Joie Savvy Carrier Review

The Joie Savvy carrier is an internal harness style baby carrier retailing around £105 but you can often find deals around £60-£80.  The lovely Tracey from the Lady with the Slings, kindly sent me the Joie to review after seeing my review of the Nuna Cudl.

The first thing to say about the Joie Savvy carrier is it does look a lot like the Nuna Cudl, but it a good chunk lighter, softer, is easier to use and will fit more body shapes too. Plus its so much cheaper! The Cudl retails at £160 and (as you can read here), I absolutely hated the Cudl and really wouldn’t recommend anyone buys it when there are so many much better options at the same price range. So definitely compared to this carrier the Joie comes out in a favourable light…

BUT, when you judge it on its own merit – the fit for baby when inward facing on the Joie carrier isn’t amazing. In particular, I couldn’t get the top part of the carrier tight enough and so I’d be really worried about the risk of a real baby slumping inside and being at risk for suffocation.

See what I mean in my video review here (and then read on for more about this carrier below):

It is a real shame as there are some real pros to this carrier, but unfortunately this is often the downside of carriers with an internal harness. While easier to pop baby into, its often harder to adjust for a really great positioning. The result is baby’s weight pulls away from their caregiver, putting more strain on the caregiver’s back and creates space baby can slump into and can be particularly dangerous for younger babies (under 4-5 months). Post 5 months when baby has more upper torso control and maintain their own airway it is less of an issue safety wise, although the issue with more strain on the caregivers back will only get worse as baby gets heavier.

The real pro of the Joie Savvy carrier is its outward facing position. It has a really great bucket seat and gives a really wonderful outward facing position. The position is really similar to that seen on the Ergobaby Omni Breeze and the Tula Explore. Making the Joie Savvy potentially a great choice for carrying outwards. BUT, as most parents find they only really use outward facing between 5 and 10 months – does the Joie represent good value for money? As a carrier that works best only between 5 and 10 months and only really does one positon well … £105 seems a bit steep. When you compare it to the Ergobaby Omni Breeze or the Tula Explore that both work brilliantly (and safely) from 6-8 weeks and will last all the way to around 2 years of age. Plus offer a closer fit that will protect your back as baby grows. While they are more expensive, the fact they last alot longer and give more options mean that they offer better value in the long term.

If you are looking for a more budget friendly option then really worth considering the Beco Gemini which again will last longer than the Joie, offers a safer positioning for younger babies and a closer more comfortable fit for parent too and can be found on Amazon for around £80.

Hope that helps! If you have any questions about this carrier or any other please do get in touch and ask!

-Madeleine

Nuna Cudl Review

A lovely mum contacted me via facebook asking what I thought of the Nuna Cudl. She had one but wasn’t sure she could get it to work so very kindly sent it to me to review.

Made by well known pushchair manufacturer’s Nuna, the Cudl is absolutely massive!!! It promises an all singing all dancing newborn to toddler, 3.5kg to 16kg, carrier that offers 3 carrying positions – inwards, outwards and back carry.  Realistically, however, most people will find it won’t last them anywhere near that long.  It’s massive, it’s bulky, it’s not easy to get a comfortable fit with, and realistically most babies won’t fit it until around more like 6-8 weeks and then the max width of the seat means they’ll likely grow out of with in a year.  

It does offer all those positions but switching between them is a faff and harder than when you compare to other carriers that retail for a similar price.  

The Tula Explore (find my review here, rent it here), the Ergobaby Omni Breeze (find my review here, rent it here) and the Beco Gemini (find my review here, rent it here) are all more flexible than this carrier, all fit a wider range of parents shapes and sizes, are more comfortable, fit babies for longer, and are easier to switch between positions as baby grows and matures.  Combined with the fact the manual is really confusing and makes some really quite dodgy recommendations at some points…  I really can’t see myself ever recommending anyone purchase this carrier.  Particularly not when you consider price – this carrier retails at £150. The Tula Explore at £155, the Ergobaby Breeze £175 and the Beco Gemini at just £80. You get far better value for your money with any of these carriers over the Cudl, as they all last longer and give so much more flexibility of fit and use.

Watch my full review and demo of the Nuna Cudl here

If you do have one and need some help getting it as comfortable and well adjusted as possible, please get in touch. I’d love to help. Or if you are researching it please do check out my alternative suggestions above and feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

-Madeleine


Sling Library Dates for 2023!

As 2022 draws to a close, I am honestly wondering where the year has gone. This year has definitely gone by in a flash, and I can’t quite believe it’s already time to start talking about 2023!

But it is, and I have new dates for both Kingston and Old Malden Children’s Centres. 

It was back in February this year that I first started offering a session at Old Malden, and it has very quickly taken off.  Sessions have been filling up regularly since April, and both the October and November sessions were over capacity.  So for 2023 the session will be 90 minutes instead of 60 minutes to allow me to accommodate upto 10 families (instead of just 6 or 7).  Kingston will continue as 2 seperate 60 minutes sessions each accommodating up to 7 families.  Meaning we offer upto 24 families free sling support each month. 

The eagle eyed among you will have noticed there isn’t a session at Barnes at the moment.  This is something I am hoping will come back, but sadly this session was not well attended during the first half of last year.  Most sessions had only 2-3 families booked in and frequent no shows meant that more than once I ran a session for no one to attend.  As I donate my time to run these sessions, it just simply isn’t sustainable to keep offering a session where there is not sufficient demand.  Particularly when sessions in other areas are well attended.  It is a shame, because this venue was very well attended in the past, but right now there isn’t the demand.  If this changes and interest in running a session picks up, I will of course restart running sessions here.  So if you are interested please let me know! 

Likewise, if you’d like Sling Clinic to come to a new area please do get in touch to ask!  If you have a local children’s centre please do put in a good word for me!  I am always open to offering more Clinics in new areas if there is demand to support it.

All of these Sling Clinic sessions are completely FREE to attend (although donations are welcome!)   They are small group friendly informal sessions, perfect for those who have a couple of questions, would like a quick fit check or have a fair idea of what they want to try and would like to try it on in person or hire to try before they invest in their own. Booking is essential and you can find the upcoming dates and the booking form here.

For those needing more in depth help, private consultations in my home, clients homes or online are back from the 3rd of Jan. These are the perfect way to explore a number of options and really delve deep into how to use them and become completely confident using whatever you choose.

Once you have found the right option for you the Sheen Slings webshop is here for you! Carrying an increasing range of slings, carriers and accessories – all purchases come with the added bonus of me! I care much less about what you buy and much more about whether you can use it and that it adds value to your life … so all carrier and sling purchases come with a free 20 minute online video fitting appointment that you can book at any time if you are at all unsure. And all my clients are always welcome to send me a photo to double check fit and/or ask any questions, at any time. I want to ensure you love carrying and all the products in the shop are carefully curated based on what I know works for a wide range of parents and babies. They are all things I have seen work time and time again for families of all shapes, sizes and needs. Most are also things I have either used personally myself or wish had been available at the time for me to use personally!

For those who would rather hire, or would like to hire to try before they buy – hiring has got even easier!  I have finally started upgrading my hire system… and during 2023 I will be retiring my low tech Google Form linked to spreadsheet and instead offering the ability to hire directly from my website.  This will mean you can see photos and descriptions of every carrier in the library, check availability, reserve and pay online.  In fact the new system is live right now and you can see it here. Although, at the time of writing, only 15 of 116 hire carriers have been loaded so far.  But loading the rest is my number 1 admin priority for 2023!! And in the meantime the other 101 carriers will still be hirable via the Google form (and are all listed here) so please do still get in touch to hire if you don’t see what you want to hire on the new system just yet!

Finally, looking further into 2023 I will be continuing to build my learning zone with ever more tutorialsreviews and frequently asked questions.  These are a great place to look for free information and help, but if you don’t see what you need feel free to get in touch!  

Wishing you a very happy 2023 and really looking forward to welcoming many of you in the New Year.

-Madeleine

Safety Elastic Loops on Buckle Carriers – what are they and how do they work?

Ever wondered what that bit of elastic near the buckle on your baby carrier is for? Designed as a safety feature in the extremely unlikely event that the buckle spontaneously undoes (or the more likely event that a parent absentmindedly undoes the waist strap before the shoulder straps), these elastic loops act to “catch the buckle”.  


But only if you thread them correctly.  Most parents assume simply threading the buckle through the loop is enough, but actually the full “catch” effect relies on you then pulling the extra webbing back over the top of the elastic loop.  As shown here:

Thus the elastic is able to securely “catch” the buckle if it comes undone because the webbing coming in and out of the buckle is trapped under and over this elastic respectively. Meaning that if you accidently undo the buckle absentmindedly or if it failed or undid spontenously the buckle would be caught and you’d have plenty of time to resecure the carrier or take your baby out as needed.

Did you know this?  If you didn’t please don’t feel silly I would say 90% of parents don’t!  I didn’t until I was shown either!  Did you find this helpful?  If so please do let me know below!

-Madeleine

(PS – sometimes parents don’t like to use the safety buckle as they find it hard to untangle the strap when taking the carrier off. But there is a trick to this – watch to the end of the video to see it! You simply fold the buckle back under the elastic to quickly release the strap without needing to do loads of untreading.

Ergobaby Embrace Soft Air Mesh Review

Honestly, I had expected to love this carrier. I love the standard soft knit Ergobaby Embrace (reveiwed here) because it is a fabulous soft, lightweight newborn option. They are really popular in my library as 4th trimester hires and I retail them too. Given that summer is here and that the Soft Air Mesh Embrace promised to be exactly the same but in cooler, lighter material… I genuinely thought that a mesh Embrace would be a total winner. So I ordered one for the sling library to try it out. Fully expecting that I would probably be putting in an order to start retailing these a few weeks later.

But I didn’t. And I won’t.

The fact is that while the only change is the material, it’s the material that really lets the soft air mesh Embrace down. Made from 92% Polyester and 8% Elastane, the mesh fabric is really very stretchy. Alot more stretchy than the 79% Polyester, 17% Rayon and 4% Elastane of the soft knit Embrace. At 4% Elastane the soft knit Embrace has a nice amount of stretchyness and give that gently molds around baby and you to give a lovely cosy, snug secure fit. While at 8% Elastane the mesh Embrace is really very stretchy and very very “bouncy” when in use. What do I mean by “bouncy” – I mean as I walk it feels like baby is bouncing.

With a brand new newborn this isn’t an issue, but as baby grows and packs on the weight this additional stretch means that baby starts to feel heavier faster. It’s steadily becomes harder and harder to feel like you can get the straps tight enough to give a supportive carry. This happened to a certain extent with the soft knit Embrace but generally somewhere around 9 months … which was approximately when baby was growing out of this carrier size wise too. So it worked well as a newborn to 9 months ish carrier. However, with the added stretch and bounciness that comes with 8% Elastane this feeling of baby becoming heavy inthe carrier and parent feeling less well supported is happening much much earlier. More like around 3 or 4 months.

It’s a real shame because otherwise this is a lovely carrier. It has all the same pros as the soft knit Embrace (reviewed in depth here), and offers all the same carrying positions (tutorials here). You can see it in action and here my video review here;

I made this video review just before it went out on hire and you can see I want to like it but I am a bit worried about the stretch. It then went out on a 3 month hire to a family with a 6 week old. A week into the hire they emailed me saying how much they loved it, how it was completely perfect and how much they appreciated having mesh. Then 3 weeks later they emailed me saying baby had grown out of it, and how it was no longer supportive. It was heartbreaking because it had created all these doubts in their minds – maybe they were too weak to carry their baby, maybe their baby was really heavy and too big. When none of these things were true! So I swapped them onto something more supportive, but before I did I got them to try the soft knit to compare with the mesh Embrace and it was so interesting.  They said;

“Wow! We assumed the mesh would be so much cooler, and the knit way too hot but actually it isn’t.  The knit is light and not overly hot too, but so much more supportive.I could carry on wearing him in this one but he feels too heavy in the mesh.”

And that’s it in a nutshell really – the Embrace Soft mesh offers only a tiny bit of extra coolness but alot of extra unhelpful stretchiness. The “pin-prick mesh” while nice and soft, isn’t as soft as the non mesh Embrace and is only a tiny bit cooler (as the holes aren’t very big and it still has 2-3 layers over baby).

And the soft mesh is more expensive too. Retailing at £100, but realistically only lasting 3-4 months – I don’t feel this carrier offers good value for money. If you are looking to buy a newborn carrier my recommendation is to give this one a skip. If you love the idea of the Embrace, go for the standard non mesh, or take a look at other newborn specialist carriers such as the Caboo Lite, the Izmi Baby Carrier, the DracoMom Hatchling or for something truly meshy and light the Mini Monkey Mini Sling. Or rent it instead! While I don’t think it is worth it to buy, you can rent it for the whole 4th trimester period for just £40 and save the extra £60 to spend on the next stage carrier for when baby is bigger. I have 2 in the library collection for this purpose, just get in touch to arrange.

-Madeleine

Ergobaby Omni Breeze Review

The Ergobaby Omni Breeze is one of two brand new Omni models and is an updated version of Ergobaby’s much loved Omni 360 carrier. It has all the same features and functions as the Omni 360 (reviewed here), but with an updated more streamlined design and softer breathable fabric. Small tweaks in the design also mean this carrier fits more parents and more baby’s than ever before.

Watch my full, in depth video review to see it in action or read on below for a summary of its main pros and cons and full comparision with the previous Omni 360 model.

Key Omni Breeze Facts:

  • Weight tested from 3.5 to 20 kg (7 – 45lbs)realistically fits from approximately 6-8 weeks to around 2 years of age. This is the big thing to realise – the box and all the marketing says “birth to toddler”, but in practise this is a carrier that rarely fits before 6-8 weeks. The reason is the panel is simply too long and the carrier is quite structured so its not easy to get a great fit on a very young baby. You can sometimes get it to work a little earlier using this method to adjust the panel, and it is actually slightly easier with the Breeze than the older Omni 360 model but it still isn’t brilliant until baby is over 8 weeks or so. Once baby is over that age it adjusts and continues working beautifully until around 2 even 2.5 years of age – so this is a fantastically long lasting carrier that you should get roughly 2 years worth of use from.
  • Adjustable width. The secret to this longevity is the adjustable seat. Velcro tabs inside the waistband make it very simple to adjust the width of the seat to accomodate different sizes as baby grows. No need for an insert for younger babies, the seat can simply shrink down for a younger baby. Coloured markers make it really easy to know where to place the tabs, and of course you can place them between the lines too to get an incremental fit as baby grows.
  • Bucket shaped seat ensures baby sits in a comfortable seated position with bum lower than the knees and the padding at the edge is a nice soft touch. As with any carrier – how you use it matters more than the carrier itself – but the bucket shape seat certainly makes it easier to ensure great positioning (you can read more about this here).
  • Made from soft, breathable mesh fabric the Breeze is definitely Ergobaby’s lightest, coolest Omni model to date. Still not one of my top summer picks, but definitely a good option if you’re looking for a multipostion carrier that will work year round.
  • Features 4 Carrying positions: Front inwards, front outwards, hip and back carry. Which means this carrier grows with your child developmentally as well as physically, giving you both lots of carrying options. One of the real pros of all the Omni models are how easily they adjust between the inward and outwards modes (you can do this with just 1 hand without putting baby down) and how well they offer both. The bucket shaped seat ensures you can get a comfortable seated position for baby in both inward and outward modes. In fact the Omni carriers genuinely are one of the best carriers on the market when it comes to the outward position because they give a fabulously comfortable deep squat position even while outward facing. The hip carry doesn’t work quite as well as the other three positions, simply because it is quite bulky and the strap across the opposite shoulder often doesn’t sit very comfortably compared to other less bulky carriers.
  • Wide, firmly padded waistband with lumbar support pad. The waistband and lumbar pad is often the selling point of this carrier for many families. If it fits you well, this can be supremely comfortable and supportive and can work really well for those wanting to use their carrier on long walks or days out. It can take a bit of adjusting the first time you use it (and getting used to tightening from both ends of the pad to ensure the lumbar pad is positioned centrally across your lumbar spine) but after a couple of goes it becomes very quick and easy to get a great fit every time. It is worth noting that this lumbar pad isn’t removable, so when you do come to back carrying it will sit over your stomach. This can be nice because it helps stabilise the waistband and give additional support, but some people don’t appreciate the additional pressure on their tummies or like the look. Also the inability to remove the lumbar pad does mean that very slender parents occassionally struggle to get this carrier tight enough around the waist. This is actually less of an issue with the Breeze compared to the older model, as this is one of the updates Ergobaby have made to slightly adjust the design so that this carrier fits both narrower and wider that before offering a frankly impressive fit range from just 45.4cm all the way to 145cm.
  • Shoulder straps are fairly well padded, but soft enough to bend and shape to fit a wide range of parent shapes and sizes. The straps are one of the main ways the Breeze differs from the Omni 360. The 360 is pretty bulky across the shoulders and the padded part quite long and the consequence is this is a carrier that rarely fits very petite parents well. With the Breeze Ergo have slimmed down the overal amount of padding and made the straps less bulky and also shortened the padded section by a few cm. The result is this carrier gives petite parents a much better fit, while still fitting larger and plus sized parents just as well – in many cases better because the more mouldable straps give a better fit to a wider range of shoulder and back shapes and sizes. It is worth saying it is still quite a padded carrier, which many parents adore. Its great for those looking for something for long walks. However, those looking for something that feels lighter for use around the home or fold down small to be stored under the buggy while not in use, will normally opt for something less bulky like the Beco Gemini or the Kahu Baby Carrier.
  • The straps do up in 2 ways – offering both crossed and ruck sack options (X or H shape)which is great because so often couples sharing a carrier find that they have different preferences and so this carrier is more likely to work for both parents! Which is a big pro.
  • Tightening is one directional. This does mean you need to understand how to move the looseness around your back (as shown in depth here) and can be hard for those with weak wrists. Which is a bit of a con compared to other carriers that offer two directional tightening (such as the Beco Gemini, Kahu Baby carrier, Manduca XT), but it is something that most people can find a method that works for them, so not a huge con but worth being aware of.
  • Safety buckles. It is worth noting that the shoulder straps attach to the panel via a 3 point safety buckle. For most people this buckle requires two hands to open (I’ve met a few people who can do it with one hand but it requires alot more index figure strength than I currently have!). This is both a pro and a con. Pro because of that added layer of security (the buckle can’t be undone absentmindely), but con because it makes it more fiddly to do up and undo. The result is that sometimes people accidently don’t do it up properly and then it is at more risk of undoing spontaneously! Or more likely to get panicked while trying to get it done up or undone. Its not a big issue because this is something you quickly get used to with practise but worth being aware of at the start.
  • Pockets! The Breeze comes with 2 small elasticated side pockets and one larger detachable zipper pocket. Between the 3 you definitely have space for keys, phone, wallet and maybe a couple of small snacks. Which is definitely really handy.

How does the Omni Breeze compare to the Omni 360: What are the updates?

The first thing to say is that the Breeze and the Omni 360 are incredibly similar. They both offer 4 carrying positions, X and H straps, both adjust in height and width in the same way. The differences are as follows;

  • Material the carrier is made from. The Omni 360 came in a standard cotton or a cool air mesh which was made from the same cotton with panels/sections replaced with a relatively open mesh material. The Breeze is covered almostly entirely in “SoftFlex™ Mesh” which is softer and lighter polyester material. It appears less “open” but is very breathable in addition to being lighter and softer in feel.
  • Overall Aesthetic. The design has been tweaked to give the Breeze a sleeker, more streamlined look. These tweaks actually give a slightly nicer shaped seat for baby when inward facing, but really they don’t make a huge difference beyond aesthetics. As Ergobaby are still offering the older model it gives people the choice as to which they prefer the look of.  Ergobaby have also added little fluorescent accents to give this carrier a sportier look (and presumably to help you be seen better in the dark, although as most people will be wearing a coat over their carrier on dark winter nights again I think this is more about the aesthetic value than the practical value). 
  • Padding is softer and slightly trimmed down meaning this carrier is around 200g lighter, which does make it a little cooler and less bulky in feel compared to the Omni 360.
  • Padding on the shoulder straps is a couple of cm shorter which means the Breeze tends to fit more petite parents much better than the previous model did.  While still fitting plus sized parents and parents of various shapes, sizes and genders just as well as before.
  • Safety Buckles have been changed. The Omni 360 featured safety buckles that could be undone one handed, however they were pretty fragile and prone to breaking. The safety buckles on the Breeze are much sturdier, however, most people will find they need 2 hands to undo these buckles.
  • Two additional side elasticated pockets. These are quite small and there is a limit to what you can put in them – again I think this is more about the asthetic value these pockets add than storage.

While these updates are small, I would say the value in this carrier fitting a wider range of parents, slightly comfier inward seat shape for baby and being just that little bit less bulky means that of the two models I vastly prefer the Breeze. For me having less bulk just means this carrier feels that bit more comfy as it just fits better. Over the course of the last 9 months since this carrier came out I’ve seen the Breeze be marginally better for almost all families who have tried both.

All in all the Ergobaby Breeze is a fabulous all singing all dancing option. It is a great choice for anyone looking for a carrier that will last them a long time and offer lots of options as their family grows. Its a great for days out and long walks.  Cost is £174.95 and these can be bought through the Sheen Slings webshop here.  I offer free fit checks with all carrier purchases which means you can be assured I will be on hand to help you get the most from your new carrier if needed. Plus as an authorised Ergobaby stockist your new carrier will come under the Ergobaby 10 year promise, meaning your carrier is guarenteed for an incredible 10 years! Want to try before you buy? I do hire these out (and offer exclusive discounts to anyone who hires first) so you can properly road test these in your life before you invest risk free.

-Madeleine

What’s the difference between a Private Consultation and Sling Clinic? Which one is best for you?

Private Consultations and the Sling Clinic sessions are my two most popular services and the two best ways to receive baby carrier help and advice with me. But how do you know which is best for you?

I talk through the differences here, or read on below for more…

Private consultations are the best way to get truly tailored advice.  These can take place in my home in East Sheen (SW14 7HU, which is close to Richmond SW London), in a clients home anywhere in SW or W London, and Surrey borders (anywhere within a 30 minute drive of SW14) or infact anywhere in the UK or in the world via Zoom.  You have my undivided attention and as much time and help as you need to really gain confidence and find the right techniques and carriers and slings that really work for you and your family. I can watch you try things on, see what does and doesn’t work for you and make suggestions that are tailored and specific to your needs, yours and baby’s body and the needs of any other family members who will be carrying also. Cost depends on where – and full details on price and what to expect can be found here for consultations in my home or clients, and here for online.

By contrast Sling Clinics are completely free, fun friendly groups sessions.  Each session is 1 hour in length and limited to 6-8 families.  They are social and fun and a great way of getting a flavour of what’s out there and help with 1 particular thing.  They are fab for people who are happy in group settings and happy to try things without much help.  But they can be very overwhelming if you are nervous and if you have a great number of questions or want help trying several things as it is unlikely everything will be covered in a single session.   As I mentioned these sessions are completely free and this is where I choose to donate my time and services and do so in a sustainable way that can reach as many families as possible so that those who need free can access free.  Everyone is welcome and you are welcome to come back to multiple sessions if needed. Donations are always gratefully received as these really do help keep Sling Clinic running, but there is no expectation.

Still not sure? Check out my handy table

Private Consults are Perfect for anyone who is:Sling Clinic is Perfect for anyone who:
New to babywearingHas some idea of what they would like to try
Unsure of what might be the best option for themWould like to see, try on and compare a couple of different brands
Is feeling overwhelmed by choiceWould like to hire a carrier and would like to be shown it quickly first
Has been gifted slings or carriers but are not confident using themHas one carrier already that they would like help with
Are wishing to learn to back carry for the first timeHas specific questions they’d like to ask
Unsure or gets flustered in group situationsAre happy learning in a busy small group format
Has additional needs or circumstances that may affect carrying (such as twins and multiples, severe back pain, reduced mobility, or a child who has additional needs such as low muscle tone, low birth weight, reflux, hip dysplasia, talpedes etc), as often we need to go off manual and we generally we need more time to ensure we find the right option to match your needs

If you have any questions about what is best for you please do get in touch!

-Madeleine

Tutorial; How to use the Mini Monkey Mini Sling

Quick and easy to use, the Mini Monkey Mini Sling is one of the absolutely smallest and lightest carriers out there.  Made from soft, breathable, ultra cool mesh it is an absolutely wonderful option for summer.  Perfect for around the house, quick trips out, on the beach or even as a just in case sling hiding in your back pocket!

But how do you use it?  Watch my video tutorial here;

The keys to sucess with this carrier are;

  • Don’t give yourself too much to do! Start with the carrier reasonably tight… don’t be tempted to have it really loose before putting baby in. Yes having it really loose will make getting them in really easy but it will give you so much tightening to do.
  • When tightening always support under baby’s bum. Lift their bum up in one hand while you tighten with the other. This way your not fighting gravity and the sling is much easier to tighten and the end result much more supportive.
  • Spread the shoulder as feels comfortable. The strongest part of your shoulder is the outer part so often it feels most comfortable to have the middle part of the fabric sat on thie outer part of your shouler.
  • Remember that the strap at the back controls the size of the pocket. If baby is sitting too low, it is this strap that needs to be tightened (by supporting baby’s weight in 1 hand while pulling the strap back toward baby with the other. If they are sitting too high, then it is this strap that needs to be loosened (by supporting baby’s weight in 1 hand while working your fingers under the buckle and pushing upwards with the other).
  • The strap at the front tightens the top part of the carrier only.
  • Bring the top of the fabric right upto the top of baby’s neck for a newborn or infant without head control, but for an holder baby you can leave the fabric behind the back of baby’s shoulders or even directly under their arm pits. Ensure the top strap is tight enough that baby is snug against you and doesn’t feel like their weight is pulling away.

Any questions or worries please do get in touch! If you are thinking of purchasing one of these you can find them in my webshop here, or find my full review here.

Happy Carrying!

-Madeleine

DracoMom Hatchling Carrier Review

The DracoMom Hatchling carrier is a truly fantastic option for anyone looking for a carrier they can use for a newborn right from day 1.  This mum led Bosnian and Herzegovinian brand is not *yet* well known in the UK, but they deserve to be and I think they will become better known over the next few years. Because their Hatchling carrier is soft, lightweight, well designed, well made and works just beautifully for newborns and babies upto around 1 year of age.  It is a perfect mix of functionality, flexibility and a truly great price point.

In fact the price is one of the best things about this carrier.

Priced at just £55 (at time of writing) this carrier is a lot cheaper than comparable newborn carriers. It’s main comparables are the Izmi Baby Carrier, the Ergobaby Embrace and the Baby Bjorn Mini – all of which cost between £80-£100. So it costs a good chunk less, BUT it lasts longer the Baby Bjorn Mini, and just as long as the Embrace and Izmi. It also offers a lot more adjustability than either the Ergobaby Embrace or Baby Bjorn Mini. So if these carriers were on your radar, then it is definitely worth considering the Hatchling as a more wallet friendly option.

You can see how it works and hear my full thoughts here in my video review (or read on below):

Key DracoMom Hatchling facts:

  • Weight tested from 3.5 to 11kg, this carrier is great from newborns. Because of how it adjusts I can see this working right from day 1 for nearly all babies. Even smaller ones who are under 3.5kg – provided you can adjust this carrier to get a snug, secure fit… which certainly seems possible from the design. I can then see this carrier lasting to around 9 months maybe a year, but I think parents will get the most use from this carrier in the first 6 months and then likely move onto something more robust as baby grows and becomes heavier and more wiggly.
  • Adjustable panel width. Velcro tabs hidden in the waist band allow the width to be smoothly adjusted from just 12cm (5 inches) to 33cm (12.5 inches), meaning you can get an exact “knee to knee fit” as baby grows. Babies grow most rapidly in those first 6 months and the hatchinling is designed to really adapt to give perfect fit throughout.
  • Adjustable panel height. Likewise the panel adjusts in height too, via easy to adjust toggles on the outside of the panel. Meaning you can adjust these easily while wearing, allowing you to increase the panel height to give more support as baby gets sleepy or decrease to give baby a little more view when awake (provided their neck is strong enough.
  • Made from a 50% cotton, 47 Polyester and 3% Elastane Jersery fabric, the Hatchling is ultra soft. The material is light, and not at all hot. It has some stretch but not loads. Enough to feel really soft and gently cocooning, but not so much that it feels bouncy or unsupportive.
  • Offers 2 carrying positions. While only 1 is shown in the manual the Hatchling can be used on the caregivers front (facing inwards) and on the hip. Note that as this carrier is designed for newborns primarily to doesn’t offer an outward facing carrying position nor a back carry.
  • Flexible fit for parents of all shapes and sizes. The waistband is lightly padded, narrow and very flexible allowing it to mold to fit. Likewise the wide, ultra soft shoulder straps cross over the parents back spreading the weight and giving a great weight distribution. Because of how soft it is, the fabric gently molds to fit parents with very different shoulder and back shapes and sizes. The webbing is extremely generous so this is a carrier that will definitely fit plus sized parents. Conversly the fabric parts are not overly long which means this carrier works for very petite parents too as they are still able to tighten enough (and can use the strap tidies at the end of the generous webbing to avoid having long dangly bits).

The closest comparable to the Hatchling is definitely the Ergobaby Embrace. Both the Hatchling and the Embrace are newborn specialist carriers that work well 0-9 months, and both are made from soft jersey materials. The main differences between the two are the price and that the Hatchling is far more adjustable, offering a better fit throughout. While the Hatchling adjusts smoothly, the Embrace can only be adjusted via folding the waist band – something that often confuses parents and also often leaves a bit of a gap where baby isn’t quite big enough yet for unfolded but is growing out of folded. With the Hatchling there is no such gap, it is possible to get a perfect fit throught all of the same age range. The Embrace now comes in 2 materials – a cotton a standard jersey and a “pin-prick” mesh. The Hatchling material is lighter and cooler than the Embrace standard jersey, and a similar weight and feel to the Embrace mesh.  But without the actual mesh.  Considering that this mesh is “pin-prick” rather than really open mesh, and that Ergo has more layers and lining in the panel, I wouldn’t say there was a huge difference between the Hatchling and the mesh Embrace. Or at least I am not sure that the mesh Embrace is particularly cooler or more breathable.  Then when you consider that the Ergobaby Embrace retails at £90-100, compared to the Hatchling at just £55… I think its a bit of a no brainer. The Hatchling is more adjustable and almost half the price. The only thing the Embrace has going for it is a better known brand and more fashion forward colours. At the moment the Hatchling comes in just 3 colours and none of them are the most inspiring (although I do love the rainbow stripe webbing) but I hope that this is something that will change and more colours will come.

Another comparable is the Mamaruga Zen Sling. Like the Hatchling this is made from super soft jersey material and is hugely adjustable in height and width. The Zen sling typically works from a few weeks of age up until around 2 years of age as it goes much wider and much taller than the Hatchling. It also offers a back carry. The trade off is it is more bulky, and also the adjustment while even more flexible on the Zen sling it is a little more complex which occassionally puts people off. Compared to the Zen Sling the Hatchling is smaller, simpiler and focusing on a shorter age range. And this is reflected in price, the Zen sling retails around £110, while the Hatchling won’t last as long but is half the cost at £55.

In fact the price is around what you would pay for a Close Parent Caboo or a good quality stretchy wrap which again are fabulous newborn options and parents get the most use out of in the first 6 months.

Making the Hatchling a fabulous option for anyone who wants the softness and lightness of a stretchy wrap but with the psychological reassurance that buckles bring. The Hatchling is available to hire and try and I will hopefully be adding this to my retail stock in the near future so please do get in touch if you’d like to try one or would like to purchase.

-Madeleine

Brilliant Babywearing Businesses Guide to the Best Baby Carriers and Slings for 2022

Choosing a baby carrier or a sling can feel like a complete minefield. There are so many different types, with so many different features. Consequently, it can be really easy get completely overwhelmed.

Ultimately the best one for your family will be the one that fits you best – both physically and fitting your needs and how you want to use it.   Which is why I highly encourage trying a few on before you invest.  Finding your local sling library or babywearing consultant and trying a few with their help will really help take all the effort and guesswork out of finding that perfect fit for your family.

But sometimes it is helpful to have a starting point. It can be helpful to have an idea of what to try and what might suit you. Which is where this list comes in!

I asked 36 Babywearing Consultants from all over the UK (and a couple from Europe too) to tell me their top 5 picks across 8 different categories – best for newborns, best multi position carrier, best lightweight carrier, best for longevity, best value for money, best toddler and preschool carriers, top Eco-conscious brands and best babywearing accessories.  And then I compiled all this data to produce the lists for each category below.

What makes this guide different to others is the sample number and experience behind it. Each of these 36 consultants runs a busy sling library and consultancy, has experience of 100s of different slings and carrier brands and models, and between us we see literally thousands and thousands of families a year. These picks are based on that combined knowledge and the experience that comes with working with families directly and seeing what works in particular circumstances and not in others. None of us received free carriers or any donations in exchange for our opinions, and entry into this list doesn’t rely on the brand providing free samples – something that often excludes smaller and often more affordable brands from being considered in other lists and awards, simply because it costs too much to enter. So all in all making the Brilliant Babywearing Business Guide to the Best Slings and Carriers for 2022 a list that you can really trust as a starting point for your research and what carriers and slings to try.

So without any further delay here are the Top Picks for each category:

Best For Newborns

  1. Two-Way Stretchy Wrap
  2. Mamaruga Zen Sling
  3. Ring Sling
  4. Close Parent Caboo
  5. Ergobaby Embrace

Many carriers are marketed as “from newborn”, or “newborn to toddler”.  But the simple truth is few actually do the newborn period really very well.  Or at least few genuinely do both newborns and toddlers. This makes sense as newborns have different needs to older babies.  During the 4th trimester period they sleep more, they crave the closeness and sound of their caregiver’s heartbeat – just as they had in the womb.  So the slings and carriers that work the best are the ones that are soft, flexible and can really fit down for a smaller form to give a lovely cocooning, snuggly, safe carry.  

So it is no surprise that all the 5 top picks on this list are ultra soft.  Only two buckle carriers make it into the top 5 and both of these – the Mamaruga Zen Sling and the Ergobaby Embrace are made of soft jersey and so emulate the soft feel of a wrap or a ring sling.  

The Stretchy wrap was far and away the winner, topping almost every consultant’s list.  But there are so many stretchy brands!  One common theme was that parents find two-way stretchies so much easier than one way (you can read more about the differences between the two here).  

The Top 5 Two-way Stretchy Brands were;

  1. Izmi Baby
  2. Lifft
  3. Boba
  4. Joy and Joe
  5. Hana Baby

Notable mention also goes to Calin Bleu which came in 6th – but retails at just £25 (which is a good £10-20 cheaper than the brands above) so is a great budget friendly choice.

Best Multi Position Carrier

  1. Tula Explore
  2. Ergobaby Omni (360, Breeze and Dream)
  3. Beco Gemini
  4. Beco 8
  5. Kahu Baby

These are the “does it all” carriers, offering multiple carrying positions including outward facing, inward facing and back carries. These are all great choices if you’d like to have the option to carry your baby forward facing when developmentally ready and have the piece of mind that they can be also used on your back once the baby gets heavier too.  All bar the Tula also offer the option to hip carry too.  

I think it might be a surprise to many that Ergobaby didn’t win this category, however, they did come in a very close second behind Tula.  It is worth knowing that Ergobaby do own Tula, and the Tula Explore is quite similar to the Omni but with some key differences including being a little cheaper and having very beautiful patterns so this maybe why they just pipped Ergobaby to the top spot.  

And maybe even more of a surprise the Baby Bjorn didn’t make the top 5 at all.  While Baby Bjorn do make a number of Multi-position carriers they did not feature in any of our 36 consultants top 5 list in this category.  Likely because these carriers have a narrower fit range than others, fitting some parents well while not fitting others.  As a result, while many parents do come to our libraries asking to try a Baby Bjorn most discover they don’t fit them as well as one of the 5 choices above and so don’t go onto buy a Bjorn afterall.

Best Lightweight Carrier

  1. Kahu Baby Carrier (Sunshine)
  2. Integra Baby Carrier (Solarweave)
  3. Ring Sling – in particular the Melliapis Simple Ring Sling
  4. Mini Monkey Mini Sling
  5. Izmi Baby Carrier (Breeze)

These are the carriers that really pack down small, that are made of ultra-light breathable material making them perfect for summer, travel and anyone who wants an option that can fold down small to fit under the buggy or in the change bag.  

Absolutely all of these are not only fantastic lightweight options but also great carriers.  You’ll notice that some of these appear in other categories too, such as the Kahu Baby Carrier which not only far and away won this category but also came in at #5 in Best Multi Position and Best Value for Money too.  Likewise you’ll find ring slings mentioned in Best for Newborns and Best Value for Money as well. 

Best For Longevity

  1. Woven Wrap
  2. Boba X
  3. Manduca XT
  4. Isara the One
  5. Tula FTG

This category focused on the carriers that last the absolute longest, that grow with your child from tiny baby all the way through to toddlerhood and beyond.  The far and away winner was the Woven Wrap.  Of all the different types of carriers and slings this is the one that will truly go from newborn or even preemie all the way through to preschooler or as old as you need it to.  I have a friend who once carried her husband in a woven wrap for a dare.  So it is not a surprise that wovens won this category as they are absolutely unbeatable on longevity.  But for those that prefer a buckle carrier the 4 listed here are the ones that go the absolute longest, all working well from just a few weeks old into toddlerhood and beyond. 

Best Value for Money

  1. Woven Wrap
  2. Integra
  3. Boba X
  4. Ring Sling
  5. Kahu Baby

The idea behind this category was two fold.  To represent the carriers that offer great value in terms of how not only how much they cost to buy but also how long they actually last.  So it’s unsurprising that alot of the same carriers that featured in the Longevity category, reappear here – with Woven Wraps winning again.  Because anything that lasts a long time will have a lower “pence per day” cost than anything that doesn’t last long.  And while woven wraps can vary hugely in price, there are many really great cost effective brands and a really thriving second hand market too.  

It is worth noting that many of the budget options such as Infantino, Red Kite and many others don’t make the shortlist.  The reason for this is that while these are cheap to buy, they generally don’t last very long (months rather than years), meaning that they often end up as a false economy and you will end up needing to replace them before too long and paying more per use versus a carrier that is designed to last longer. 

It’s also worth noticing that Ergobaby and Baby Bjorn are completely absent from this category. While they are very well known (because they have relatively big advertising budgets!), they are quite a bit more expensive than other brands, both in terms of actual cost (likely to pay for that big advertising budget) and the cost per use when you factor in that they often don’t last quite as long as some others.  So if you are looking at Ergobaby or Bjorn and feeling a bit priced out – please don’t despair.  This is definitely something that your local Sling Library or Babywearing Consultant can help you with – finding a carrier that fits your budget, your needs and physically fits you and baby well.

Best Toddler carrier

  1. Tula Toddler Carrier
  2. Integra Size 2
  3. Beco Toddler Carrier
  4. Isara Trendsetter Toddler Carrier
  5. Lenny Lamb LennyPreschool Carrier

Most toddler carriers work well from around 18 months through to 3.5 years of age and can be a great option for anyone who is finding their existing carrier is becoming heavy and their little one is no longer fitting as well.  While many baby carriers do last well until around 2 years of age, if you are still carrying regularly at this point it can be well worth sizing upto a Toddler sized carrier for more support.  You can find many of these carriers compared and contrasted here.

Many sling libraries also offer the options to hire these carriers for holidays and trips away, so even if you don’t carry regularly but are thinking a carrier might come in handy for an upcoming trip it can be well worth contacting your local sling library to hire (and/or I offer postal hires too!).

Best Preschool carriers

  1. Lenny Lamb LennyPreschool Carrier
  2. Tula Preschool Carrier
  3. Integra Size 3
  4. Easy Feel Extend Plus
  5. Woven Wrap

While Toddler carriers generally last upto 3.5 years of age, Preschool carriers generally work from around 2.5 years of age until at least 5.  They are a great option for any family where extended carrying is helpful, maybe due to additional needs or so many other reasons.  Just as for toddler carriers, many sling libraries do loan out preschool carriers for trips or a specific purpose.  I personally used the Easy Feel Extend quite a bit over the first few weeks of my daughter starting school, simply because she was so exhausted mentally and physically in those first weeks carrying her really helped ease her through that transition.  I often have parents hiring for a month or two for similar reasons. 

Top Eco-conscious brands

  1. Firespiral
  2. Oscha
  3. Kahu Baby
  4. Mamaruga

This category focuses on the brands that are really committed to sustainability and making the smallest environmental impact possible.  Each of these companies are really careful about sourcing, packaging and every single step in their production line to ensure the smallest environmental footprint.  You’ll notice there are only 4, and I hope this is something that will continue to grow as we all start to focus more on making sustainable choices. 

Best Babywearing Accessories

  1. MooMo Baby Leg Warmers
  2. Suck Pads
  3. Bundlebean Babywearing Cover
  4. Wrap a Hug Baby Wearing Socks
  5. Mamalila Softshell Coat

In our final category, we move away from carriers and slings and look instead at accessories.  There are so many amazing small businesses making beautiful accessories to enhance your baby carrying experience – that it almost sems cruel to limit it to just 5 but here are our top 5!

The Best Carrier for you personally…

Ultimately the best baby carrier or sling for you personally will be the one that fits your family the best and this will depend on your needs, baby’s age and stage, your body, the body of your partner or anyone else who might be sharing the carrier with you and what each of you personally find comfortable.  

This can be so hard to tell from reviews!  But hopefully these lists have given you a starting point for your research and a starting point for working out what you’d like to try on.  If you’re reading this and feeling more overwhelmed than ever.  Please do reach out – either to me or to your local sling library or consultant as we will be able to help you find the best fit for you.

-Madeleine