Hyps Don’t Lie: I Tested 4 Reusable Menstrual Pads So You Don’t Have To

I’ve never been a fan of tampons and as such, never had a desire to try menstrual cups either. I’ve always used pads as my preferred menstrual product. However, a few years ago, I was starting to feel annoyed with disposables. Having a period is nothing to be embarrassed about – but I still hated that everyone in the bathroom knew I was on my period by the ripping sound of those loud wrappers. (People who don’t menstruate: if you’ve never heard it, think of being in a house where everyone is sound asleep and you are trying to sneak cake from one of those plastic domes.) On top of that, it was so wasteful. And they aren’t even comfortable! I made the switch to cloth menstrual pads and haven’t looked back.

When I first started, I went with a bundle from amazon – but once I got pregnant and decided to reach for them again postpartum, I wanted to do more research into other brands. I’m a big fan of research (hi, history major here!) so I have my opinions as well as some stats for each. (Note: all prices are CAD.)

Amazon: It’s Cheap for a Reason

  • Cost per pad: $3
  • Sizes available: 2? 3?
  • Number of snaps: 1
  • Fabrics: PUL, Charcoal, Microfiber
  • Wash routine: To quote: “machine washable”. Suspiciously easy.

Amazon pads are the ones that everyone likes to compare the rest with and there’s only one reason: the cost. A ten pack (plus wet bag) is only $30. A lot of people choose these because they’re so cheap; however, in comparing it with others, there’s a reason.

First of all, these are so thick. They are at least as thick as a regular flow disposable pad and thicker than the “super thin” type that was my go-to. On top of which, the snaps bother me. Even before I tried other cloth pads, this was something that bothered me about my amazon pads – after a couple of days of wearing them, I was very aware of the snap and it was not comfortable. It’s very bulky. On top of this, you have to really search for different sizes. They seem to carry overnight and liners now (something not available when I bought mine), but again you have to buy a large pack. There doesn’t appear to be an individual option for trying different sizes to see what works for you.

Thickness matters!

Now for the TMI: absorbency. These pads are the worst on this list for it, and microfiber is the reason. It was not uncommon for me to find clots sitting on top of these pads – something much rarer in the other three. Any cloth diapering parent who has tried microfiber will tell you it is hit and miss at best. The charcoal on the top protects your skin but it isn’t the main absorbency. I’ve been slowly replacing my Amazon pads with others (spoiler: HyPs) as I can afford it.

La Petit Ourse: So Basic

  • Cost per pad (CDN): $5-$6
  • Sizes available: 3
  • Number of snaps: 2
  • Fabrics: outside PUL/Polyester; interior bamboo/charcoal
  • Wash routine: Rinse, air dry, machine wash, line or machine dry

LPO is a decent-price and an okay quality. One of the cute things is that some of their prints match their cloth diapers – so you and your baby can match cloth, which is cute! They have three standard sizes: liner, day, and overnight. I only have a liner by them right now. Compared to a disposable liner or light flow pad, it holds about the same and is roughly the same thickness as the latter.

Their wash routine is a little odd. The fact that you have to air dry them before main wash adds a step I don’t always have time to take – and means more time between wears, which means more pads. I’m also not a fan of their website’s navigation. To find cloth pads, you either have to search them or find them nested under “mom and baby accessories” (which isn’t very descriptive or inclusive), alongside car seat covers, blankets, bibs, etc. They are sold in packs of two in the same size and different patterns. There is no mixing and matching patterns; bulk discounts apply when you buy five or more packs.

As for the pads themselves, there isn’t anything wrong with LPO, they just didn’t wow me. There isn’t anything that stands out about them. They still slip around a little (almost all of them did), they weren’t softer than any of the others, or more absorbent. They are okay, but there are better options in my opinion.

Note: since purchasing mine, LPO has added silicone dots to the bottom of their pads to help stop the pads from slipping around, a problem most cloth pads face. I have not been able to test this feature, but have heard silicone dots wear in the wash, which is why they aren’t typically included in cloth pads.

Illum (formerly Hannah Pad): Not Worth It

  • Cost per pad: $11 – $37 for cotton; $13-38 for bamboo/cotton
  • Packages: can be purchased individually or in discounted bundles
  • Sizes available: 8
  • Number of snaps: 1
  • Fabrics: Organic cotton (shell also contains 8% TPU).
  • Wash routine: Rinse out, use their branded probiotic soap to wash spots, soak in their branded soap for 6 hours minimum, hand wash in running water, air dry

I was given a postpartum sized Hannah Pad (now called Illum) when I was well, a few weeks postpartum. This is the only size I had available to test, but it gave me a good sense of the relative absorbency and quality. These are really, really soft pads. This giant beast is also still smaller than the one they give you in the hospital, yet still extremely absorbent. They also have a lot of different sizes available, including thong!

Size, fabric, and color are all factors in choosing the right pad for you

This pad is the only one on this list which is white, something I’m on the fence about. This comes down to taste and necessity. When I was freshly postpartum, I needed to monitor my bleeding closely, and white pads were how to do it. Now that I’m back to monthly cycles, I’m more annoyed by how much I have to work to get the stains out.

Speaking of which, did you skip over or read that novel of a wash routine? These pads are fussy. They require six hours of soaking in addition to the main and prewashes. (Yes, that is three washes.) Again, that means longer time between wears, which means more pads. Illum also only recommends their probiotic and liquid soaps, which will run you an extra $14 and $12 respectively (and yes, you are supposed to use both in one wash cycle). I find it immoral when companies push multiple, unnecessary products on you. They make it seem like you need a lot of new stuff instead of using what you have and is readily available to you. It just creates an accessibility barrier and wasteful spending.

On top of which, the price of these pads is astronomical. Yes, they are organic, vegan cotton (and now bamboo optional) but this is a lot. The pad I was given is $37 if bought individually and it’s just not worth it. There are so many other more budget friendly options.

HyPs Don’t Lie

  • Cost per pad: $12-$14
  • Sizes available: 3
  • Number of snaps: 2
  • Fabrics: PUL, bamboo terry, wicking stay dry bamboo
  • Wash routine: Rinse until clear water, wash, line dry

First of all, what is this magic? Is this rocket science? Why is this pad so thin and so absorbent? These are the thinnest of all the pads I tested, yet they hold a deceptive amount. [TMI alert] There have been times I think I must have had a lighter day than I realized because I see nothing on the blue pad – then I go to rinse them and it’s the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones.

These are so soft and dry too! That stay dry bamboo material is a favorite of both my son and I (for diapers and pads respectively). The dark color doesn’t show stains either. The price is quite reasonable: a trial kit (including wet bag and one HyP of each size) is $53. They are super easy to wash, which means you need fewer pads. I think I could probably get away with two trial packs personally, but I have more just to be safe.

One common complaint is that they sometimes move and honestly, this was an issue with all the pads I tried (except the giant Illum pad because it covered almost all of my booty). One tip I found that worked with HyPs was turning them backwards so that the longest part faced the front. For whatever reason, this keeps them in place much better. I never had leaks due to absorbency for these, but I did have one or two because of fit.

Conclusion

I’m a cost-effective person. When I needed a new car, I had spreadsheets (plural) of budgets, costs, pros/cons, etc. I like to do my research and I like a good deal. However, over the years I’ve learned a good deal doesn’t always mean the cheapest item (looking at you, Amazon) – but at the same time, the best quality item isn’t always the most expensive. Because I don’t want to waste these pads, I still keep all four in my rotation – but, bottom line, whenever I need more in a certain size, I always find myself at lilhelper.ca buying HyPs, without a second thought to the others.


About the Author

Grace is a Lil Helper Ambassador, a mom of one and a high school teacher on mat leave. She loves board games, reading, and has a mini-zoo.


What Happened When I Let My Toddler Paint My Nails

My left ring finger nail is painted a glittery blue. A dollar store nail polish I would have never bought myself, but has been sitting in my collection for over a year. It came in a door prize basket at a mom paint night. It’s half the size of my other polishes. A tiny, glittery unicorn in a sea of nudes and clear top coats.

I never paint my nails, unless I’m motivated to try to stop biting them. Again. I buy another neutral polish, and tell myself the shiny liquid will motivate me to not pick at my cracked finger tips. Or remind me not to. Or at least give me something else to pick at. So even though it’s a strategy that has failed 100 times already, I put a clear, shiny coat of polish on my nails a few days ago. Because I’m 29 now, and 29 year old moms shouldn't have embarrassing, ugly, harmful habits. Obviously the clear coat will work now that I’m 29.

I never buy fun polishes, only nudes and clears, some soft pinks. A bright colour or splash of glitter would be wasted on my short, self-damaged fingers. Or worse, it might draw attention to my stubby nails and cracked cuticles. My bad habit. I tell myself I don’t deserve the fun ones. Maybe I will get myself one if I can let my hands heal. Right now I’m not good enough for fun polish. I must’ve forgotten to put my old bottle of clear coat away, and it was sitting on my desk when my 3 year old came for a cuddle on my chair while I drank my morning coffee. Always the observationist, she asked me what the tiny bottle was.

“It’s nail polish. It makes your finger nails shiny. See?” I say, pointing out the difference between our nails.

“Can I try some?” she asks.

It’s not kid polish, but I never want to discourage her. So I agree, she can have one painted finger nail.

I wipe off the little brush on the edge of the bottle, until there is almost nothing there. Then I gently spread a little across her pointer finger. I blow on it to help it try. It’s probably doomed on a busy toddler finger.

But my little girl beams. “Wow! It’s so shiny!” she exclaims, inspecting the tiny nail.

That smile nudges me further, and I reach across my desk and show her my little collection of bottles.

“I have lots of nail polish see? It’s fun to decorate your fingers sometimes, isn’t it?”

She picks up each little bottle, and inspects it. Beige, nude, soft pink, another clear. Until she finds the little blue exception.

“Mama can I have this one? Can we open it?”

I cringe a little but I shouldn’t be surprised. I show her on my own finger, carefully spreading the blue glitter out just this once. She persists, “Can I have some too?”

So I once again scrape off the excess on the edge, and apply the thinnest coat I can manage in one little touch.

“Mama we look so beautiful!”

I smiled and thought about how my Mom used to keep her nail polish in an old peach basket. She’d often have her long, perfect nails painted pink or sometimes a bold red. She’d sit at the kitchen table, and sometimes let me help paint her right hand.

I didn’t think much more of it and we played, had our usual routine of naps and snacks and snuggles. We had dinner, and I put the kids to bed. The only extra thought I gave our mini manicure moment was a laugh and a shrug to my husband when my daughter announced our accomplishment at the dinner table. Oh, you know, anything to make her smile and feel a little special these days.

And then I looked at my hand as I leaned on the counter while I was brushing my teeth before bed. I admired my pretty blue nail. And I wondered why even though I always want to, I never give myself permission to do this “just for the fun of it” thing. Why do I give myself conditions to be allowed to do such a simple, inexpensive, joyful thing? Because, like with so many things, my mind tells me I am somehow not good enough. Not deserving of the blue nail polish.

Yet my 3 year old sees something fun and beautiful and immediately lets it in to her life. Demands it into her life. And my desire to see her feel joy overrides my own shame reflex, and I let a little of that goodness in. Why am I not as willing to create joy for myself? I need to start caring for myself the way I care for my daughters. The way my mom would want to care for me.

What other joys am I blocking because I feel undeserving? Knowing the feeling of wanting the world for my daughter, how can I start to demand the same for myself?

Joy isn’t something I have to cross a finish line to earn. And having bad days doesn’t mean I don’t deserve good. Biting my nails and picking at my finger tips yesterday doesn’t mean I don’t deserve glitter polish today.

It’s time to stop punishing myself and start choosing joy. Each day. Whatever that looks like. Taking care of myself. Wanting the world for myself.

It’s time to pick the blue glitter polish.

How will you start choosing joy and self-love today?


About the Author

Caitlin lives in Alberta with her husband, 2 little girls, and too many animals cause she is a sucker for a rescue. When she's not chasing kids and changing fluff bums she spends her time crocheting, gardening, and binging true crime docs.


7 Things You Need to Pack the Perfect Beach Bag

Summer is finally here and after last year’s summer, I think we are all extra excited about it. My family lives near the beach so we go fairly often, at least once a week. The first time I went this year, I took half my house, looked like a hot mess express, and hated every minute of it. Over the past few months, I have slowly perfected what to bring to the beach to make it enjoyable for myself and my kids. For reference, my kids are 3.5 and almost 2 so if your baby is younger, you may need some extra things and if your baby is older, you may need less. Use this as a starting point and see what works for you!

First and foremost, I do not bring a tent most days even though I know they are amazing. My youngest is a runner and I hate lugging lots of things so I pack only what I can carry on my person while holding my littles.

If someone else comes with me, I am more likely to bring a few extra things but I always try to keep it to a minimum. I bring my kids dressed in their bathing suits and ready with beach sandals or beach shoes and usually apply sunscreen at home so I don’t have to stress about it when we get to the beach and all I have to do is throw on their hats, grab my bag and enjoy!

My favorite things for a perfect beach bag are:

1. Wetbag:

This is ESSENTIAL. I cannot stress how much I use these bags. I like the Lil Helper Zipper Wetbag. I normally put my phone, wallet, and keys in it while at the beach and then use it for wet bathing suits when we get to the car. Sometimes I bring multiples but most of the time I grab one and go.

Photo Credit: Becca N.

2. Water bottles(s):

I like to bring one big bottle and share it with my kids but I know some don’t like to, so it is really up to you how much you are willing to carry and share.

Stay hydrated! Photo Credit: Cheyenne N.

3. An easy snack:

I like snacks that don’t require tiny fingers to eat them like bars or pouches. Hot tip for the pouch: Put them in the freezer the night before for extra yumminess and cooling factor at the beach! I have gone super fancy and brought bento boxes before but my kids get sand all over the place and it becomes stressful for all of us. If you prefer a finger snack or your kids don’t like bars, use a Bite Bag because they are amazing.

Image from https://www.gogosqueez.com/products/fruit-pouches/apple-apple/

4. Sunscreen:

Another essential. I am very intense about sun protection so reapply often to ensure my kids do not burn. I am so adamant about it that my kids now love it and like to spread it! If you are at the beach, make sure your sunscreen is reef safe by checking out this website! My favorite sunscreens are Blue Lizard and ThinkBaby!

Hot tip: If your kids do not enjoy getting sunscreen put on them, I have friends who swear by using a makeup brush/beauty blender or this but I have never used either so can’t attest to how well they work. If you do this, please share in the comments!

Image from Amazon.com

5. A mat:

When my kids were little, I LOVED the Lifesaver mat. It was small to pack and so cozy for my kids to sit on. Now that they are bigger, I use a huge mat that my mom gave us. Here is a similar one here. Keep an eye on Lil Helper though, because the XL Lifesaver Mats are set to arrive this summer!

Beach Mat or Towel, the Lifesafer Mat does it all! Image Credit: Sarah S.

6. Sand toys:

My kids love sand toys so we have an unreasonable amount. We have a sand box at home and use these toys all the time. In the morning before we go, I ask the kids to bring the toys they want and put them in the bag I am holding. They love helping and choosing what they are going to play with. Having the bag makes it easy for me to limit the amount of stuff they bring or else they would bring every single toy. I used to have a mesh bag for it but lost it at the beach one day so now use a bag that rolls into a tiny pouch because it is so easy to throw in my bag. Here is a similar one. I got mine in university and have used it for all kinds of things. I am currently using a plastic bag that some sand toys came in though.

Photo Credit: Becca N.

7. Towel:

I love Turkish towels because they fold up super small and are super absorbent. Another option is microfiber towels that work just as well and fold up super tiny! I like both a lot. I have also brought a face cloth in the past for wiping faces if necessary or hands. I bring one towel and we all share it when its time to rinse off. My kids don’t use towels while playing but if your kids do, it would be a good idea to bring one for the water and one for the beach showers (if you use them).

And just like the XL Lifesaver Mats, Lil Helper is set to release beach towels this summer! If you missed the preorder, stay tuned for their arrival in the coming weeks!

I am sure you are wondering where I throw all this stuff, or maybe you weren’t but I am still going to tell you. I use a cooler bag and throw an ice pack in the pocket so the water and snacks all stay cool. It is so easy to carry and fits so much so its easy to bring more if we are going with friends and want to share snacks or want to bring some extra things.

This is what my stuff normally looks like:

One Last Beach Bag Hot tip:

I don’t bring this to the beach but I do keep an assortment of things in my car that make my life so much easier. One of them is baby powder. Baby powder is basically magic to remove dry sand. Don’t ask me why it works because I have no idea. It just does. Plus it leaves you feeling so smooth.

What do you bring to the beach? Please share any tips in the comments if you have any more tips!


About the Author

Jessica is a Latinx mom to a boy and a girl. She currently lives in California with her husband, babies, and a super cuddly pup. She has many hobbies but her favorites include dancing, hiking, and true crime podcasts.


Is My Baby On Track? Advice From A Pediatric OT

So you are wondering about your little one. From the moment your baby is born you will wonder and worry at times if they are developing ‘on schedule’. Should he be pulling to stand? She can’t it up without support yet, is that supposed to be accomplished already? My baby doesn’t seem to roll over yet! On and on it goes. The accomplishment of developmental milestones brings joy and a sigh of relief and then the wondering starts again about the next ‘thing’ on the developmental list.

Maybe as a new parent you don’t know what your child should be doing and that is what your concern is! Your past experience has not put you in close contact with babies or children of any age and you are feeling lost. As families become more complex, or have to move away for work from family and elder role models, and experience the isolation due to public health restrictions, it has become increasingly hard to even have contact with friends who have children to guide us as parents.

Developmental Milestones: What is a parent to do?

First of all take a deep breath and enjoy what your child IS doing! No matter where they are on their developmental milestones path, your child is a wonderful human being and they delight and respond when caring adults are loving and encouraging with them! Take another deep breath if you are feeling lost as to knowing what your child should be doing –there are plenty of great resources at hand to guide you along this parenting path. So in a nutshell BREATHE and LOVE your child. Those baby snuggles don’t last forever!

Enjoy every snuggle while it lasts! Photo credit: Brooke B.

To guide you on your way to learning more about typical child development and how to encourage your little one along, take advantage of community resources for families and parents. A good place to start is your public library! Not only can you take out on loan reliable books and magazines on the latest parenting advice, but the staff can also point you to many other community resources including using the Library internet to find information about locations, programs and services offered in your area. Often, the Library itself will have drop in free programs for Parents and Tots that offer stories and activities that you can model at home.

Public library story time is a great experience for baby and parents! Photo Credit: Caitlin M.

Other common and reliable resources are listed below. For example the Family Resource Networks in Alberta offer the Ages and Stages Questionnaire for parents. This is a great initial tool for learning where your child is at in their developmental milestones, but also the next steps and stages to be looking for in your child.

Ask for help from pros for you and baby

The next step is to make sure to attend or arrange regularly scheduled appointments with your family doctor or pediatrician. Some provinces have Well Baby appointments at Public Health or Community Health Centers at regular intervals. These appointments are your opportunity to ask any questions that you may have. Ask LOTS of questions! Write questions or concerns on a list you keep on the fridge; or make notes on your phone in between appointments so that you can just hand them to the nurse or doctor. Do not be afraid to ask, ask and ask again! It is the job of these professionals to know all the ins and outs of childhood development and to pass that knowledge on to parents-no one expects you to be the expert!

Public health and well baby visits are great opportunities to check on your baby’s health and development! Photo credit: Toni S.

You ARE however, the expert of your own child! Be honest in answering the questions the Dr. or nurse asks of you so that you can have an open honest conversation about what is best for your child. During these visits either ask to record the conversation on your phone (you have to ask for their permission to do this) or have the professional write the answers down for you! Most often they will have handouts or pamphlets with information that you can take home. Gather these and read them and keep them handy to refer back to often. Make sure to follow through with any referrals or follow up sessions that are made.

Once you are more aware of your child’s development it can really shine a light on what your little one is accomplishing every day in little ways, and tame the worry to help you enjoy the fleeting moments of those baby snuggles and gooey toddler hugs!

Other Resources on Developmental Milestones:

Canadian Pediatric Society – https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/behavior-and-development/your_childs_development

Family Resource Network/Parent Link – https://www.frfp.ca/parent-link-centres/

Parent Central – https://parentcentral.sk.211.ca/

Assessing and supporting your Child’s Development – https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/child-behaviour-development/assessing-child-development


Have a question you’d like to ask a pediatric OT? Leave it in the comments below!


About the Author

Kelly Harrison-Miles BSc. O.T.

As a Mom to three boys, I know the wondering and worrying and the joys of growing kids first hand. Now all in their teen years (my fridge door is never closed) and each is navigating his own way in this COVID world (reluctantly listening to their parents as teenagers typically do), this Momma is still wondering and worrying if they are learning the skills they will need to be competent adults!! As a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, I know ‘typical development’. I have spent years assessing children’s developmental milestones in clinic, home and school settings. I know and have seen many times over how caring and engaged adults can guide and enhance a child’s developmental path every day in daily routines and daily activities. The key is first knowing and then doing!