Beco 8 Review

20170828_185016In many ways the Beco 8 is the Beco Gemini’s big brother.  The Beco 8 shares so many of the features that I love about the Gemini. In particular;

  • Firm thick padding at the waist band combined with soft light padding at the shoulder straps.  This combination is rare in the carrier world, but is one that really works for some many people because it gives great support at the waist and weight transference onto the hips without feeling bulky on the shoulders.
  • Ability to wear the straps either ruck sack style or crossed acrossed the parents back depending on personal preference.
  • Easy to adjust seat. The seat of the carrier has two settings – narrow and wide that can be easily swapped between using a simple pair of poppers.
  • 4 carrying poisitions.  You can carry your baby on your front facing you, on your front facing outward, on your hip and on your back giving you plenty of flexibility to use this carrier in different ways.  And the adjustable popper seat means its super easy to quickly switch back and forth between facing in and facing out positions.

But where the Beco 8 differs from the Gemini is that it is bigger.  The panel is about 1cm longer on the Beco 8, while the wide setting is about 2cm wider.  The narrow setting is actually the same on both carriers.  The bigger panel simply means this carrier will last longer.  It will take longer for your baby to grow out of it.  The taller panels often mean smaller babies don’t fit as well but as the Beco 8 comes with a small infant insert to raise the height of the baby within the carrier this isn’t the case for the Beco 8.  This is a carrier that works really well from newborn (or at least a few weeks old) until around 2 years of age, quite possibly longer.  In terms of weights, the Beco 8 is weight tested from 3.2 to 20 kg (7 to 40 lb). When you compare this to the Gemini these extra few cm give you about an added 6 months of longevity and 4 kg extra on the weight max.

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Beco Gemini (Navy) laid over the Beco 8 (Grey)

The panel isn’t the only thing that is bigger about the Beco 8 – it also has a lot of extra features and stuff!  Which contribute to this feeling like a bigger bulkier carrier.  In particular it has;

  • Lumbar Support – a little panel that sits comfortably over your lower spine and helps support your lumbar region and stabilises the waist band.  This is fab while carrying a heavier baby on your front, and can be removed if you don’t like it or so that you don’t have a weird pad on the front.
  • Hood – to cover baby’s head for sleep or if there’s rain and handily hides away inside the head support cushion
  • Zip down mesh panel – the standard carrier is made from a durable but fairly soft polyester, then in warmer weather the central panel can be unzipped to reveal breathable “3D mesh”. I am not entirely sure what 3D mesh means other than you can’t see through it! Like overlapping layers of mesh, so there is no possibility of little fingers getting stuck or of it getting snagged on anything.  This is the same mesh as is on the Gemini Cool but the beauty of the 8 is you don’t need to choose between mesh or solid… you get both in one carrier.  (Unless you don’t like the idea of polyester and mesh, and in which case they sell a all cotton version which lacks this zip down panel).
  • Infant insert – which simply attaches via poppers so easy to remove if you don’t need it or don’t like it.  I like that this insert pillow has a narrow and wide setting as this allows different baby’s to be accomodated in different ways as suits them as they grow.

20181010_183528All of which is good stuff!  But the downside is that with all these added bits this carrier takes up quite a lot of space when folded!  Roughly about twice the size compared to the Gemini.   It’s also correspondingly more expensive.

This is a great carrier for those who want a long walk carrier and those who want all the features and bits and bobs.  But it doesn’t have the simplicity and sheer magic the Gemini has in being quite a slimmed down non fuss, easy carrier.  There are more bits and bobs to faff with and get used to.  Some love this, some people really want those extra bits… while for others less is more.  Really just depends on personal preference!

All in all the Beco 8 is another great carrier from Beco.  The 8 will particularly suit bigger babies, those who are higher up on the centile charts and will benefit from a bigger carrier that will last them longer before they grow out of it.  It’s a great sunday hike, wear all day carrier as it doesn’t comprimise on comfort or features!  It’s a flexible carrier offering multiple carrying positions and combines a firm supportive waistband with lighter softer shoulder padding.  The Beco 8 costs £125 and is available to purchase from Sheen Slings at sling library meets, consults and workshops (or please get in touch for doorstep collection or even postage).

-Madeleine

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Connecta Review

img_2034The 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.

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Rachel 9 months

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.

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Rachel at 5 weeks

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.

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Tandem Carry with 2 Connecta

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.

20171110_114320The 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 and Intergra baby carriers both have two way buckles and can be a good alternatives.

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 at sling library meets, consults and workshops (or please get in touch for a doorstep collection or even postage).

 

FAQ – How soon can I carry after birth? What if I had a Cesarean birth?

20161127_102248How soon after birth can I use a sling?

As soon as you feel able!  As soon as you feel able!  I’ve known parents to carry right from the first day if they’ve felt well enough to do so.  The important thing is to listen to your body – you’ve just given birth!  So do take it easy on your body and give yourself time to heal but if you feel strong enough to give it a go.  Go for it!

Just ensure the baby is worn “high and tight” so there is no pressure on your recovering pelvic floor.  What you are looking for is to have the baby high enough on your chest so that their ear is over your heart and/or the top of their head is close enough to kiss.  And then tight enough that if you leant forward the baby wouldn’t draw away from you significantly.  This tightness a) helps them feel more secure and prevents them slumping within the sling and b) it helps ensure the weight is evenly distrubted for you.  When a sling is too loose, the baby feels heavier and this extra pull often manifests as pressure on your core and pelvic floor – both of which have just had a heavy workout during birth and we want to ensure aren’t carrying the load… so being confident in getting that tightness just right is key!  This is definitely something that if your not sure about it is well worth seeking out a babywearing consultant or a sling library drop in session and just checking because nailing that tightness makes an absolute world of difference.

 

What if I had a cesarean birth?

The exact same rules apply – as long as the carrier is high and tight and not putting any pressure on your scar or core there is no reason not to carry.   It’s not like exercise you don’t have to wait for 6 or 12 weeks or any arbitarty point.  It’s quite simply when you feel ready and while I’ve definitely known parents who’ve felt ready a week or so after a section, I’ve known others whose recovery has taken longer and its been more like 5 or 6 weeks.

The one thing I would avoid is any carrier with a very heavy waist band at this point, but carriers such as the Caboo or stretchy wrap are absolutely perfect for those early days when you are still healing.

FAQ – What can I expect at a Sling Library Session?

I always find it hard to answer this question – mainly because each and every sling library session is so different!  They vary so much… in almost 5 years of running sling library drop in sessions no two have ever been the same.

The reason they vary so much is simply because it’s a drop in session and I completely tailor what I cover, what advice I give etc depending on who comes on the day.  I’ve had some sessions where its been nearly all newborns or expectant parents and we’ve spent a lot of time on stretchy wraps and Caboo’s and I’ve had other sessions where its been all older babies and I’ve not even taken a stretchy wrap off the shelf.  More commonly I get a total mix and I cover all 5 types of slings and carriers during the course of the 2 hour session.  Usually I probably only see a toddler about once every other month, but just once I had a session where quite spontaneously 4 families came looking for toddler carriers in the same session!

So what can you expect at a Sling Library session?

  • They take place in my home, in my front room.  The setting and session as a whole is really relaxed.  Come in take a seat, make yourself at home – you are welcome to feed, change your baby, comfort them in any way that works, you’re welcome to walk around or use my loo, grab a glass of water from the kitchen etc.
  • You can bring your buggy in, no need to leave it outside.  I simply ask they go in the next room so we have plenty of space for trying on slings in the front room.  Unless baby is sleeping and then I’ll make a bit of space.
  • People are seen on an approximate first come first served basis.  I say approximate because really it’s the babies who are in charge here so its first come first served allowing for babies to eat, sleep and be changed when they want to be!
  • Generally everyone gets about 10-15 minutes of one to one time in the first instance.  That’s to say dedicated time with me where you tell me what you’d like help with and I then go through this with you.  Whether that’s help with a preexisting carrier or finding something new.  Normally,10-15 minutes is enough time for me to demo one option, help you try on this option and then leave you with a small pile of similar things to try on by yourself, while I help the next family.  If there is time once I’ve seen everyone I will start coming back round – this might be to answer any questions you have following trying on the others I left you with or practising with that one, to fit check your favourite of these and/or sort out with you if you’d like to hire or buy.  Or if it is a quieter session there might be time to show another option/demo a different type of sling.

43485866_1735423853253301_7060858962551242752_nIt is worth noting that the Sling Library sessions can get busy.  In fact they can vary a lot in terms of how busy they are.  The average is about 6-7 families in a 2 hour session, but some sessions are quieter and many are busier.  Our busiest ever saw 16 families which equated to 24 adults!  So if you have a lot of questions or feel like you need a bit more help it can be worth considering a private consult instead.  From experience I’ve found the drop in sessions work best for those who already have some idea of what they want and/or feel confident to try things themselves following being demoed once.  While others who are maybe less confident and/or newer to slings sometimes struggle in this format and feel they get a lot more out of a private session where they are able to have more one to one support while trying on as many options as needed.  This is also a good option for anyone who doesn’t cope well in busy situations or feel they’d benefit from a quieter learning environment, or a time that works better for them and their little one.   That said if you do find you need more support but don’t feel a private consultation is doable for you, I’ve known families simply come to multiple sessions and receive the same amount of help just spread over a few weeks.  You are extremely welcome to do this!  Everyone learns in different ways so whatever works best for you.

Other questions I am often asked about these sessions;

  • Can I bring a carrier I already own?  Yes of course!  Please do!  Very happy to help check fit and help you gain confidence using your carrier.
  • I have been given several carriers can I bring them all?  You absolutely can, but if it is a busy session its unlikely I’ll manage to cover them all.  10-15 minutes is usually enough for me to give you a quick verbal run through of the pros and cons of each of your carriers and then demo and help you gain confidence with the one that seems most promising for the age and stage you are at.  You are welcome to come back to another session in the future for more help with one of the others, you might find a private session (where we can really explore each in detail, compare them and gain confidence using each) more helpful.
  • Do you only have slings? Or do you do carriers too?  I tend to use the terms slings and carriers interchangeably, but I have a huge range of slings and carriers of all types.  Currently over 90 in total!  There is more info on the different types here, and full list of what carriers we have here.
  • Can I hire a carrier?  Yes, if you’d find it helpful to hire to try that sling or carrier out properly at home before investing, or if you’d like to borrow something for a holiday or specific event you are very very welcome to.  Full list of our carriers and hire costs are here.
  • Do I have to hire? No, only if you’d find it helpful.  You are very welcome to come to the session for advice only.
  • Can I come while I am pregnant? Of course! It can be really helpful to come before baby arrives to get an idea of what is out there and what might suit you.  And there is no limit to how many times you can come, many people come first while pregnant to get an idea or to get a newborn option lined up, then again once baby is ready to move onto a next step option and then again to learn new carrying positions with their sling (i.e. forward facing, hip or back carrying positions once baby is older).  Some even come back much later with toddlers ready to move up into a bigger toddler carrier.
  • Can we buy from you? Yes!  I sell a number of slings and carriers, and I usually have a good selection available in stock so you can simply purchase at the library (or organise a door step collection).  If you’d like a specific design that I don’t currently have in stock I can usually arrange for this to be delivered directly to your home within a few days. I don’t sell everything, but those I don’t sell I have discount codes for to purchase directly from the manufacturer or from a good independent stockist.

 

-Madeleine

 

 

 

Sling Library Sessions to the end of the Year!

It’s October and this year has gone by in a total whirl wind so far!   But its not over yet! We have a total of 9 more sling library drop in sessions – 6 more at Madeleine’s home and 3 more at the Barnes children’s centre.  Each run slightly differently so do click on the hyperlinks for more details on what to expect.  Dates and times are;

  • Friday 12th October, 9.30-10.45am at the Barnes Children’s Centre, 67b Lower Richmond Road, SW14
  • Tuesday 16th October, 11am-1pm at Madeleine’s, 79 Lower Richmond Road, SW14
  • Tuesday 6th November, 11am-1pm at Madeleine’s, 79 Lower Richmond Road, SW14
  • Friday 16th November, 9.30-10.45 at the Barnes Children’s Centre, 67b Lower Richmond Road, SW14
  • Tuesday 20th November, 11am-1pm at Madeleine’s, 79 Lower Richmond Road, SW14
  • Saturday 30th November, 10am-12pm at Madeleine’s, 79 Lower Richmond Road, SW14
  • Tuesday 4th December, 11am-1pm at Madeleine’s, 79 Lower Richmond Road, SW14
  • Friday 14th December, 9.30-10.45  at the Barnes Children’s Centre, 67b Lower Richmond Road, SW14
  • Tuesday 18th December, 11am-1pm at Madeleine’s, 79 Lower Richmond Road, SW14

Didymos Lisca Achat Review

20161215_110028This was the second wrap I ever bought and is still one of my absolute favourites.  I adore this wrap.  It’s just perfection.  I’ve used this with both my children and its proved itself to be absolutely perfect for tiny tiny newborns and heavy older toddlers/preschoolers alike.

What sets Lisca’s apart from other wraps is their loose herringbone weave – it gives these wraps a ususually large amount of diagonal stretch.  This diagonal stretch allows the wrap to really mold around you… to move and flex with you and your baby.  This is absolutely wonderful with a newborn as it gives a similar ultra softness and snugness of a stretchy wrap combined with all the pros of a woven wrap.

 

 

IMG_9533But this diagonal stretch sometimes worries people in terms of longevity – some worry that it won’t be supportive enough for an older baby or toddler.  But I don’t find this to be the case at all.  And I guess it depends on your definition of supportive.  Some of the wraps that are described as “toddler worthy” are very rigid! They are supportive in a cast iron, never yielding, toddler prison sense!  Didymos Lisca weaves are not supportive in that way – instead they are supportive in the same way a tubular grip style bandage is … shaping its self to you, giving you optimum support where you need it while still moving with your body.  Before I bought this wrap I had often heard the term “wraps like a bandage” and didn’t really understand it, but Didymos Lisca weaves really do wrap like and offer support akin to a super soft bandage.

20180616_114236Although I do think it helps that I have this wrap in a long size.  Mine is a size 7 (which is a base +1 for me).  This wrap absolutely shines in a multilayer carry.  It’s relatively thin (215 gsm), with a fairly loose/airy weave so even in warmer weather its not too hot to wear in a multilayer carry and it’s those layers that really contribute to that feeling of support when it comes to wearing a fast asleep toddler!  And to that feeling of security with a brand new newborn!  It is worth noting that you get thick and thin Lisca’s, and while the thicker Lisca’s may well work well as a midlength or a shortie, I’d always choose a long length for a thin Lisca.

But best of all when it comes to this wrap is the fact that it comes already super soft.  Right out of the box its already outrageously soft and cuddly.  Like a favourite blanket.  No breaking in, just ready to use.  Which will always make this a favourite choice of mine for someone looking to buy a new wrap for a newborn.  It doesn’t hurt that the herringbone weave and subtle colour choices make for a timeless classic look either.

All in all Didymos Lisca Achat is a great all rounder.  It’s easy to use, soft as anything and easy to look after (its 100% cotton so washing machine and tumble dryer safe).  While Achat was a limited edition colourway, Didymos does have other colourways that are very similar and are in their standard collection (i.e. always availible), in particular Burgund, Petrol, Azzuro, Minos, Smeraldo and Obsidian are all pretty similar to Achat, and retail at approximately £100 for a size 6.

– Madeleine

Kahu Baby Carrier Review

New to the market the Kahu Baby is lightweight, sleek and very very cleverly designed.

20180813_204009.jpgThere is much to love about it!  It’s soft and malleable so it fits a wide range of babies and a wide range of parents and doesn’t skimp on comfort.  It’s lightweight design means it won’t make you or baby overly hot and it will fold up small enough to fit in the change bag or under the buggy.  Not to mention – it’s simply beautiful!!  I went for the “On The Wing” print and when it turned up it took my breath away!  This must be the most beautiful carrier I own, and the colours are just perfect… blues and greys that make this a wonderful combo with jeans (for those who – like me – like to match their clothes to their carrier!).

In terms of parent comfort, the barely there waistband allows for a really good fit on a very wide range of parents shapes and sizes.  While the softly padded straps hug the shoulders and back to give brilliant support.  These shoulder straps can be worn rucksack style or crossed according to parent preference and comfort.  These shoulder straps also features split dual adjust which simply means they can be tightened forward or backward, which means you shouldn’t have to strain your wrists to get a snug fit (always a boon if you have reduced mobility in your arms or in my case, if you’ve wrecked one of your wrists!!).

 

For baby, the Kahu offers 4 carrying positions.  3 of the 4 work fabulously!  Front facing inward (baby on your front, facing you), hip and back all work brilliantly, super comfy for parent and babe.  In particular, the hip carry position works really well with this carrier because the straps are so soft and flexible.  Likewise I love the back carry position as the chest strap is integrated and the dual adjust straps make tightening easy whether front or back carrying.

 

The position that works less well is forward facing (carrying baby on you front, facing away from you).  In fairness there are very few carriers that truly offer forward facing well without compromising the other positions.  The main thing is the other 3 positions aren’t compromised at all, and this is just as well as while forward facing can be fun for short bursts, it’s not a long-term position.  It’s far more important for any carrier to do the front and back positions well.  So this isn’t a huge criticism, but more of a warning – if you are specifically looking for a carrier that will allow you to do forward facing this maybe isn’t the carrier for you.  As while it is possible, it’s very hard to get good positioning without the carrier seeming awfully tight around the babies legs.  20180730_180351The three babies I’ve tried forward facing in the Kahu have been uncomfortable and quickly made their discomfort known.  Most hilariously and dramatic was my own daughter who screamed “I stuck, I stuck, I stuck!” and pointed to where the carrier was cutting into her thighs for the 30 seconds until I took pity and released her!! I did find rolling the carrier in on itself to releive the worst of the cutting in helped a bit but she still hated it.  She was as happy as anything in the other three positions (as were the other babies), it’s an issue only with the forward facing position in this carrier.  It seems to stem from the way the carrier adjusts, ultimately it appears the adjustment strap isn’t quite in the right place to really change the inward facing seat into an equally comfortable outward facing seat.

20180728_090331In terms of age, the Kahu Baby works well from about 6-8 weeks or so through to about 2 years.  In theory the Kahu Baby can be used from birth although in practise I am finding the integrated synching strap doesn’t quite go small enough for a brand new newborn.  However, once baby is a few weeks old (depending on size of course, some will be earlier or later than others!) the Kahu baby works really well because the synching strap can size down the seat width, you can control the height by the depth you put baby into the carrier and then there is a lovely little strap at the top which can tighten up the top part of the carrier making it a bit snugger and providing support to baby’s neck.  There is also a lovely shaped hood that can be used in a number of ways to provide more neck and head support as need.  Then as baby grows the synching strap can be let out and this carrier will last really well till about 2 years ish child depending… my daughter Rachel is a relatively tall 20 months and is still fitting quite nicely.

So how does the Kahu Baby compare to other carriers on the market?  It’s closest comparables are the Connecta and the Intergra.  All three look and feel pretty similar, they are very lightweight with similar barely there waist bands and soft shoulder padding.  In comparision to the other two the Kahu Baby has slightly wider and longer shoulder straps (although the difference isn’t huge), and like the Intergra these straps feature dual adjust (they can be tightened forwards or backwards).  The hood is shaped rather than flat but fastens the same way and there is a strap to synch the very top of the carrier for a smaller baby.  The biggest difference is that the Kahu Baby has both an intergrated synching strap and intergrated chest strap, while the Connecta and Intergra have a seperate strap that can be used to either synch or as a chest strap.  The benefits of having these straps intergrated are as follows;

  • You don’t run the risk of losing them (which does happen … about 2 or 3 go walkies from the library each year and likewise a couple of times a year past clients email me asking where they can buy replacements as they’ve lost theirs).
  • The intergrated chest strap means the Kahu baby can be worn on the front with ruck sack straps or crossed straps, while the Connecta and Intergra can only be worn crossed as its much harder to attach the accessory strap around ruck straps behind your back.
  • The intergrated synching strap is a bit conceptually easier and doesn’t move as your putting the carrier on.

Conversly the cons are;

  • When the synching strap is tightened to the max, this pulls badly on the waist band of the carrier such that it no longer lies flat and this can be a bit diggy on the parent’s waist.  This doesn’t happen with the accessory straps of the Connecta and Intergra.
  • You can’t alter the height of the synching strap because its sewn in. On the Connecta/Integra I’d place this strap at a different height on a very young baby verses an 8-12 week old.  Obviously this isn’t possible on the Kahu baby and this is one reason I prefer the Kahu once babies are already 8ish weeks old rather than a brand new newborn.

All in all the Kahu Baby is a lightweight, sleek, cleverly designed carrier that packs alot design into a small space.  I love how easily this folds up, it’s great to slip in the change bag, under the buggy or in the car.  It’s versatile, comfy and very easy to use … all winners to my mind.  Cost is £95 and can be bought from Kahu Baby

-Madeleine