Battle of the Newborn Specialist Buckle Carriers – Comparison of the Ergo Embrace, Baby Bjorn Mini and the Izmi Baby.

While most buckle carriers are aimed at supporting babies from a couple of months old all the way through to toddlerhood, there are relatively few that genuinely fit a newborn well. For this reason many parents start with a stretchy wrap or a Close Caboo for the early days and then move on. But if you’re looking for a buckle carrier that you can use right from day 1 then the three to consider are the:

All three of these are designed with carrying a newborn in mind, so are made from soft, light materials and sized to fit a smaller form snuggly, and prioritise the head and neck support that they need.

So how do these 3 compare? Which one should you go for?

Lets start by taking a look at their basic stats…

Ergo EmbraceIzmi BabyBaby Bjorn Mini
Recommended Weight Range3.2 – 11 kg (7 – 25 lb)3.2 – 15 kg (7 – 33 lb)3.2 – 11 kg (7 – 25 lb)
Realistically works forFrom birth as soon as can open legs at least a little, generally fits from 2.75kg/6lb. Lasts to about 9 months ish.Right from birth, no need to spread legs at all. I’ve even had success with babies weighing as little as 1.75kg (just below 4lb), grows with baby to at least 1 year.From birth as soon as can open legs at least a little, generally fits from 2.75kg/6lb. Lasts only to about 4 months ish.
Number of Carrying positions2 (3)42
MaterialJersey
(79% Polyester, 17% Rayon, 4% Spandex)
Cotton or Cotton with a mesh panel
(Cotton is 100% Cotton)
Cotton, Jersey, or Jersey Mesh
(Cotton is 100% cotton, Jersey is 80% Polyester, 16% Cotton, 4% Spandex, while the Jersery Mesh is 100% Polyester)
Cost£80£80£80-90

Longevity

As you can see of the 3 the Izmi baby fits the earliest and lasts the longest. While none of them are weight tested below 3.2 kg (or rather insured to print any lower than this on the label), the Izmi actually can work for even the tinest babies. It comes with a booster cushion and it’s adjustable width and height means that it can fit smaller babies earlier than the other too. It’s the one I have seen work over and over again on babies born prematurely because it’s so flexible in terms of how it can be used and so working with parents I can usually help them find a way that baby can sit comfortably in this carrier even if baby isn’t yet ready to spread their legs, or has low tone or is currently on oxygen and we need to accomodate for this. By contrast the other two will work once baby is able to spread their legs at least a little and will work right from birth for most babies born at term.

Comparing the Ergobaby Embrace (black), Izmi Baby (purple) and the Baby Bjorn Mini (grey) carriers with a newborn or 6 week ish sized weighted doll

Then at the other end of the spectrum, the Bjorn Mini is the smallest of the 3 or rather has the least capacity to get wider and so this is the one that babies grow out of the fastest. Usually by 4 months or so baby is starting to outgrow this carrier on width and the lack of waist support means this carrier quickly becomes less comfortable for the wearer too. The Embrace lasts a bit longer and will often work to around 9 months give or take. The panel does become a little wider and longer but by 9 months baby will be starting to out grow it and also the stretchy fabric will start feeling less supportive and there will be more pull on parents back. Again the Izmi can out perform the other two – the panel goes much wider than the other two so it can continue fitting babies to around a year and often beyond. However, how long the wearer can continue wearing it comfortably depends alot on fit! If it fits you well and the unpadded lightweight straps sit nicely and flush on your body you’ll be happy wearing this to a year or beyond… if the straps don’t sit well on you and they ride or rouche then very likely this carrier will start getting heavy from 6 to 9 months ish too.

Comparing the Ergobaby Embrace (black), Izmi Baby (purple) and the Baby Bjorn Mini (grey) carriers in a inward facing carry with a 6 month equivalent sized weighted doll

Carrying Positions

In terms of what you can do with it – again the Izmi offers the most options! Offering 4 carrying positions – front inwards, front outwards, hip and back carry. While the Ergo Embrace offers 3 of these. Officially 2 – only the front inwards and front outwards are shown in the manual, but it works just as well in a hip carry as well. The Bjorn offers just the front inwards and front outwards and can not be used on the hip or back. For the parent, the Izmi offers both crossed straps and ruck sack straps (you can read more about these here), while the Bjorn Mini and Ergo Embrace offers just the crossed configuration. It is worth stating that the Izmi works much better in the crossed than the ruck sack but it does offer both.

Comparing the Ergobaby Embrace (black), Izmi Baby (purple) and the Baby Bjorn Mini (grey) carriers in a forward facing carry with a 6 month equivalent sized weighted doll

Ease of Use

When it comes to ease of use – the Ergo Embrace and the Izmi baby are similar in terms of how you use them. You pop the waistband on, pop baby in and then bring the panel up over them and fasten the straps around both of you. Its very simple. The Bjorn Mini is a little different… instead you fasten the carrier to you first and then pop baby in and all the clips to secure baby are on the front where you can easily see them. It is fab for anyone who is really nervous, or has difficulty doing up buckles at their sides. I hestitate to say the Bjorn Mini is easier though, I hestitate because experience has taught me that some parents definitely find it easier, while others find it more faffy and much harder. The clips are quite different and they are a bit marmite… some people find them really inutitive and others can’t fathom them!! So it can be easier but also it can be harder… it really depends on how your hands work, what feels easier to you personally. I very much recommend trying and seeing! I have to say I have had a good number of parents who have been worried about how to fasten the straps on the Embrace or the Izmi and assumed the Bjorn will be easier and thought they should just go for that and then when they’ve tried found that actually the Embrace and Izmi are way easier than they were anticipating and preferred the more flexible and comfortable fit they offered. So it is defintely worth trying each on if you are unsure.

Fabric

Here the Bjorn Mini offers the most choice. It comes in 3 different fabrics – a super soft polyester jersey, a mesh jersery fabric (also polyester) and a cotton. The cotton does feel a bit robust compared to the other two, but the other two are strokably soft and the mesh really breathable too. The Ergo Embrace comes in a polyester jersery that feels quite similar to the Bjorn Mini jersery fabric. It is very soft and molds around baby beautifully. The Izmi comes in a light weight cotton – it is a much softer, less robust cotton than the Bjorn Mini cotton finish, it definitely moulds nicely around baby. It isn’t quite a soft as the jersey fabric of the other two, but it also doesn’t have the give of the other two either so can feel a little more secure. The Izmi is also availible in a mesh where the central portion of the panel has been replaced with mesh. Again not quite as soft as the Bjorn mesh but this is both a plus and a minus as it has less give too.

Price

When it comes to price they are all much of a muchness at £80. However, when you factor in how long they will last and options offered, it is hard to see the Bjorn Mini as good value compared to the other two. It is also worth noting that whichever you opt for, many parents do ultimately end up moving onto a bigger more robust buckle carrier around 4 months or so anyway. So, really none of them offer quite as good value compared to something like the Close Parent Caboo or a Stretchy wrap that costs between £40-55 and last for the same period. Or the Calin bleu stretchy wrap that costs just £25! Another option can be simply to rent for the period you need it. I offer 3 month long term hires, so you could hire an Izmi Baby Carrier, an Ergo Embrace or a Baby Bjorn Mini for the whole 4th trimester period for just £40 and save yourself needing to purchase your own and save the rest of the money for the next step purchase that should hopefully last baby from a few months all the way into toddlerhood.

-Madeleine

Comparing the Ergobaby Embrace (black), Izmi Baby (purple) and the Baby Bjorn Mini (grey) with a newborn doll

Beco Gemini and Beco 8 compared – what are the differences?

The Gemini and the 8 are both fabulous carriers from Beco, but what are the differences and which one should you go for?

Hopefully this will help;

The main difference is one of size and complexity! The Beco Gemini is both smaller and simpler. It doesn’t have lots of features and extra bits and bobs. Consequently it is, cheaper and folds down a lot smaller. Particularly the “cool” version which is made from thinner material and folds up into a very compact bundle. Because it is so lightweight it doesn’t feel bulky to use with a small baby, and so generally even though the 8 works well with a newborn, the Gemini is still often the one the feels more natural with smaller babies. The smaller panel means they don’t look as overwhelmed, you don’t need to use an insert and it just seems to mould to smaller form better. The smaller panel does mean, however, that most children grow out of it somewhere between 18 and 24 months. At least 6 months before they’d grow out of the 8. But many parents aren’t still carrying regularly at that point anyway and those that are are often more than happy to move onto the Beco Toddler. Consequently the Beco Gemini tends to the sling of choice for the minimalists – those who want a comfortable carrier that is very simple, and folds down tiny.

The Beco 8 by contrast is bigger, the panel is bigger so it will last longer and it has more features. It has a removable infant insert that is included and does give a great fit for babies right from newborn. It has a zip down part that reveals mesh making it “all seasons” suitable. It has a hood. It has a wonderfully shaped supportive lumbar panel. And a zipped pocket for keys and a phone. The Beco 8 is a great choice for parents who want a carrier that will last and last – maybe their child is already 6 months old and they’re worried they won’t get enough use out of the Gemini or just know they want to get a carrier that will last as long as possible. It is also a fab choice for parents who want those extra features and will use them and don’t mind the extra bulk.

Either way, they are both fab carriers and work well for a range of parent shapes and sizes! You can read my full review of the Beco Gemini here and purchase it here, and you can read my full review of the Beco 8 here and purchase it here. Although like any carrier at all it has to fit your body, and so it’s really worth trying on before you invest. You can try either of these on at any of our sessions, or arrange a hire (I post to anywhere in the UK, or if your local you can collect from my home).

-Madeleine

Baby Bjorn Mini Review

Designed with newborns in mind, the Baby Bjorn Mini carrier is a super soft, supremely intuitive, lightweight carrier that does indeed fit newborns well. But on the flip side, it simply doesn’t last well. As baby grows they will very rapidly grow out of this carrier.

Read on below for more, or you can see this carrier in action and hear my full thoughts on this carrier in this video.

The Mini really has 2 main pros and 2 main cons. The pros are;

  • It is really soft and really moldable and gives a lovely fit to a newborn baby. The manufacturer states from 3.2kg and this is realistic, most babies will fit right from their first days. And the soft jersey material will gently hug and snuggle their tiny form
  • All the fastenings are at the front. Which is brilliant for parents with limited mobility who maybe struggle with straps that fasten at the sides. Also being able to see all the fastening makes this carrier supremely intuitive. They’ve even printed left and right on the tabs that attach to the panel, and colour coded where the panel slots into the straps so you can’t get it wrong. And as you fit the parent separately to the child, this can be a great advantage if you are feeling very nervous about using a carrier.

The cons are;

  • The panel doesn’t adjust in width. It does adjust in height so you can easily lengthen the panel as baby’s torso grows to ensure the head support is correctly positioned for them as they grow. But you can not adjust the width, which means as their legs grow the carrier can not continue supporting them in a comfortable “deep squat” seated position. Why does this matter? Well it is more comfortable for them to have the weight on their bottom and have their legs supported so they are not carrying the weight of their legs (verses having their weight resting on their inner thighs and the weight of their legs pulling down). The deep squat position gives a great alignment between the ball and socket joint of the hips, which means there is no pressure on their hips from their legs. And it is more comfortable for you, as when their legs are fully supported more of babies weight is aligned with your load bearing centre so baby feels lighter and easier to carry than when more of their legs are spilling out pulling away from you.
  • There is no waist support. Which means all the weight is resting on your shoulders and upper and mid back. Rather than around your waist and transferring onto your hips. This is fine for when baby is younger and thus smaller, but as they grow this will rapidly feel heavier for the parent compared to a carrier with a waistband.

In terms of weight testing, the Mini is tested up to 11 kg, but for the reasons above it actually won’t last anywhere near this long. In reality most babies will start to grow out of it around 3 to 4 months and by 6 months it will feel disportionately heavy to use.

If you do have this carrier already you can use a scarf to extend the width for baby and gain a bit more comfort for you too. You can see how to do this here. Generally this scarf trick will get you about a month or so more use out of the Mini before it starts getting quite heavy again.

The Mini offers 2 different carrying positions. Front inwards and Front outwards. However, it worth noting that most babies aren’t ready to be carried outwards in a carrier until about 4 months (you can read more about how to tell when they are ready here). Yet, but 4 months most babies are growing out of this carrier. Parents are often drawn to this carrier over others because it offers forward facing and don’t realise that in all likelihood their baby will have grown out of the carrier before they can do it. And even if they haven’t, without a waistband, the forward facing position is very heavy for the parent because the baby’s weight pulls forward and puts a lot more strain on the shoulders and upper back.

All in all the Baby Bjorn Mini is a lovely soft, very very easy to use carrier for a newborn baby. But what really puts me off is the lack of longevity. The lack of longer term support for both baby and the parent. This carrier costs £75 to buy, but when you compare it to its closest comparables on the market – the Ergo Embrace (£79.90) and the Izmi Baby Carrier (£80), both of which last a lot longer and offer more carrying positions and much much more flexibility and support to both baby and parent, it just doesn’t seem like a good deal. While most babies will grow out of the Mini around 3 to 4 months the Embrace generally lasts to around 9 months and the Izmi will often last at least 1 year. The Embrace offers 3 carrying positions and the Izmi 4. Both have waist bands and adjust in both width and height. So while the Bjorn Mini does have things going for it, it’s just hard to recommended it over these two carriers when they offer so much more for practically the same price.

-Madeleine

Summer Baby Carriers – My Top Picks for Warm Weather Babywearing

While carrying in warm weather is more about common sense than anything else, there definitely are some carriers that are cooler to wear and fare better as temperatures rise. If you are prone to overheating, live in a warm climate or want a summer friendly baby carrier (or want to hire one from Sheen Slings for an upcoming holiday or just for the summer) – here are my top picks:

1. Kahu Baby Sunshine Carrier

There are two reasons this carrier tops the list. The first is its genius lightweight design. The Kahu Baby is ultralight, packs down small and does not compromise on comfort or fit. Part of the genius of this carrier is how simple it is.  Designed to be really intuitive to use, without any added bells or whistles or fiddly extra bits.  Just really clever minimal design that ensures it fits a huge range of sizes and shapes of parents, men and women and is supportive enough for long walks while remaining light and soft enough to happily wear all day around the house too. Likewise it fits a huge range of babies ages and stages, from just a few weeks old through to 4 years. Offering 4 carrying positions and loads of versatility without adding loads of bulk and thus without adding any extra warmth.

The second reason is the Sunshine fabric. Kahu Baby carriers come in a few different fabric options, and while the are all lightweight and perform well in warmer weather, the Sunshine fabric absolutely excels as temperatures rise. Made from a woven polyester that is rated UPF50+, this fabric blocks 99% of the sun’s harmful UVA & UVB rays.  The fabric feels soft, breathable, silky and actually cool to the touch!  It’s also a wicking fabric, meaning you won’t feel sweaty in this carrier and that it dries extremely quickly (either after getting wet or washing).  Making the Sunshine the ultimate warm weather sling. 

The Kahu is available to purchase here, and you can see my full indepth review here.

2. Izmi Baby Carrier

Izmi Grey Mesh
Izmi Grey

The Izmi Baby is another absolutely genius incrediably lightweight carrier. It offers 4 carrying position and is one of those very rare buckle carriers that really really works brilliantly for newborns. In fact, it is a carrier I have had success over and over again with babies who are born prematurely because with its optional booster and ability to adjust the width – it is possible to make this carrier really very small to ensure a great fit even on tiny babies. The adjustable width and flexible neck support panel means this carrier can also grow with baby, continuing to fit all the way from teeny tiny to at least 12 months and often further. The flexibility doesn’t end here – this carrier also offers 4 carrying positions (front inwards, Front outwards, hip and back) and fits a absolutely huge range of different parent shapes and sizes. Particularly fitting petite parents well. Many carriers will fit a huge range but won’t go small enough for the very petite – but the Izmi will go so small my 3 year old can use it to carry the demo doll!!

As well as its all round brilliance, the Izmi Baby is one of my top summer picks because it’s lightweight design paired with thin breathable cotton means that it is genuinely one of the coolest baby carriers on the market. And if you are particularly prone to overheating or live in a very warm climate, they sell a mesh version too, where the centre portion of the main panel is replaced entirely with an airy breathable mesh.

The Izmi Baby is available to purchase here, and you can read my full indepth review here.

3. Beco Gemini Cool

Gemini Cool
Gemini Cool Black
Gemini Cool Navy
Gemini Cool Navy

If your looking for a bit more padding than offered by the Kahu or the Izmi, then the Beco Gemini Cool is definitely worth considering.

You will note that there are no heavily padded carriers on this list at all – and the reason for this is padding can be a bit of a double edge sword when it comes to summer babywearing as that extra bulk can really suddenly feel very warm as the temperature rises. So while you might find heavily padded carriers comfortable the rest of the year round, you may well find your sweltering come summer. Even with a supposedly cooler mesh version.

The Gemini Cool is a great option if you do prefer a bit of padding because it has a really sturdy supportive waist band, but the wide shoulder straps are very thin and very softly padded. It is often the bulk at the shoulders and across the back that causes a lot of this hot and sweaty feeling and so by having very softly padded shoulders the Gemini feels a lot cooler. The Cool mesh version also feels a lot cooler than the standard cotton counterpart because of the materials it is made from. The panel features a center portion made entirely out of breathable soft, supple yet really strong and supportive mesh. The rest of the carrier is made from this same mesh combined with a really soft, thin, cool to the touch fabric. The result is a supportive carrier that performs really well in the warmer months and year round! It fits an absolutely huge range of parents shapes and sizes, and fits babies from just 2-3 weeks old through to at least 18 months, offering 4 carrying positions (front inward, front outward, hip and back).

The Beco Cool is available to purchase here, and you can read my full indepth review here or see the standard cotton and the cool variants compared here.

4. Melliapis Ring Sling

Petrol Melliapis Ring Sling
Petrol Melliapis Ring Sling

Ring Slings are fantastic options for summer. Made from just a loop of fabric these are as a general rule cooler to wear than any buckle style carrier (even the super light ones outlined above). And of all the ring slings I have ever tried, the Melliapis basic ring sling is my absolute top pick for warm weather. Made from two layers of muslin woven together to create a material that is surprisingly strong, the Melliapis Ring Sling is one of the most lightweight slings on the market. Super soft on newborn skin but easily strong enough to carry an up down toddler too. It folds up absolutely tiny to easily fit inside a bag, or even to be worn as a light scarf while your not using it! It feels light and airy to wear – making it an excellent option for summer.

The Melliapis Ring Sling is available to purchase here and you can read my full indepth review here.

5. Mini Monkey Mini Sling

At just 187g the Mini Sling is the lightest and smallest carrier on our list. Made from a silky soft smooth mesh and covering only 1 shoulder, it is definitely the sling that will keep you and baby the coolest too. Similar in style to a ring sling, the Mini sling is a loop of fabric with strap to tighten at the back and a fine adjustment strap for supporting the neck and upper back at the front. It is one of the absolutely simplest carriers to use, but not nesicarly the most comfortable to use. Rather this carrier has been designed for speed and lightness in mind, so excels best as a “just in case” sling that slips into your bag (or even a large pocket) or a “just while I quickly do x” sling. Great for holidays too as the thin mesh drys quickly and so is a great beach or poolside choice.

You can read my full review of this sling here.

6. JPMBB Physio Carrier

The JPMBB Physio carrier zips open to reveal the best mesh panel I have ever seen. The top layer rolls up to expose a huge section of light and airy yet strong mesh. Making this carrier one of the absolutely coolest of the padded buckle style carriers. Even the padding is cooler than on most carriers due to clever combination of mesh and breathable cool fabrics. The Physio fits babies best from about 7 or 8 months through to 3 or even 4 years of age. You can use it with a younger baby too – you’ll just need the infant booster pack that includes a booster pillow and a neck pillow. And as such this carrier is always popular for summer holiday hires.

What’s not on this list….

There are a great many other carriers that feature mesh panels and advertise being great for summer. Carriers like the Ergo Omni 360, the Tula, the Lillebaby Complete, the Baby Bjorn Air Mesh, the Beco 8 and many many more besides. When it comes to these carriers, ultimately how warm you and baby will feel is more about the padding and the bulk and much less about the presence and absence of mesh. Yes it can be nice to get the mesh version of one of these carriers for a bit more breathability but these are all a good step warmer compared to anything on this list. Great all year round carriers but just don’t make the grade if you live in a warm climate, looking to borrow something for holiday or particularly prone to overheating in the summer months.

Another type of carrier missing from this list are the stretchy wraps and Caboo type carriers. Again there are options amoung these that are cooler, but with three layers over baby – none of them would be my first choice on a truly boiling day! Plus there are really quite a few options when it comes to stretchy wraps so I will save summer stretchy recommendations for a future blog post.

-Madeleine

What is the difference between the Beco Gemini and the Beco Gemini “Cool”?

Simply put the Beco Gemini Cool is the lighter weight, more summer friendly version of the Gemini. As such the Cool is very similar to the standard Gemini and if you fit one, you will fit the other equally well as the shape and padding levels of the straps and waistband is identical between the two carriers. As are the buckles and how the carrier adjusts both for the parent and for the baby.

Instead the difference between these two models is in the fabric they are made with and in the padding of the panel. You can see these differences for yourself in this video (or read on for written explaination):

The biggest difference is that the panel on the standard version is padded throughout, giving a very squashy padded feel against baby. On the Cool, the panel is completely unpadded. Resulting in a lighter, cooler carrier with a very flexible moldable panel that moulds to baby’s shape precisely. This also means that the Cool packs down much smaller than the Standard, to roughly half the size in fact! Making the Cool a better option for anyone who wants a carrier that will easily fit in a bag or under the pushchair.

The other difference is that the Cool features a breathable 3D mesh over much of the carrier, partnered with a silky soft feeling material over the rest. While the standard is finished all over with a soft, brushed cotton. Parents often worry about whether the mesh is scratchy. I have not found it to be so. It is not as soft as the cotton, so if you are someone who is very sensitive to texture, you may well prefer the cotton. I always advise feeling both before you buy if you can to ensure you are happy with how it feels to you. However, to me, the mesh while not quite as soft as cotton is still soft enough that I am happy to have it directly against my own skin and against my children’s.

All in all the Gemini is a fabulous carrier (you can read my full review here), both versions are great – whether you want the cushiony padded softness of the Standard or the ultra lightweight, packs down small, coolness of the “Cool”. Both are available to purchase through our webshop.

-Madeleine

Cross Straps or Rucksack Straps? What is the difference?

Many carriers offer the option to wear the straps either crossed or rucksack style across the wearers back. However, parents often don’t realise what this means and aren’t sure which one to use.

What is the difference

The difference is best explained by looking at the graphic above. For crossed straps the straps cross over the parents back. This means the strap at the left shoulder plugs into the right side of the panel and visa versa. While for Rucksack style, the strap that the right shoulder plugs into the right hand side of the carrier and a chest strap connects the two straps. The same chest strap need not be used when crossing.

Both ways are very secure and safe, but they do give very different fits. As such

Which one is better?

I am always being asked which one is better. Both methods are safe and secure, but they do give very different fits. As such different shaped backs, shoulders and torsos will find one fits more comfortably than the other. There is no, this one is always better, but for an individual there will be one of the two that fits you personally better. I always encourage parents to try both ways before purchasing a carrier.

Why is it important to try both before you buy a carrier?

While most carriers that I sell offer both strap configurations, there are a great number of carriers that offer only rucksack or only crossed. It is always frustrating for parents to realise they have bought a carrier that only offers one but their body shape is better suited to the other. And even among carriers that do offer both, some are better at one than the other. For this reason, when working with clients I will always make them try both crossed and rucksack styled first and help them work out which one suits their individual body shape first and then suggest carriers that cater for this preference. And for couples where one prefers one and the other the other, I can ensure they try only carriers that offer both configurations equally well!

Which one is easier?

Again this this person dependent. Some people find crossing straps behind their back really hard, some find it an absolute piece of cake. Some people find doing up a strap behind their back easy, some its completely impossible! The key is to try and see! And once you find which one is most comfortable, take advice from a trained babywearing educator to find the easiest way for you personally. I recently had an online consultation with a couple who had decided not to purchase a particular carrier because the sales rep in John Lewis had told them the strap was difficult to do up without help. That couple were really surprised to learn that that particular carrier could also be crossed and that even if rucksack style was more comfortable that there were a total of 5 different methods for doing that strap up and they could easily do it up themselves without help using one of my alternative methods. All things that the sales rep did not know, but a trained babywearing educator can help you learn in just a few moments. So if your carrier is feeling too difficult, this is definitely a sign to look up your local babywearing consultant and see if they can help you find a method that is easier for you. Because I am willing to bet there is one!

-Madeleine

Carrier shown here is the Beco Gemini and is available here.

Knots or Buckles?

Something I hear over and over again from parents when investigating slings and carriers is that they feel safer with a buckle than tying a knot.  They are worried with a knot that they might do it wrong while a buckle just clicks in and then its safe and nothing can go wrong.

I totally understand this.  I hear this a lot and I genuinely understand this because I remember when I was starting out I felt exactly the same.

But 7 years of carrying my own children, 6 years of running a sling library and 5 years as a carrying consultant teaching and supporting over 1000 families has taught me that this one of those fallacies that gets repeated over and over again until it is so much in social consciousness that everyone just assumes its true.

So let me bust some myths;
  1. A knot can not be tied “wrong”.  If you’ve tied a double knot, it is secure.  There is no secret way special technique.  Even the sloppiest knot in the word, so long as its a double knot, can not undo spontaneously.  In fact, I actually dare you to try…. wiggle, pull on it, do your worst… it will not untie unless you actually purposefully look at it and untie it.  The only other way to get out of a double knot is to actually cut or tear the wrap.
  2. You can do a buckle up wrong.  A buckle requires you to line bits up, on some buckles its possible to get these misaligned and not immediately notice. If the buckle isn’t securely fastened it can undo.  It’s rare, and most people will notice but it can happen.
  3. The worst offenders are safety buckles.  Generally safety buckles require an extra bit to click in as well … a button and or specific prong… if the buckle is not all the way pushed in the safety bit won’t be down and actually the buckle is probably easier to now open than if it wasn’t a safety buckle at all.
  4. Buckles can break.  They are generally made from plastic and accidents involving stepping on them, slamming in car doors do happen.  This can render your carrier unusable until your are able to get a replacement buckle.  Again the safety buckles are often more sensitive to being stood on or other accidents than regular buckles. In the last 6 years I have had only 2 buckles break and both have been safety buckles.
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It is important to understand I am not saying that knots are necessarily better.  Buckle carriers can be hugely convenient.  And hugely comfortable.  And if you have tried both a buckle carrier and a tie on carrier (i.e stretchy wrap, woven, meh dai or half buckle) and you feel more comfortable and confident in the buckle carrier and it has the features you want … please please do go for it.  With my total and complete blessing.
I write this blog, really for the people with tiny newborns who want to use a stretchy, but are worried.  Are worried because they are worried they won’t do it right or because a relative has expressed doubts, because they’ve only seen buckle carriers.  So often I meet parents who have a buckle carrier for their baby but it doesn’t fit yet, and want something for the newborn period but knots scare them.  If this is you, please please do check out your local sling consultant or sling library and give it a go.  I hear over and over again, from parents once they have tried a wrap or tie on carrier “oh this isn’t difficult, oh it feels so secure” this is nothing like what I thought”.
It is always worth trying, because ultimately there is not “best” or “safest” sling… only what you personally find easy to use and are confident using.  And tying a knot and clicking a buckle in correctly both require the same amount of concentration!!!
-Madeleine.
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Tula Explore Review

The Tula Explore is the first carrier from Tula that offers the option to forward face your baby!

See it explained in detail and in action here;

 

Key Features of the Tula Explore;

  • It’s width and height can be adjusted through poppers which means this carrier doesn’t need infant inserts.
  • Manufacturer recommends it for use for babies from just 3.2kg (7lb) all the way upto a fantastic 20kg (45lb).  More realistically, however, I’d say this carrier works well from around 4 weeks through to 2 years old.
  • For the baby it has very soft leg padding and a softly padded neck support pillow that can be placed in different positions for different ages and stages.
  • Offers 3 carrying positions – front inward, front facing outward and back carry position.  This carrier does not easily offer a hip carry position.
  • For the parent it has a fairly wide and firmly padded sturdy waistband, and it’s shoulder straps are bulky but soft and moldable.  The long webbing but short padded part means this carrier is one that can fit both women and men very well and both the petite and the plus sized.  Straps are designed to be worn “rucksack” or H style, and do not cross across the back.
  •  It also has a detachable hood and a pocket on the waistband for small things like phone and keys.

All in all this is a fab option for someone looking for a sling that will last into toddler hood, want to forward face and are most comfortable with straps in ruck sack style.  It is very similar to the Ergo Omni 360, in terms of shape and size.  The main differences being that this carrier is a little simpler to use with the absence of buckles to do up at the shoulder straps but offers a bit less flexibility than the Omni as it doesn’t offer a hip position or the ability to cross straps across the back.  The Tula Explore retails at £154.90

-Madeleine

 

Ergo Baby Embrace Review

The Embrace is the newest carrier from Ergo Baby.  Unlike their other carriers that work best from 2 or 3 months ish right through to 2.5 years… this carrier is designed to really fit that newborn and younger baby stage.  It works really well right from birth and will last you till around 1 year ish give or take.

One of the reasons this carrier works so well for newborns is it’s made from very soft, slightly stretchy jersey material.  The whole carrier is very lightweight and is designed to mold around both your and babies body… like a stretchy wrap or Caboo but with buckles. Because it is so lightweight it folds down into a really compact bundle, perfect for popping into a changing bag or under the pram.

The other reason it works so well right from the beginning is that this carrier has 2 height and width settings.  This comes from simply rolling the waist band 2 turns towards you (as shown in the video below), which both shortens the carrier height and brings you to a narrower part of the panel.  The adjustment isn’t smooth, just these 2 smaller or bigger settings but because the material is so soft this smaller setting does work really well on almost all newborns.  Ergo recommend the Embrace can be used from 7lb (3.2kg) and I have certainly got a great fit on several babies who were just a few weeks old even as low as just shy of 6 lb (2.7 kg).  Then as baby grows the waistband can be unrolled to the larger setting, typically around 2 months ish.

The Embrace offers 3 carrying positions.   You can see my full tutorials on all the positions this carrier offers (including a 4th I made up!) here.   On the front facing inwards toward the parent, on the front facing outward toward the world and on the hip.  Interestingly Ergo haven’t included the hip position in their manual, but it is actually a position this carrier does really well!  The front facing inwards position can be used right from birth, and is really snuggly, a good position for a sleepy baby and comfortable enough for a long nap!  The Hip position can be used from when baby has some head and neck control but it needn’t be as reliable as needed for the outwards position, this can be a really great position once baby goes through that big developmental leap around 4 months and transitions from being a baby who is quite sleepy interspersed with periods of ‘quiet alert’ to a full blown ‘nosy’ baby who wants to see anything and tries to resist sleep where possible!!  Because it is a position that allows them to see more while still supporting them in a position where they can tuck in a sleep and support their neck as they start to tire!  The front facing outwards position can be used once baby has really strong head and neck control.  Which is typically anywhere between 4 and 5 months depending on the baby – you can read more about how to tell if your baby is ready for this position here

While I think the hip and the front facing inward positions are really great, I can’t help feeling the facing out position on this carrier is more of a gimmick/marketing trick than anything else.  It does work pretty well with a plastic doll, but I have my reservations about how well it works on live wiggly babies.  The reason for my reservations is that facing away is a position that puts more strain on the parents back than any other position because babies centre of gravity is pulling away rather than toward parent… this is true of any carrier but this is likely to be exacerbated in the Embrace because its made from stretchy material… so as baby wiggles and bounces and strains to one side etc this additional strain is going to be magnified by the fact the material will stretch with baby.  Personally, I wouldn’t buy this carrier to forward face.  I would buy this carrier if I wanted an buckle option for a new newborn.  Then as my baby grew I might use the forward facing position to see if baby liked being carried like that, then if they did I could buy a bigger carrier (something like the Ergo Omni or other such forward facing buckle carrier) that would offer me support, and if they didn’t when I came to upgrade to another carrier I could instead look at the huge range of amazing carriers that don’t offer forward facing safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t really use it anyway.  

You can see these positions in action here:

And in my full tutorial videos here.

The position this carrier doesn’t offer is the back carry.  Sadly this carrier isn’t really designed to be used on the back as there isn’t a chest strap.  Added to the fact that the weight limit is 11.3 kg (25 lb) and that the stretchy material won’t feel as supportive as the child gets heavier this carrier this is definitely a carrier that most parents will move on from within the first year.  However, if you are looking for an buckle option to use right from the beginning this is a pretty good option.

So what are the cons?  Firstly, the extra soft jersey material is prone to bobbling.  I have two of these in the library and one has gone a little bobbly and slightly worn looking already after only 6 weeks worth of hires.  Doesn’t affect use but might bother some people!  The other thing worth considering is that because this carrier works best for newborns to the first 6 or so months, it doesn’t actually add a lot more longevity or functionality that a Caboo or a Stretchy wrap but is a bit more expensive than either of these options.  At time of writing the Embrace costs £79.90 verses £40-45 for a good quality stretchy wrap or £55 for a Caboo Lite.

How does it compare to other carriers? The two carriers on the market that this is most similar to are the Izmi Baby Carrier and the Mamaruga Zen.  The Izmi like the Embrace is really designed to support right from newborn, even the smallest babies.  Like the Embrace it offers front inwards, front facing out, hip and it does offer back as well.  In fact generally the Izmi will last a little longer than the Ergo Embrace as it offers a bit more flexibility.  And with its infant seat pad it can be used earlier with smaller newborns even many babies born prematurely too.  But it is made of a slightly sturdier cotton so some parents will prefer the softness of the Embrace and the slightly more padded waist band.  You can see the Izmi and the Embrace compared in more depth hereThe Zen Sling is made from a very similar ultra soft jersey as the Embrace, and has a very similar slightly padded waistband too, so is definitely one to consider if you are looking for a carrier like this.  The Zen sling has the benefit that it works really well from a couple of weeks old all the way to 2 years of age!  Offers front inwards, hip and back carries and has a brilliant system for adjusting the height and width of this carrier giving an absolutely perfect fit for the child as they grow.  Unlike the Embrace however, the Zen doesn’t offer the forward facing position and while it does offer a more flexible fit this comes with more straps to adjust and some parents prefer to have less to adjust.

All in all, the Ergo Baby Embrace is a great option for newborns and little babies.  It won’t last as long as many carriers on the market but what it does do well is that first bit.  Very few buckle carriers truly do newborn well and so is a good option for those looking for a buckle carrier rather than stretchy wrap or Caboo for this first bit.  Cost is £79.90 and these can be purchased from Sheen Slings webshop here, or by arrangement at sling library meets, consults, workshops or doorstep collection.  Or for a more eco choice you can hire one for the full 4th trimester period instead and save purchasing a carrier for when your ready to move onto a longer lasting next step option.

-Madeleine

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Which Caboo? Lite, Blend or Organic (2019 updated version!)

Since I compared the Caboo Lite, Plus and Organic back in 2016, Close Parent has revamped all three models with slightly different fabrics.  Much of what I wrote in the original article (which you can read here), is still true!

But with a few very small changes!  So here is my new updated comparison, this time in video form!

Key Comparison Facts;

  •  The Caboo + Cotton Blend and Caboo + Organic are extremely similar, cut and constructed identically and differ only in fabrics used.
  • The Caboo + Cotton Blend is 80% Cotton and 20% Polyester.  The Caboo Organic is 100% Organic Cotton.
  • These two are the warmer models and work best for winter babies.
  • The Caboo lite is much slimmer and lighter than the Blend or the Organic, and is a great option for summer borns or for parents who are prone to feeling too warm!
  • The Caboo Lite is 70% cotton and 30% polyester, this is a change from the 2016 Lite models which were 60% cotton and 40% polyester.  This newer higher percentage cotton feels a lot softer.  The material is actually alittle thicker but is more loosely woven so remains very thin and breathable.
  • The straps on the Lite are narrower than the other two models.  This means you have less fabric to deal with and again helps this carrier feel cooler.
  • The Blend and the Organic both have an integrated soft head support/cushion and a small pocket.
  • The Lite costs £55, the Blend £65 and the Organic £70.

I hope this helps you work out which model is best for you! All three are available to hire through Sheen Slings (either from a session, Madeleine’s home or via postal hire to anywhere in the UK), and the Caboo Lite model can be bought from us here.

-Madeleine