Monday, February 23, 2009

15% Off! Fat Tuesday Sale at Earth Angels Diaper Co.!



Earth Angels Diaper Co. is holding a 15% off sale on February 24th, 2009, for Fat Tuesday! It will be store-wide with code FATT until midnight on Fat Tuesday ONLY!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Gift Certificate Giveaway - Jennifer's Cloth Diaper Boutique!

Jennifer's Cloth Diaper Boutique

Yay! It's Cloth and Carriers 101's first contest!

Lynda of Jennifer's Cloth Diaper Boutique has donated a $10 Gift Certificate for the prize! You can even use the Gift Certificate towards the purchase of a pre-order diaper!

How do you enter? It's easy!

1. Just email me at ClothAndCarriers101@yahoo.com telling me you'd like to be entered in the Jennifer's Cloth Diaper Boutique drawing. I pinky swear that you won't be spammed. I will only use your email address to contact you if you are the winner. If you have testy email, you may want to include a phone number for me to try you at as well. Again, there will be no phone-spamming, either! LOL

2. Only one entry per household, please.

3. All entries must be received by 11:59 pm Pacific time on Saturday, March 7th, 2009.

4. After that time, all eligible entries will be entered into a random drawing for a $10 Gift Certificate to Jennifer's Cloth Diaper Boutique.

5. I will contact the winner by email. If I don't hear back from the winner within 1 week, the winner forfeits the prize and another winner will be drawn from the remaining entries. So that's why if you have testy email you might want to leave a phone number, too. ;-)

Thank you so much to the sponsor of this contest, Jennifer's Cloth Diaper Boutique!

Free Shipping, Preorders on New Diapers, and Buy 12 get 1 FREE at Jennifer's Cloth Diaper Boutique!

Wow! Lynda at Jennifer's Cloth Diaper Boutique has a some great promotions going on right now!

FREE SHIPPING:
Through March 1st, 2009, all US orders are eligible for free shipping! Just use the code FREESHIP at checkout!

BUY 12, GET 1 FREE:
Order a 12 pack of any brand of diapers and get one FREE! No coupon code needed for this deal... just mention it in the comments at checkout. Click here for diaper packages! Ends March 7th, 2009.

TAKING PREORDERS ON NEW ONE SIZE DIAPERS:
Gro Baby One-Size Diaper
bumGenius! Organic One-Size w/ Snaps!
Fuzzi Bunz One-Size Diapers
Reserve them while you can! These new diapers are selling like hotcakes from what I hear.

Friday, February 20, 2009

How did I get into cloth diapers, and why did I start selling them?

Submitted by Brandi. Thank you! =-)

"I also have a question for you- what made you make the change? Just curious, really- I try to think back about myself and why I changed- I know exactly when and why, but I was trying to remember what I knew about cloth diapering before that and I can't remember- I know I had been into Kissui, but I can't even remember if I looked at the diapers or not! Anyway, just thought it would be interesting to hear what made you change to cloth, like was there a turning point? Oh, and when did you decide to start selling them online? Thanks!"

I switched when my oldest was 16 months old, and I was about 6 months pregnant with my second. Before then, I had never seen a cloth diaper.

When Brandon, my first was born, it never even occurred to me that cloth diapers still existed. I didn't know anyone who used cloth diapers. Everyone I knew gifted me with pack after pack of disposables. No one had ever mentioned cloth diapers as an option, so it just never even struck me as a possibility.

When Brandon was about 5 months old, I went to a La Leche League meeting to get to know some other breastfeeding mamas. At the time, I was the only breastfeeding mom I knew. My family had all breastfed their children, so I had that support, but I really wanted to also get support from ladies closer to my age with babies. So anywhoo, at the LLL meeting, one of the moms mentioned that she used cloth diapers, but that was about the extent of it. I was kind of surprised that anyone still used cloth diapers, and I remember wondering why someone would do that on purpose. I was picturing flats and safety pins, dunking and swishing, stink and stains. I still hadn't seen a cloth diaper at that point, so I was still very misinformed.

When Brandon was 16 months old, and we were expecting baby #2, I was hanging out on my birth board just killing time. When you have only one baby, you still occasionally have time to kill. That doesn't happen anymore... There was a thread on my birth board about Fuzzi Bunz. I clicked the link and fell in LOVE!

I would love to say that there was something more noble to the story, but that would be a lie. I started out on cloth for a relatively shallow reason... THEY WERE WAY TOO CUTE! I wanted my Brandon's butt to be in these adorable, vibrant, colorful cloth diapers - not the ugly disposable diapers he was currently napping in.

So while I switched for a superficial reason, the point is that I switched. I jumped right into cloth diapering and have never gone back. And once I actually began cloth diapering, I learned about the ecological and health benefits of cloth diapers, and became very passionate about cloth being the superior choice in every way. This has led me to a more eco-conscious mindset in many other ways as well, so the cute factor can be a gateway in that sense.

As far as selling diapers, I didn't actually set out to sell diapers. When my second son, Seth, was about 6 weeks old, he had to have tests that required us to be at the hospital for a series of x-rays spanning 6 hours. I was wearing him in my Maya Wrap, pacing the halls for the hour in between each x-ray. During that time I had literally dozens of people ask me about my sling and how they could buy one. By about the 10th person I made a mental note that I should look into the legal requirements for obtaining a wholesale account and re-selling Maya Wraps. I intended to keep a few in my truck to have on hand when people asked where they could buy one.

So I did just that. But legally retailing anything in the state of CA is a gigantic PITA, so I figured if I was going to go to all of this trouble (permits, licenses, etc.), I had better sell more than just Maya Wraps. I was well into my obsession with cloth diapers by then, so I began checking into wholesale accounts for cloth diapers as well. And it just kind of snowballed from there. I initially had no intention of doing business on a large scale, but it just kind of happened.

So I guess I just sort of fell into cloth diapers in the first place, and then kind of tumbled right into selling them!

FAQ - "How do you strip your diapers when needed?"

Submitted by Mama Kalila. Thank you! =-)

"Quick question... If you don't recommend Dawn [in the washing machine] (and your explanation makes a lot of sense) then how do you strip your diapers when needed?"

Good question!

For general repelling (when the diapers just don't seem to be absorbing very well, or moisture is leaking off instead of being absorbed) the cause is usually detergent buildup. You can also tell if this is the likely culprit if you notice that there are suds or scum in the final rinse when you do your normal wash routine. To help with detergent buildup, wash your diapers in hot with 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent. Then follow that with hot washes with NO detergent. Run hot washes with no detergent as many times as needed until there are no suds or scum in the rinse cycle. You can see why Dawn would be counter-productive in this case since you are trying to remove all suds from your diapers.

If someone (hubby, mother-in-law... never you, of course!) has done the unthinkable and put a cloth-unfriendly diaper cream on without a liner, the cream will stick to that diaper like there's no tomorrow. This will cause repelling (and likely staining) in the area where the diaper cream came into contact with the diaper. To remedy this, I do recommend Dawn, but in the kitchen sink... not the washing machine. Using hot water, a squirt of plain Dawn, and a super-soft bristle toothbrush (think baby toothbrush) you can gently rub out the diaper cream. Just squirt a little Dawn right on the affected area of the fleece or suedecloth, and very softly rub with the toothbrush. After you've scrubbed one side of the fleece or suedecloth, flip the diaper inside out (if possible) and scrub the opposite side as well. This will not be a two-minute fix, but it will save your diaper. It just takes some diligence and a lot of patience. After you're done, rinse the diaper as well as you can in the sink, then wash in the washing machine as usual. Just be sure that there are no suds left in the rinse. You may need to do extra rinses.

And of course I recommend prevention above all! To avoid buildup in the first place, be sure to use a cloth-friendly detergent, use only 1/2 the recommended amount, and do an extra rinse after every wash cycle. Avoid diaper creams when possible. When necessary or prescribed by your doctor, use as directed but use a fleece or flushable liner as a barrier between the cream and your dipes!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

FAQ - "HE Washer Woes!"

Submitted by briannalc.

"Hello! I was a customer of Keen Bambino and I am very glad that you decided to start this blog. Anyway, I used prefolds with my 3rd child. My older 2 were potty trained, so no need to start them, too. We will be trying for a 4th baby sometime late spring/early summer, and I really want to
cloth diaper again. The problem has to do with why I stopped cloth diapering. When I bought cloth diapers, I had a top loading old washing machine. After about 4-5 months of cloth diapering, I had to get a new washer and dryer because mine died. I bought an HE front loading set. Soon after using the new set, my son started getting horrible rashes. I know that my machine was just not getting them as clean as he needed them. I think it is because of how little water my machine used. I just used baking soda, vinegar, and a squirt of dawn. I ended up going back to regular diapers because I was so frustrated with those diaper rashes. After that long explanation... what is the best way to get diapers clean in an HE machine? I have an LG model, if that makes any difference! I have friends with different models and they never had a problem."

Let me start out by saying that I have a top-loading washer which is at least 10 years old. The stupid thing runs like a champ and I have never had to have a single repair on it. It just won't die. I wish it would so I could have an excuse to buy a fancy-shmansy new washer. But I guess if appliances NOT breaking is the biggest problem around my house then I should count my blessings, huh?

HE machines are a mixed blessing. On the one hand, you can cut your family's water usage which is nice for your checking account and nice for our planet. But HE machines and diapers are just fundamentally opposed, it seems. Diapers need to be thoroughly rinsed to avoid detergent residue buildup, so a machine that's designed to use a fraction of the water of a traditional model can be an issue.

As much as it seems to defeat the purpose of an HE machine, when washing diapers many parents find that they need to do 2 or 3 extra rinses (instead of the usual 1 extra rinse recommended when washing diapers in a top-loading model). Rinsing is so important, I really can't stress it enough. Yes, it's lame to have to do several rinses in a machine that's designed to save water. But the alternative is stinky diapers and rashy bums... and that's even more lame, isn't it?

My other suggestion would be to NEVER use Dawn in any washing machine... especially an HE machine. Dawn is not designed for washing machines. I know it is widely recommended on diapering forums, but remember that these ladies are not washing machine technicians. Think of how incredibly sudsy dish soap is. Now pair that with an HE machine which we know doesn't really rinse clean. It is very likely that there was a ton of Dawn residue in your diapers, which was what was causing the rash. Over-sudsing can also be damaging to your washing machine, so I really wish people would stop recommending it.

I would recommend using a detergent specifically designed for HE machines, and then using 1/2 of the recommended HE amount when you do diaper laundry. When choosing a detergent, be sure to avoid those with softeners and/or brighteners like the plague. Fragrances should be avoided if your baby's skin is sensitive to them. There is some debate about enzymes, as well. Some parents find that detergents with enzymes cause a rash on their baby, while others find that detergents without enzymes aren't sufficient when tackling something as nasty as human waste. My boys had recurring rashes until I switched to a detergent with enzymes (we use plain, basic Tide with great success). However, I still won't recommend enzymes across the board. It's really a matter of what works best for your baby and what you are comfortable with trying.

So in your situation, I'd say give it another try next time around! Just be sure to do extra rinses, avoid the Dawn, and use an HE-specific detergent.

FAQ - "What is the best carrier for plus size mommas ?"

"What is the best carrier for plus size mommas ?"

Also submitted by Jenn! Thanks again! =-)

I am just barely on the lower border of plus-size as far as clothing stores are concerned (size 12 on a good day), but I do have some pretty hefty DD knockers for my 5'4" self, so I'm definitely not a stick figure either. I do, however, know what my plus-sized baby-wearing customers raved about, so I can provide a list of some of my top-sellers for plus-sized Mamas:

Sleepy Wrap Baby Wrap Carrier (Wrap Carrier):
If you're looking for a wrap-style carrier, this would be the way to go, in my opinion. The material on the Sleepy Wrap is just slightly more stretchy than on other brands I have tried, which means you can get a great fit no matter what your size. Don't let the word "stretchy" scare you, though. It truly is just slightly stretchy... definitely not ridiculously stretchy where the material loses shape and the baby is hanging down to your knees after 5 minutes.


New Native Baby Carrier (Pouch):
I love pouches because they are so simple, yet so versatile. You can wear your baby in so many different positions and there are never any buckles or belts to adjust. And they fold up incredibly small, which makes them so easy to bring along. I would suggest that plus-sized Mamas who are looking for a pouch should check out the New Native Carrier. The company's standard lineup goes up to XL, and they will happily custom make slings from 2XL to 5XL. It's a very easy carrier to size yourself for (just measure your chest above your bust), and there is detailed sizing info available on the manufacturer's website. if you're still not sure about size, the manufacturer even provides a toll-free number that you can call for guidance.

ERGObaby Carrier (Soft Structured Carrier):
The ERGO is probably my very favorite carrier overall. My younger son is a hefty guy, so it wasn't long before he was just too heavy to be carried comfortably for long periods of time. The ERGO has been AMAZING! At 30+ lbs, he would pass out on my back while we were out walking and I could carry him for hours if that's how long he decided to sleep. I have tried a lot of soft structured carriers, and the ERGO is hands-down the most comfortable. That's one major reason why it gets my recommendation for plus-sized Mamas. Another reason is that the carrier's waist straps fit up to a 43" waist, and you can also add an extender which brings the waist to 51".

If you are a baby-wearing plus-sized Mama, I'd love to have your input! Which carriers have you fallen in love with?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

FAQ - "What is your fave OS Pocket ? Sized pocket? "

SQUEAL! My very first FAQ submission!

This FAQ was submitted by Jenn. Thanks Jenn!

"What is your fave OS Pocket ? Sized pocket?"

I was asked these questions all the time as a retailer. Since I took it upon myself to try everything I could get my hands on, I can give an honest opinion about both.

Mandi's Favorite One-Size Pocket:


The winner is the bumGenius 3.0 One-Size Cloth Diaper.

I *love* this diaper. I've been using them since they came out (I used the 2.0's long before that), and they just have such a nice, trim fit. I'm generally not a huge fan of hook & loop closures, but the laundry tabs on my bG's keep the Aplix closed during the wash much better than any other hook & loop diaper I've tried. Mine are used in heavy rotation (no diaper is used "gently" around here!) and they've held up very well. I love that they come with a newborn insert in addition to the one-size insert. That means that even on a newborn there is a nice, trim fit.

I have quite the variety of diapers in my stash, but I always reach for my bG's in regards to a one-size diaper. They're just an all-around great diaper, very well-made, and relatively competitive in price.

Mandi's Favorite Sized Pocket:

The winner is Fuzzi Bunz.

These diapers have lasted over TWO YEARS of daily use, and still have life in them. Every baby is shaped differently, so preferences will vary on that front, but for my kids FB's are simply the best fit. They are super-adjustable in the thigh area, which has been really nice. My oldest was very skinny, and my youngest had thighs like the Michelin Man. Fuzzi Bunz fit them both perfectly. There is a great selection of colors, and I love that the prints are made of the same material as the solids.

You can see in the picture at right how trim Fuzzi Bunz are. This particular diaper was being worn during sprinkler time, and it even had the insert in it. That diaper was soaked, and look how trim it is!

A close second for my favorite sized pockets would be Knickernappies Disposanots. They are also fairly trim-fitting, and come in an equally adorable array of colors. The quality and durability of KNDs are top-notch, as well. The only reason they are my second favorite is that the sizes are a little smaller than the Fuzzi Bunz, and my little linebacker outgrew each size more quickly than he did in the Fuzzi Bunz. For my chub-a-lub I prefer the more generous sizing of Fuzzi Bunz... but if you have petite babies, I would actually recommend Knickernappies.

These are my preferences based on trying one of everything ever made (just about!). But every baby is different. My first and foremost recommendation to anyone starting out is do not invest in dozens of any one particular diaper until you have tried it out first!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Submit a FAQ!

Do you have a burning question about cloth diapers or baby carriers you'd like me to answer? Submitting a question is easy!

Either-
1. Post your question as a comment to any previous post

Or-
2. Email your question to ClothAndCarriers101@yahoo.com

I'll post your question (and my response) ASAP!

What are my credentials, you may ask?

* I have cloth diapered 2 children, and soon I'll be diapering my third!

* I have experienced "converting", as I switched to cloth when my oldest son was 16 months old. Until that point I had never even seen a cloth diaper. So, yeah, I've been on both ends of the spectrum in that sense!

* I cloth diapered my second son from the start, so I am familiar with diapering a newborn, as well.

* Because of my time as a cloth diaper retailer, I have literally tried every major brand and style of diaper out there. I've also tried many smaller-scale WAHM-made brands.

* I have worn both of my children in just about every carrier imaginable... from the mainstream Snugli, to the Maya Wrap, woven wraps, the ERGO... and everything in between.

* I have basically lived and breathed cloth diapers and baby carriers for the last 2 years, during which time I was a retailer.

So whether you're an expectant first time mom weighing your options, or a seasoned pro with a specific wondering, email me your question and I'd be happy to weigh in!

Advertising Opportunities

Since this blog is brand-spankin’ new, and I’m still working to build up a following, I am offering ad space at a very affordable rate. This price will likely go up in the future, as my following grows, so grab up a space now at the super-cheap rate!

BANNER ADVERTISING:

Left-Side 125x125
3 months $5
6 months $10 *and get an extra month free!*

Top 468x60
3 months $10
6 months $20 *and get an extra month free!*

GET TO KNOW THE WAHM:

I know first hand that customers love to know the Mama behind the business! Let Cloth and Carriers 101 interview you so your customers can get acquainted with you! For only $5 I’ll post a Q&A about you and your business, and offer you 1 month of free 125x125 banner advertising. Your link will also remain permanently on the “Get to Know the WAHM” archive.

SUBMIT YOUR PRODUCT FOR REVIEW:

Have a brand new product you want to introduce? Submit it and I’d be happy to post a review. Items submitted for review will be donated to Miracle Diapers or another appropriate charity after the review, or can be returned to you at your shipping expense - your preference.

I’ll be adding more affordable advertising options as they pop into my head.

Please email me at ClothAndCarriers101@yahoo.com if you are interested in any of these advertising opportunities, and I’d be happy to answer your questions!

FREE WAHM Opportunities

Okay, before I get started with the super fun blogging part (reviews, FAQs, random ramblings), I want to get the basics of Cloth and Carriers 101 out of the way! Let’s start with FREE WAHM opportunities.

I’ve lived the WAHM life and I know how very valuable every potential customer is. So I am thrilled to be able to offer free WAHM advertising opportunities. If you are a business owner involved with cloth diapers and/or baby carriers, and you’re interested in any of the following free opportunities, just email me at ClothAndCarriers101@yahoo.com!

SALES AND COUPON CODES: If you’d like to announce a sale or coupon code, do it here for free! Email me the details:

- Coupon Code (if necessary for discount)

- Discount Amount or Sale Description

- Valid Dates

- Your URL

- A Graphic (if you’d like one to be used)

- Any other info you’d like included

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Want to announce your store’s grand opening? How about your new gift registry feature? If your business has something big happening, I’d be happy to post it here for free. Just email me at ClothAndCarriers101@yahoo.com with the details, your URL, and a graphic if you’d like one to be used.

CONTESTS: Donate a gift certificate or tangible prize of any amount large or small, and Cloth and Carriers 101 will run a contest for your item! I’ll promote your item and store for the duration of the contest, offer you 1 month of free top left 125x125 banner space, and put your link permanently on the “Previous Sponsors” page.

Get creative! I’m writing this post at 5 months pregnant, so my brain’s not exactly working at top speed these days. If you can come up with another creative way to promote your store, email me to run it by me! In today’s crappy economic times, it would be my pleasure to be able to help WAHMs to succeed. =-)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cloth and Carriers 101... What the heck is this?

Hi! I'm Mandi, the Mama who created, owned and operated Keen Bambino, an online boutique specializing in cloth diapers and baby carriers.

A few months ago, I made the decision to close Keen Bambino. Odd as it sounds, the business became too successful! When I opened Keen Bambino, I had no idea how quickly my business would grow. After a year and a half in business, I was exhausted. I have a 2-year-old, a 3-year-old, and one on the way. Because of how little my kiddos are, it was impossible to work while they were awake. So work (all 40-50 hours per week) was strictly done during nap time, after bedtime, and on the weekends. This left about 4 hours for sleep each night, and a pitiful amount of family time on the weekends. =-(

Since closing Keen Bambino, I have become a new woman! I am rested, un-hurried and able to focus 100% on my family. It's been bliss, and since I've gotten out of retail, I am more convinced each day that I made the best decision for both my family and my personal sanity. LOL

However, anyone who knows me knows that I need to have a "grown up" outlet. This idea came to me on a whim tonight, and it will be a perfect fit for me. I am very excited!

So what is all this? Well, I am insanely passionate about cloth diapers and baby carriers. But I also need a project that will not commit me to working full time. To reconcile my passion and the reality of 2 (soon to be 3!) small children, I have come up with a project that will truly be as much or as little work as I want it to be.

In this blog, I'll review, promote, and de-mystify all things related to cloth diapers and baby carriers!

Reviews - During my time as a retailer, I made it a point to try everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) that I carried on my site. This included dozens upon dozens of different "makes and models" of cloth diapers and baby carriers. However my ventures didn't stop there! I also loved to try brands which I didn't carry, including smaller WAHM-made goodies. I did this strictly because I felt that an informed retailer should be knowledgeable about the broader cloth diaper and baby carrier markets... certainly not because I have an addiction to cloth and carriers... wink, wink. So even if I never buy another diaper as long as I live (which ain't happenin'!), I think I could blog for about 45 years and never run out of material.

Promotion - As a former WAHM business owner, I know how awesome any advertising is! I will be tipping you off to my favorite cloth diaper and baby carrier shops, as well as learning about new shops an brands that come along. I will also be open to providing very affordable advertising and promotion opportunities to WAHMs. If you own a business and are interested, please email me!

De-Mystifying - As a former retailer, I know which questions are asked the most! I will be posting answers to some of the most common questions about cloth diapers and baby carriers. I'll also happily accept questions from readers! If you have a question, just let me know and I'll answer it for you! You can post your question as a comment, or email me.

So there you have it! After closing Keen Bambino, I felt this innate urge to continue promoting cloth-diapering and baby-wearing in some way. With this blog I can do just that, and still get a full night's sleep!

Shopping!