Friday, November 9, 2012

Lil Helper Organic Bamboo Change Mat & Pail Liner: Review & Giveaway! (Closed)


Does the name Lil Helper ring a bell? If so, you may remember the brand as the "grand finale" review/giveaway in my Fluffy February cloth diaper event early this year. If not, I encourage you to check out my prior review for info on this unique, all-Canadian cloth diapering brand and their products as they certainly stand out from the masses in a number of key ways.

Fast forward several months later and I'm happy to report that:
  • My LH diapers continue to be among the first I grab for new changes, and they always get packed in the daycare diaper bag too! LOVE 'em!!
  • The company is firmly committed to ongoing improvement in their products. For example, their original cotton insert has been revamped so that it no longer gets bunchy/warped after prepping, as I'd reported in my previous review.
Lil Helper recently began branching out and offering additional eco-friendly products, including a super-sized diaper pail liner, and two organic bamboo / waterproof pads (a mattress protector and a change mat). And guess what? I've had the opportunity to review two of these new products which I'll share with you today.


Product Information - Diaper Pail Liner:

Size: 28 in x 28 in
Colors Available: Red & Yellow

[Note: website information currently very limited.]


My Review - Diaper Pail Liner:

Before I begin here, an important note - the version of the pail liner I received for review purposes is different than what the company will be offering in the future. Mohammed (LH's "Chief Everything Officer" - love it!) confirmed that they will be switching suppliers and likely materials as well. The current liner is made from laminated nylon, the same material used to make windcheaters and other wearable waterproof items, however the company is leaning toward PUL (which they already use in their smaller wet bags) for the future version. I wholeheartedly approve of this choice, as I own several PUL-based wet bags (including one of their own, which rocks) and it has definitely proven to be a "workhorse" material in terms of its lasting waterproof qualities. And it's safe too!

All that said, here's my own "V1" pail liner. I received the snazzy, bright yellow shade!


A picture of the liner alone doesn't really give a good appreciation of size, so I recruited my (then) 22-month-old daughter for some assistance.


Roomy, huh? Mohammed told me they designed the liner to fit the largest diaper pail they could find - a whopping 24 gallons. This would definitely hold multiple days of dirty dipes for a single child, and probably 2+ full days if you have a couple little ones in cloth. (We'll likely be in this situation for at least a month once our Little Man arrives!)

The bag uses a drawstring closure. Here you can see it open...


...and pulled shut:


The inner laminate material sort of stuck together at first, so I had to pry it fully open in order to wash it properly (along with my regular diaper laundry). Once washed a couple times, however it had a similar feel to my PUL wet bags - just slightly stiffer/bulkier.

The pail liner can be used as, well, a pail liner (no, really?) or a hanging wet bag. We've grown accustomed to the latter and, in fact, simply keep the liner plunked down on our bathroom floor as it gathers its contents for the next wash. We find it holds smells at bay quite well, so we're not inundated with an unpleasant olfactory experience during our DD's bath time, which is appreciated! That said, we have been casually shopping around for an actual pail which has either a flip lid or no lid at all, as we like the concept of a totally hands-free operation.


Have I mentioned that the liner is huge? Here it is holding two full days of dipes - including a Lil Helper one, of course! ;) - and not even at half capacity.


It's also very strong. I can haul a full load o' dirties down to our laundry room using the drawstring closures without concern that the liner will rip.

In terms of laundering, I've had best results turning the liner inside out and pulling it about two thirds closed for the wash cycles. The one time I washed it without drawing it closed, it "collected" an errant microfibre insert which came out of the wash all stinky. Not good! I haven't had this issue since I started drawing it partially shut.

I have noticed a different issue cropping up, however. Small patches of the laminated inner are beginning to peel off, particularly near the top seam. Thankfully I haven't yet experienced leaking/wicking due to this, though if the problem continues to get worse I think this'll be likely at some point. I'm wondering if the nylon material is more vulnerable to the hot wash cycle temperature than PUL, since I haven't noticed this with any of my other wet bags? I always hang the liner to dry, so it's not a dryer heat issue. Come to think of it, the aforementioned hauling of the bag down to the laundry by the drawstrings could have something to do with it too? In any case, obviously not ideal as a pail liner should be able to stand up to a serious beating - don'tcha think? :)

All in all, I'm loving the size and function of my Lil Helper pail liner, and encourage the company to carry these aspects forward to the "new and improved" version which will hopefully resolve the peeling issue as well. Then we'll have one seriously awesome pail liner, folks!


Product Information - Organic Bamboo Change Mat:

Once more, the whimsical humour of the Lil Helper folks are at work on the description for this product, so I encourage you to read the full write-up on their website. The quick version:
  • Size of mat: 18" x 22"
  • Top layer quilted with organic bamboo / organic cotton (70/30) on both sides
  • Top layer contains a specialty fabric which can absorb 10x its weight in liquid
  • Naturally-wicking surface material retains a stay-dry feel
  • Waterproof bottom layer made from a safe, medical-grade waterproof material guaranteed to last 200 commercial launderings.
  • Top layer is made from pesticide and bleach free organic bamboo. Waterproof barrier is phthalate, BPA and lead and heavy metal free
  • Organic bamboo/cotton layer is pre-washed to prevent shrinkage
  • Manufactured in Canada




My Review - Organic Bamboo Change Mat:

Upon receiving the change mat, my initial two observations were that the top layer is super soft & pleasant to the touch, and that the mat appears to be extremely well constructed. The stitching is perfect and the advertised measurements (18" x 22") were spot on.

Here's a close-up of both sides of the change mat - the quilted organic bamboo / organic cotton top layer and the waterproof bottom layer.


Here's the quilted side laid flat.


Similar to the pail liner, however, we need some context to get a true appreciation of size. So here y'go!



(Side note - I was quite impressed that our DD actually lay still for several pictures! She must've felt nice & comfy on there. :)

As it can be seen, the mat is nice & wide. It's not a bad length either (definitely plenty long for babies) but at the mid-to-late toddler stage your little one's head will probably be off the mat (like you can see with our 23-month-old, above) so you might want to place something cushiony & ideally antibacterial under his/her melon, especially when changing on a public table.

When I asked Mohammed about the possibility of extending the length (or adding a head piece) for toddlers, he mentioned that if this type of change were made to the current mat, it may become too bulky to fit in a diaper bag. However, they're considering the introduction of a new waterproof mat with a thinner top layer, allowing them to make it larger but still portable. Cool - always good to have options!

Before using the mat, I prepped it by washing it twice along with my regular diaper laundry. When I re-checked the measurements afterwards, I did notice slight shrinkage (they were down to 21.25" x 17.5") which resulted in ever-so-slight unevenness of the layers but certainly nothing to impact functionality. Really a picky observation if anything. (Though you know me - I feel obliged to report these too. ;)

I also tried the absorbency trick as demonstrated in the video (embedded above). After two washes, liquid kind of pooled on top for several seconds before it began to soak in. But once it did absorb, it was clear that the mat could contain a lot of it. Mohammed advised that the top layer continues to get more absorbent with multiple washes, similar to diapers made of natural materials (e.g. prefolds). And indeed, after wash #4 I tried again and liquid absorbed much more quickly. I actually got my mat to "drink" about a cup and a half of water (more than double what was demoed in the video) and the waterproof bottom layer still did its job, keeping the area underneath the mat dry. Eventually the top of the mat lost its stay-dry feel, however this is surely inevitable at a certain point. Fun to experiment, in any case! :)

One more minor issue to report. The other day I noticed that the bottom of my mat had developed a superficial scratch. This hasn't impacted the waterproof quality, however it made me realize that a li'l TLC is probably best with this item - e.g. wash only with cloth diapers (being careful all aplix is fastened securely), hang to dry and ensure there's nothing sharp/scratchy beside the mat when stored in a diaper bag. I tend to (purposefully) put my review items through the wringer, and in this case I'd washed the mat at least once with a regular load of my daughter's clothing (including jeans and other pieces with zippers and embellishments), plus it's been shoved into different sections of our diaper bag with other miscellaneous items. Moving forward I'm going to be more careful as I definitely want this mat to stay in good shape, especially with Little Man on his way!

All in all, I highly recommend the Lil Helper Organic Bamboo Change Mat if you're looking for a mat which functions well, is comfy for your little one and boasts safe, high-quality materials and worksmanship. Our daycare provider sends along her endorsement as well:
Great mat! seems comfy, folds easy, so as long as it washes well, I would recommend it! 

Just keep in mind you'll need to be a bit careful with care and maintenance to keep it in perfect shape, and that it's a bit on the short side for toddlers, so you might want to carry around an additional cushy piece (hat, small blanket, etc.) to go under the head in this case.


Buy It:

You can purchase Lil Helper diapers and accessories directly from the company website, or take a look at their Where to Buy page to find a 3rd party retailer (though note that at this time there is only a single retailer, diaper-eez, based in Toronto.)


Win It:

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win an Organic Bamboo Change Mat of their own! Open to CAN/US.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow all instructions within each entry option to ensure your entries are valid.  


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided to the winner by lilhelper.ca.  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.

63 comments:

  1. I really like the 3 to 1 donation policy. very cool

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  2. I really liked that for every three diapers purchased, they donate one.

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  3. Their bamboo wipes caught my eye. Great idea!

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  4. I love that the designers are engineers, and that they donate their diapers to people on this continent who can use them, instead of sending them abroad where they may interfere with the local economy.

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  5. I'd love to try their organic bamboo wipes!

    huntermb3 at gmail dot com

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  6. I'd love the nursery art or the bamboo wipes.

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  7. I like the Bamboo Mattress Protector.

    Adina H.

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  8. i love that for every 3 diapers i purchase they donate a diaper to a family in need, & that the site is designed by rocket scientists! :D
    puddle_of_light at yahoo dot com

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  9. I like the Organic Bamboo Cloth Diaper

    Narathip Wall
    polo_wataga at yahoo dot com

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  10. I really like the Organic Bamboo Cloth Diaper! amymccarty at hotmail dot com

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  11. I would like to try the bamboo diaper!! And love their 3=1 program.

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  12. The Charcoal Bamboo diaper sound pretty sweet!

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  13. I love that they donate a diaper to a family in need for every 3 purchased! Love companies that give back!
    jbang0331(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  14. I would love to get the Lil Helper starter kit to try them out!

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  15. The organic bamboo cloth diaper looks great.

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  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. I'd be interested in the Bamboo Mattress Protector but I see it is sold out.

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  18. I loved that you can use paypal to pay if you purchase. I have found other companies that do not have this option.

    ontariohappychick at gmail dot com

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  19. I like the bamboo mattress protector

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  20. The organic bamboo cloth diaper looks awesome!

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  21. I really liked the organic bamboo crib protector:)

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  22. I'd love to try the Lil helper Starter kit since i'm new to cloth diapers !

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  23. I wanna try the lil helper starter kit!

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  24. the lil helper starter kit would be perfect for my little family

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  25. I like their Lil Helper Starter Kit. It would be a great gift for a new mom.
    jentam777 at gmail dot com

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  26. I would love to try their organic bamboo cloth diaper.

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  27. I would so love to try the charcoal bamboo diaper. Anything to keep the smells at bay would score top points in my book!

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  28. I like the look of these http://www.lilhelper.ca/zipper-wetbag/.

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  29. I like the lil helper cloth diaper starter package!

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  30. I like the Organic Bamboo Cloth Diaper.

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  31. I like the zipper wetbags. I normally carry a stash of plastic bags in my diaperbag just in case. This is way more environmentally friendly.

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  32. like the Organic Bamboo Cloth Diaper

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  33. I like that they're designed by rocket scientists. For some reason I think that's funny.

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  34. I like the Charcoal Bamboo Cloth Diaper. Would love to try it!

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  35. would love to try the charcoal bamboo cloth diaper

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  36. I'd love to try the charcoal bamboo diaper in red.
    Sarah Jane/mummytocharis{at}yahoo{dot}com

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  37. I would like to try their starter kit for my newborn

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  38. I'd like to try the organic bamboo wipes - betcha they're soft.
    My rafflecopter name is Julie G.

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  39. I like everything bamboo so I'm into it. I also like that it says they're designed by rocket scientists :)

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  40. I'd like to try the bamboo diaper.

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  41. I would love to try the Charcoal Bamboo Cloth Diaper

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  42. I want to try the charcoal insert!

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  43. I would love to try the Organic Bamboo Cloth Diaper

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  44. the starter kit caught my eye. What a great price for someone who isn't 100% sure if they want to go cloth or not! And they have some interesting stuff in the kit, too!

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  45. I really want the charcoal bamboo diaper.

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  46. charcoal bamboo sounds so cool!

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  47. I would love to try the charcoal inserts :)

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  48. I would like to try a charcoal insert

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  49. The charcoal sounds like a fantastic idea! I also love the donation policy-very cool :)

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  50. I like their bamboo wipes.


    carol lewis

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  51. I think it's great that Lil Helper gives one brand new PUL cloth diaper to a family in need for every 3 diapers we sell. rustysrambles(at)gmail(dot)com

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