TotsBots Easyfit Nappies – comparison of different versions

I have resolved to at least try and blog once a week. How long this will last is anybody’s guess, but Project #1 is currently napping, so here goes…

We’ve been using cloth nappies now for almost 16 months, and it is love. P#1 loves them, I love them, even the husband loves them. They are soft, look comfy, are easy to put on (easier than disposables – which we use on occasions), wash well, don’t smell (disposables have a weird smell. I am constantly convinced P#1 has pooed and he never has…), work out cheaper in the long run, are better for the environment, and LOOK PRETTY. Ok, I realise that is not really the point, but they do. Especially all clean and hanging out on the line on a sunny day.

Lovely fluffy nappies!

Lovely fluffy nappies!

We use a mixture of two-parters, pockets, and all-in-ones. My favourite ones for everyday use are TotsBots Easyfits, which have evolved to have 4 different versions now. I own a mix of V2, V3 and V4 and someone recently asked me what the difference was between the all, so I put together some photos and info to try and describe the differences, as I’ve found them.

Version 2:

Version 2. This print is starburst. As well as the standard block colours (red, green, blue, orange, brown, purple and white) the most other common V2 prints are cosmic, flower power, tutti-fruiti and cherrylicious. Harder to find prints are mushroom, robin, rudolph and gingerbread. In the US, slightly different block colours were released (blueberry, lemon, lime and pomegranate) which are generally hard to find.

Version 2. This print is starburst.

As well as the standard block colours (red, green, blue, orange, brown, purple and white) the most other common V2 prints are starburst (above), cosmic, flower power, tutti-fruiti and cherrylicious. Harder to find prints are mushroom, robin, rudolph and gingerbread. In the US, slightly different block colours were released (blueberry, lemon, lime and pomegranate) which are generally hard to find.

There are 3 rows of poppers so can be 3 different lengths, and all of mine are velcro which I find makes them really adjustable to fit. This is the same for all versions of Easyfit. I have heard that velcro can be a pain with toddlers who can undo it and remove their own nappies, but my 16 month old hasn’t discovered this (yet!) I find popper tricky to do on a wriggly monster which is part of the reason I’ve stuck to velcro. That an the OCD component of having them all the same!

The inside has one long 'tongue' which is bamboo in V2s. It feels quite thin but is very absorbent, although takes the longest to dry of all versions.

The inside has one long ‘tongue’ which is bamboo in V2s. It feels quite thin but is very absorbent, although takes the longest to dry of all versions.

The under side of the tongue is microfiber to supposedly speed drying. There's then an opening to a pocket, against the PUL (plastic waterproof bit). Most people, including me, tuck the tongue back in here, but you can lay it on top which is quicker to do and would have the microfiber against the skin which feels drier.

The under side of the tongue is microfiber to supposedly speed drying. There’s then an opening to a pocket, against the PUL (plastic waterproof bit). Most people, including me, tuck the tongue back in here, but you can lay it on top which is quicker to do and would have the microfiber against the skin which feels drier.

So this is the tongue just laid back on itself...

So this is the tongue just laid back on itself…

...and this it is tucked away.

…and this it is tucked away.

Since P#1 was about 6 months old, I have also added a booster to all easyfits. I just tuck them inside the pocket. The two I’ve bought are bamboo ones from the nappy lady (on the bottom in the photo below) and bambino mio at the top. The mio ones are a bit wider and don’t fit the V2 well. The bamboo just about fit. Totsbots own bamboo boosters are slimmer and fit the best, but are very heavy and take forever to dry so I rarely use them.

FB_IMG_1422808456940The PUL (waterproof outer – the bit with the print on) on the V2s is thickest and the least stretchy of all versions.This makes for a marginally less smooth fit, but reviews suggest the fewest leaks. I think it’s more forgiving if you don’t care for it well, eg a V2 could probably stand more tumble drying without compromising the waterproofing. I treat all mine the same and have only ever got leaks from any version if P#1 has fallen asleep just before a nappy change and ended up in it for way too long.

Not much flex in the PUL in the V2.

Not much flex in the PUL in the V2.

The fabric around the top and bottom in the V2s seems cheaper to me. Almost a bit nylony?

The fabric around the top and bottom in the V2s seems cheaper to me. Almost a bit nylony?

Version 3:

I really love the V3s. They were my first experience of Easyfits so maybe that has something to do with it (who likes change?!) but I think the prints are gorgeous too. My first set were the Storytime set, featuring Jack and the Beanstalk (green), Chicken Licken (blue), Hansel and Gretel (purple), The Enormous Turnip (orange) and Three Little Pigs (yellow.) ‘Jack’ remains one of my favourite prints so I’ve featured him here!

Jack and the Beanstalk (V3)

Jack and the Beanstalk (V3)

V3 is where TotsBots really went crazy, as Frugi (the clothing company that specialises in cutting clothes for chunky cloth bums) also got in on the action, having nappies printed with the same or complementary designs as their clothing. V3 prints include the 5 Storytime prints already mentioned, the usual 6 block colours, the elements range (Blue Moo, Fox n Spots, Night Owl), the capital cities (London, New York, Paris), Royal Flush (extremely hard to find as it was limited edition, released for the birth of Prince George), Nature Girl, Pooper Hero, Jubilee, and Gingerbread Family (these last 4 being quite sought after). The Frugi nappies (all tend to be hard to find) include Dino, Owl, Ladybird and Rainbow in V3 Set 1, and Flower Fox, Orchard Days, Happy Bees and Farmyard in V3 Set 2. I don’t own any of Set 2, but absolutely adore Orchard Days, Happy Bees and Farmyard. I’m just too tight to pay more than RRP for something that is going to be pooed in, to be honest!

Frugi V3 Set 2 - aren't they lovely?! Image with thanks to TotsBots and Frugi.

Frugi V3 Set 2 – aren’t they lovely?! Image with thanks to TotsBots and Frugi.

The system inside the V3 is the same as the V2, but the tongue is all ‘minky’ (like microfiber fleece stuff.) It’s super soft, dries incredibly quickly, but is the least absorbent of the easyfits. However, it’s my favourite as they wash so well, never stain, and dry quickly. I boost these with the V4 boosters (see further down post), but the normal bamboo boosters work fine too.

Minky softness.

Minky softness.

This is the material inside the top and bottom of the V3s (that tucks the tongue away). This is my oldest easyfit and yet no bobbling. It's more like lycra.

This is the material inside the top and bottom of the V3s (that tucks the tongue away). This is my oldest easyfit and yet no bobbling. It’s more like lycra.

The PUL is thinner (you can probably see how much more flexible it is in the photo below) and some people have complained it wicks liquid, but I suspect they just don’t boost adequately having been used to the absorbency of V2s.

Flexible and slightly stretchy PUL

Flexible and slightly stretchy PUL

Version 4:

Although the V3s are my favourite for their convenience, I love the V4s for their absorbency. My first set of V4s were the Rhyme Time set (which had the added bonus of nearly – oh so nearly – being able to sneak them in past the husband, who thought at first glance they were the old Storytime nappies.) The Rhyme Time set comprises of Sing A Song Of Sixpence (red, below), Hickory Dickory Dock (purple), Incy Wincy Spider (white background), Humpty Dumpty (yellow) and Hey Diddle Diddle (blue.)

V4 - this is Sing A Song Of Sixpence. It's probably my favourite V4, although Incy Wincy Spider and the Birthday design are close.

V4 – this is Sing A Song Of Sixpence. It’s probably my favourite V4, although Incy Wincy Spider and the Birthday design are close.

In addition to Rhyme Time, there is a birthday nappy (released on Prince George’s birthday) which I bought at the time and then saved to use for P#1’s first birthday – it was adorable! We even did a quick nappy, rainbow T-shirt and rainbow-cake-pop photo.

Project#1 in his birthday nappy

Project#1 in his birthday nappy

Other V4s include the usual block colours, elements, and the Frugi sets of Easter, Birdies, Transport and Sealife (V4 Set 1) and Christmas, Dinos 2, Rainbow Owls, and Garden Owl (V4 Set 2) and recently released is Ocean Strawberry, Dizzy Ducks, Ellies in Wellies and Field Jungle Friends (V4 Set 3.) I have to say I’m eyeing Ellies in Wellies and Jungle Friends up for bargains in Real Nappy Week!

Inside of a V4

Inside of a V4

The inside material is called binky, because one side is minky and the other is bamboo, to increase absorbency. The V4s are definitely more absorbent than V3s but I think the bamboo makes them look more worn and tired.

V4 pop-in booster

V4 pop-in booster

These boosters come with every V4. They are bamboo on one side and minky on the other, and have poppers at one end. I love them and wish they could be bought directly from TotsBots, but as far as I know, they only come with V4 nappies. These are the ones I use inside my V3s rather than in the V4s, because they seem too bulky in the V4s (and we don’t need quite that much boosting just yet.)

The idea is you popper them together and then fold back or tuck in as usual.

The idea is you popper them together and then fold back or tuck in as usual.

The PUL and inner material is the same as V3s.

The PUL and inner material is the same as V3s.

The PUL in the V4s feels the same as the V3s to me – nice and soft and stretchy. Some people have suggested that it’s even thinner because they can see the darker TB label through it, but I think that’s just because the V4s have two white-based prints (Incy Wincy and Birthday) whereas the V3s were colour-based so blocked out the labels.

And that is that!

All the gear… but no idea

This would be me, had I actually bought all the gear. The fact is, there is so much ‘stuff’ out there that the retailers would have new parents-to-be believe is essential just to keep your baby alive, that it is pretty difficult to know where to begin.

I’ve read ‘must have’ lists all over the place and keep meaning to write my own, and then I get scared and stop. With a mere 73 days until due date (eek!) and just 52 days until my baby is technically fully cooked and could easily arrive at any moment, it’s time my husband and I pulled our fingers out and did my favourite thing – Wrote A List.

How many ‘essentials’ are really essential? Image credit to http://www.theocdlifestyle.com

So here goes – gulp. This list has been compiled from various searches on the internet (including the NHS website) and advice from family and friends. It’s a list for us and our set up – there may be things on it not relevant to others (like cat nets to stop the furries from snuggling in with baby!) and it may not have things on that you might need, such as formula (I am intending to breastfeed). That said, if you have discovered any amazing items that you can’t imagine surviving the newborn-months without, please do share them!

Sleeping…

  • Cotbed – eventually. We want to keep the baby with us for all sleeping for the first 6 months minimum, as the SIDS guidelines suggest (see this fab guidance from The Lullaby Trust) so no cotbed sleeping for our little one to start with, but we still want to be prepared for later!
  • Somewhere to sleep at night, in our room. We dithered for ages about crib vs moses basket, but what we eventually discovered and decided on was a baby hammock. My nephews slept in an Amby Hammock and we have been lucky to inherit it. You can read more about them here.
  • Somewhere to sleep during the day. We can move the hammock around if we want, but mainly I think we’ll be using a pram carrycot, a sling, and my chest! I’ll come back to slings later…
  • At least 4 sheets for each sleeping place – ie 4 for the hammock and 4 for the carrycot.
  • A selection of lightweight blankets – ideally the cellular ones, which can be layered for more warmth – approx 4.
  • We fancy giving grobags (special baby sleeping bags) a go, too. Apparently 2 x 1-tog and 2 x 2.5-tog is a good start.
  • Room thermometer – we’re hoping to get a Gro Egg (so pretty…)
  • Monitors – not essential straight off as – in theory, the baby will always be with someone – but it won’t be long before we’ll need them.
  • Black-out blind. We already have one in our room, but will need one in the nursery for later.

Out and about…

  • A baby car seat. We have isofix in our cars and so wanted to get an isofix compatible car seat / base. We have ended up with a Maxi Cosi Cabriofix and bought the Easyfix isofix base. Husband assures me this is all exceptionally easy to click into place, and is also foolproof with colour coding to make sure you have it in place safely.
  • Whilst not essential, a child-view mirror and some sun-blinds for the back seats are recommended for car travel.
  • Pushchair or pram. Oh my goodness, the choices! Based on information I’d read, we decided that we wanted a pushchair with chassis that could be used from birth to approx. 3yrs, with a reversible seat (parent facing or outside-world facing) and a model that we could also buy a compatible carrycot for use in the first 6 months. We wanted a carrycot that was safe for daytime sleeping and even occasional overnight sleeping (ideal for the odd night away in the early days) and – because we appear to be part magpies – we wanted something pretty and shiny. It also had to be easy to put up and put down, fit in the car easily, not toooo heavy (they are all fairly heavy if you also want sturdy), suitable for occasional off-roading (we have horses so will need to go across the fields sometimes) and easy to steer. Moon on a stick, anyone? Online, I fell in love with the iCandy range. Our budget was not going to stretch that far though, and after a bit of investigating and trialling in stores, we had almost settled on the Mamas & Papas Sola model, with the carry cot. However, fate stepped in (oh, and eBay…) and I found the bargain of the century – an iCandy Peach pushchair with carrycot and accessories (parasol, cup holder, spare pushchair seat cover, car seat adaptors, rain covers and I’m sure some more!) in a gorgeous, vibrant blue and lime green called ‘sweetpea‘. We couldn’t resist, and when we went to try it, it was even easy to handle, collapse and so on than the Sola. Result!
  • Baby carrier or sling. I was put off most of the baby carriers as they’re pretty rigid and force the baby’s legs apart which isn’t great for the hips. What I really want is one of the stretchy fabric slings. We haven’t research this properly yet so not sure where to start, but apparently many areas have a ‘sling library’ so you can try different types and see what works best for you and your baby.
  • Changing bag with folding changing mat plus all the usual nappy change essentials (when I figure out what they are…) We’ve just ordered an iCandy one in ‘sweetpea’ as it’s huge, matches the pram, and was a half price bargain in the sale. There are, again, hundreds to choose from in every price bracket. If I had the money, I could have got really silly here! Once it arrives, we need to check it has a truly waterproof section for soggy reusable nappies – if not, we’ll need a waterproof bag to pop inside the main changing bag.

Feeding…

  • As I mentioned above, we hope to breastfeed. Eventually we’ll get an electric pump (in fact, I think we’ve inherited one from a family member) but unless we have a particular issue (for example needing to express so we can syringe-feed) then expressing to bottle feed isn’t recommended in the early days. Along with this we’ll need milk storage bags, sterilisers, bottles, teats… I’ll worry about that later!
  • Nursing bras – a challenge, given the large bra size I had pre-pregnancy. I’ve bought one so far but it’s advisable to leave the shopping as late as possible to try and get the best size. Several bras are needed (approx 5, to include nights) as they can get milky and manky. Nice.
  • Nursing-friendly tops – gah, more shopping. Clothes that seem to triple in price purely because they are maternity / nursing. I am tempted to buy a few Belly Bands which fit from under-bust to hip, and mean you can just hitch up your normal top for breastfeeding and these clever garments keep your tummy well covered – a fact that any members of the public in sight when I feed will be grateful for.
  • Breast pads – I’ve already bought from gorgeously soft bamboo pads from Little Lamb, which are washable, but I think that disposable ones would be handy for when leakage is a real problem (often in the early days of feeding).
  • Muslin squares – mopping up me, mopping up baby, covering my modesty – I am assured these are one of the best bits of baby kit ever.
  • Cream for sore nipples – lansinoh is often recommended, but some find it too thick. More research needed!
  • Nursing pillow – not only useful for a constantly-feeding baby, but apparently can be a comfy seat post-birth when everything down south is still a little tender.
  • Nipple shields – generally not recommended, if you can help it… however, as with all things, they have their place and can help a difficult latch. I am in two minds as to whether to buy these in advance as it may be too tempting to use them when not strictly needed and it can be difficult to stop using them then. And quite frankly, I’m lazy – and nipple shields cause additional work through sterilising.
  • Nursing chair. This will live in the nursery and will be useful if I need to feed in the middle of the night and can’t risk disturbing poor hubby – although once feeding is established, I’m hoping I can stay lying down in bed, feed, and then pop baby straight back in the hammock.

Changing…

  • Changing mat – a main one for at home (which we have got) but I’m thinking a second one would be useful as I am, as previously mentioned, lazy and I can’t imagine trucking upstairs for every nappy change.
  • Changing table – hand made by hubby!
  • Nappies – we’re going reusable. So far, we have a mix of TotsBots stretchies, Little Lamb bamboos, Bumgenius freetime and motherease wraps. I knew nothing about cloth nappies before I started investigating and found The Nappy Lady an amazing source of advice – and she often has good offers on her website, too. We also have some liners and boosters.
  • Nappy bucket with lid – preferably 2 (upstairs and downstairs).
  • Wipes – wet wipes (disposable) or reusable – I think we’ll go disposable, the idea of washing the number of wipes that are likely to be used is pretty exhausting.
  • Cotton wool
  • Potty – clearly not for training a newborn, but useful to plonk a wet nappy on until it can be dealt with, rather than on the carpet. The corner of the changing mat is an option, but as the baby gets bigger and more prone to limb-flinging, I can see this being a bad idea!
  • Soothing creams – often sudocreme is recommended, but I want to check out others as well.

Cleaning and grooming…

  • Top ‘n’ tails bowl. Easy peasy purchase.
  • Towels. I really like those cute little hoodie ones, they look so snuggly!
  • Soft sponges or baby flannel for washing either in the bath or giving a sponge bath.
  • Nail clippers / scissors – which will scare the life out of me when in close proximity to teeny tiny fingers. Eek!
  • Baby bath. I am torn between a bath with stand (my knees are shocking and I can’t kneel at all) or one of the gorgeously cute Blooming Bath flowers, to use in the kitchen sink. If I’m honest, I think the flower will win… Apparently a bath thermometer is also recommended, but what’s wrong with the old fashioned elbow dip test?
  • Baby hairbrush / comb. I am not entirely convinced that these are necessary for a newborn, but I’m prepared to be convinced otherwise… ditto toothbrush and toothpaste. I mean, really?

Entertainment…

  • Bouncer
  • Babygym or nest
  • Cot mobile
  • Musical toys
  • Textured toys
  • Bath toys
  • Pram toys
  • Baby books

Clothes…

  • 6-8 x babygros (all-in-ones) for day and night
  • 4 x vests
  • 2 x cardigans (cotton or wool)
  • Shawl or blanket
  • 3 x pairs of socks
  • 2 x pairs of scratch mitts
  • Hats, gloves, booties and a coat if the weather is cold – maybe snowsuit?
  • Sun hat if the weather is hot (not a concern for an October baby!)
  • Morrck hoodie and/or Tuppence & Crumble star wrap

Health and safety… (yes, the buggers even get a mention in my blog.)

  • Fire alarms. We have 2 installed but could do with some more.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Plug socket covers. Not essential until little one is mobile, but worth thinking about.
  • Stair-gates. Again, not necessary for the baby just yet, but it could be useful for keeping the dog in one part of the house, eg out of the kitchen during bath time.
  • Fire guard. Check.
  • First aid kit, suitable for baby, including infacol and a good quality digital ear thermometer.

Now I must go and lie down in a darkened room having realised how many things we still need to buy – and also knowing this list is probably not yet complete!

Nappies. The choices!

I want to use ‘real’ nappies – ie reusable ones. I’ve never really considered that we might use disposables – I guess because my parents used old fashioned Terry’s squares with all of us, and my sister used cloth nappies with both of her children, so it seems like the norm to me.

I like the fact they are softer on the baby’s skin – would you really opt for paper pants over cotton ones for yourself? They save money in the long run, are meant to help with potty training, and are better for the environment – yes, even taking into account the additional water and electricity needed to wash them.

But the choices! Wow!

As much as I love google, in this case, I didn’t know where to begin. Somebody then recommended The Nappy Lady, guru of all things related to cloth nappies! Her website in itself is hugely informative and I was relieved to see that products have moved on significantly since the days of large squares of cotton towelling to try and fold, and giant nappy pins that seem lethal when combined with the flailing limbs of an uncooperative infant. Nappies now are usually shaped, elasticated even, with poppers and velcro. Hurrah! They even come in pretty colours… this was immediately looking like it might be an expensive addiction.

Lovely colourful prints available!

The Nappy Lady offers an amazing advice service – all for free! I had to fill in a comprehensive questionnaire including information about:

  • Whether I had children already
  • Whether I planned to have more children in the future (to use cloth nappies with)
  • Laundry facilities
  • Priorities of nappy features – eg quick drying, non-leaking, aesthetics, ease of use, natural fabrics – all of which I had to rate in order of priority

I then got a detailed recommendation list back, explaining not only what she suggested would suit us as a family the best, but why. The recommendations I have received are (in brief):

  • Bamboozle Stretch – these are the main nappy bit, with elasticated legs for better fit and reduction of leaks, and as they are all shaped they are supposedly easy to put on.
  • Motherease Rikki Wraps – these are the waterproof outer layer to put over the main nappy.
  • Triple-layer boosters – basically cloth pads to pop inside the nappy, particularly overnight, for extra absorbency.
  • Bumgenius Freetime – all-in-one nappy (not a 2-parter) for daytime use only – they’re not as good absorbency / containment wise, but would be easy to put on when out and about or for the in-laws who are pro-disposables.

Lots to think about, more research to be done, and excuses for shopping lie ahead!