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Why I’m In Love With Branch Basics

You guys!!! I am ABSOLUTELY LOVING this plant and mineral based cleaner concentrate from Branch Basics!! I’ve been wanting to find natural ingredient replacements for all the nasty chemicals we have in our boat/home and I finally found one that is totally safe and still totally effective!

What Is It?

The Branch Basics Concentrate is eco-friendly, biodegradable, plant and mineral based, fragrance-free, non-gmo, gluten free, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, nut free, tree nut free, essential oil free, alcohol free, free of synthetic preservatives, not tested on animals, not harmful to people or pets, made in the USA, gentle enough for sensitive skin and babies, non-MLM, affordable, and totally effective!

I bought the travel kit and starter kit from Branch Basics which both have endless uses. Hand washing, dish washing, all-purpose surface cleaner, glass and windows, bathrooms, laundry, stains, face wash, body wash, baby wash, pet wash, and on and on. The website also has a complete user guide with recommended uses and an awesome FAQ. I’m thoroughly impressed with how well it actually cleans, and how little concentrate you actually need. There’s a mild natural smell but not overpowering or lingering. I actually clean more now and didn’t realize how much I was subconsciously avoiding cleaning because I didn’t like breathing in the other stuff and getting all kinds of chemicals on my skin. And let’s be honest, it sucks wearing big rubber gloves.

Why Does This Matter To Me?

For the past few weeks I have fallen down a giant rabbit hole on the hunt for cleaning and personal care stuff that is biodegradable and safe around anyone – pregnant, breastfeeding, infants, kids, pets, etc and I’ve done a TON of research. If you know me personally, you know I leave no stone unturned and I don’t stop researching until I’m totally confident in what I’ve found. (Remember the Insurance post, cloth diaper post and dog food post I wrote?) It all started with trying to find a totally safe baby wash for Brig. Of course, this just created more and more questions I wanted answers to along the way.

I’ve read more labels than anyone should ever have to and I’ve found that most commonly used ingredients are either harmful or possibly harmful to us in one way or another. The hardest part was finding natural plant based products that do NOT have essential oils in them. EOs are totally fine (and often helpful) for some people but there are SO many that should not be used around kids or during breastfeeding or pregnancy, or those with sensitive skin – even stuff that is labeled as unscented or fragrance-free sometimes still has EOs in it. If I’m going to switch to using natural plant based products I want to feel confident in the total safety of every single ingredient and I just don’t feel good about blindly jumping on the bandwagon of using essential oils and herbal extracts without knowing the potential side effects too. Branch Basics does have less than 1% of German Chamomile flower extract (not EO) in the diluted products but i’m totally okay with that.

“The Concentrate is human safe, not irritating to the eyes, skin, or lungs. All ingredients are rated 1 on EWG, and there are no harmful preservatives such as methylisothiazolinone, phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, or any type of alcohol. Even the extremely chemically sensitive and immune compromised are able to use Branch Basics with complete confidence.” -That’s just a snippet from their website. I also discovered they are certified on the MadeSafe.org website.

So What Are THe Ingredients?  

Purified Water

Coco Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser)

Chamomilla Recutita (German Chamomile) Flower Extract

Decyl Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser),

Sodium Citrate (Food-Grade Emulsifier),

Lauryl Glucoside (Sugar-Based Cleanser),

Sodium Bicarbonate (Food-Grade Baking Soda),

Sodium Phytate (Plant-Based Antioxidant)

I always recommend doing your own homework and research. I’ve done mine and  feel totally confident that these ingredients are safe to use around pretty much anyone. There is of course a very small chance of someone being allergic to something in this product but the chances are SO small, and the benefits outweigh the risks (IMHO) when you are looking at all the known hazards of conventional cleaning products that most of us have lived our entire lives using. The chances of any of these ingredients being an irritant for anyone is so much smaller than it is for most of the ingredients in stores.

The surfactants in this concentrate are “Alkyl-Polyglucosides”. There are some studies which show these ingredients may be emergent allergens with a rare chance of producing contact dermatitis (skin irritation or rash). However, they are plant derived and are pretty much the most gentle for most people. Another example of a possible allergen is Chamomile. While incredibly gentle and typically soothing, you may be more likely to experience an allergic reaction to chamomile if you are allergic to ragweed, daisies, asters, marigolds or chrysanthemums. But again, the ingredient here is only a flower extract (not essential oil) and is used in dilutions of less than 1%.

Why isn’t there a preservative? I asked the same question which is answered in the Branch Basics FAQ. There are tons of other helpful answers there that helped me understand why this stuff is so safe and so versatile.

Why Not Use Castile Soaps?

Another reason I like Branch Basics so much is because it’s not a castile based soap. Real soap is a wonderful natural toxin-free product but it tends to leave a residue (especially in hard water) and needs an acidic rinse like vinegar to come clean. Who has time for that? Vinegar can also be harsh on your lungs if you use it all the time. It can help as a tough degreaser but it really doesn’t “clean” very well at all. I still keep a bottle of it in my cabinet though. Castile based soap can also be very drying on skin if it’s made without retained glycerin (a natural humectant). In climates with low humidity glycerin can ironically draw natural moisture out of our skin, causing the opposite desired effect. This stuff doesn’t contain saponified oils or glycerin.

How Much Does It Cost?

There are several packages available where you can buy a full starter kit with or without the laundry booster, travel size bottles, extra empty full size bottles, or just the concentrate. Any way you slice it, the price for all of it is shockingly cheap compared to store bought products. Even though the concentrate is $49, the 33 oz. Concentrate makes:

  • 3 All-Purpose bottles (24 oz.) at $2.90 each
  • 3 Bathroom bottles (24 oz.) at $5.80 each
  • 3 Streak-Free bottles (24 oz.) at $0.20 each
  • 3 Foaming Wash bottles (10 oz.) at $2.90 each
  • 64 laundry loads at $0.24 per load
What’s The Catch?

The only thing I don’t love about Branch Basics is that it comes in plastic bottles. Half way down the rabbit hole I also decided I wanted to try to support a more eco friendly lifestyle all together and look for Zero Waste options whenever possible. I know i’m just one person but the impact of non-biodegradable waste all over the world has long since spiraled out of control. It’s something that will be an even bigger problem for my kids and their kids in years to come. It doesn’t harm anyone by trying to live a Zero Waste lifestyle and it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing deal either. Every little but helps, so why not try.

Anyway, at least Branch Basics is on the train of reusable and refillable containers. You can buy their bottles that have conveniently marked fill lines or you can follow the recommended ratios and use your own bottles you already have at home, just buying their concentrate alone. Glass is great because it doesn’t leach chemicals into the contents like plastic can, but the reality is that if glass isn’t recycled it actually lasts longer (maybe forever) than the 500-1000 years that plastic particles do. But that’s another story too. Branch Basics is currently working on better packaging so I’m super excited to see what they come up with. For now, I am just happy to have found something that is totally safe to use around my whole family. I will say that their spray bottles and foaming wash bottle are extremely effective at giving you just the right amount with each spray or pump. I tried using a glass bottle with a pour spout that I already had in my home but it caused me to waste way more liquid than I actually needed. It’s always great to try to reuse things we already have but I’m super happy with the functionality of the bottles that BB provides.

Is There A Trial Size?

If you want to give Branch Basics a try I’ve got a reusable $10 off coupon code you can use at checkout. It’s applied automatically if you use my referral link: http://branchbasics.refr.cc/wherethecoconutsgrow

It also gives me $10 off too, and I definitely plan on buying more, although it will be a long time before I run out of concentrate! I think you can use it for subsequent purchases too, not just one time – but i’m not positive about this. Let me know if you try it a second time!

(They currently don’t list US Virgin Islands as an option for shipping on their website at checkout but their customer service team rocks!! They quickly answered all the questions I had and manually placed my order over the phone so that I could get my order shipped to me in in St Thomas USVI. It arrived super fast and without any hiccups.)

For the cheapest way to try this stuff out, I recommend getting the $5 Trial kit which comes with a travel size 2 fl.oz. concentrate and a large All Purpose spray bottle. My referral link would get you this for free, and you would just pay a couple bucks for shipping. What I did instead was I bought the $20 Travel Kit (-$10 from the referral code I used equals a total of $10 plus shipping) and that way I was able to test out the Foaming Wash bottle too. It comes with the mini concentrate and a prefilled All Purpose and a prefilled Foaming Wash. Now I have a mini All Purpose and a mini Foaming Wash – both under TSA limits for carryon liquids and I can take them with me on my next plane ride (which is coming up very soon!).

I will point out that the prefilled All Purpose and Foaming Wash that I received had a slightly different formulation that also had soapberry in it. The company informed me that it was hard to source and expensive so they recently eliminated it with no significant effect on the product at all. I actually like the concentrate better without it. It was slightly drying feeling in my opinion. They might still have a few of these left but these prefilled bottles and older labels are almost phased out – they are still fulfilling orders with them because there’s nothing bad about the ingredient and it’s better than wasting product and plastic bottles and preprinted labels. Just something to be aware of (and not worry about) if you do order this kit.

If you do give it a try, I’d love to know what you think!

***

PS if you’re curious what other awesome things I found on my way down the rabbit hole, stay tuned!!!

Cloth Diapers On A Boat (and a review of 8 brands!)

Just before Brig was born is when I first heard about modern cloth diapers in a post on BabyCenter. I had no idea cloth diapering was so much more advanced than it used to be. I thought disposable diapers are just what you are supposed to do now, just because that’s all I really saw people doing. Little did I know there is a MUCH better option!

My only experience with cloth diapering before Brig was many moons ago. I vaguely remember (nearly 20 years ago) some of my little brothers and sisters having white cotton rags wrapped around them and fastened with giant safety pins, then covered with a plastic cover that my mom called “rubber pants”.  She had a diaper service that would collect the dirties and drop off a fresh batch of clean ones.  I don’t remember knowing anyone that actually washed their own diapers.

That one little post I read during my pregnancy sent me down a ginormous rabbit hole. I was totally overwhelmed with Google searches for modern cloth diapers but I also got really excited to try them out! Its seriously unreal how many different types and parts and materials there are.

Something to keep in mind before I go any further… We live on a boat. Every purchase we make gets a little more thought and research put into it before we buy anything. Our storage is limited. Our water is limited. Our power is limited. Our ability to do laundry is limited. Our access to buying supplies is limited. Knowing all that I was even more intrigued in this whole cloth diapering thing.

At the time we were living in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (pre-Hurricane Irma) where you felt like you won the lottery if a store actually had any product you wanted to buy. I literally felt like a hoarder and we learned to stock up on certain brands of supplies that we liked because you never knew if the store would carry it again anytime soon, or ever again for that matter. I was kind of nervous about what we were going to do about diapers. I had been watching the shelves and it was rare that you ever saw all sizes of diapers in stock at any given time. Plus everything is super expensive there and I had even heard of mamas getting all their diapers in the US Virgin Islands instead.

Something I had learned in my research was that disposable diapers can take FIVE HUNDRED YEARS PER DIAPER to break down!! I also knew that BVI burns their trash at the local incinerator. That isn’t something I wanted to contribute to either – burning all the bad materials that are used to make a disposable diaper. But people do it all the time. I’ve read that one child can go through a whopping average of 5,000-7,000 diapers before they are potty trained which can potentially cost between $2,500 and $5,000 – yikes!

All that said, I decided cloth diapering was going to be way cheaper, way better for the environment, and no more chemicals on baby’s skin. Plus, they are SUPER cute!! Now I just had to find the best solution for conserving water since I knew I’d be hand washing Brig’s diapers with a bucket and plunger on our boat, then hanging them to dry in the sun. There are a million articles out there describing all the different parts, lingo and options so I won’t go into ClothDiapering101 here. Basically I came to the conclusion that Covers with wipeable insides plus a trim natural fiber insert would be the best way to go. These can also sometimes be described as an AI2 (All In 2) system since there are two parts, but basically its just a Cover. (BTW this is a long overdue post – one I planned to write a when Brig was still tiny – but sooooo many things have happened in the last year. The good news is that it’s also allowed me to really see how well our cloth diapers hold up over time.) Now for a look at all the different kinds I’ve tried so far and what I like and what I don’t like about them.


Buttons Diapers
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Ahh Buttons. They are by far the best all-around Cover that I’ve tried.  There’s parts I like and parts I wish were a little different. Lets take a look at the OS (One-Size)…

PROS:
Available in OS – I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us.
Wipeable Inside – A true waterproof Cover with a wipeable inside that allows me to reuse the cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast.
Durability – Buttons are made with a very durable double-layer PUL that is WAY less likely to soak through to the outside touch than other brands, even if totally soaked, The quality of materials used by Buttons is unmatched in all the brands I’ve tried.
Rise Snaps – The rise snaps are spaced well to grow with my baby and not leave leg gaps.
Hip Snaps – These do have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly.
Insert Snaps – A really awesome AI2 feature allowing you to snap inserts into place and they don’t ever get bunched up!
Colors – Most of the diaper companies have some good prints and colors but Buttons has the most gorgeous solids! Sea Breeze is my very favorite solid color out of my whole stash!!
Frequent New Releases – Buttons is great about putting out new solid colors and new prints frequently. It makes it fun to check back and see if there’s a new must-have diaper!
Range of Products – Buttons also carries a full line of diapering supplies. They have newborn sizes, SUPER sizes, trainers, snap-in inserts, cloth wipes, wet bags, liners, dryer balls, cloth safe diaper cream, feminine pads and more.
Small Business – As a small family-owned company, I love supporting what they do. Their passion and dedication show through in their products.
Price – Not bad considering the high quality and durability! Totally worth the price in my opinion.

CONS:
Fit – The One-Size 9-35lbs style cover runs slightly tight for my guy around his legs but now they have a SUPER style available which fits a bigger weight range 12-40lb and also now has two rows of waist snaps instead of just one.  It took me awhile to get use to the way the OS fits him but eventually I decided I really really like our Buttons OS Covers. I’ve since tried the SUPER on our toddler but I’m still not crazy about the fit of the SUPER. Its HUGE even on the smallest rise. The SUPER has a lot more room to allow more absorbency for nighttime though so I put a Geffen Prefold in for nighttime and it works perfectly. The regular OS doesn’t have quite enough room for nighttime.
No Flat Front – These have a lower front with elastic and one row of waist snaps. I really prefer a flat front panel with no tummy elastic and two rows of waist snaps like Flip and Lalabye Baby. Its not a deal breaker at all, its just personal preference.
Double Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. Its so off set that it doesn’t catch anything. The inside gusset is the only one that actually makes a seal around his legs. The double gussets are sewn tighter in that area and usually just make it harder to get messy poops off anyway. Personally I like a single gusset.
Sized Inserts – I’m not a fan of sized inserts for the same reason I prefer OS diapers.  I can’t afford to get a whole new stash each time my baby gets to the next size up. Small inserts just aren’t big enough for older babies so you definitely need more absorbency later.
No Insert Flaps – I really wish these OS Covers had front and back flaps to help hold the inserts in place! I find they do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference. The SUPER has them now which is nice.
Prints – None of the prints are a must-have for me personally (except for Swell which is out of stock) but many parents absolutely do love their designs.

OVERALL:
I reach for my Buttons OS Covers first since they are the most leak resistant brand I currently have. I wish I had more. I did try their hemp inserts, which I really liked but we quickly outgrew the Size One inserts we had. Instead of stocking up on the bigger size I tried a different brand next that was a little more trim. The Buttons cloth wipes look amazing though and I’d love to try them too – now that I discovered that I love cloth wipes just as much as the diapers themselves! Overall, I highly recommend Buttons OS Covers!


Lalabye Baby
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Lalabye Baby is my very favorite fit, but it’s a love-hate thing.

PROS:
Fit – Amazing!!!!!!!!!! I seriously can’t find another diaper that fits as well as this one. Everything about it fits perfectly. I think the fact that it has two rows of waist snaps, a high fitting front panel and no tummy elastic (flat front) are the biggest reasons but also just the cut of their fabric fits my little guy perfect. It appears to be the most comfortable on him all around. Great for daytime use.  I can’t seem to fit enough absorbency in for nighttime because they are more trim fitting but thats okay. 
Available in OS
 – I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us.
Wipeable Inside – A true waterproof Cover with a wipeable inside that allows me to reuse the Cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast. This brand also seems to retain the least amount of soap during washes making it the easiest to rinse off using the least amount of water. 
Single Gussets –
While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. A single gusset is easier to rinse poop out of. Personally I like a single gusset best.
Insert Flaps – I find they do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference. Lalabye has a perfect size and cut of front and back flaps. Love them!
Rise Snaps – The rise snaps are spaced well to grow with my baby and as long as I tuck the rise up it will not leave leg gaps.
Hip Snaps – These do have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly.
Insert Snaps – A great AI2 feature allowing you to snap inserts into place and they don’t ever get bunched up!
Frequent New Releases – Lalabye Baby is great about putting out new solid colors and new prints frequently. It makes it fun to check back and see if there’s a new must-have diaper.
Range of Products – Lalabye Baby also carries newborn sizes, wetbags and inserts. I have quite a few of the bamboo inserts which I still use as my backups if all my Geffen inserts are dirty or drying. Good absorbency!
Prints – Lalabye Baby has my all-time favorite prints: ‘Tortuga Bay’ and ‘I Love You A Latte’!!! If I could fill my whole stash with just these two prints I would :)

CONS:
Durability – Here’s the frustration I have with this brand. My Lalabye Covers lasted only 6 months to a year before they all started leaking through the single-layer TPU. Now as soon as the insert is wet, so is the outside of the diaper. This makes wet pee spots wherever Brig sits, as soon as he pees in it. If I’m going to run errands or be away from home I have to reach for one of my other brands that are a little more reliable for keeping his shorts (and me) dry. I’m practically in tears over it! I love the way our Lalabye’s look on him and fit him but they just haven’t held up as long as I had hoped. I’ve read in several cloth diaper groups that this is a common issue with this brand and I had hopes it wouldn’t happen to us too, but it did  The majority of my stash is Lalabye Baby so if we ever have another little one then I’ll have to make a decision about what brand to get more of. (Note: I have only used their Covers but I’ve heard it happens with all of their products).
Price – On the expensive end, especially for not being very durable and not being produced in the US.
Colors – Covers were a new addition to the Lalabye Baby products so there are less solid colors available in Covers.  Not every new release had a cover either, but most do.

OVERALL:
I SO wish these Covers lasted longer. I would use them exclusively if I could trust that this wouldn’t happen again.  My Lalabyes have been mostly handwashed and always line dried so the utmost care has been taken. I’ve followed their published care recommendations to the T. I recently spoke with the company about this issue and they are convinced I am a “unique case” and that anyone else that has also experienced this must have not followed proper care instructions. They claim that because these are made with an eco-friendly heat bonded TPU instead of the more common chemically bonded PUL that these diapers are just “not a good fit for the environment I live in” and that they’re sorry this brand didn’t work out for me. I’m devastated but there’s nothing I can do.  As for the bamboo inserts, they work great and wash great, I just prefer our Geffen hemp inserts as my first pick because they are much thinner, less material to wash, and easier to rinse the soap out of.


Best Bottom Diapers
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Best Bottom Diapers are a very similar fit to Buttons and also a family-owned company – from the same creator that brought us Nicki’s Diapers! They’ve got tons of styles, prints and colors available. I’ve tried the Heavy Wetter, Bigger, and Cotton Cover styles, all of which I can personally recommend.

PROS:
Available in OS – I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us.
Fit – The One-Size style Cover runs tight for my guy around his legs just like Buttons, but now Best Bottom has a BIGGER one-size-fits-most style available which fits a bigger weight range 10-45lb. More room to grow and a much more comfortable fit. I’ve heard the Cotton ones run even smaller. The Bigger Cotton is totally perfect for us though!
Wipeable Inside
 – A true waterproof Cover with a wipeable inside that allows me to reuse the Cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast.
Durability – Best Bottom Diapers are holding up very well for us. No issues with leaks or any breakdown in the material after a year of use!
Rise Snaps – The rise snaps are spaced well enough to grow with my baby and not leave leg gaps.
Hip Snaps – These do have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly.
Insert Snaps – A really awesome AI2 feature allowing you to snap inserts into place and they don’t ever get bunched up!
Colors & Prints – Tons of colors and prints to choose from!
Range of Products – Best Bottom comes in snap or hook and loop, OS, Bigger, Heavy Wetter, swim diapers, training pants, extender tabs, hook and loop replacement kits and they also have various sizes and materials of snap-in inserts making them a true AI2.
Small Business – As a small family-owned company, I love supporting what they do. Their passion and dedication show through in their products.
Made in the USA – All products locally manufactured. Thank you Best Bottom!
Price – Totally reasonable for the quality.

CONS:
Double Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. Its so off set that it doesn’t catch anything. The inside gusset is the only one that actually makes a seal around his legs. The double gussets are sewn tighter in that area and usually just make it harder to get messy poops off anyway. Personally I like a single gusset.
Sized Inserts – I’m not a fan of sized inserts for the same reason I prefer OS diapers.  I can’t afford to get a whole new stash each time my baby gets to the next size up. Small inserts just aren’t big enough for older babies. Best Bottom prefers sized inserts though so if that’s your thing, I actually do really like the width and effectiveness of their snap-in (AI2) inserts.
No Insert Flaps – I really wish these Covers had front and back flaps to help hold the inserts in place! I find that flaps do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference.
No Flat Front – These have a lower front with elastic and one row of waist snaps. I really prefer a flat front panel with no tummy elastic and two rows of waist snaps like Flip and Lalabye Baby. Its not a deal breaker at all, its just personal preference.

OVERALL:
Best Bottom makes a great diaper. Its not my favorite fitting diaper but I still reach for my Bigger Cotton Cover all the time. Definitely a safe bet if I were to stock up on any one brand!!


Charlie Banana
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I had heard so many good things about Charlie Banana diapers that it was the very first brand I wanted to try. Most people raved about them. A few people I talked to were put off by the special elastic system they use but I decided to try them out anyway. Please note: Charlie Banana is the only brand I tried that is NOT a Cover.  Its still an AI2 system (technically a “pocket” diaper where you stuff or lay in your insert for absorbency) but it does not have a wipeable interior – instead it has a very soft microfleece interior material.

PROS:
Available in OS – I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us.
Fit – Incredibly soft and comfortable fit. They never pinch or leave marks or restrict his movement at all. The cut is perfect and looks adorable on him. My favorite part about the fit is that there is no elastic on his tummy! A flat front with two rows of waist snaps seems to work best for us. This is definitely a tie for our favorite fit between Lalabye Baby and Charlie Banana.
Durability – Top quality. No issues with leaks or any breakdown in the material after a year of use.
Adjustable Elastic System – Charlie Banana has it’s own special bra-strap-like adjustable leg elastic making for a perfect and customizable fit ALL the time. There are never any leg gaps, even if one little chunky sausage leg is a little bigger than the other! Its kind of tedious to adjust them if you have a whole stash of Charlie Banana diapers but they really don’t need to be adjusted very often. While it may seem like a pain in the butt to some, it’s a trade off I’m more than willing to take for peace of mind that we will always have a perfect fit.
Colors & Prints – Tons of colors and prints to choose from! I prefer their solids but there are lots of choices.
Single Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. A single gusset is easier to rinse poop out of. Personally I like a single gusset best.
Hip Snaps – These do have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly.
Range of Products – There are WAY too many different products for me to even list here! Check out their website for all the products they offer. Its truly a complete one-stop shop. I’ve tried out their awesome swim diapers, disposable liners, and their super soft organic cotton wipes. The wipes are a double layer with one side cotton and one side fleece. They seemed like overkill at first but I REALLY love them for just a nice gentle wipe or wash cloth, and for the extra messy poops. I wasn’t really a fan of the disposable liners – they seemed to bunch up too easily for us.
Small Business – As a small family-owned company, I love supporting what they do. Their passion and dedication show through in their products. Their customer service is amazing too :)
Price – Totally reasonable for the quality.

CONS:
No Covers Available – My only real complaint is that they don’t come in Covers ;( I prefer covers to save space  – a major thing to consider if you are like me and handwash in a 5-gallon bucket. Covers use less water to wash too so while I absolutely love our Charlie Banana diapers, I save them as my backups for when it’s super rainy for days on end and I run out of our regular Covers and inserts. If I had a real washing machine and didn’t need to be so careful with my water consumption then I would totally choose these more often.
Sized Inserts – I’m not a fan of sized inserts for the same reason I prefer OS diapers.  I can’t afford to get a whole new stash each time my baby gets to the next size up. I’ve tried the small inserts and they work as a backup but they really aren’t enough absorbency for older babies. Charlie Banana has both hemp and microfiber inserts. I tried the microfiber but I have since switched to exclusively using hemp because its so much easier to rinse the soap out of natural fibers than it is microfiber. Less water usage on a boat…

OVERALL:
I love love love our Charlie Banana diapers. I love how they fit and I would love them even more if we were in a house instead of living on a boat. If they ever came in Covers I think this would be my ultimate favorite brand for sure!


Thirsties
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Thirsties is a well known brand that everyone loves.  There are tons of different types of diapers that they offer so there is sure to be something for everyone. The type I tried was the Duo-Wrap – their most popular Cover. Lets take a look:

PROS:
Wipeable Inside
 – The Duo-Wrap is a true waterproof Cover with a wipeable inside that allows me to reuse the Cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast.
Durability – Thirsties diapers are high quality and I’ve never had an issue with leaks or breakdown of material.
Rise Snaps – The rise snaps are spaced well enough to grow with my baby and not leave leg gaps.
Hip Snaps – These do have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly.
Colors & Prints – Tons of colors and prints to choose from.
Frequent New Releases – Thirsties is always putting out new solid colors and new prints. It makes it fun to check back and see if there’s a new must-have diaper!
Range of Products – Thirsties really has it all. They come in both hook and loop as well as snap closures. They have OS, newborn, fitteds, AIO, pocket, swim diapers, trainers, basic covers, a deluxe cover called the Duo Wrap, AI2 inserts and a really nice hemp prefold. They also have all the good accessories like wetbags, pail liners, cloth wipes and cloth safe diaper cream.
Made in the USA – All products locally manufactured in Colorado!
Price – Totally reasonable for the quality.

CONS:
Double Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. Its so off set that it doesn’t catch anything. The inside gusset is the only one that actually makes a seal around his legs. The double gussets are sewn tighter in that area and usually just make it harder to get messy poops off anyway. Personally I like a single gusset.
Not Available in OS – I can’t afford to get a whole new stash each time my baby gets to the next size up. While Thirsties does offer OS diapers, they are only OS in the AIO, not in the Duo-Wraps or plain Covers.
Fit – I’m not a fan of sized diapers to begin with but there is a pretty significant difference between the size one and the size two.  We outgrew the size one quickly and the size two is still huge even at 18 months old.  I don’t have any issues with leaks but its just not my favorite fit.
Insert Flaps – I really wish these Covers had front and back flaps to help hold the inserts in place! I find that flaps do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference.
No Flat Front – These have a lower front with elastic and one row of waist snaps. I really prefer a flat front panel with no tummy elastic and two rows of waist snaps like Flip and Lalabye Baby. Its not a deal breaker at all, its just personal preference.

OVERALL:
Thirsties has a great reputation and has lots of great products. I reach for our Thirsties cover as often as our Best Bottom cover. Their hemp products are fantastic and I Iike them almost as much as our Geffen hemp inserts and prefolds. I only have size one stuff from Thirsties though so I’ll have to wait until we have another baby to get to use any of it again.


Cotton Babies – Flip
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Flip Diaper Covers are part of the Cotton Babies family. Flips are a for sure staple for us when it comes to nighttime diapering.

PROS:
Fit – Flip covers have a very generous and wide fit allowing you to use more absorbency. This reason alone is why we exclusively use prefolds with Flip Covers for our nighttime solution. Since we use the ultra trim Geffen inserts during the day, Flip covers aren’t the best option to hold them in place but they still work just fine if all my other covers are dirty. I just shorten up the rise to account for the missing prefold and they fit great! My very favorite part about Flip is that they have a flat front panel with two rows of waist snaps and no tummy elastic!! This design works the best for us :) 
Available in OS –
I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us.
Wipeable Inside
 – The Flip cover is a true waterproof Cover with a wipeable PUL inside that allows me to reuse the Cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast.
Rise Snaps – The rise snaps are spaced well enough to grow with my baby and not leave leg gaps.
Hip Snaps – These do have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly.
Single Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. A single gusset is easier to rinse poop out of. Personally I like a single gusset best.
Colors & Prints – Tons of colors and prints to choose from.
Insert Flaps – Front and back flaps help hold the inserts in place. I find that flaps do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference.
Price – Very affordable! This is my favorite brand for the budget minded.

CONS:
Durability – I’m kinda bummed the leg elastic seems less robust and doesn’t hold up very well but it’s not the end of the world for the price you can get them for. At 18 months old we moved up to the tightest rise to take up some of the leg elastic slack. Some people replace their elastics easily but others may not want to hassle with that and just replace the whole cover instead. We’ve ad no issues with leaks at all though so I’m totally impressed with the single layer PUL material.

OVERALL:
I think Flip diapers are really really awesome.  Despite the crappy leg elastic, I still love our Flip diapers better than our other Covers for nighttime. If I had to start over from scratch with a whole new stash on a budget of only one brand, Flip diapers would be the way to go. Even for daytime. They are simple, reliable and really really easy to wash.


Bambino Mio
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Mostly a UK brand, Bambino Mio also has a USA/Canada site which is awesome because so many people love their products! They basically come in two types – the Miosolo All In One and the Miosoft All in Two. Of course I chose to try the Miosoft AI2 which is a cover with choice of insert.

PROS:
Fit – We only tried the Size One Miosoft Cover but it fit perfectly. I couldn’t afford to get any more once Brig grew out of them but I so wish he could still wear them. If we could afford to buy more diapers we would definitely like some bigger Bambino Mio Covers in our stash. We never had any leaks, blowouts or issues.  Plus they were a generous enough fit to allow for a bulky stuff like a prefold. Awesome fit. 
Wipeable Inside
 – Miosoft AI2 is a true waterproof Cover with a wipeable inside that allows me to reuse the Cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast.
Insert Flaps – Front flaps help hold the inserts in place. I find that flaps do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference.
Price – Very affordable! Great for the budget minded.
Durability – Excellent quality. There is no breakdown in the material which means it’s totally reliable for leaks, and the elastic is holding up perfectly.

CONS:
Not Available in OS – I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us. Currently, Bambino Mio only offers sized Covers (Miosoft) although their All In One (Miosolo) does come in One-Size.  
Only Available in Hook and Loop:
The Miosoft Cover only comes in hook and loop (velcro) but I prefer snaps. However… the placement of the hook and loop is WAY better than all the other hook and loop brands I tried because the scratchy side NEVER touched Brig’s skin! That was my main reason for preferring snaps in the first place was that most other hook and loop covers would always fold into his skin causing nasty red scratches. Ouch. If you’re in the hook and loop camp, I absolutely recommend Bambino Mio 100%. Really great design.
Double Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. Its so off set that it doesn’t catch anything. The inside gusset is the only one that actually makes a seal around his legs. The double gussets are sewn tighter in that area and usually just make it harder to get messy poops off anyway. Personally I like a single gusset.

OVERALL:
I SO love our Bambino Mio Covers! I just wish we also had some in the Size Two so we could still use them right now. My Size Ones will just have to wait for if we ever have another baby. Even though they aren’t snaps, I still love love love the fit. I even tried their OS prefold which is a traditional cotton prefold. It’s a lot thicker than my Geffen jersey hemp prefolds but it’s an affordable simple diapering solution that fits nicely into their Covers.


Nicki’s Diapers
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Nicki’s is a actually a one-stop-shop reseller that hosts a ton of different cloth diapering brands on their website but they also have their own line of diapers too. I tried a Cover from Nicki’s and it’s pretty awesome for a budget friendly Cover.

PROS:
Fit – The rise snaps are in a weird location and the fabric on the sides of my baby’s thighs is a little too tall for us which kind of restricts his movement sometimes. Other than that it’s got a flat front with two rows of waist snaps which I like, and holds our inserts in well. It’s not my favorite fit but it’s not bad either. We are on the smallest rise right now though so this might be a good nighttime option for younger babies. 
Available in OS –
 I can’t afford to buy a whole new stash every time my baby grows into the next size up so One-Size is essential for us.
Wipeable Inside
 – Nicki’s Cover is a true waterproof Cover with a wipeable inside that allows me to reuse the Cover if its not totally soaked or contaminated with poop. Essential for conserving water with less washes needed. Dries fast.
Single Gussets – While most people like double gussets, I don’t think the outer gusset ever does anything for us. A single gusset is easier to rinse poop out of. Personally I like a single gusset best.
Insert Flaps – Front and back flaps help hold the inserts in place. I find that flaps do help prevent leaks from flooded diapers or really messy poops. Personal preference.
Price – Very affordable! Great for the budget minded.
Durability – Seems to be holding up surprisingly well! There is no breakdown in the material which means it’s totally reliable for leaks, and the elastic is holding up better than my other budget brand.
Range of Products – An amazing range of different products here. If you cant find what you want in Nicki’s Brand products, they have anything else you could ever want on their website from a ton of other brands :)

CONS:
Rise Snaps – The rise is really strange!! The rise snaps are way too close to the waist snaps and it makes it a little tricky to snap sometimes. Not a deal breaker but strange. Maybe the one I got is just different than how they are supposed to be.
No Hip Snaps – These do not have hip snaps – a second inside snap on the same row as the primary waist snaps, which I find really helpful to keep the edges tucked in properly. My busy boy often gets this cover all bunched up when playing and the edges poke out the top because they aren’t secured inside with a hip snap.

OVERALL:
A solid inexpensive option and a completely different fit than their sister brand, Best Bottom Diapers. They have an AWESOME 15-day try-wash-love or return policy and their own non-profit buy-one-give-one program where they give one Nicki’s Brand diaper to a child in need for ever Nicki’s Brand diaper purchased. Pretty cool. Overall, I definitely recommend giving Nicki’s a try. They’ve got a ton of different products for whatever your preferences are.

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Stay tuned for more details on why I switched exclusively to Geffen Hemp inserts as well as a breakdown on How We Wash Diapers On A Boat ;)

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IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING… We are PROUD to share these awesome products and services with our readers. There are so many different solutions out there for everything we could possibly need, but these are the solutions that work for us.

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The Best of Intentions

As much as I want to write a new blog post every day, it just never happens. I have such high hopes for my time management. I dream about the times when I used to be able to sit down with my laptop and get lost in my thoughts.  The truth is that Brig gets busier with each passing day and there’s always something more pressing that needs to get done. To be fair, we have literally been on the move for more than a year.  Ever since Hurricane Irma hit, we’ve been traveling and bouncing around from house to house by plane, by car, and by boat almost nonstop.  Unexpected events pop up at every turn. As if a 17 month old baby wasn’t enough to keep me from blogging!

We finally got back to our boat about a month ago after spending some more time in the states for my grandmother’s memorial and to allow us to be out of the Caribbean during Hurricane Season. We began sailing North to get back to St Thomas but weather has kept us longer than planned. We’re still currently stuck in St Kitts for just a couple more days. On Monday we hope we can make the final 24 hour push to get back home and FINALLY get settled. It feels like its been SUCH a long time coming.  We can finally find a routine and nave a little normalcy in our lives.  I think I need it more than anyone.  Brig has been such a trooper through it all and I’m so proud of him.

Peter will go back to work full time for Paradise Yacht Management in St Thomas managing the maintenance on their fleet of charter catamarans.  It’s a great company and Peter really enjoys working with those guys so he’s excited to get back too.  I will be staying home with Brig and I HOPE to get some projects of my own finally taken care of.  There are SO many sewing projects on my list and I have tons of blog content I want to finally get posted. Brig is in the process of transitioning from two naps down to one so I hope I can finally get a solid chunk of time to myself during the day.  Am I just dreaming again? Maybe. We shall see.

I know there are many of you that only visit the website and blog but don’t “do” social media. Please remember to check out our Instagram and Facebook pages even if you don’t have accounts there.  You can still see our public photos. I post updates about our adventures on those sites WAY more often than I post here right now so head on over to get your dose of coconuts :)

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Sailing South and other thoughts

Here we are smack in the middle of July and well into the Atlantic Hurricane season – a time of year where we should’ve already been heading South. Peter and I discussed our options months ago and we both agreed that moving South to Grenada in June was the best thing for us this year. We’ve already spent two Hurricane seasons down there and we absolutely love it. It may sound like a simple plan to pick up anchor and set sail but things haven’t exactly unfolded the way we had hoped.

We knew we bought a project boat. We knew she needed some TLC to bring her back to the condition we knew she was once in. What we didn’t know was just how many other unforeseen repairs and upgrades would be needed along the way. The money we got back from our insurance claim on our last boat helped us to buy this one and get back on our feet but the cost of additional repairs has far exceeded what we had left over. Because of this, Peter has been working pretty much full time here in St Thomas in order to pay for the extra parts we needed and for our weekly groceries. I thought BVI was expensive but honestly I don’t see the food here on St Thomas being much cheaper at all. With a paycheck-to-paycheck budget and with Peter gone all day at work it’s been very difficult to get everything done to the boat that we want or need to do.

We thought we were finally ready to go. With three days left in the month of June we left our favorite spot in Christmas Cove and pointed off toward Grenada. The weather window was promising and our friends Rob and Deb from Cosmos Mariner were buddy-boating down with us. About two hours into the passage South when the seas started building, Peter noticed a significant amount of saltwater pouring into the vberth. How much you ask? Like a gallon a minute. It was pouring in from the dorad boxes and about four other places every time the bow sliced through the waves. The seastate wasn’t terrible but we also weren’t used to a boat that buried the bow so much. Our Whitby didn’t sail to wind this way. This boat was made to slice through in such a different way. Peter also never had these issues on the passage from Antigua to the VI because it was all downwind. We had done a small shakedown but nothing offshore in this direction. Brig was getting frustrated with having to stay strapped to me in our Lillebaby carrier and Peter determined there was no temporary fix he could do while under way that would keep that much water out of our forward cabin for the next 2 and a half days. At that moment he decided it was better for us and for the boat to turn back, make some repairs and wait for the next weather window. *sigh*

No big deal except for now our insurance wouldn’t cover us after July 1 in a named storm if we stayed “inside the box” instead of getting down to the lower latitudes. I immediately got a rider for our policy allowing us to be covered for another month in USVI – another unexpected added expense – and Peter began making repairs. He serviced the frozen dorad scoops so they could be removed and the covers installed closing them off. He recaulked our forward hatch at the base and along the top of the glass. He recaulked the windlass controls. He recaulked the staysail connection to the deck. He pulled up and rebed our two forward cleats, both of which ended up badly needing new bolts. And lastly he pulled up, serviced and rebed the windlass!! That was a NIGHTMARE job but really needed to be done. All I can say is thank goodness my brother Brandon is still here because he’s helped Peter every step of the way, to make this boat safe for all of us, as quickly as possible.

Our weather window is finally here. This time Peter doesn’t want Brig and I to go. Instead, he insists that we fly down to Grenada and wait for him there. It should only take him 2.5-3 days and then he won’t have to worry about us if the waves are miserable. My brother is still here with us and will do the passage too. Our friend Mike from Three Sheets Sailing is also going to go along so Peter can actually get a little sleep and take real shifts. My brother will be able to help a little but he’s never done anything like this before so entrusting him with the responsibility of being on watch when he doesn’t know anything about navigation or sailing isn’t really fair to him. I fly out in two days with Brig. It will be a very long day with one ferry and four connecting flights to hop down island but the good news is we will get to spend the weekend with our friends from the Sunkissed Soeters!! Brig will have so much fun with Darcy and Luuck’s boys, Stormer and Rio and it’ll be good for me too.

I get it… I understand Peter just wants to keep us safe. It’s a new-to-us boat and he wants to gain a little faith in our boat first before taking his baby out to sea in it. I also know it would be very difficult to entertain a one-year-old on a passage to wind. The first attempt a few weeks ago was challenging and that was just a couple of hours worth. Going below to use the head and to change Brig’s diaper just one time was very tiring. But part of me also feels like i’m failing at “cruising with kids” if I can’t even do a little 3 day passage with my baby. SO many other families take their babies on passages longer than this all the time so why can’t I? I know I shouldn’t feel that way and that I’m not failing and that we just need to do what is right for our family. But it’s hard to not think it. Oh well. It doesn’t even matter anymore. It’s another extra expense for the plane ticket but it’s just money right? Peter will just work a little more.

By Monday we should be all settled back on our boat together as a family in a Grenada. I can’t wait. ❤️

Settling In

Brig, Betsy, my brother Brandon and I are settling in after arriving safe and sound in St Thomas a little more than two weeks ago. Peter had just arrived with our new boat from Antigua and everything was still in full on project mode. Day by day we’ve chipped away at the list and its just now starting to feel like home.

Every new boat comes with a few hiccups – a few surprises we couldn’t have anticipated. As soon as I got there the refrigerator and freezer keel coolers stopped working.  Peter only had the boat in the water for about a week at that point so many of the systems were being put to the test for the first time.  The good news is that Reefco, the local marine refrigeration company, was able to diagnose and supply the parts we needed. The bad news is how much the parts and labor cost us :( We began to work on getting on the schedule to haul the boat out to do the repairs.

We were on the dock at Crown Bay Marina for the first few days after arriving back in the islands, then moved to a nearby mooring that our friends Jesse and Stacey on SV Smitty helped us arrange.  When we tried to leave, our alternator and oil alarm were both giving us issues. Eventually we got it resolved enough just to get us up to Christmas Cove a short sail away but as we approached the mooring field that afternoon, our troubles continued.  The engine wouldn’t start! We calmly thought about what could be wrong and continued to try starting it a few more times. Suddenly it turned over… Our engine started and we anchored toward the back of the pack. We could have come in under sail but it’s always nicer to be able to back down on your anchor. A ton of boats were there already in anticipation for a regatta so there weren’t many spots to choose from. After we got settled Peter determined it was pure luck that we got the engine started just then and that it would NOT be starting again.

We had to wait almost a week to get Offshore Marine out with a replacement Electronic Control Unit, so not only did we have no way to start the engine, we still had no refrigeration. Our plans for hauling out to fix the keel coolers would have to wait until we had an engine to get us into the haulout slip. I’ve got towing on our new insurance but it wasn’t worth the hassle of filing a claim.  We resorted to eating soup, mac n cheese and pb&j.

Eventually we got it all fixed. We sailed back out to Christmas Cove now and we can finally relax! There will always be boat projects but we hope the major stuff is all done now.  Peter’s birthday was March 30 and luckily we got to spend it in paradise.

We’re all adjusting pretty well. Brandon is getting used to boat life. Betsy is so happy to be able to lay in the sun all afternoon again, and Brig is busy as ever. At 9 months he can walk around the whole inside of the boat using the walls for stability, he loves eating goldfish and he’s learning to like swimming at the beach! Peter and I are just happy to be back to where we belong <3