Thursday, February 9, 2012

MiniMaestro Diaper + Insert: Review and Giveaway {FluffyFebruary} (Closed)


"For them. For you. For tomorrow."

Fluffy February is finally here! I'm excited to kick things off by telling you all about MiniMaestro, my first event sponsor!

MiniMaestro is based in Ottawa, Ontario and sells its own unique brand of pocket diapers and cloth diapering accessories produced nearby at a facility in Montreal, Quebec. The company has been on my radar for almost a year now, and, in fact, I have blogged about it a few times already! My very first giveaway win (almost a full year ago) was a MiniMaestro wet bag, which I excitedly shared with y'all and then later wrote a review on. I also solicited your help to win some MM fluff in a "Name the Diaper" contest (I came up just short - boo! :)
 
I've been particularly eager to test out a MiniMaestro diaper as I know that a lot of time, dedication and thought went into its design. Why? Well, it was created by Sophie Gratton, the company's founder and a talented and ambitious "mompreneur". I've been in touch with Sophie periodically over the last year and the one thing I have grown to learn about her is that she's not one to settle for mediocrity. (A mama after my own heart, for sure! :)

When her daughter was 14 months old, Sophie decided to switch from disposable to cloth diapers in order to save money and reduce waste, however upon researching her options, realized that no diaper currently on the market met all of her standards. To Sophie, the perfect diaper had to be trim, leak resistant, easy to use and to clean, made in Canada and affordable. As such, she whipped out her sewing machine and got to work! After much experimenting (with her daughter as a guinea pig), the MiniMaestro pocket diaper was born!

Here are some of the diaper's key features:
  • Extensible and waterproof PUL outer shell
  • Soft microfleece inner to keep baby dry
  • Form-fitting elastics to prevent leaks
  • Wide pocket opening with double elastics, for easy stuffing
  • Long folding aplix tabs
  • Wide front band to adjust the height of the waist


Unlike many (if not most) diapers currently on the market, the MiniMaestro is a sized diaper. In other words, you'll need a few sets of diapers in different sizes to accommodate your baby from birth to potty training. While it's true that a stash of sized diapers is pricier overall than a stash of one-size, the upsides are a) a trimmer fit at each age and b) better resale value and/or life left for your next little bundle of joy, since each diaper will be used for less time.

MiniMaestro diapers come in the following 5 sizes:


My guess is that most/all babies can be effectively diapered from birth to potty training using three of these, depending on the baby's weight and morphology. For example, a small and/or thin baby might be diapered in x-small, medium-slim and large, and a bigger baby might be best suited to small, medium and large. The nice thing is that you can purchase diapers on a "per need" basis, based on how your baby is growing.

MiniMaestro diapers are available in a wide assortment of colour combinations with appropriately descriptive (and in some cases, appetizing) names. Something to suit everyone's "taste" for sure!


MiniMaestro also offers inserts which come in three sizes for maximum absorption without adding bulk to the diaper. According to their website:

MiniMaestroTM inserts are made of a combination of synthetic and natural fibers between two (2) bamboo fleece layers.   They absorb up to ten (10) times their weight very quickly and retain liquids while under moderate compression.

That's a lot of liquid! (Is anyone else envisioning a face-off with [Insert Infamous Brand Name Shammy Product here]? :)

Finally, MiniMaestro takes pride in ensuring quality via stringent manufacturing standards:

We only use new North-American made materials for our diapers, which provide our clients with peace of mind in respect to the quality and durability of our products.

The fabrics used for the inserts are certified to meet Oeko-Tex Standard 100. The PUL used for the outer waterproof shell of our diapers is CPSIA compliant and is manufactured exclusively using proven continuous solvent bond technology which offers the higher duty cycle, and outlasts all other laminating technologies.  It is guaranteed by the manufacturer against delamination providing that the care instructions are followed.


For review purposes, Sophie sent me a medium diaper in periwinkle and a medium bamboo insert. I love that the diaper comes with minimal packaging, and that what it does include is 100% recyclable.



Here it is sans packaging. In addition to providing durability, the fabric-covered aplix tabs contribute a distinctive and attractive design element which I really like.


The insert is thicker and firmer than many others I own. It is also unique in that one end is wider in the interest of reducing unnecessary bulk. The intent is to place the wider end where your baby needs the most absorbency. We place it at the front for S as her diapers/inserts always get wet here first (plus she's a tummy sleeper/napper).


The inner lining is, indeed, super-soft and fluffy! This, my friends, is true luxur-rump. (See what I did there? My husband would be proud!)


Here's a close-up of the PUL-covered aplix:


And here we have the aplix firmly affixed to the laundry tab. We won't be seeing any diaper chains here, folks.


Check out the contrasting colours & textures. I just love this aspect of MM diapers!


Finally, here you can see the super-stretchy pocket opening with elastic on both sides. Stuffing this diaper is definitely a breeze. (Though I can't shake the feeling that it wants to stuff itself with something other than an insert. Feeeeeeed me Seymour!)


Prepping the diaper was easy; I washed it twice (along with two regular CD loads) and hung it to dry each time. The insert was a bit more challenging, however. I'll touch on this later.

Alright get over here, sweet squirmy toddler of mine!

(Several "Wheels on the Bus" verses later...)


Ain't that one snazzy pair o' britches?

Here are a couple more angles. Notice that the diaper is indeed trim, as advertised, and snug all around. (Apologies as I somehow neglected to snap a close-up thigh shot. However I assure you that snugness abounds there as well - even on my skinny li'l girl.)



Everything stays perfectly in place as our "mini maestro" moves around! No shifting, drooping, etc.


This diaper does sit a little lower than most others in our stash; about an inch below our daughter's belly button. (She's currently mid-range in her size.) This does not appear to affect performance nor comfort, however.

S has now worn her MiniMaestro six times; five during the day and once at night. During the day, she has worn it with the single MM insert and at night doubled up with another bamboo insert from my stash. The first three times she wore the diaper during the day, she managed to poop in it almost immediately! Definitely no issues with containment here. Although S is fully on solids, I can't see there being any issues with an EBF baby either since the elastic is so snug. The fourth time she wore it, we finally got a pee (!!!!) AND a poop! No leaks, and again the mess stayed where it was supposed to.Two thumbs up!

One odd (and mostly good!) thing we've noticed is that there isn't as much of a smell when S poops in her MM compared to other diapers. Again, this could be due to the snugness of the fit.

The fifth time using her diaper was the night time experience. Unfortunately, we did experience moderate leakage during this test. However, it appeared to be due to oversaturation rather than wicking or improper fit. I don't think I've EVER felt a heavier diaper! Perhaps S felt comfier than usual in her MiniMaestro which prompted her to pee more? Who knows? In any case, I plan to try it again overnight following a couple more washes, as the insert does take 6-7 washes to reach full absorbency. I'll report back on this!

Alright, let's talk more about the insert for a moment. Mine shrank by about 10% in length upon initial prep (3x wash and dry on low heat). It also emerged from the dryer all bunched up. Uh oh!!! I asked Sophie about this and she filled me in on a few things:
  • First of all, bamboo fibre is naturally "stretchy", like a favourite pair of blue jeans. Therefore, some shrinkage/compression is expected when you launder it, but it can be stretched back out by pulling in all directions.
  • The current batch of inserts received from their supplier has been pre-"compressed" rather than fully washed/dried. The result of this is that inserts within the current batch (including the one I own) are more susceptible to shrinkage upon prepping. When Sophie realized this, she contacted the supplier to request that future batches are washed/dried before they are cut. This will ensure that they shrink very little (if at all) from their initial size when they are prepped at home. That said, the current batch of inserts are still very usable; they just end up a bit smaller than the ideal. The new batches of inserts should start arriving this Spring.
  • Laying the insert flat to dry is the best approach to ensure it stays smooth and flat prior to stuffing.

A smushed-up insert can indeed be flattened out quickly, I found:



All in all, these inserts do need a little bit of TLC but otherwise they perform quite well!

Note that if you'd prefer to use inserts which don't require any special treatment, MiniMaestro offers the option of purchasing their diapers without the inserts at a reduced cost. The diapers themselves should be able to accommodate most standard insert types. 

*** Apr 1, 2012 Update ***


Sophie sent me an insert from one of the new batches which was fully washed/dried before cut. I'm happy to report that this did not shrink any further upon prepping, and comes out of the dryer perfectly flat! Here is a comparison of the old insert and new one, fresh from the clean laundry (the new one is on the right):


I've updated my official evaluation below to reflect experiences with the "new & improved" insert!

While on the topic of care & maintenance, I also want to point out that the diapers are REALLY easy to spray down when there's a mess. Solids slide off the microfleece quite readily and there are no folds or crevices for the poop to "hide" in. Also, the diapers also come out of the washer completely stink-free and air dry quickly - within a few hours!

Alright, let's get to the official evaluation!

Appearance/Style:
+ Super-trim; possibly the most form-fitting dipe in my collection! No bubble butts here. :)
+ Fabric-covered aplix closure provides a unique visual touch
+ Comes in 13 snazzy colour combinations, so lots of choice!
+/- Sits relatively low on baby; about an inch below our daughter's belly button. Does not appear to affect performance or comfort.
- Just two prints are currently offered, and they are available only to retailers.
Score: 4.5/5

Performance:
+ No leaks so far during during the day, with single bamboo insert (worn 5 times). 
+ Awesome at containing messes, thanks to snug elastic
+ Even poop smell seems to be minimized in this diaper!
- Experienced moderate leakage when worn overnight with bamboo doubler. However, appeared due to oversaturation rather than wicking or improper fit. Will re-test once insert reaches full absorbency and report back! *** Apr 1, 2012 Update *** I tried the diaper overnight again with the new pre-washed insert, doubled with the old one. Again, experienced moderate leakage but again, both inserts were very saturated. My conclusion is that this diaper is best for day use, however other parents may have different experiences.
- There is a bit of space between edges of pocket and insert. Potential for pee to miss the insert when baby on side? (Could also be due to the fact that the current batch of inserts is more prone to shrinkage.) *** Apr 1, 2012 Update *** The new pre-washed insert fits more snuggly in the pocket than the old one.
Score: 4/5

Comfort & Health:
+ Inner microfleece fabric is incredibly plush; outer waterproof fabric is soft and smooth. Both very pleasant to the touch!
+ Diaper achieves a snug tummy and leg fit without pinching 
+ Bamboo materials are breathable, allowing air flow to baby's skin
+ Diaper does not appear to cause/exacerbate diaper rash
+ Waist material is stretchy, so baby is still comfy after pigging out! :)
+/- Almost no marks left on baby's skin - just noticed some *slight* imprintation following overnight usage 
- When baby crouches down, tummy can touch aplix slightly as waist fabric tends to fold inward in this position.
Score: 4.5/5

Ease of Use:
+ Diaper is quick and easy to stuff via wide, stretchy pocket opening
+ Pocket diaper + aplix = super easy change (Grandma said "Leave this one out for me!")
+ Diaper is very easy to care for - laundry tabs, easy spray-down, machine wash, machine dry or hang. (Air dries quickly!)
- Insert requires some TLC (lay flat to dry, or dry on low heat and then stretch/smooth back out) *** Apr 1, 2012 Update *** The new pre-washed insert comes out of the dryer perfectly flat! Adding 0.5 to the score based on this.
- Inserts are not designed to come out in the wash on their own
Score: 4.5/5

Quality & Durability:
+ Diaper crafted with high-quality materials and techniques; finished product looks and feels flawless. (No loose seams, improper stitching, etc. are evident.)
+ Elastics seem very tight & solid
+ Inner lining feels just as soft after several washings.
+ Aplix is strong; firm laundry tabs should continue to work for a long time.
+/- Bamboo insert undergoes some moderate initial shrinkage. (Note that this will be much less evident with future batches of these inserts starting this Spring, as the prepping process will be improved.) *** Apr 1, 2012 Update *** The new pre-washed insert does not shrink at all! Adding 0.5 to the score based on this.
- Slight, superficial stitching imperfections on the insert *** Apr 1, 2012 Update *** Did not notice this on the new pre-washed insert.
Score: 5/5 
(Note - given I have only been using this diaper for three weeks, I plan to update this section a few months down the road to get a true durability picture!)

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Total "Diaper Awesomeness" Score: 22.5 / 25 (Great diaper. Highly recommended.)
Overall Comments: Very solid diaper all-around. High quality materials/construction, trim, attractive, breathable, many colour combos available, comfy for baby and easy to use. Most notable drawback so far is that we've had night-time leaks, so we've decided to use it exclusively for daytime diapering.

Approximate Stash Cost: $1000-1200
Calculation details: On the assumption that most/all babies can be diapered from birth to potty training using three of the available five sizes, a full stash can be built by purchasing three complete bundles (full sets of diapers & inserts for a given size, plus accessories including wet bags, disposable liners and laundry soap samples) for a total of $1087.97 CAD + tax. Note that while a stash of sized diapers is pricier overall than a stash of one-size, the upside is a) a trimmer fit at each age and b) better resale value and/or life left for your next baby!

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I want to mention just a couple more things before closing out the review.

First of all, Sophie has been *wonderful* to work with while I've tested the diaper & insert. I've bombarded her with many questions and she continuously responds back quickly and thoroughly. She obviously cares deeply about her company and products, and she values both positive and constructive feedback very highly. We're going to continue seeing Great Things from Sophie and MiniMaestro, so keep them on your radar!

Secondly (and along the same note), social responsibility is extremely important to Sophie.

MINIMAESTRO(TM) products are made by Petites-Mains, a non-profit organization that fights exclusion, poverty and violence. The manufacturer is located in Montreal, Quebec (Canada) and prides itself in providing fair work conditions and adequate wages for its workers.


 
The Petites-Mains' mission is to help people, mostly immigrant women, single, unemployed or living on Welfare. It encourages these women to come out of their isolation, to mingle with others, to learn a job, to integrate into the job market and to live with greater dignity in society.

So when you make a purchase from MiniMaestro, you can not only feel confident that you are getting some wonderful cloth diapering products, but also that you are contributing toward a great cause!


Buy It:

Visit MiniMaestro to purchase some of these sweet diapers yourself! Many options are available including single diapers ($17.99) and three types of value-add bundles which cater to different commitment levels. You can also purchase inserts/doublers, liners and wet bags separately. Shipping is available world-wide via Canada Post, and free for orders over $79.99. Local pickups are available. MiniMaestro products are also available at select retailers.


Win It:

Sophie has generously offered to give away a MiniMaestro pocket diaper + bamboo insert to one lucky Manager to Mom reader! Winner chooses size and colour from among available options.

To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Comments do not count as entries, however feel free to add a comment to remind yourself that you entered!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by MiniMaestro.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample items free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.

3 comments:

  1. Forgot to include my GFC name: Beth
    rollerbeth at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  2. rc isnt wanting to take my twitter name--sgibbs58

    ReplyDelete
  3. tweet---https://twitter.com/#!/sgibbs58/status/171842519871668224

    rc didnt work

    ReplyDelete