Mulder, it’s me.
That’s right, just call me the Agent Dana Scully of the cloth diaper world. No, I don’t chase down disposable conspiracies wearing high heels and a pantsuit. No, I’ve never been abducted by little brown men. But I AM a skeptic. I’m a cloth diaper skeptic.
When the co-owner of Montreal’s LPO Cloth Diapers first wrote to me, I hesitated to respond. When I lived in Montreal and my son was a baby, LPO (which stands for La Petite Ourse, “baby bear” in French) had just launched, and I noticed local moms were excited about the brand because it was affordable and local.
I quickly realized that the low price point was due to overseas manufacturing, which, in and of itself is certainly not unusual in the industry. But unfortunately, parents had misunderstood the distinction between “made in Canada” and Canadian ownership. I assumed this was intentionally misleading marketing on the part of the company and filed LPO away in my brain as being sketchy.
Re-opening a cold case
When David wrote to me, five years later, I only had that first, incorrect impression in my mind. I didn’t write back right away. (To be fair, I was about to give birth to twins.) He wrote again. I admired his very un-spammy persistence! (I get a lot of spam emails from companies that start with “Hi, Maman!” or “Hi Mrs. Loup!”) I couldn’t keep ignoring him, so I wrote back expressing my skepticism about his diapers: weren’t they just relabelled, low-quality diapers like those available on eBay or AliExpress but with a higher price tag? I pressed send and didn’t expect to hear back. I’ve had dealings with shady diaper brands before—brands selling their “handmade” diapers on Etsy when it’s clear they’re just sewing labels onto diapers they’ve wholesaled from China. Those brands never respond to me.
I was nervous to open his response. What if I’d insulted him? Was he going to come after me with an ice pick? (If you never watched The X-Files, I apologize for these references that make no sense to you.) Luckily, David’s response included a smiley face and sincere gratitude for my honesty, and he took the opportunity to address my misconceptions.
“In all transparency,” he wrote, “word got out at the beginning that we were trying to have people think [our diapers] were made in Canada. Since we started, we have tried to tell people that we are a Canadian company that has its products made in China … we did not realize at what point we should have stressed this ….” He also addressed my concerns that his products were no different than Alva (and other cheap brands sold at bargain-basement prices) and my belief that they were simply relabelling diapers that were otherwise identical to what a consumer could buy directly from China. He acknowledges that his diapers have similarities to these brands (and to be fair, there are only so many ways to design a cloth diaper; all brands have points in common), but that their Chinese manufacturer “creates [their] diapers according to [their] specifications based on what worked best for [their] boys in testing all kinds of diapers.”
LPO hand-picks the materials used in their diapers, including the suedecloth, and their supplier (whom they have met in China) is not permitted to reproduce their diaper design for other companies.
LPO wants to fill the gap in the cloth diaper market between “grey market” diapers that are sold for less than $10 and North American-made diapers that are in the $25–30 range. (It’s also fair to note that there are multiple North American-owned brands that manufacture overseas but still retail for over $30, so manufacturing in China does not automatically mean less expensive.) For clarity, I consider a “grey market” diaper one that is sold under a variety of names on a variety of oftentimes sketchy e-commerce sites by companies that lack transparency with regard to their ethics, do not conduct any Canadian safety testing, abuse copyrights by reproducing prints that are exclusive to other brands and have spotty-to-non-existent customer service. LPO on the other hand, is on a mission to provide exceptional customer service as a trustworthy Canadian company.
A review of the facts
At $14.99 for one pocket diaper with two inserts, LPO diapers are economical, indeed. But more important than the price is that LPO diapers are compliant with Canadian safety standards and are backed by a two-year warranty. And even more important than being too legit to quit is that LPO’s pocket diaper works.
So now that I’ve put the truth out there, let’s get to the main event: the cloth diaper review.
LPO Pocket Diaper Specs:
- Size range: 10–35 lb
- Four rise levels
- Front and back pocket openings
- Stay-dry, suedecloth inner with internal double gussets (Note: due to a patent on internal double gussets in the USA, LPO diapers can only be shipped to Canadian addresses.)
- Double row of closure snaps plus a hip snap
- Two bamboo blend inserts come standard, but customers can request other inserts (LPO sells charcoal bamboo, hemp and microfibre inserts)
- A pack of 20 diapers and 40 inserts is $275, one individual diaper with two inserts is $14.99
It’s no secret that my favourite cloth diaper insert combination is one microfibre insert on top of a hemp insert. The microfibre directly under the cloth diaper pocket absorbs quickly, and the hemp insert behind it holds the liquid without compression leaks. Compression leaks can occur when you use microfibre alone: baby’s weight on the diaper can cause the absorbed liquid to be pressed out, much like pressing on a saturated sponge. Natural fibres, like hemp, contain the liquid much better, but are slower to absorb. That’s why I pair the fast absorption of microfibre with the liquid-retaining power of hemp.
Cultivating hemp requires fewer resources than cotton and bamboo (which is also highly processed to become a usable textile), and I personally find it more absorbent. Unfortunately for me, until now I hadn’t found a pocket diaper that came with microfibre and hemp. I was always stuck buying replacement inserts for my favourite pocket diapers. LPO pocket diapers come with two bamboo inserts by default, but all you have to do is specify in your order comments that you’d like hemp or microfibre, and LPO will make the swap for you! Since their inserts come in packs of two, just buy an even number of diapers. So if you buy four diapers, ask for two sets of microfibre and two sets of hemp inserts, and, voilà—you have the Maman Loup insert combo!
We first started testing our LPO pocket diapers when the twins were 5 months old and between 13–14 lb. The fit is awesome, and I would agree with the lower weight minimum of about 10 lb to get a good fit on baby. You can get a nice tight fit around the thighs thanks to the upper hip snap. And thanks to the generous rise with four levels of rise snaps, this is a one-size diaper that really should fit until potty training. (My eldest son was above-average for height and didn’t potty train until he was over 3, and he outgrew the rise in many of his one-size diapers.)
We first used our LPO diapers with the two included bamboo inserts. I was able to use them for about two hours this way without any leaks, but I really like to see a diaper last 3–4 hours if I’m going to give it my unadulterated two thumbs up. So I asked David to send me some hemp and microfibre inserts … and since I’m a cloth diaper genius (and skeptic), I achieved pocket diaper perfection with four hours of daytime absorbency on my twins.
Our favourite things about LPO Pocket Diapers:
- Really affordable retail price for a diaper that works
- Ability to customize the inserts you receive
- Double row of closure snaps plus a hip snap
- Cross-over snaps for tiny waists
- 3-across rise snaps: no unsightly bulging!
- 4 rise options (and the tallest rise is taller than the other one-size diapers in my stash)
- Microfibre/hemp insert combo gets the requisite four hours of leak-free daytime absorbency that busy parents need!
Things we like less:
- This is a matter of personal taste, but I prefer the hip snap on diaper tabs to be on the bottom row of the waist closure snaps rather than the top row.
- Obviously North American-made is the dream, but I know that LPO’s forays into local manufacturing proved unsuccessful in terms of maintaining a competitive price point.
There’s nothing better than an episode of The X-Files that ends with skeptical Scully changing her opinion on a case. And what could be better than a cloth diaper review that ends with me saying, “Mulder, I was wrong.”
LPO diapers are designed and sold by a Canadian, family-owned business that takes the quality of their products and the satisfaction of their customers very seriously. In all of my dealings with David, one half of the couple behind the brand, he has been nothing but transparent and willing to address all of my questions and concerns. He believes in his product, he believes in his brand, and he believes in the value of affordable cloth diapers for Canadian families. The truth is out there. And I believe in LPO Cloth Diapers!