Manduca XT review

The Manduca XT is the new highly adjustable carrier from Manduca. It’s not a secret that I absolutely loved my Manduca First carrier with both my children, and honestly this carrier is even more amazing. Absolutely brilliantly designed, this ingenious carrier will work for babies all the way from 4 weeks to 4 years! Giving it unparalleled longevity compared to it’s competitors. Add in the fact that it has the magic ability to fit almost all parent shapes and sizes – from the super petite to the extra extra large and everything in between. This is a carrier that should be on everyone’s “to try list”.

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

Key Manduca XT facts;

  • Weight tested from 3.5 to 20 kg (7 – 44lbs), this is one only a very small number of carriers that really will realistically fit for the whole of its weight range, fitting babies generally from about 4 weeks ish all the way through to approximately 4 years of age.
  • Adjustable width. The secret behind the Manduca XT’s longevity is how the width adjusts. Using sections designed to simply slide along the waistband it very simply and smoothly adjusts from just 20 cm all the way to 50 cm. Allowing you to adjust it tiny bit by tiny bit as your baby grows, giving a perfect fit all the way from newborn to older toddler. While there are other carriers offering similar adjustment systems, what I like about this one is how unbulky it is. The fabric thin enough that it neatly folds in on the smallest settings, barely adding any bulk at all. Most other carriers simply rouch and the rest always looks quite bulky on a newborn, on the Manduca the smooth strokable lines remain giving a perfect fit even for very small babies.
  • Bucket shaped panel and soft padding at the legs ensures baby sits in a comfortable, hip healthy position with the bum lower than the knees and the legs out padding moves with the width adjustment to ensure babies legs are comfortable and no “red pressures lines”, whatever their size.
  • Adjustable panel height also helps this carrier grow with your little one. The panel has 3 height settings which adjust via the zippers on the front. Completely zipped together the panel is just 30cm, then as baby grows you can choose between 35cm using the shaped zipped section and 42cm when completely unzipped. This adjustability in height is not only useful as baby grows but also as they change developmentally. Both my children went through phases of loving having their arms out when awake, so being able to make the panel smaller to allow them to do this made carriers so much more enjoyable for them. And then as they became tired and started to fall asleep… it is very easy to lengthen the panel and give them more upper back and neck support as they sleep.
  • Features a hood for supporting baby’s head as they sleep or as a cover in the rain, and cleverly when rolled away into the pouch at the top this hood doubles up as pillow to support baby’s head and neck.
  • Offers 3 carrying positions – a front carry, a hip carry and a back carry.
  • Panel is made from 100% Organic Cotton. One of the hallmarks of Manduca carriers is that all their carriers are made from Organic cotton. Only the webbing and plastic buckles are the exception, the rest of the carrier is soft durable cotton drill made from 100% Organic cotton.
  • Shaped waistband – The waistband is wider at the front where baby’s weight is, thus providing more support and counterbalance where you need it most without having unnecessary bulk at your sides.
  • safety buckle on the waistband requires two hands to open to ensure you don’t open this before you’ve taken baby out. Sounds like a silly or inconvenient thing, but often parents absentmindedly unclip the waistband first so this can be a helpful safety feature.
  • Shoulder straps are thickly padded but very soft and moldable which means they can mold to fit a wide range of back shapes. Straps can be worn both crossed and rucksack style according to personal preference (you can read more about these two different styles here).
  • Shoulder straps can be tightened in 3 places! There are two adjusters where the strap meets the mid panel – each pulling in the opposite direction which means whether you are carrying baby on your front or back there will always be a strap that you can pull easily (and one that would be difficult). Additionally there is an adjuster at the top where the strap leaves the top of the panel and this one in particular changes the position of the padded part of the strap bringing it closer or further from the panel and thus easily adjusting between parents of differing torso lengths. This strap can also be useful for getting a higher tighter back carry or adjusting how much room baby has depending on whether they are awake and wanting to push out and see more things or fast asleep and needing to be held closer. The advantage of being able to adjust in 3 places is these straps can easily adjust to the fit the super petite to the super tall and broad, making this a great pick for couples of very different sizes. The adjustments give you a huge amount of flexibility in how the carrier fits and allow people of all different shapes and sizes to get an amazing fit. The disadvantage of 3 adjusters is that it does take a bit of time investment to really find the right set up for you and understand how each adjuster affects your carry. It is very easy in the beginning to get a bit confused and end up a bit lopsided and less comfortable as a consequence.

All in all the Manduca XT is extremely versatile carrier that fits almost all parent body shapes and sizes and fits babies all the way from just a few weeks old to 4 years. While not the simplist carrier on the market it is well worth the time investment to learn it and get it set up right because it once set up it is such a comfortable supportive carrier and it just lasts and lasts and lasts making it a truly fantastic investment. The Manduca XT costs £149 and can be purchased from Wear My Baby (if you’ve found this review helpful and you’d like a discount code for Wear My Baby do email me or use my contact form to let me know and ask for the code!)

-Madeleine

Rachel aged 3 in Manduca XT

How to do a Back Carry with a Half Buckle or a Meh Dai, using the “secure hip scoot” method for getting baby onto your back.

Half Buckles or Meh Dai style carriers are extremely versatile, offering a range of carrying positions and options for tying. Fitting tiny newborns and growing toddlers alike. Often parents don’t realise that these can be used for back carries, when in reality it is often easier to get a baby onto your back in a half buckle or Meh Dai than it is in a full buckle carrier. The reason that they are easier is to do with the straps – you don’t have to worry about when to get your arms in or need to let go of anything to get your arms in, you simply tie the straps around once baby is on your back.

While there are various methods that will work, my favourite is the secure hip scoot method because

  • you can check baby is well positioned and comfortable in the panel before you bring baby onto your back
  • it feels secure at all times so you know baby is safe and securely held even if they wiggle or start to fight when you are bringing them onto your back

Here is my full video tutorial, including 2 ways of tying the straps at the end – a straight forward knot at the waist and a “tied Tibetan” style knotless chest band which is helpful if you find the shoulder straps are liable to fall off your shoulders or dig in:

This carry can be used once baby has good neck and trunk control, typically around 6 months. Although it is worth mentioning that many babies don’t enjoy this position until they can see over their parents shoulders, typically around a year. Placing the waistband higher on your waist can help give them a better view earlier, although many parents simply choose to wait until baby is taller.

It is worth noting that generally most parents will find baby feels lighter on their back, because as a species we generally load bare better on our backs than our fronts. So mastering the back carry can be a really good option if your starting to find baby is feeling heavy on your front. Back carrying is a skill and does take practise, so if you are finding it hard it is well worth looking up your local babywearing consultant for a face to face consultation or booking an online consultation as often one to one real time help can really flatten the learning curve.

The carrier shown in this video is the Limas Baby Plus carrier, but this same method will work with many if not all half buckles and Meh Dai including the Didymos DidyKlick, DidyTai, Hoppediz Hop-tye and many many others.

-Madeleine

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Madeleine

Tula Explore Review

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

See it explained in detail and in action here;

 

Key Features of the Tula Explore;

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

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

-Madeleine