The first time I ever saw a Connecta my first thought was "I bet that's uncomfortable". At that point I'd only ever tried fairly well padded carriers like Ergo's and Manduca's and the thought of carrying my then 9 month old something with a completely unpadded waist band and barely-there padding made me shudder. I was, of course, totally and utterly wrong.
What I realise now is padding is not necessarily an indicator of comfort. Padding can be great if it fits you well, but if the shape is wrong for your body then that padding can actually make matters worse by 'standing off' your body in places and thus focusing the weight onto smaller pinpoint areas. What matters far more than padding level is how a carrier fits you. If it fits well it will be comfortable, if it doesn't fit well then it won't. Simple as that! The genius of the Connecta is by not having bulky padding it gives a lot of people an absolutely perfect fit - because the webbing waist band and the softly padded shoulder straps are able to mould exactly to your body and give a very even weight distribution.
Connecta currently come in 3 sizes - standard (birth – 2 years ish), Toddler (18 months – 3 or 4 years), and Pre-school (3 or 4 years 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. This review focuses on the standard (baby) size. For further info about the toddler size specifically see separate review.
The Connecta is a very flexible carrier. It's extremely simple - just 2 layers of fabric with some straps sewn on - but this means it can be worn in different ways: In different carrying positions and at different heights. All of which means it can fit a wide range of parents and personal preferences.
And the lack of padding and bulk means it's really lightweight and not at all hot to wear - great choice for summer. Also a great choice to use around the home as its so soft and comfy and you won't overheat indoors. It also packs down really small! So it's perfect to slip in your bag or under the buggy. Sturdy, secure and comfortable enough for a long walk, but soft enough to wear around the home.
It fits a wide range of babies - generally speaking the Connecta works really well for babies from around 1 month of age through till about 2 years! Which is a huge range! This is because both the height and width of the carrier can be adjusted. The width can be adjusted with the accessory strap that comes with the carrier, and the height can be manually adjusted by altering the position of the waist band on the adult and then simply putting the baby in deeper or shallower with respect to the carrier. The intergrated hood can also help alter the height of the carrier and help support babies head - either by fastening as a hood for an older baby or by being rolled up into a neck cushion for a younger baby.
Another reason this carrier lasts so well is the fact it offers 3 carrying postions - front, hip and back. Front is great while they are little, then when they enter nosy, want to see everything stage the hip comes into its own and the back carry is fab as they start to get older and heavier.
It is worth noting that when front carrying the straps cross over the parents back. Many carriers offer both crossed and ruck sack style strap configurations but because there is no attached chest strap it is difficult to wear the Connecta in ruck sack style while front carrying. It's possible when back carrying as the accessory strap can be then attached at the front to act as a chest strap, but this is very difficult to achieve while front carrying because of the difficulty in attaching something behind your body. This is not a really a criticism as I find many people find crossed straps more comfortable anyway, but it is worth being aware of as there are people who don't find crossed straps comfortable and prefer ruck sack style. If you fall into the latter category but like the idea of the Connecta, then take a look at the Kahu which is a broadly similar carrier but does over rucksack straps.
The other thing to be aware of is that the shoulder straps adjust in one direction only. This means that while they are very easy to tighten while back carrying, when front carrying you need to work against your wrist joint to tighten. There are ways around this (reaching across your back from behind or doing the "chicken dance") and while most people don't find this an issue at all, some people really do struggle to tighten and for them this is a total deal breaker. I'd say this is the case for about 1 in 20 - so definitely worth trying and seeing if this is OK for you or not. If it is a deal breaker, the Kahu Baby has two way buckles and is an excellent alternative.
All in all the Connecta is a very flexible, lightweight, simple carrier which will suit anyone looking for something they can use for a long time with their little one in different ways as suits their life! Cost is £80 and these can be purchased from Sheen Slings webshop here, or by arrangement at sling library meets, consults, workshops or doorstep collection.