super-absorbent gel, said Celeste Kuta, an environmental scientist with Procter & Gamble, the leading seller of disposable diapers in the United States.

Grasping the environmental impacts of diapers, even before Jack was born, I was adamant about using eco-friendly diapers– including going the cloth route. Diapers made up 3.4 million tons of waste, or 2.1 percent of U.S. garbage, in landfills according to older stats from the Environmental Protection Agency. Like other new conscientious moms, I wanted to at least attempt to balance environmental impacts with convenience and baby’s comfort.

But given our apartment dwelling scenario, cloth diapering and its requisite frequent laundering would be quite trivial. So, following Jack’s cousin’s lead again, we set out to try out the many alternative diaper brands.

So I decided to post our experience (in installments) with the various brands we’ve tried, including cloth diapering. Since we were welcomed home with a big box from Tendercare last night, I’ll start with those.

**

Tendercare Diapers
A few weeks ago, our favorite baby store was out of our usual diapers in Jack’s size, so we decided to pick up a pack of Tendercare diapers. When we visited Jack’s cousin earlier this year, Katarina was wearing Tendercare diapers. I think Karen and Nick told us they were just trying them out.

On initial appearance, the diaper was thinner than the other brands we’ve tried. I liked how it was much softer in texture as well. The Tendercare diapers have the refastenable tabs, which is key for Wiggle Mcwiggleson. I think I have to refasten diapers at least 5 times before I can get it right, since this child flips and wiggles like a fish out of water. More on the refastenable tabs later…

I like how the Tendercare brand uses non-chlorine bleached woodpulp from sustainable, renewable forests. The fit on Jack, however, wasn’t as snug as other diapers. It turned out, he leaked right through the diapers a few times, too. On the otherhand, Jack IS a heavy wetter. Quite honestly, I’d much rather do extra laundry and deal with a few leaks than make him wear diapers filled with chemicals that irritate his skin.

The fact that these diapers are Chlorine Free is quite significant. The presence of dioxins in conventional diapers has been linked to a laundry list of side effects. Eco baby says:

Dioxin, the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a byproduct of bleaching paper. Even in the smallest detectable quantities, dioxin has been known to cause liver disease, immune system suppression, and genetic damage in lab animals.

Back to the refastenable tabs, the second time we bought a pack of Tendercare diapers, we had the misfortune of picking up a bad batch. Basically, every single diaper in this pack had some sort of problem with the tabs– either the tab was hanging off or it was detached all together. The day after bringing home that pack of diapers, I forgot to replace the bad batch. So when I went to change Jack after dinner, he was sealed shut with packaging tape. Apparently, my mom refused to let the bad diapers go to waste and found the packaging tape (and went to town.)

Yes, Jack was wrapped like a 27-lb. package ready to be delivered– in a bad diaper with faulty tabs, no less.

Since an opened package of diapers can’t be returned, Jeff called the company to tell them about it. After a nice conversation with a lady in customer service, she asked Jeff to send the batch number and they would gladly replace them.

We got the box yesterday, a week after calling. They not only replaced the diapers but they gave us another pack and wipes too. Needless to say, we’re pleased that they promptly rectified the issue and with their stellar customer service.

The company touts other Tendercare features such as,
♥ Moisture Barrier Cuff
♥ Refastenable Tabs
♥ Breathable Sides
♥ Latex-Free
♥ Perfume-Free
♥ TBT-Free
♥ GMO-Free
♥ Hypoallergenic Top Sheet
♥ No Recycled Materials

The large size was $7.99 for 22 diapers, which calculates to about .36/diaper.

Despite the tab issue and the occasional leak, we’ll definitely use these diapers as often as we can. Tendercare diapers can be purchased at Amazon, Diapers.com, Buy Buy Baby, as well as other locations.

I just wanted to emerge through this ridiculous pile of papers that, sadly, is to blame for my continued absence this week.
Happy Friday, all! It’s supposed to be a scorcher in our area this weekend. It’s not even officially summer yet and we’ll have our ACs on high, for sure. Let’s just hope my flammable husband or the equally combustible heatbox baby both stay cool. I hope everyone else stays cool, where ever you may be!

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done a product review, so I thought I’d take the chance to free my mind from my “real” writing and discuss something yummy.
While we were home the other weekend, one of my girlfriends came over to visit with her baby. Jack and Gavin are typically in similar developmental categories. And so, Tanya and I love to share with each other new finds. When Jack wasn’t trying to shake Gavin out of his carrier or pummel him with kissies , he was snatching poor Gav’s snack out of his hand. (Crikey. Sorry, buddy! We’re working on our social skills.)

I noticed the snack was something I’d never really seen before. Its white packaging resembled something I probably would have found at our local Japanese grocery store. It was small, flat and portable, somewhat similar to a shorter version of a fruit roll up package. When Tanya opened the package up for Gavin, it was an interesting snack that looked like a flat, airy half of a Milano Cookie (minus the chocolate) or cracker-like surfboard. “It’s a rice rusk and he loves it.” she told me. She went on to tell me that she found the package at a store we no longer frequent.
damn!

But lo and behold, last weekend, when we went to our neighborhood organic grocery store, I found a green box–vegetable flavor–that looked strikingly similar to Gavin’s snack! sweet!

babymummum

After we picked up diapers, some fruit and cereal, Jack and I started the walk home. Since it was just about time for a mid morning snack, I pulled out the Mum-Mum rice rusks to entertain him for the 20 minute walk. I normally don’t let him eat in his stroller because, well, he likes to make art out of it. But thankfully, it was virtually impossible for him to paint any new masterpieces with his snack because 1) the rick rusk was practically crumb-less and not mushy like other teething biscuits 2) he devoured the rusk in the blink of an eye.

I knew it had to be a good if the snack since it had a mom-friend’s approval. But even better, it has the kids stamp of approval, too!

As I’m trying to foster positive eating habits, in hopes our kid won’t inherit my horrible sweet tooth and snack addiction, I try to stay away from all those big brand, markety snack-pack for babies and kids. {We’ll package this product all pretty and convenient for you and charge double or triple than what you can get on another aisle.} For the most part, I consider it consumer brainwash. I have a hard time paying extra for convenience when in most cases, that convenience is the antithesis of being green. So, I tend to pack a banana (best snack ever since it has it’s OWN natural packaging!) or whatever frozen fruit we have onhand.

Back to the Mum Mum rice rusk. The company originates from Taiwan and has permeated to other asian countries. Their presence in the U.S. and Canada seems fairly new, but I think they’ll do well against the big name baby brands–especially at the inexpensive price tag. A box of Baby Mum-Mum rice rusk runs about $2, and that’s here in northern NJ. Like I mentioned before, we bought ours from our local organic store, but I also saw them at a gourmet grocery store and at Whole Foods for about the same price.

The ingredient list is as follows: Japonica Rice, Sugar, Skim Milk Powder, Salt

the company touts the mum-mums as

  • dissolving easily
  • no artificial colors or vlavors
  • no preservatives
  • wheat, egg and peanut free
  • cholesterol free
  • baked, low in fat & no trans fat
  • no added fats or oils

The downside, to me, is the excess packaging. Two rice rusks are paired and packaged as individual snacks. As convenient as it is, I could do without the individual packaging. Other than that, the mum-mums don’t offer much sustenance. But from experience, I can tell you, they’re great as a time-killing distraction for a bored baby or a great way to keep them occupied until meal time. Considering these are the only snack that Jack can feed himself without destroying his clothes in the process, I consider them a mainstay in our diaper bag.
They also offer Toddler Mum-Mum, SuperSlim Brown Rice Crisps, SuperSlim Rice Crisps and Rice Crisps.

Like I playfully chant to Jack, “yum yum for the bum bum.”

Minus some excessive clingyness last night, we had a productive and enjoyable spring weekend. Jack was happy to be out and about while we ran our usual errands and picked up various babyproofing and baby food accoutrements.

With the little happy face in mind, I wanted to mention HappyBellies, the latest Mama Likey, or should I say, Jacky Likey product in our house.

HappyBelliesRight at the 5 month mark, I mentioned that we started to introduce rice cereal. Because of the severe food and environmental allergies that run in my family, I did even more obsessive research to thwart the same destiny upon our kid. Since his eating habits began with me, we made the choice to go as organic as possible leading up to his introduction of solids.

Even before we began to Green our family, Jeff and I knew we wanted to make our own baby food. But at the same time, I’m not opposed to the commercially packaged stuff, either. Before I did my research on the homemade stuff and was introduced to Super Baby Food by a friend (thanks, Brett!), I went to pick up baby rice cereal. There were various choices, but none that really stood out to me. I think I was at Target and noticed that my store only had 2 brand choices for rice cereal– one was conventional, the other organic. I picked up the mainstream organic brand and considered myself good to go. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, I thought. It’s just freaking cereal.

When I went home to do research and follow up on the brand, I was a bit mystified to see this report and this one too . Obviously, the recalls occurred in the past. But still, they occurred. A lot of times these recalls are voluntary, but to me, still a bit bothersome.

While I was somewhat ok with starting out with the one brand I’d chosen, I felt like there had to be something else I could try.

With the many resources around us, I was convinced that there had to be an alternative. Enter HappyBellies by Happy Baby.
I first saw the HappyBellies cereal as one of my recommended purchases on Amazon. Pretty green canister, happy babies on the label… it looks good. So, when I saw it in person at the Whole Foods in the City last month, I was elated. You’d think I was the one who would be eating it! I picked up the brown rice cereal and heeded our pediatrician’s advice and prepared a small serving mixed with breastmilk.

To start, I made it a little more watery since we were introducing an entirely new texture.

Even before I could finish stirring cereal, Jack had his mouth wide open. The entire process went well, aside from my inability to keep up with his voracious appetite. Brown rice cereal was a hit and a great precursor to our adventures in solid foods.

Happy Bellies made this baby’s belly very happy.

ghblogo.gifSo what makes Happy Bellies different? Well to start, it’s organic and includes probiotics. They are, as they state, the only organic immunity boosting probiotic dry cereals on the market.

Pro-who?

Probiotics. The “good bacteria.”
Probiotics are small molecules that help maintain the natural balance of organisms, also referred to as microflora, in the intestines.
According to Happy Baby,

Probiotics are “friendly bacteria” that live in our intestines and help the immune system by discouraging the growth of harmful disease-causing bacteria.

What’s the benefit?
The immune system boost provided by probiotics can actually prevent health problems and treat a variety of ailments. Strains of these healthy bacteria have been shown to:

1. Reduce colic in infants
2. Prevent eczema and allergies–> this is a big one for us, considering our family history
3. Reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome–> and uh, this one too.
4. Help manage lactose intolerance
5. Promote bowel regularity, and
6. Prevent infections in the intestines and elsewhere in the body including bronchitis and pneumonia.

In addition, it’s reassuring to know that a revered pediatrician worked with the Happy Baby team to develop healthy meals.

Dr. Sears says,

Happy Bellies cereals easily and conveniently provide the necessary probiotics to achieve solid early development.

Happy Baby also offers frozen organic food, too. And more recently, they introduced HappyBites and Secret Sauce

We haven’t tried it yet, but in theory, their frozen organic food is reminiscent to the homemade baby food cubes popularized by the Super Baby Food phenomenon. It’s a great model (and one that I plan to follow.)

cerealBut for those moms who don’t have the desire or time to make their own organic food, Happy Baby provides a great alternative.

Having enjoyed the brown rice cereal and the oatmeal, Jack gives his (open mouth) stamp of approval.

dr. bronner's lip balmI finally got the last giveaways out in the mail, so it’s time for a new one!

Sandpaper elbows and chapped lips are big indicators that it’s been a cold winter in our house. I’m normally addicted DCT, but lately, I have a new fondness for Dr. Bronner’s. It’s relatively non-greasy, effective and longlasting. I’ve been toting the Peppermint lip balm with me for the past two weeks. Ingredients include Organic Avocado Oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Peppermint Oil, Natural Tocopherols.

Dr.Bronner's Body Balm Orange LavenderI’m not naming names, but someone’s been rubbing their elbows in the tub of the peppermint body balm. And behold, after a few days of application, this person’s elbows are as good as new. The balm is made with organic jojoba oil with organic beeswax, avocado and hemp oils soothes dry & chapped skin anywhere. An added plus for those ink lovers, it’s supposed to be great for protecting tattoos. It really is like magic.

I honestly had no idea Dr. Bronner’s even made a skin balm. It’s a good thing they do. The soaps are a staple in our house. (the soap, alone, deserves its own post soon) It turns out, Dr. Bronner’s & Sun Dog’s Magic line offers a range of lotions and balms.

But both, the lip balm and skin balm, are really great products. The fact that they’re organic is a huge plus, too.

The giveaway is for the orange and ginger flavored lip balm and orange lavender body balm. I’ll leave it open for a week and announce a winner at the end of next week.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m sure I’ve mentioned my many side projects before. I didn’t really do much while I was pregnant, but I regularly do wedding programs and invitations on the side. Because I love doing these creative projects, I wanted to mention how much I appreciate other people’s creativity and all the mompreneurs out there.

In our tiny kitchen, I have a monogrammed kitchen towel that hangs on our cluttered gruntdal shelving.

The towel, pristine and neatly folded to showcase an embroidered moniker, is just for show. Instead of using it to wipe your hands like it’s meant for, this kitchen towel sits at eye level as a simple reminder. Yeah, that means no touchy!

It’s displayed on the shelf, not just to show off the nickname a colorful friend gave me, but to serve as a reminder of the kitchen we hope to have one day–the sort of kitchen where I could hone my baking prowess and perhaps, if we’re lucky, fit more than 2 people.
This special kitchen towel, much like the Mets burp cloth (I received after sharing news of finally getting pregnant) was fastidiously embroidered by a good friend of mine. A few years ago, my friend began an embroidery side job and within no time, it became a flourishing business. Dena’s embroidery business, Written in Thread, offers a myriad of embroidered products. But my favorite goody to date is the stack of custom appliquéd burp cloths she did for us.
burp clothsWhen she mentioned that she recently started offering this new design, I couldn’t NOT hop on board. I ordered my burp cloths a few weeks ago and received the final product just few days after I ordered. She’s great to work with, offers meticulous service, offers excellent products and as I mentioned, ships promptly.

The fabric featured on the burp cloths were my scraps from Jack’s closet nursery, but she offers a plethora of fun choices for boys and girls, and on t-shirts too.

If you’re on the market for a unique gift idea, check out Written in Thread’s product gallery. With wedding season right around the corner and babies galore, you can’t go wronMonogrammed tagsg with a customized gift. I love giving personalized gifts, especially to new brides and new moms. I mean, who doesn’t love seeing their name in print.

When you do contact Dena, tell her I sent ya!

When I’m not busy perusing the endcaps at Target in search of more stuff that I probably don’t need, I can probably be found wagging my finger at my husband, and now my baby, chanting, “Because of you, I’ll never have nice things.”

Surely, I jest.

It’s not just them. I’m to blame, too!

But really? It’s kinda sorta true. If it’s not barf stains on the floor or baby poop stains on my white sheets, it’s coffee explosions. It’s always going to be something. I’m as clumsy as they get, so let’s face it: the stains are here to stay.

Or are they?
Our cleaning arsenal includes the run of the mill toxic cleaners to the laundry detergent sticks. As we started to Green our home over the years, we added the more eco-friendly alternatives like Method (which is too fragrant for my liking) and the Seventh Generation staples. The greenest alternative to all of the above would be using mundane ingredients already onhand at home such as, baking soda and vinegar, but with many product manufacturers cashing in on the Green market, there are now more alternatives to cleaning supplies for mainstream consumers.

But since the Product Pusher delivered, I thought I’d review a few cleaning goodies that we’ve had a chance to try.

mn_stainremover-copy.jpgWith our big boy eating so much, so often, it’s inevitable: he poops a lot. And when I mean a lot, I mean A LOT. Since I’ve introduced formula into his weekday regimen, you guessed it, “things” changed. Put it this way, I’ve had to throw pajamas away because cleaning the er, uh “disaster” would’ve been a lost cause. Every once in awhile, we’ll be fortunate to have a more containable mess. More recently, Jack had a smaller accident on a pair of jeans and a basic cotton onesie. It was the perfect opportunity to test out this baby stain remover.
We applied the Mother Natural stain remover to the affected areas of the clothes, let it sit and then soaked for a few minutes. Everyone knows that these sort of stains are tough, so naturally, (pun intended) I didn’t think the stain remover would help. When it was time to check on the stained clothes, minutes turned to hours, but to my surprise, the stain remover did a decent job at diminishing the once very yellow stain. I say diminish, because unlike the more stronger heavy duty conventional stain removers, the Mother Natural stain remover did a more gentle job at lifting the stains. The stain was still there, but just barely. And so, once I finally washed those clothes, the stain was almost completely removed. Almost, but not quite!
I was pretty pleased with the Mother Natural stain remover. It did its job and I felt ok knowing that the baby’s clothes weren’t completely doused in bleaches and a host of unpronounceable chemicals that would possibly add to his already itchy belly (thanks to my family’s history of bad skin.)
The manufacturers say the stain remover includes: Plant cleansers derived from natural sources such as coconut and palm, natural salts, natural enzymes, natural moisturizer, distilled water, and plant based essential oils.

While I’m on a (virtual) cleaning foray, I wanted to mention a mainstay in the diaper bag. When Jack was being passed from uncle to auntie and back to mom the other weekend, unexpected spit up was bound to happen. Unfortunately, my brother Jeff was tagged with his nephew’s spiddle. My older brother, unsure how to react, handed me back the babe and motioned for my pant leg.
giovannirecharge.jpgYeah, my pant leg.

I wagged my finger at him, told him to hold on and instinctively grabbed for these wipes. I grabbed the very convenient silver packet, i.e., Uncle Jeff’s savior from the baby mess.
Thanks to the Product Pusher, we carry around these Giovanni Recharge wipes that are the much more sophisticated (check out the dramatics on their site,) eco-friendly big sister to Wet Naps. The Giovanni packets come in a pouch with 20 individually wrapped biodegradable, antibacterial, antiseptic, sanitizing and moisturizing wipes. I did notice that these wipes, like most antiseptic hand cleansers, include Benzalkonium chloride, which is known to be an allergen.

Nevertheless, they are a nice change of pace, in terms of quick refreshers or clean ups. I like the fact that, as their name implies, they are refreshing. They come in four different scents; I personally like the Recharge Peppermint because of the minty scent and subtle tingle.

Not just for baby cleanups, I have several of these lying in the wings of my work bag…because if it’s not the baby, it’s usually me dribbling coffee down my hands and sleeves.

Not only am I an admitted pack-rat, but I’m also a product hoarder. I stockpile soap and lotions like a squirrel rationing food for the winter. My product prowess has begun to overflow into the baby’s very own stash. Who knew a kid could have so many toiletries?

Products galoreWhile I may be well on my way to garnering the Guinness Book of World Record title for most toiletries owned in the smallest space, trust me, I didn’t get here on my own. (That’s right. I have a product pusher.) Instead of stashing lotions and lip gloss in the pantry (because there’s no more room in the bathroom, of course) I thought it would be a good idea to share– in the form of product reviews.

And just to clarify, I am not affiliated with any of these companies, nor am I getting paid to mention them; I just happen to really enjoy products.

Mama Likey (Baby Likey, too!)

Burts Bees All Better Balm
Jack or should I say, baby Edward Scissorhands, loves to find the smallest fingernail on his tiny nubs to scratch and create those cat fight marks regularly. We attribute his frequent scratches to his normal burtsbeesallbetterbalm.jpgtemperament when he’s mad, or perhaps, he does it to emphasize that I don’t cut his fingernails every day.
When he was a newborn, I broke out the Burts Bees All Better Balm to soothe the tiny scratches. Though I’ve heard that baby skin is amazing and heals in top speed, I figured our baby’s dry skin could use the Vitamin E and cocoa butter on those minor scratches. While the All Better Balm may not have healed his scratches in warp speed, it certainly was helpful in the soothing his super sensitive skin. The sweet smell that BBB is known for, is an added extra. Even better, the All Better Balm is 97.91% natural, paraben free and phthalate free.
If only the All Better Balm could make my dark circles disappear!

Boudreaux’s Baby Kisses
Bbabykisses.jpgabies need lip balm? Well, yeah they do, actually. When we were first starting to get the hang of nursing, Jack regularly had nursing blisters. I’m assuming they weren’t painful, but it just looked like he needed a little more moisture on those lips for relief. My family in Va. goes through tubs of Vaseline, so I just as well assumed that Vaseline would work just fine. I was also told a tiny bit of breastmilk would do the trick too. But alas, my Product Pusher brought forth Boudreaux’s Baby Kisses. I was reluctant to use the lip balm because I’m neurotic and didn’t think it’d be safe for Hungry Jack. After a quick search, I found that the manufacturer says it includes Peruvian balsam and was formulated especially for infants and kids without unnecessary additives. So, we gave it a try and he was as good as new! Jack doesn’t get the nursing blisters anymore, but he does like to lick his lips until they’re raw– it’s a good thing for this lip balm. Baby Kisses has a light consistency baby-sweet smell, and effective enough for me to steal out of the diaper bag and use on a day to day basis.

Rimmel Light Beam
And just because it’s Friday night and I’m actually going out with some girlfriends, I can’t NOT mention this one. I totally forgot I even had this until last weekend. I was in total amazement upon the realization of its novelty. Rimmel Light Beam features a rimmel_undergroud_light_beam_lip_gl.jpgconvenient mirror on the side of the vial AND a handy light within the wand. That’s right, I said light. What would one need a light for? Well, to find a fallen paci on the floor board to re-apply lipgloss at the club. In theory, it’s a fun gadget to include in the makeup litany for those with active night lives. In terms of function, I like the portability and just knowing that I have a light within my lip gloss! I’m a lifetime away from caring how perfect my lips look in the dark, but I know there are many who will appreciate Rimmel’s non-sticky lip gloss, Light Beam. It comes in six fun sheer colors and can be found at drug stores.