We bought our Manduca 3.5 years ago when our son was 5 months old, and used it practically everyday for the next 2.5 years until he turned 3. Its been to 8 countries with us, on tubes, trains, buses, cable cars and ferries, through all weather conditions and been used by multiple members of our family. To say its been well loved is an understatement!
Whenever, anyone comes to the library looking for an buckle carrier I tell them it is key to find the one that fits them the best. Quite simply, the Manduca is the carrier that fitted us best – myself, husband David and our son Tom.
For me, the ability to cross the arm straps across my back was a big draw compared to other carriers on the market at the time (Ergo and Boba). I’ve never had the strongest of backs and I found crossing the straps really helped distribute the weight better for me, when front carrying. David was never bothered about this, but as the Manduca does both crossed and ruck-style straps it meant we could have the choice to use it in either way. The arm straps also come with 3 points of adjustment. One at the top of the carrier and two at the buckle. The two at the buckle run in opposite directions – which means no matter whether you are doing front carries or back carries there is always one you can adjust easily; ‘with your wrists’. A little bit of practise and trial and error the first couple of times we used it and we quickly found a set up that could be shared between David and I will all adjustments between out two bodies being done on the two points of adjustments we could easily reach and tighten without straining our wrists. This meant we never had those ‘urgh, you’ve messed up my settings’-type arguments! It must be said that David and I are relatively similar sizes, which does make it easier to share one carrier. But the Manduca is one I’ve seen work quite frequently for many couples of different body types looking to share one carrier.
For Tom, the Manduca offered the best fit due to the extendable back panel. When zipped in the panel has a height of 33cm, which is one of the shortest on the market. This meant at 5 months old Tom could easily move his head, turn this way and that and see whatever he wanted completely unimpeded (while other carriers came up too high on him to do this at this age). As an infant he’d loved our stretchy wrap but as he went through the developmental leap around 3-4 months he just wanted to look around and found the stretchy wrap too confining. So often I have parents coming to the library at this point and saying that their baby needs a front facing carrier – and I remember feeling exactly the same! However, at the time there simply wasn’t a good ergonomic front facing carrier on the market. Now there are quite a few and I have 5 in my library collection, but there just wasn’t one when Tom was 4-5 months old (in fact the Lillebaby came out in the UK 6 weeks after we bought our Manduca). But with hindsight, I am actually glad there wasn’t an option for forward facing at the time… because in reality it turned out he didn’t need to forward face – simply having a carrier that would hold him securely but not pass above the back of his neck giving him complete freedom of head movement was exactly what he needed. He got the ability to look around when he wanted but also the ability to tuck in and simply fall asleep when he needed to with the reassurance of seeing mum or dad right there, and with mum and dad able to see and respond to his cues.
As he grew we eventually moved to the extended or ‘zipped out’ position – probably around 9/10 months ish for Tom. At a height of 41cm, this is one of the longest back panels on the market and this has really been the key to the success of this carrier for us as it has meant this carrier kept being supportive right up until Tom was around 3 years old. It has given us the best of both worlds – a short back panel for those earlier months, then a much longer one as Tom grew. To see how this back panel compares with other carriers when carrying an older child please take a look here.
Now with the birth of our daughter 2 months ago we are starting to use the Manduca once again. Again we’ve mainly used a stretchy wrap for the beginning. The Manduca has an integrated infant insert but as you have to sit down and popper your baby into it I never used it, as it seemed like a bit of a faff. And Rachel, born at an epic 9lb6 was quickly to big for it anyway. But Manduca do also make a couple of attachments – the size it and the ellipse which help size the panel down to fit a younger baby. These have allowed us to get a perfect fit for Rachel from about 8 weeks when we first tried it.
In terms of comparing with others – the Manduca has 3 carrying positions – front, back and hip. We used the front position until around 18 months with Tom and the back position from around 1 year on wards, until Tom outgrew it at around 3 years old. While I tried the hip position a couple of times, like the majority of buckle carriers… I always found it a massive faff and never really bothered. Its also worth noting that the Manduca is carrier is really well made. It might not be the prettiest carrier on the market but it is seriously built to last… we used it almost everyday, several hours a day, for 3 whole years with our son and now its going strong for another 3 years with #2! By the end we will have truly got superb value for money from it! …Although the colour has faded, as can be seen from the photos! But this has never bothered me… and I didn’t really notice until someone brought a brand new one to the library recently!
All in all I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Manduca to anyone at all. It is really well made such a great all rounder fitting a wide range of body types and fitting babies well from 2 months all the way through till late toddlerhood or beyond.
Update: Love the sound of this but want even more flexibility and even more longevity? Check out the newer Manduca XT.