Mini Monkey Mini Sling Review

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From left to right – phone (156g), Suppori Sling (81g) and Mini Sling (187g)

“Soft, light and ever so small.” Is how I’d describe the Mini Monkey Mini Sling.  In fact this one of the smallest baby carriers I’ve ever encountered… to my knowledge second only to the Suppori sling.  It weighs just 187g.  To put this into context my mobile phone weighs 156g, and its only just a little larger too.   Fitting confidently into its one little integrated draw string bag, this little sling will easily fit into your handbag, beach bag, or even your pocket!

Where the Mini Sling shines is as a “just in case” sling or a “I just need to…” sling.  I.e. just in case the baby screams and refuses the pram while out and about, or just in case the toddler gives up walking after 30 minutes and I just need to get them home, or I just need to hang the washing out to dry and baby refuses to be put down.  Or a lives in the car sling just in case you need something while your out.  Because it is one shouldered and very thin, this is not a long Sunday walk sling or a wear all day sling.  It’s very definitely for short periods only, you’d certainly get achy using it with a bigger baby for any extended period of time.  But because its so fast and easy to take on and off it really does work for those situations where you need your hands back or need something to help take the strain of holding your child but only while you just make lunch, or just pop out to the corner shop for milk….. etc, etc.

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William, aged 6 months

So how does it work? Well it’s simply a loop that you slip over your head.  Baby goes in the pouch part, and then you do up the little yellow clip that tightens the upper part of the sling and finally tighten the sling as a whole by pulling down on the strap behind your back.  Easy!!  Really easy, easier than I expected in fact.  Before trying the Mini Sling I’d assumed I’d struggle with the tightening being behind my back but actually the strap pulls at the same angle as your arm naturally takes which makes tightening really easy and feel really intuitive.  It’s also really really fast!  Literally takes just a moment to pop baby in and secure them.   As because there are yellow clips on both edges this sling can be worn on either the left or right shoulder (you just do up which ever clip comes out on top).

There is also a little loop of fabric for a leg.  To be completely honest I didn’t use this, but the idea is that you can use this loop of fabric to go round one of babies legs and this makes the seat unpoppable – makes it impossible for baby to slip out of the bottom of the sling.  I didn’t use this because I am more than confident slipping a baby into a sling like this and making a seat that I know is completely safe and will last as long as I need it to.  But I often encounter parents who like the idea of a ring sling or pouch sling but get really nervous around making that seat and worry that their baby will fall out.  I’ve literally never seen a baby fall out, but I understand that for the more nervous sling users I can see how this little strap of fabric to loop around babies leg will act to reassure.  Even if it does add an extra step when it comes to getting baby in and out of this sling.

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Demo Doll (Selina), approx the size of a 1-2 mo

Made from silky soft smooth mesh, this carrier is definitely one that will keep both you and baby cool.  The mesh reminds me a little of the mesh you sometimes find inside of swimming trunks, and accordingly this carrier can be used in situations where it might get wet … i.e on the beach, in the pool or in the shower.  At the moment it comes in white or black.  I liked how visually striking the white is but I have to say if this was my sling I’d worry constantly about splattering it in tomato sauce or mud.

So how does the Mini Sling compare to other slings?  Broadly speaking its similar to a ring sling in that it’s fully adjustable and accommodates a wide range of body types and sizes.  The main difference is that it doesn’t have a ring!  Instead it tightens and loosens through webbing and a ladder lock buckle.  This means it doesn’t have the ‘point by point’ tightening of a ring sling that really enables the fabric to perfectly mold to the child’s body.  But the trade off is that it is easier – there is just one thing to pull and tighten.  It pulls down across your back, which is a much easier motion than reaching around your baby or down from your shoulder in front, and you don’t have to think about tightening the top, middle and bottom separately…  just one quick pull and your done.  In fact its almost as fast as a pouch sling (such as the Suppori). But while pouch slings are sized and thus can’t be shared by other members of your family (unless they are the same size as you) the Mini sling is full adjustable, so combines the speed and ease of use of a pouch with the adjustability of a ring sling.

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Rachel, aged 17 months

In theory the Mini sling is suitable for newborn to toddler, and is weight tested from 3.5 to 15 kg.  In practice where I see this sling being really valuable is nosy baby stage (often starts around 12 weeks-ish and lasts a good few months), and for up down just starting to walk toddlers.  So really from 2-3 months through till about 18 months to 2 years.  I think over about 18 month – 2 years its going it get very heavy very quickly.   I think you could use this for a newborn, but without the point to point tightening this would never be my first choice for a very young more floppy baby.  That said I didn’t get the chance to try it with a younger baby so perhaps I am being unfair!  I did try it with a very nosy 5 month old and a 17 month old with little tired legs and it worked beautifully with both!

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William, aged 6 months

My one worry with this sling is the little perforations in the mesh… I’d worry about them catching and this fabric being easy to hole.  I might be being unfair, as there was no evidence of this over the two weeks I road tested this sling – but it will be something I would be watching out for.

The final real selling point of this sling is the price.  It’s tiny – just 35 Euro from Mini Monkey directly.  However, right now it frustratingly doesn’t have a UK retailer and buying it direct from Mini Monkey comes with a hefty 9.99 euro shipping charge.  I am really hoping there will be a UK retailer soon, and in the mean time I do know that several retailers who sell the Mini Monkey Twin carrier are happy to order in Mini slings on request … so if you’d like one please contact Koala Slings or South East Slings directly and ask.

-Madeleine

 

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Beco Gemini Review

IMG_2460 (1)The Beco Gemini is a little bit magic.  It’s a carrier that has really grown on me.  When I first got this carrier 2.5 years ago I didn’t have a child who fitted it (Tom was too big and Rachel hadn’t even been conceived yet).  Trying with a doll I simply thought “yeah, its fine”… but over the years seeing this carrier on other parents and then later wearing it myself with Rachel I have come to realize why this carrier is fantastic… simply put it’s because the shoulder straps and waist band don’t match. 

That probably sounds a bit odd, but let me explain…  Almost all buckle carriers can be divided into 2 groups based on the thickness of the padding of the straps – a) carriers with light, soft or even no padding and b) carriers with relatively thick, firm padding.  Likewise, for virtually all of these carriers the padding level is similar on both the shoulder straps and the waist band.  I.e. carriers like the Ergo and Lillebaby carriers have thickly padded shoulder straps and firm thickly padded waist bands, while light weight carriers like the Izmi or Connecta have no padding or only very light soft padding across both the shoulders and the waist band.   The Gemini, however, defies classification into one of these two groups because it has firm, thick padding at the waist band but soft light padding at the shoulder straps.  

This padding ‘mismatch’ is just magic! And works for so many parents.  Usually when helping parents find the right carrier for them I start by getting them to try first a thickly padded carrier and then try a very lightly padded carrier.  Some parents then decide they love the supportiveness of firm padding and we try more thickly padded carriers.  Others decide they like lighter weight more form fitting carriers and we instead try more of that type.  Then there is a significant subset of parents who tell me they like the firm waist band of the carriers with thick padding but they find it too much on their shoulders, but then when they try a lighter weight carrier they like the feeling on their shoulders but don’t like the more flimsy waist.  For this subset of parents the Gemini is almost always just perfect.  A true Goldilocks carrier – firm enough on the waistband to feel supportive for hours, while still being soft and light on the shoulders and not feeling at all bulky.   

Another reason its so often a winner, is that the Gemini is a very easy, very unfussy carrier.  It doesn’t have loads of bits and bobs to adjust and fiddle with.  No features, no pointless pockets, no hood, no multiple points of adjustment to faff around with.  Just click, click and go.

What it does have, however, is 4 carrying positions.  You can carry baby on your front facing you, on your front facing outward, on your hip and on your back.  This carrier is weight tested from 3.2 to 16 kg (7 to 35 lb) and is one that realistically works well with a newborn all the way through till around 18 months to 2 years.  A lot of this flexibility comes from the fact the ‘seat’ of the carrier has two settings – a narrow seat and a wider seat.  The wider seat does inward positions (front, hip and back) from about 4 months onward (depending on the size of the baby), while the narrow seat accommodates younger babies while parent facing and allows older babies to face outwards comfortably.  Adjusting between the two seat settings is ultra simple it simply fastens into either position using poppers.  This makes the Gemini one of the few adjustable carriers that can be switched from facing in to facing out (or visa versa) with just one hand if need be!  The poppers also do up independently on either side so I’ve even used this carrier in additional needs situations, including once with a baby who was in a leg cast – the poppers meant we could use the wide seat on one side to support the uninjured leg, but reduce the width on the side with the cast to ensure the carrier didn’t put pressure on the cast itself.   Which makes this an incredibly flexible carrier that will grow with your child and adapt to their needs whatever they maybe. 

Its also flexible for the parent – offering both ruck sack style straps and the ability to cross across the parents back.  Most people usually have a strong preference for one or the other and often one parent will prefer crossed, while the other prefers ruck sack.  So its great the Gemini offers both!

 

IMG_2464It is worth noting that compared to other similar carriers – like the Ergo Omni 360 and the Lillebaby Complete – the Gemini doesn’t last as long.  While those will take to 2.5 years ish, the Gemini will often only last till around 18 months to maybe 2 years depending on the size of your child.  It’s certainly not the best when it comes to longevity.  This isn’t really a criticism as part of the appeal of this carrier is that it is smaller and the reason it works really well for newborns (or babies in the 2-3 month age range who are often between settings in a lot of other carriers) is because it is a smaller carrier.  And many parents find themselves carrying less around then anyway or are very happy to move onto a toddler carrier that stage.  But it is worth noting if you have a child who is tracking the upper percentiles on height and weight.  However, if that is the case… the Beco 8 can be a great option, as the 8 is in many ways the Gemini’s big brother – a very similar but bigger carrier.

I have just one gripe with this carrier.  The safety buckles.  Until you are used to them they are a bit of a pain to undo, especially the ones on the shoulder straps.  I find most people get used to them after a few goes, while a small number just find they can never get on with them!!  However, I know this is something Beco have actually taken on board and these are being fazed out over the next year or so, and being replaced with standard buckles.  Which is great news!

So all in all, the Beco Gemini is a fantastic carrier, offering  multiple carrying positions and super flexibility of use combined with a firm supportive waist band with light soft shoulder padding.  It comes in two main finishes – a standard cotton version and a lighter cooler mesh version called the Gemini Cool, which cost £99.50 and £105 respectively.  Both are available to purchase from Sheen Slings at sling library meets, consults and workshops (or please get in touch for a doorstep collection or even postage).

-Madeleine

Which Ergo?

Ergobaby carriers are really popular, and it’s very easy to see why.  They are very well made, well designed and fit a wide range of parents and babies.  They don’t fit everyone of course – like any buckle carrier it’s definitely worth trying on before you buy – as different brands fit different body types differently.  As a general rule Ergo’s are on the bulkier side so its worth checking the padding agrees with your shoulders and they can often feel too much on smaller frames.  But for many many people they fit like a dream and for them Ergo carriers represent a fantastic option.

What takes most people by surprise, however, is just how many different models there are!  Over the last few years, Ergo have brought out a new carrier or new variant on one of their existing models out every single year!  Most people coming to the sling library ask me simply if they can try “THE” Ergo, but there are 4 main models and then 3 of these models have mesh versions – 2 of which differ from the non-mesh version in ways other than simply having mesh.  So it does take a bit of thought to work out which model will suit you best.

So what are the differences?  How do I help people work out “Which Ergo?”  There are 3 main factors to consider when comparing each model;

  1. Would you like to use this carrier with a newborn/baby under 4 months old? (While in theory all can be used from newborn, 2 of these models require the use of a bulky infant insert that most parents don’t get on well with, while the other two have a really great adjustable seat which removes the need for any inserts).
  2. Would you like the option to face baby outwards?  (All 4 models offer front facing inwards, hip and back carrying positions, only 2 offer the outward facing position as well).
  3. Would you like the option to cross the straps across the adult’s back? (All models can be worn in ‘Rucksack’ mode, but only 2 give you the option to cross the straps as well).

I also encourage parents to think about budget and how much value they place on each of these considerations, because there is of course a price difference!   And its not insignificant – the difference between answering no to all 3 questions and answering yes to all 3 is currently £55!  With prices in between for each iteration in between.  So its very much worth considering the pros and cons of each carrier in conjunction with the price.

So with all these considerations in mind – lets look at each model in turn…

The Original

  • Requires an infant insert
  • Weight tested from 5.4 kg (12 lb) to 20 kg (45 lb) without the insert, from 3.2 kg (7 lb) with the insert
  • Does not offer a facing outwards position
  • Straps can not be worn crossed across parents back
  • Has an absolutely huge pocket that will easily fit a nappy or two, wipes and a few other essentials
  • Cost £99.90*

Where the Ergo Original really shines is for babies aged 6 months to ~2 years. Its the simplest, and cheapest of all the Ergo models and it is a great carrier for older babies through to toddlers. It has a slightly shorter back panel than the other models (as it doesn’t have a fold up head support that also acts to extend the panel) so it won’t last quite as long as each of the others but it will nonetheless last well into toddler-hood.  While the Original can be used for newborns, it requires the addition of the Easy Snug Infant insert – which in all honestly is a faff, pretty darn hot and seems to confuse literally every parent I’ve ever met.  If you want a carrier you can use from the beginning, I would avoid anything with an infant insert.  The newest version of this model now features the same amazing lumbar support panel as seen on the Adapt and the Omni. Previous versions of this model just had webbing only, and the lumbar support is a nice addition.

Mesh Version – Ergo are not currently selling a mesh version of the Original carrier.  They did sell a mesh version in the past (I think it was called the Ergo Performance), but this is no longer on the market.

 

The All Position 360

  • IMG_2452Requires an infant insert
  • Weight tested from 5.4 kg (12 lb) to 20 kg (45 lb) without the insert, from 3.2 kg (7 lb) with the insert
  • Adjustable head support
  • Does offer forward facing carrying position
  • Straps can not be worn crossed across parents back
  • Has a wide Velcro waistband
  • Cost £134.90*

The 360 is the model I am most frequently asked for – it’s the one everyone has heard of!  It’s not necessarily the one people most frequently go onto buy, however!  Like the Original it needs the bulky hot infant insert to carry a newborn, so this is a carrier that works best from ~4 or 5 months.  It has a slightly narrower seat than the Original so does tend to work a bit earlier, typically from 4-5 months rather than ~6 months for the Original.  It also has a longer back panel, because the head support can be used to extend the length of the panel, which means this carrier will often last a little longer too – typically until around 2.5 years, maybe even 3 years with a relatively petite child.

What’s really popular about this carrier is the deep ‘bucket’ style seat for the baby, which gives an excellent position for babies in both the parent facing and the facing outwards position.  Swapping between the two carrying positions is as simple as switching over a couple of buttons (“When facing away, go to Grey!”).

IMG_2455The two things that can be less popular are the waist band and the ruck sack style shoulder straps.  The 360 has a very wide Velcro waistband.  Some parents absolutely love this waistband as they find it fits them better because of how wide and form fitting it is, and how it’s continuous and thus there isn’t any webbing to dig etc.  However, the vast majority don’t find they get a better fit with the Velcro, find more traditional webbing easier to tighten correctly and dislike the noise and clothes ruining potential that comes with Velcro!  I can’t count how many times that Velcro has woken babies up during Sling Library sessions – it can be really annoying!  For the straps, again like the Original, the straps do not cross across the parents back on the All Position 360.  Many parents really struggle to get the chest strap done up on their back and thus opt for the Omni 360 or another carrier to avoid this struggle!  However, if the Velcro waist or the Ruck sack straps put you off, don’t despair as both the next two models have these sorted!

All in all the 360 is a good option if your baby is 4-5 months plus, you’d like to be able to forward face, you like velcro and have flexible shoulders allowing you to easily do up the chest strap.

Mesh VersionAll Position 360 Cool Air Mesh, cost £144.90*

Interestingly, the 360 Cool Air does not have the Velcro waist band.  Instead, it has webbing and the same lovely lumbar support found on the Adapt and Omni 360.  The shape of the carrier and the shoulder straps and everything else remain unchanged, its just the waist band that differs.  The waist band, and of course the presence of Ergo’s “Cool Air Mesh”.  As mesh goes, this is very very soft and not at all scratchy.  Although there isn’t really that much of it.  Only the upper panel, the leg padding and one side of the shoulder straps (the side touching the parent) has been replaced with mesh.  So the jury is out on how much cooler this carrier is verses the standard cotton version.

 

The Adapt

  • 20170906_173009Adjustable seat – no infant insert
  • Weight tested from 3.2 kg (7 lb) to 20 kg (45 lb)
  • Adjustable head support
  • Does not offer a facing outwards position
  • Straps can be worn crossed across parents back
  • Lumbar support
  • Cost £119.90*

This is my favourite of the Ergo models.  It was the first Ergo to offer the amazing lumbar support panel and to offer the option to cross the straps across the wearers back.  These two things make such a difference to parent comfort and ease of use for me.  I am not very flexible and have always struggled to do up the chest strap on the Original and the 360 so at last having an Ergo where I could cross the straps and avoid that strap altogether was a big deal for me!  Although my one and only bug bear about the lumbar support is that it is not removable and it does look a bit funny across your tummy when carrying baby on your back.  That said it is supremely comfy and feels a bit like wearing a tummy support!  But out of vanity I’d probably remove it if I could for back carrying!!  The other reason this is my favourite model is the adjustable seat.  It adjusts using velcro within the carrier and poppers on the outside… to give an absolutely beautiful fit to any baby from about 4-6 weeks old all the way through till 2-2.5 years old.  The bucket shape of the seat make it so easy for parents to get a good positioning and super comfortable carry for both them and their little one.

The one thing the Adapt doesn’t do is allow baby to face forwards.  It offers 3 carrying positions – front facing inwards, hip and back carry.  For both my children these 3 positions have always been enough, neither have really needed or wanted to forward face.  If your debating the pros and cons of forward facing this article might help!  However, if you want to forward face but like all the advantages of the Adapt over the All Position 360 then the Omni is most likely the carrier for you.

Mesh VersionAdapt Cool Air Mesh, cost £129.90*

The Adapt is available in a mesh version, and unlike the 360 and the Omni there are no differences (aside from mesh of course!) between the mesh and cotton versions of the Adapt.  A large proportion of the carrier is replaced with mesh and a very soft mesh, so I would expect this carrier to be a fair bit more breathable than the cotton version, and worth considering if you travel a lot, have a summer born baby and/or someone who finds they get hot easily.

 

The Omni 360

  • IMG_20170828_230307_088Adjustable seat – no infant insert
  • Weight tested from 3.2 kg (7 lb) to 20 kg (45 lb)
  • Adjustable head support
  • Does offer forward facing carrying position
  • Straps can be worn crossed across parents back
  • Lumbar support
  • Cost £154.90*

The Omni really is the model that offers absolutely everything.  It has a super simple and intuitively easy to adjust seat, which is very similar to the Adapt and allows this carrier to be realistically used for babies from  4-6 weeks old all the way to 2-2.5 years.  The size adjustment is done via Velcro tabs, which are conveniently colour coded to help you know how to size it for your baby as they grow.   Like the All Positions 360, the Omni can be used for forward facing and has the same buttons which allow it to be simply switched from inward to outward facing modes (“When facing away, go to Grey!”).  Like the Adapt it has the lovely lumbar support panel and the option to cross the straps across parents back for increased parent comfort.  It also has safety buckles at the sides, which can be easily opened with one hand (once you’ve got the knack!)  And a detachable zippered pocket on the waist band.

The one and only thing it doesn’t have is a small price tag!  But then that is the price of everything and for many parents the improved parent comfort verses the 360 and the ability to forward face compared with the Adapt makes the extra price tag worth it.  It’s worth paying the extra if it means you get more use out of the sling.

Mesh VersionOmni 360 Cool Air Mesh, cost £129.90*

The main difference with this version (other than the presence of mesh) is that the buttons that you use to switch between inward and outward facing carrying positions have been replaced with sliders.  While the buttons are a nice intuitively easy system for switching they are a bit fiddly to do with one hand and thus hard to do while holding baby or with baby still in the carrier.  The sliders on the other hand are dead easy to change with one hand – you just push.  Its a fab update and one I hope will be rolled out onto the other 360 models in the future.

 

All in all Ergo have 4 great carriers and its worth spending a few minutes considering the differences so you can ensure you can get the one that suits your needs and budget!  Ergo do also make a stretchy wrap which is lovely for newborns and as a soft around the home sling.  You can read more about their wrap here.

 

-Madeleine

*Please note all prices quoted here are based on RRP, and are correct as of April 2018.  Ergo and other stockists do offer sales from time to time and the RRP may well change overtime so please don’t take these prices as Gospel!

Izmi Baby Bamboo Wrap Review

20180219_173731The Izmi Baby Bamboo Wrap is Izmi’s 3rd carrier, and just like the other two it’s simply genius.  You’d probably guess designing a stretchy wrap is really easy – I mean its just a long bit of material right?  Well no, having compared over 15 different stretchy wraps, the smallest changes to the stretch, width, composition of the material, thickness, length, finishing etc can make a huge difference in how easy or hard the finished wrap is to use.  The Izmi wrap is genius because the designer, Emily Williamson (who is a babywearing consultant and sling librarian) has thought about all these tiny differences in immense detail to produce a wrap that’s subtlety different to anything else on the market, and absolutely perfect for the tiniest of newborns all the way through to older babies.

20180219_170743.jpgMade from 97% Bamboo viscose, the Izmi wrap is super soft and has a luxurious sheen and beautiful drape.  But it doesn’t just look good – it has 2 way stretch and consequently is very easy to tie and to use.  However, where it differs to most other 2 way stretchy wraps is that it is much less stretchy than others.  It still stretches equally in both horizontal and vertical dimensions but much less so compared to many other wraps on the market … only 1.6x in each direction verses 1.8-2x for most others.

This reduced stretch makes this wrap more supportive, but without comprising ease of use.   It’s just magic!  For most wraps it’s a trade off between the two, easy to use but not as supportive for bigger babies, OR more supportive but a steeper learning curve to get the tying and the tightness right.  Izmi have absolutely managed to nail that magic middle ground where the wrap is a total piece of cake to tie and it will continue feeling supportive enough to carry you baby as they grow for as long as you want.

It’s weight tested from 5 lb (2.3 kg) so this is definitely a wrap you can use right from birth, and it’s definitely one I would choose to show a parent of a lower birth weight baby or baby born prematurely.  Interestingly the upper weight limit is 9 kg.  I was completely surprised by this as this wrap is definitely strong enough to continue supporting a baby heavier than 9 kg – indeed it works perfectly with my 11 kg 15 month old, and I am sure it will continue to be supportive enough for her for a long time to come.   I think this simply represents more realistic guidelines from Izmi – there are so many stretchy wraps that are weight tested to 13-16kg but if you put a 9 kg baby in them they stretch right out and feel really ‘bouncy’, ‘heavy’ and unsupportive.  The Izmi wrap is much stronger than many of these and will continue carrying your little one for wrap naps as long as you want, but most people find they want to move away from a stretchy wrap and onto something more structured from 6 months anyway.  Often older babies still love the stretchy wrap for a nap but prefer something less snugly and enclosing for when they are awake.  So often the higher weight limits of other brands just give new parents and unrealistic idea of how long their wrap might last for, and then parents are disappointed when their 6 month old has ‘grown out’ of something that in theory should last them till they are much older (for reference my son was 13 kg at age 2 and 16 kg at age 3.5!).  So I respect Izmi’s decision to publish a lower, more realistic weight limit.

20180219_175610In terms of thickness of the material, I would say this wrap is medium – its certainly thicker than other Bamboo wraps such as the Hana Baby or the Joy and Joe, more similar in thickness to the Lifft wrap but certainly not as thick and warm as the Moby wrap.  Plus because it is Bamboo and Bamboo has thermoregulating properties it doesn’t feel overly warm despite being a little thicker than others and I think this is a wrap you could definitely use all year round.

The final touch of genius in this wrap is in how it’s been finished.  The top and bottom are hemmed in different colours.  Its so subtle you wouldn’t notice unless you were looking but the top is hemmed in purple, the bottom in red.  Which means that you can tell the top from the bottom and thus you can tell if you’ve twisted the wrap.  Its such a tiny thing but can really help when your total beginner learning to use a wrap for the first time.  Likewise this wrap has a really subtle middle marker, which won’t make you feel self conscious (so many wraps have these enormous logos that make you feel like the company have taken out paid advertising space across your baby’s back!).

Also did I mention how I have ALWAYS wanted a red wrap, but I have never found the perfect shade until now?  Other red stretchies have always been burgundy or a pinky red, this one is at last the perfect shade of true, absolutely beautiful red.  Just the perfect colour.

All in all the Izmi Baby wrap is super soft and easy as pie to use, and I absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this wrap to anyone looking for a stretchy wrap; all the way from parents of a tiny tiny baby to parents looking for something that will last a bit longer.

-Madeleine

Sling School Stretchy Wrap Review

20180228_103319At just £26.50 the Sling School stretchy wrap represents a seriously good budget option.  There are a great number of budget stretchy wraps available, many many many on Amazon and Ebay and for almost all the old maxim “you get what you pay for” definitely rings true.  The Sling School Stretchy wrap, however, is very much the exception to this.

Unlike the Amazon/Ebay cheapies, the Sling School Stretchy wrap has two way stretch (it stretches equally across both its width and length), which makes it very easy to tie and use.  In terms of the amount of stretch – its a perfect balance between stretchy enough that its easy to pop baby in and out of and enough recoil and strength that it will continue to support baby as they grow.  This wrap has been designed by sling consultants with a wealth of experience and it really shows.

Its made from 94% cotton and 6% lycra and in terms of thickness I’d say its medium to light.  Its thin enough that I’d happily use this wrap pretty much any time of the year other than maybe the 2 or 3 days a year where it gets truly warm in the UK!

Two lengths are available – 4 or 5 meters respectively.  Which length you need depends on your size and if you’d prefer to have the knot at your front or back.  I prefer to knot in front so that I can sit down without a knot digging into my back and at a size 16 I would need the 5m size.  If you don’t mind tying behind you or if your petite and/or a size 12 or under, the 4m wrap is likely to be preferable.  While if you are taller or fluffier or sharing the wrap with a larger partner then the 5m maybe more suitable.

So whats the catch?  How have the Sling School managed to make such a great wrap at such an affordable price?

  1. It’s unhemmed.  Unlike woven fabric, jersey knit doesn’t fray and so doesn’t have to be hemmed.  Most wrap companies do hem their wraps to give a more ‘finished’ look.  However, as wraps are generally 4 or 5 meters long… the labor cost of hemming contributes a significant proportion of the overall production cost.  As it is not vital to hem jersey and as it doesn’t affect the safety or use of the wrap, the Sling School have cut costs by simply not hemming.  This does result in a slightly scruffier looking wrap and it does mean that the edges have a strong tenancy to roll in on themselves.  This will bother some people while others may well not even notice!
  2. It’s very narrow.  Most stretchy wraps measure between 54 and 65cm wide.  Generally speaking, it can be a bit easier to tie a narrower wrap but the trade off is how well you can spread the passes across baby – particularly as the baby grows.  Jersey fabric is generally made in bolts 150cm wide so most manufactures can cut 2 wraps out per length of fabric.  The Sling School Stretchy is exactly 50cm wide, so they can cut 3 wraps out of the same width of fabric – thus cutting costs and enabling them to offer a good quality wrap at a great price.  But the downside to this is that it narrow compared to most.  And it wraps even narrower than it is, because the unhemmed edges roll in giving even less usable width.

When it comes to width, this is to a certain degree a matter of personal preference.  But for me the Sling School Stretchy wrap is very narrow.  I can see this working well for the newborn phase, and really well for babies born prematurely.  While the material itself is more than supportive enough to support a bigger baby, the narrow width is likely to mean that babies will grow out of this wrap sooner rather than later.  However, as most parents love stretchy wraps for the 4th trimester period and then feel ready to move onto something else by 3-4 months anyway, many will happily just move on as this starts to be an issue.

Compared to other stretchy wraps on the market, the Sling School Stretchy is most similar to the Lifft Stretchy wrap in terms of feel, stretch and ease of use.  The Lifft is wider, hemmed and approximately £10 more, but otherwise feels very very similar to the Sling School stretchy.   For more on how this wrap compares with other brands please see here.

All in all the Sling School wrap is a great budget option – it represents amazing value for money … a really good quality sling for £10-30 less than many other brands.  Its narrow width and slightly scruffy appearance may mean it might not last as long as other wraps on the market – both in terms how quickly a baby grows out of it and in terms of how many babies it will do (for those planning more than 1 child or those thinking of the second hand retail market).  But for many, this is a trade off they will happily make for such an excellent wrap at such a wallet friendly price.

-Madeleine

Boba Bamboo Wrap Review

You can’t beat Bamboo viscose on softness.  It’s just such a strokeably soft material, and a perfect choice for a baby carrier designed for newborns.  So I was delighted to test the new Boba Bamboo wrap.

20180219_171014The first thing that struck me was that the Bamboo wrap shares all the stuff I love about the standard (cotton) wrap:

  • Beautiful 2 way stretch which makes it very easy to tie
  • Different textured sides – smooth on one side and french terry toweling on the other side meaning that its easy to tell if you’ve twisted the wrap
  • Perfect width and fairly long length so one size fits pretty much everyone

But adds on top of this all the advantages of Bamboo;

  • Supreme softness
  • Thermo-regulation, which means that it feels light and cool in the summer but will still keep you warm in the winter.
  • Natural UV filter
  • Anti-microbial properties, which is always helpful in something that will get a certain level of baby possits and even the odd poo-plosion!

All of which makes the Boba Bamboo wrap a wonderful choice for an expectant parent or newborn.  It’s not the absolute lightest material, I would say its more of a medium weight wrap rather than light weight, but the bamboo means you wouldn’t get overly hot at anytime of year.

Where this wrap shines is definitely for the newborn period, its so soft and easy to tie, perfect for someone who hasn’t ever used a wrap before etc.  But I wouldn’t recommend it for an older baby.

This wrap is very stretchy, and its this stretch that makes it so easy to use.  Its so stretchy that its almost impossible to tie too tightly.  But it is possible to tie it too loose!!  For a new baby where they don’t stretch the wrap out too much it has a very wide window of tolerance in terms of how tightly or loosely you tie it … which is exactly why it is so easy to learn.  But as baby grows, they become more wiggly and their weight increases (i.e. from about 4-6 months onward) this wrap becomes less supportive as it becomes increasingly difficult to tie tightly enough to be as supportive.

20180220_153947However, as most parents feel ready to move on from a stretchy wrap around 4 months anyway, I wouldn’t really consider this a huge disadvantage.  Yes, it didn’t work well for Rachel at 15 months but I wouldn’t usually carry her in a stretchy wrap at this age anyway.  This wrap is absolutely perfect for the newborn to 4-6 month period.  But if I was expecting a high birth weight baby or was wanting to continue using a stretchy wrap for longer, then I’d choose something with a little less stretch that would be more supportive of an older baby.  More about how this wrap compares to others can be seen in our comparison article.

All in all, the Boba Bamboo wrap is perfect for anyone looking for a supersoft, easy to use newborn suitable wrap that will work year round.  They cost £48 and are available from Slumber Roo.

 

-Madeleine

Sheen Slings featured over on Positively Birthing…

Positively Birthing – run by hypnobirthing specialist and student midwife Megan Rossiter – are running this excellent “Ask the Experts” series on all things birth, pregnancy and new baby related.  I am learning so much from this series so I am delighted to feature for their babywearing edition!

If you’d like to read more about the basics of babywearing, getting started and my answers then please do over to Positively Birthing;

https://www.positivelybirthing.com/blog-1/2018/2/26/ask-the-experts-madeleine-sheen-slings