Favorite Time Savers for Busy Moms Part 3: Meal Planning/Prep

I’m going to be honest with you…I don’t like making meals.  I’m picky when it comes to my own cooking (although I’ll eat almost anything if someone else makes it!), and I’m always trying to find new “favorite” recipes because I get tired of eating the same thing over and over.  And, with three small children in the house, I need meals that are quick and easy to make, that are still healthy and taste great.

I’ve found three things that have really helped make meal planning much more efficient (and less painful) for me…and thought I’d share them with you today!

5 Dinners 1 Hour

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Why it’s fast:
– Your shopping lists are pre-made.
– Five simple recipes that can be prepped in one hour.
– Many one-pan meals make less dishes to clean up.

Cost: $2.50/week subscription (cancel when you want), FREE sample plans and FREE recipes on their blog.

My thoughts: I love that the recipes are very simple and can be prepped for the entire week…or you can quickly throw together one meal in just a few minutes.  I’ve tried their Classic Meal Plans, and the dinners come out pretty basic.  Nothing fancy, but most are ones our family enjoys eating.

This is my go-to when I don’t want to spend any time choosing meals or wait until the last minute to go grocery shopping.

custom-meal-plans-graphic5 Dinners recently came out with a Custom Meal Plan (officially launching Aug. 19), and I really like that option!  Before, there was usually one or two meals a week I didn’t really want to repeat in the future, making the pre-made shopping list less useful.  Now that I can choose all five meals myself, I’m guaranteed to get all meals we will actually eat!  It also lets you customize the serving size, so you can adjust it to fit your family (or double recipes to freeze for later)!

Meal Bundles with Wildtree

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Why it’s fast:
– Comes with pre-mixed all-natural, organic cooking spices & oils make meal prep faster.
– Uses very few dishes to prep meals, so little clean up is required.
– Keep prepped meals in the freezer until you need them.
– Many crockpot dump meals make prep and clean up easy.

Cost: Varies between $58-$78/bundle, unless you host a workshop…then you can get your meal bundle for FREE.  This includes the spices/oils and over eight recipes that you can make again and again.  You can find tons of FREE recipes on their website.  That comes to about $2.50/meal, if you buy a bundle.

My thoughts: If you’re looking for fast, flavorful meals, Wildtree is an excellent choice.  Of the meals we’ve tried, I’ve liked them more than any other meal planning bundle I’ve tried, and I’m happy to make them again and again!  These recipes are definitely family favorites.

Wildtree uses all-natural, organic products, which makes it a great choice if you or a family member have food allergies.  You can read the ingredients and know EXACTLY what you’re putting in your food!

If you host a Wildtree workshop, you can get your meal bundles for free, which is awesome!  I’ve found that I can use the Wildtree spices to make 2-3 sets of each meal plan, so they last a long time.

Organize Recipes with Trello

Finally, I was just introduced to using Trello to keep a digital recipe book of all my favorite meals!  I love how it keeps everything organized for me, it’s beautiful (you can include pictures of each meal), and I can easily access it from home or on my phone, if I’m shopping at the store and need to look up the ingredients for a recipe.

Here’s a screen shot of my Trello meal planning board.  I copy recipes from different categories in to my “Weekly Meal Plan” section, and now I have meals lined up for each day of the week in just seconds!

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Want to learn more about how to use Trello?  Check out this FREE class to learn all the basics you need to get started planning, organizing and managing your life with less stress and more peace.  Click here for instant access: http://bit.ly/2wMRFom

Leave me a comment…what’s your favorite time saver for meal planning and prep?

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Favorite Time-Savers for Busy Moms Part 2: Grocery Shopping

After each of my children were born, our wonderful friends provided us meals for the first few weeks.  Then, I had another month’s worth of freezer meals stored up so I was still able to avoid the daunting task of grocery shopping with a newborn.  However, reality finally set in, and with Jeremiah and Evelyn, I had to brave the grocery store each week with a two year old and baby (and sometimes an extra one year old when I was babysitting my friend’s daughter).  Haha, I can’t tell you how many mixed looks of sympathy/you’re crazy I got from other shoppers with all three kids in tow!

Thankfully, shortly before Caleb was born, my local grocery stores introduced a new way to shop, and it has made my life significantly easier.  Online grocery shopping means I can order groceries, drive to the store, and be home…all in less than 30 minutes total!  I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve actually taken all three kids to the store with me since Caleb was born in December because grocery pick up is SO much more convenient.

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Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to the store’s website or app, and add items to your shopping cart, just like any online shopping.  I love this because I can order any time of day or night.  There are many times I’ve done my “grocery shopping” at 2 am during a night time feeding session.  It also helps me avoid any extra spontaneous purchases I’m tempted to make when I go through the store.
  2. The store employees do the shopping for you.  I’ve always been satisfied with the quality of food selected, and you approve any substitutions they make if something you order isn’t in stock.
  3. Schedule a pick up time (usually for the following day), and arrive any time during the window given to pick up your groceries.  The employees will even load them in the car for you.  No getting kids in and out of the car, and the wait is usually less than five minutes.  The Walmart I shop at actually lets me check in from home when I’m ready to head to the store, so everything is ready and waiting when I get there.

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Let me tell you, I LOVE grocery pick up!  It has given me back at least an hour each week that I would have spent shopping at the store.  It’s easy, and I can shop from any time, anywhere.  And I can schedule pick up for when I’m already out in the area running errands, so I don’t have to make an extra stop.

Here are the stores that I’ve used for grocery pick up:

  • Walmart – This is a free service.  My favorite part?  I regularly see the same employees each week when I pick up my food, so we chat as we load up the car.  It’s a fun, and the personal touch makes a huge difference in the experience.  If you’ve never ordered before, CLICK HERE TO GET $10 OFF your first grocery order!

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  • SAMS Club – This is also free with great customer service!

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  • Dillons (other Kroger stores may offer it as well) – It costs $5 to do grocery pick up.  However, Dillons is great for people who like to coupon, or if you participate in their Community Rewards Program, because you can still participate when you order online.

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Have you tried grocery pick up before?  What has your experience been like?

And if you haven’t already, check out Part One of my favorite time savers here to see how I save tons of time cleaning my floors each week.

Favorite Time-Savers for Busy Moms Part 1: Cleaning Floors

With three kids four and under keeping me busy now, my time is SO precious, and I want to spend it in meaningful ways.  That’s why I am excited to start a new blog series of my favorite time savers.  I love them so much, I knew I needed to share them with you!

Today, I’m going to start out with a big one…my vacuum cleaner.  I’ve owned a Dyson for the past four years, but honestly never really loved it.  When we moved, the previous owner mentioned that their Dyson actually unraveled a large section of carpet, and they later found out, was not recommended by the carpet’s manufacturer.  She said she loved her Shark vacuum cleaner, so I thought I’d better give it a try.  Boy, am I glad I did!

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If you have hard floors, the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Deluxe vacuum will save you TONS of time cleaning them each week.

Here’s why the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Deluxe is such a great time saver:

It’s easy to transition between all types of flooring.  With the switch right on the handle, it’s a quick button push to change from carpet, to hard floors, to rugs.  I have all three kinds on the main floor of my house, and this is so handy.

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Cleaning tools are always available.  The handle quickly detaches and becomes a hand-held vacuum tool!  I can vacuum the floor, sweep up crumbs out of a booster seat, and get the dog hair off the stairs without running back to the closet to grab an attachment.  Because, let’s face it, when you’re in the middle of cleaning, you never stop to go get an attachment…it just sits unused in the closet.

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Long power cord means you can vacuum most of your house without plugging/unplugging the cord.  When you have it in the pull-behind canister mode, you can reach even farther!  We have about 2000 sq. ft. on the main floor of our house, and I only have to move the plug ONE time to reach everything!

And my number one reason: The hard floor attachment is AMAZING!

 

The attachment comes with washable microfiber pads that dust behind you as you sweep.  Before, I had to use my Bona to mop the floors each time after I vacuumed.  Now, I just use it once a week, and the Shark attachment does the rest!  Check out all the dirt it picked up after one time vacuuming (this is in addition to the dirt it actually collected in the canister!):

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Other bonuses the Rotator Powered Lift-Away offers:

  • Lights help you see in dark spaces.
  • Easy to dump collection canister.
  • It reaches far under most furniture.
  • Low price tag compared to competitors.
  • It works…great!  I think it cleans much better than my Dyson that was twice the price.  And with three kids, a huge golden retriever, and dust/debris from a basement finishing project in progress, that says a lot.

Ok, I’m sold…where can I get one?  There are a bunch of different models available, but if you want to maximize your time spent vacuuming multiple surfaces, you want the lift-away model with the hard floor attachment.  Here is the one I have.  Since I bought mine, Shark has come out with a newer model, and the Powered Lift-Away TruePet may be an easier model to find, and still has all the time saving features I love.

I want to hear from you…what is your number one time saver when it comes to cleaning your home?  OR…what thing in your life do you need to spend less time doing so you can spend more doing what’s most important to you?

Check back here soon…I will be featuring 4-5 more of my favorite time savers for busy moms in the next few weeks!

Nicki’s Newborn Cloth Diaper Review

I have to be honest, with the beautiful spring/summer weather we’ve been enjoying, I haven’t been spending much time inside to blog.  And with our new house comes new landscaping projects…something I REALLY enjoy doing!  So, with a little more dirt under my fingernails and a lot more green in my flower beds, I’m ready to get back to sharing some of my favorite baby products with you today.

You may already know I’m a huge fan of Nicki’s Diapers and their Buy One Give One program from past blog posts.  I’ve tried all their one size cloth diaper products, so when Caleb was born, they were kind enough to send me some of their newborn diapers to try out as well.  Of course, they did not disappoint!  Today, I’d like to share Nicki’s three newborn cloth diaper options: an All In One, a cover, and a fitted.

Newborn Bamboo All In One

Fit: Of the three Nicki’s newborn diapers, the bamboo AIO (All In One) is the smallest.  This is perfect for really tiny newborns and fits nice and trim under onesies.  As you can see in the above picture, it’s already on its largest waist setting for 11 lb Caleb.  There are no rise snaps on this diaper.

Function: With the bamboo insert that can snap out for easier washing and drying, this AIO is very absorbent.  However, if your baby is a super soaker, they still may be able to out-pee this diaper within a few weeks.  You have the choice between snap and aplix closure, and I prefer the snaps for Nicki’s brand.  Nicki’s also has a newborn Ultimate AIO you can choose, if you prefer stay dry material for your baby.

Favorites: If you have small babies and want a diaper that is easy to use, this newborn bamboo AIO is the perfect choice for you.  The natural fiber bamboo insert is soft against the baby’s skin and is quick to put on.

Newborn Overnight Bamboo Fitted

Fit: Another great choice for tiny babies, the Nicki’s overnight bamboo fitted can snap down nice and small.  Caleb finally outgrew it around three months old (12-13 lbs), but it was a favorite of mine for when he was first born.

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Check out the snap down in the front to give an umbilical cord plenty of room!

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Newborn Overnight Bamboo Fitted on 11 lb, two month old Caleb.

Function: Since the entire diaper is made out of absorbent bamboo, this is a great choice for heavy wetters.  You need to put a waterproof cover on top to keep clothes dry.  It also has an insert that snaps in for extra absorbency.

Favorites: This diaper is SO soft!  I also love the umbilical cord snap down in the front, so your baby can wear this diaper from day one.  The multi colored snap closure and edging is also a fun feature.

Newborn Cover

Fit: This cover can get very small, but also has the most room to grow because it includes rise snaps.  Caleb is five months old and still easily fits in these covers!

Function: The cover has lots of great features like the crossover snaps for tiny newborn waists, inner flaps to hold inserts in place,  and rise snaps to adjust the size to perfectly fit a small or large baby.  These are also perfect for covering the Nicki’s Newborn Overnight Bamboo Fitted diapers.  You can reuse the covers a few times as long as they aren’t soaked or soiled, so you get the most bang for your buck with these.

Favorites: I personally love the snap closure on these covers, but aplix closures are also available.  I also like how they fit so nice and trim under clothing (I used flour sack towels as inserts the first few months) and the double gussets for holding in any messes.  These covers are definitely my FAVORITES as far as newborn diapers go!

How does the newborn cover compare to Nicki’s One Size cover?  Here is a picture of both on the smallest settings.  You can see it is quite a bit smaller, and while the OS cover can fit newborns, the newborn cover is much less bulky under clothing and leaves no gaps for messes to escape.  🙂
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If you are wanting to cloth diaper a newborn, all of Nicki’s newborn diapers are a great choice.  You can order yours here.  If you want to see how the Nicki’s one size diaper covers fit on newborns, check out my favorite OS diapers for newborns.

I received a Nicki’s newborn bamboo fitted and newborn diaper covers free of charge for the purposes of this review.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own and not influenced by the company.  This post may contain affiliate links.

Microfiber v. Hemp v. Bamboo: Choosing the Best Cloth Diaper for Your Baby

I was very excited when Buttons Diapers recently released their NEW bamboo inserts in small, large, and super sizes!  They sent me some of their bamboo inserts to try out, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to answer some frequently-asked questions about cloth diaper insert fabrics and help you choose the best one for your baby.

What I did:

I took three of the Buttons small inserts (one microfiber, one hemp, and one bamboo) and placed each of them in a dry pan.  I poured water over them until the insert was completely saturated.  Any leftover water in the pan was returned to the measuring cup.  I also held the insert over the measuring cup until water quit dripping out, then measured what was left in the cup.  Finally, I gave the insert a gentle squeeze to see if any more water would drip out into the cup and measured again.

Microfiber

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Absorbency (Quantity and Speed): While I didn’t officially test the speed the microfiber insert absorbed water, visually, I could see it soaked up water much faster than the hemp or bamboo inserts.  The Buttons Small insert was able to absorb 3/4 c. of water, but when I gave it a light squeeze, it only held 1/2 c. of water.

Cost:  Microfiber is a very affordable insert option.  It is the least expensive of the three fabrics, making it a popular choice for people who cloth diaper to save money.

Softness: Very soft and fluffy. Microfiber stays soft even when it is saturated with liquid.

Other thoughts:

  • You must have a stay-dry liner between microfiber material and the baby’s skin.  Buttons inserts have this stay-dry liner sewn on to the top of the insert, so you don’t have to worry about it.  If you touch a lot of microfiber inserts (like stuffing pockets), you will notice it does dry out your hands.
  • Does not hold as much liquid when compressed/squeezed.
  • Microfiber is known to get stinky if they get really old, or if they aren’t washed thoroughly enough.  Thankfully, I haven’t had that experience with the Buttons microfiber inserts!

Choose microfiber if: 

  • You need an affordable insert solution.
  • You have a baby who quickly soaks their diapers.
  • You want a stay-dry barrier between the diaper and your baby’s skin.

 

Hemp

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Absorbency (Quantity and Speed): The Buttons small hemp insert absorbed a little more than 3/4 c. of water!  When I gave the insert a gentle squeeze, it still held onto 3/4 c. of water.

Cost:  Hemp is the most expensive of the three insert types that Buttons sells.

Softness: In my experience, hemp is the least soft of the three different insert materials.  It can get stiff and even slightly rough feeling if you air dry the insert.  HOWEVER, Buttons has figured out a way to put the soft and fluffy side of hemp on the outside layer of their inserts, and I’ve found that their hemp inserts are the softest I’ve tried!  So they still get a point in my book.  🙂

Other thoughts:

  • While I didn’t officially measure absorbency speed, hemp is known for being the slowest to absorb liquid.  I could visually see a difference between the hemp and microfiber absorbency speeds when I was testing it.
  • Insert can bunch up and stiffen when wet.  This is more common with toddlers who are active!

Choose hemp if:

  • You have a heavy wetter.
  • You want a natural fiber insert with a stay-dry liner on top (Buttons is one of the few brands to offer this!)
  • You have a larger baby/heavier toddler prone to getting compression leaks with microfiber.  
  • You need a trim insert to fit nicely under clothes (hemp inserts are popular for being absorbent AND thin!).

 

Bamboo

(soft dense fabric, usually white in color and smooth, though some brands can be more like a terry cloth texture)IMG_7481

Absorbency (Quantity and Speed): The new Buttons small bamboo insert absorbed 3/4 c. of water, and didn’t leak at all when I gave it a gentle squeeze!  It was slower to absorb than microfiber, but I didn’t see much difference in speed between bamboo and hemp.

Cost:  The Buttons bamboo insert is slightly less expensive than their hemp insert option, but still almost twice the cost of microfiber.

Softness: The bamboo fabric is very soft and smooth to the touch.  It does become hard and stiff when soaked.

Other thoughts:

  •  Slow to dry.
  • Insert feels stiff and hard when wet.
  • Insert can bunch up when wet.  This is more common with toddlers who are active!
  • The Buttons bamboo inserts shrunk up a lot while being prepped.  It is visually smaller than their hemp and microfiber counterparts, even though it started out larger.  I think bamboo could beat out hemp and microfiber for absorbency IF the prepped size was closer the hemp and microfiber inserts.

Choose bamboo if:

  • You have a heavy wetter.
  • You want natural fibers against your baby’s skin.
  • You need a faster absorbing fabric than hemp.
  • You have a larger baby/heavier toddler prone to getting compression leaks with microfiber.

 

I hope that gives you a better understanding of the three main cloth diaper fabrics and how to choose the right one for your baby. I personally have all three insert types and love them all!   You can check out all of Buttons Diapers’ products here.  Leave me a comment and let me know which one you’d pick!

Want to see how the entire Buttons diaper system works?  Check out my review here.  Also, keep an eye on my blog, I’ll be posting a review of their NEW newborn and super diaper sizes soon!

I received a Buttons diaper free of charge for the purposes of this review.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own and not influenced by the company.  This post may contain affiliate links.

“Take Them a Meal” Ideas for New Moms

One of greatest gifts our family received with the birth of our children was when our friends and family brought us meals when we came home from the hospital.  Being able to relax without the stress of meal planning and grocery shopping for those first weeks was wonderful, not to mention we enjoyed trying new recipes our friends brought over!

Today I thought I’d share some recipe ideas* and tips for great meals you can make for new moms.

The best place to get started is to create a meal sign up for your friend.  Meal Train and Take Them a Meal are free websites that make it simple for people to sign up to bring meals online.  You can share the link via email or on a friend’s Facebook page.

Tips:

  1. Along with dinner, bring enough disposable dishes, plasticware, and napkins for the family to use at dinnertime.  That way they don’t need to worry about dishes.
  2. Double the recipe so you have enough for your family to eat at home.
  3. Can’t deliver your meal the day you signed up?  Make a freezer meal and drop it off early.  Or, order the family their favorite take out and either drop it off or have it delivered.
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Balsamic Chicken & Veggies

Main Dishes:

Side Dishes:

  • Frozen Steam-able Veggies (let them microwave it so it’s warm when they are ready to eat it.)
  • Mashed Potatoes (Don’t have tons of time?  Buy a bag of frozen Steam ‘n Mash Potatoes.)
  • Pasta
  • Fresh fruit/fruit salad

Desserts:

  • Cookies
  • Brownies

*Note: If the new mom is breastfeeding, her diet can affect her baby’s digestive system, sometimes causing gas or colic.  While each person is different, there are some basic foods to AVOID (or at least avoid large quantities) when making her a meal: cheese/dairy (or bring it on the side to be added on later), onions, garlic, peppers, broccoli, mexican food, beans.  The main dishes I suggested avoid most/all of these foods.

What are your favorite meals to bring to new moms?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Tushmate Newborn AIO and One Size AIO Review

Now that I once again have TWO kids in cloth diapers at the same time, I thought it was the perfect time to share my thoughts on the All-In-One cloth diapers by TushMate.  They were gracious enough to send me two beautiful diapers to try out for this review.

Newborn AIO

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Features: The newborn AIO is made up of a waterproof TPU shell, a semi-attached hemp/cotton insert, and a stay dry liner on top.  As is true of all All-In-One diapers, everything is attached, which makes putting on the diaper very simple.  The insert can unfold to make it easy to wash and fast to dry.  Like all the TushMate prints, each diaper is printed so BOTH sides are right-side up,  and every diaper has a perfect picture on the bum.  The attention to detail sets this brand apart from many others.  My favorite feature?  The hook & loop closure.  It is the softest velcro (no scratchy edges or hooks to scratch sensitive baby skin), but is the stickiest I’ve tried.  I don’t know how they do it, but it’s amazing!

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My favorite TushMate feature…the soft and sticky hook & loop fastener!

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The stay dry liner keeps baby’s skin dry.

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This gorgeous print is “right-side up” both in the front and back!

Function: The design of the newborn AIO makes it very easy to use.  No inserts to attach, and it all stays together in the wash.  I really like that it has both a natural fiber insert AND a stay dry liner on top.  The liner paired with the cover gives the diaper double gussets to keep in those newborn messes.  For absorbency, I’d say that it would be great for light-average wetters, but not for heavy wetters.  Fortunately, because the attached insert can fold out of the shell for washing and drying, it also gives the diaper a pocket to add extra absorbency.  That way it can work well for any newborn.

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The fold out hemp/cotton insert makes it easy to wash and dry this AIO diaper.

Fit: The newborn AIO fit my 8 lb little guy perfectly.  It has adjustable rise snaps, so it can grow with your baby until he or she fits into one size diapers.  The velcro placement was perfect, so it didn’t scratch Caleb’s belly (unlike other brands I tried).  And the thin hemp/cotton insert made it the most trim fitting newborn diaper I tried as well.  It can easily fit under onesies and other tiny newborn clothes without being too bulky.

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One Size AIO

Features: The one size AIO has the same features as the newborn AIO.  This is one of TushMate’s newest prints…colorful globe.  Isn’t it just beautiful?  I love that the AIO also has the same hidden snaps as TushMate’s AI2 diaper.  This makes adding in an extra TushMate insert very easy.

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Function: Once again, the AIO diaper is definitely easy to use.  Even adding in an extra insert, the stay dry liner snaps to the front and hides all the layers inside the diaper.  This makes for a very simple diaper to put on.  I chose the snap closure for my diaper, but they can also come with their amazing hook & loop closure.  Evelyn is an average-heavy wetter, and while she could soak the attached hemp/cotton insert, I could add in the TushMate large hemp/cotton insert, and that would last for hours.  While it’s an AIO, TushMate definitely wins the award for most versatile diaper, since you can customize the absorbency for any baby.

Fit: Like the newborn AIO and their OS AI2 diaper, the TushMate AIO is a very trim diaper.  It has a great fit, and I don’t think Evelyn will outgrow it before she’s potty trained.

 

What’s your favorite feature of the TushMate AIO or newborn AIO?  Want to see more about the TushMate AI2 one size diaper?  Check out my review here.  Finally, check out TushMate’s website for more of their beautiful prints and to order your own diapers!  🙂

I received a TushMate newborn AIO and a One Size AIO diaper free of charge for the purposes of this review.  All opinions expressed are 100% my own and not influenced by the company.