For me, Connecta Baby carriers are really quite different. Most other buckle carriers in the library are pretty similar in terms of construction. Sure they all have different bells and whistles and all fit slightly differently because of different strap placements, shaping and contouring of the waist belt, straps and carrier body. But really they are pretty similar and which one someone prefers is a matter of personal preference and body shape.
Connecta are the exception.
The waistband is entirely unpadded. The body of the carrier is just two pieces of fabric sewn together and the straps are only very lightly padded. The first time I saw one I immediately thought “that looks uncomfortable”. And then I tried it on, and audibly said “Oh!”. I had always considered the thick waist padding of other buckle carriers like the Manduca, Ergo, Beco etc were needed for comfort. But in reality by taking this away entirely Connecta have created a buckle carrier more similar to a wrap in that it is able to mould to your exact body and thus provide comfort by giving a great fit.
Connecta make their carriers in 3 sizes – standard (birth – 2 years ish), Toddler (18months – 3 or 4), and Pre-school (3 or 4 onwards). Each with two strap options – regular and petite straps. The petite straps have simply 1.5 inches less padding to enable more petite parents to get the straps tight enough while back carrying. I currently have 3 Connecta in the library – a Standard size with Petite straps, a Solarweave Standard size with regular straps and finally a Toddler size with standard straps (although these, particularly the two Standard sizes, are in such demand I am likely to add another soon!). This review focuses on the Toddler size and how it fared on a family day out to Kew Gardens with our toddler.
For me, when it comes to carrying an older child (in my case 2 and a half), there are two main considerations for any carrier.
How comfortable is it, with the increased weight of a toddler?
What can I do with it while my son is walking?
I love buckle carriers, but most are pretty bulky and don't fit in my bag (or at least not with all the changes of clothes that go hand in hand with a boy newly graduated from nappies). On this second count the Connecta is amazing, it folds up really small and the accessory strap helps keep it neat and compact in your bag.
The absence of the waist band also means that front carries can be much lower compared to other buckle carriers and this greatly improved my front carrying experience as my son was no longer directly in my face! However, in terms of comfort and supporting his weight, I was generally happiest in a back carry. Shorter outings were great, but over 30 minutes it would start to get gradually heavier and more uncomfortable. I would start to wish for more padding or find that the chest belt was digging in my chest, or the arm straps under my arms. In general I think these things were a product of the Connecta not fitting my body personally as well as I have seen it fit some of my clients.
But at 2 and a half its actually rare that I would need to carry my son for more than 30 minutes. Any carrier spends more time in my bag than with my son in it....
David, my husband, summed this up really nicely when I asked him if he found the Connecta comfortable? He said “It is less comfortable compared to others we have tried but I wouldn't say its uncomfortable. I see it as a trade off a little less comfort in exchange for a much lighter weight carrier. For a toddler this is quite a big pro, as our son walks more and more and time in the carrier goes down comfort becomes less important and weight and the ability to fold up small and fit in a bag becomes more and more important and something I would trade a bit of comfort for”.
Would I trade comfort for lightweight? Maybe not full time, as I really like to be comfortable but on a hot day, or if I was going on holiday … yes, absolutely.