Top 3 reasons why your baby carrier might be causing back pain

When it comes to baby carriers – fit is everything. How well your carrier fit you personally and how well it is fitted each time you use it. Parents often come to me with a carrier they’ve bought and is causing them pain and assume I will tell them they need to buy something new. But often they really don’t need to. A few tweaks to how it is fitted and how they are using it can be a total game changer. Suddenly that carrier they hated is now is now super comfy and their back feels supported and comfortable.

So here are my top 3 reasons your carrier might be causing you pain, and HOW to fix them! Watch the video of my instragram live showing all 3 or scroll down if you prefer to read!

#1 – The waistband isn’t high enough.

Getting the waist band right is the absolute foundation of any carry. Often the reason parents are struggling is simply that the waistband is positioned too low, or that it is not tight enough and the result is baby’s weight is causing the waist band to tip which consequently causes your pelvis to tip and your back to arch. The fix is to simply raise the waist band up and tighten it up!

You can see more about waist band positioning here:

Or read my full blog on this here.

#2 – The shoulder straps are too loose

This can be counter intituive because usually if something is rubbing or hurting we often think it must be too tight, so our instincts are to loosen up. But actually when it comes to baby carriers it is the reverse; when they are too loose baby pulls away from you and this downward drag causes that rubbing or pain or heaviness on your shoulders. The trick to it feeling lighter is to tighten those straps up until there is no slack. Or until it is tight enough that if you lean foward, baby doesn’t draw away from you.

Often parents are worried to tighten up because they fear squashing the baby, but actually babies enjoy that closeness. They enjoy the security that comes with have the straps snug because it feels more secure and more cozy for them.

#3 – How you tighten the shoulder straps

This is often the biggest culprit behind discomfort in carriers – HOW you tighten the straps. The fact is, that for most carriers this is not obvious. Just simply yanking on the strap to tighten it often doesn’t work. The combination of baby’s weight pulling downward int he sling and the friction across your back will prevent the strap from tightening effectively.

Instead it is key to

  1. Support baby’s weight as you tighten, so that you aren’t fighting gravity
  2. Move any looseness around you back, wiggling your shoulder as you go before you try to tighten the strap.
  3. Once the looseness is directly by the buckle, then and only then, tighten it!

You can see this in action fro a carrier with ruck sack straps here;

and for a carrier with Cross straps here;

So there you have it, my top 3 reasons your carrier might be causing you pain. Let me know if any of this helps. Or if you’d like me to fit check your carrier and suggest potential tweaks specific for you personally please do get in touch to book an online consultation (or in person if you are local to me). Or check out your local sling library.

-Madeleine

Carriers shown in this article are the Ergobaby Omni Breeze, Ergobaby Omni 360 and the Beco Gemini.

Tula Lite Review

Designed as an ultra-light compact travel carrier, the Tula Lite isn’t really designed to compete with Tula’s other carrier offerings but instead complement them. Offering Tula lovers a light-weight option perfect for hot days and travelling specifically. It’s ultra slimmed down design doesn’t offer the same level of support, flexibility of use and fit of the Tula Explore and Tula Free-to-Grow… but what it does do is fit into a tiny self contained bag, weighs almost nothing and has a frankly enormous pocket. All of which makes it perfect for travel and summer days out.

You can see how it works and hear my full thoughts here in my video review or read on below for my key facts and considerations on this carrier:

What is the Tula Lite made from? How does it feel?

Made from a 100% Nylon outer patterned fabric combined with a 100% polyester mesh lining fabric, the Tula lite does indeed feel very very light. It is not the world’s softest carrier and it does feel a bit snythetic but none of it feels overly harsh. Against bare shoulders it didn’t chaffe and nor did it make me overly sweaty. Making it a great option for really hot days.

What ages and stages is it suitable for?

It is weight tested from 5.4kg (12lb) to 13.6kg (30lb) and I would say realistically it would work from roughly 3-4 months through to around 18 months. Maybe a little more or a little less depending on whether your baby is tracking the lower or higher percentiles respectively. Neither the width nor the height of this carrier adjust, which is why compared to other more adjustable carriers (such as the Tula Explore or the Tula Free-to-Grow) it doesn’t fit as early or last as long! I believe this was a conscious choice by Tula to keep this carrier really compact, lightweight and simple – as obviously adjustment systems would add bulk and weight. So this is a carrier that will work from when baby can sit in the panel without being over-extended. As the panel is very soft and squishy this can be as early as 3 months for babies with longer legs, and more like 4 or 5 months for smaller little ones. It will then continue fitting until the point where babies legs are much longer and the panel can no longer support to at least mid thigh – typically around 18 months. Because it is designed for babies who are 4 months plus, this carrier doesn’t feature any head or neck support as at this point most babies can support their own head. There is a removable hood, however, that can be helpful as a headrest if baby falls asleep in the carrier.

What carrying positions does it offer?

The Tula Lite offers 2 carrying positions – front facing inwards, and a back carry. Both work very well and with just 2 buckles total to do up and 1 point of tightening for each side this is definitely a very simple and intuitive carrier to use. When carrying on the front the straps pull forwards, which is a very easy motion to do. When wearing on the back they pull backwards, which I did find a bit of a challenge but again not too hard once I got used to the angle and direction of pull.

What it doesn’t offer is a hip carry or the front facing outward position.

How does it fit for the adult?

To keep this carrier compact, it features almost no padding. The waistband is wide, curved and only very lightly padded. It is, however, surprisingly supportive because it is really flexible and moulds around your body to get a really good fit. The padded section isn’t overly long which means it will tighten to fit a petite waist. The webbing, however, is very very long which means the waistband can comfortably and easily accommodate plus-sized parents too. A convenient elastic loop at the end of the webbing allows you to tidy the excess away and avoid having long dangly bits.

Where fit becomes more complicated however, is when we look at the shoulder straps. The straps are completely unpadded and relatively narrow. They feature a long section of mesh and nylon strap before moving into adjustable webbing. This section is so long that many very petite parents will find that they simply can’t get the straps tight enough. You can see in the video and pictures above that I have the straps almost at their tightest, and I am not by any means petite. At 170cm (5ft 7) and a UK size 12 or 14 there are many parents both male and female who are smaller than me and would need to get the straps significantly tighter. There is, however, absolutely oodles of webbing… so if you are a plus sized parent you can rest assured there is plenty of space.

Being unpadded, this carrier does mould nicely to fit over different shaped backs. And the narrow shoulder straps work well with narrow shoulders, and sloping shoulders. But the lack of padding can mean it can get a bit diggy on some parents depending on individual fit. As such this wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice for a full time carrier, but for travel and summer I would happily sacrifice a litle bit of comfort for being cooler and less encumbered.

It is worth noting that the straps only do up in the rucksack or H configuration. It is not possible to cross the straps across the wearer’s back.  If you are someone who finds cross straps more comfortable, or someone who finds doing the strap up at the back hard with rucksack style straps then likely you’ll struggle with this carrier.  And would be better off with another lightweight carrier instead.   

What is special about this carrier?

The real unique selling point of this carrier is the frankly enormous pocket at the front.  The carrier features two zipped compartments.  One hidden inside the waistband which allows you to store the whole carrier neatly inside, allowing you to easily wear the carrier as a hip bag or over the shoulder bag when not in use.  And a second separate compartment accessed via a zip on the outside, at the front.  While the carrier is stored it does take up most of the space inside this pocket but there is still easily space for phone and keys and maybe a small purse or certainly a bank card and a bit of cash. 

However, when the carrier is in use/ or at least not folded away – this pocket is really capacious.  Loads of space for snacks or for a nappy and change of clothes for baby.  You probably won’t get a change mat in there but you will get a good few things in there, certainly anything you need on hand immediately while travelling.  

How does the Tula Lite compare with other options on the market?

The two closest competitors to the Tula Lite are the Boba Air and the KahuBaby Sunshine carrier.  

The Boba Air is really very very similar to the Tula, made from a very similar nylon material, it too offers rucksack straps only and the same 2 carrying positions.  The shoulder straps are more adjustable and tend to fit petite parents better than the Tula Lite.  The Boba Air also folds up even smaller and easily fits into a bag but doesn’t have the big front pocket space nor is designed to be worn empty as a hip bag.  

The KahuBaby Sunshine offers a lot more flexibility than either the Tula Lite or the Boba Air.  It offers 4 carrying positions, including both a hip carry and a forwards facing position.  It offers the parent the choice of either rucksack or crossed straps and the width of the panel is adjustable meaning this carrier works for both younger and older babies too.  Generally working well from around 8 weeks through to 2 years of age.  Additionally, the sunshine material is just as thin and breathable as the material used for the Tula Lite and the Boba X but feels a lot softer and a lot less “syntheticky” to the touch.  Plus it is UPF50+ rated which means it blocks 99% of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, making it truly an exceptional summer and lightweight travel carrier.  My full review of the KahuBaby can be found here.

Another carrier to consider is the Mini Monkey Mini Sling.  This is actually quite a different style carrier to the Tula Lite, Boba Air and KahuBaby Sunshine, but as a pure lightweight travel carrier it is hard to beat.  It is honestly one of the smallest, lightest, most compact carriers going.  And at just £37.50 it has one of the tiniest price tags too.  You can read my full review of this carrier here.

Price tag and is it worth it?

At £79.90 the Tula Lite is significantly cheaper than other Tula carriers, but considering that this isn’t really designed as a full time, year round birth to toddler carrier like their other offerings it’s not necessarily as good a deal as it might seem.  It is significantly more expensive than the Boba Air which costs just £54.50 and only a little cheaper than the KahuBaby Sunshine which costs £95 and offers a whole lot more flexibility, comfort and longevity and actually is designed to be a year round birth to toddler carrier.

So is it worth it?  Well that depends entirely on how much you are going to use it and how much you need a lightweight travel carrier.  If you live somewhere very warm, or travel A LOT (several times a year) then it may well be worth it.  Although honestly, my vote would still be with either the Kahu Baby Sunshine for the additional flexibility or the Boba Air for the fact it is really very very similar but £25 cheaper.  If, however, you live in the UK and only go away once or twice a year it really might make better sense not to buy any of these but to hire one instead.  For £10 for 2 weeks or £20 for 1 month you can hire one of these, or better still a Kahu Sunshine for the whole time you’d be away and save the environment and your bank balance the stress of actually buying something you only need for a short period of time. 

-Madeleine

How to replace a broken buckle on an Ergobaby Omni 360 carrier.

The Ergobaby Omni 360 is a fabulous carrier, it’s one of the most popular carriers in both my library collection and my retail side. But if it has one flaw it is that the side safety buckles are a little frail. I’ve never seen one fail randomly in use, but they do sometimes snap when attempting to open or close the buckle. Particularly if the alignment of the safety prong isn’t right. They are also quite suspectable to breaking if they catch on anything (car door etc).

However, the good news is that it is normally very easy to get replacements. Simply message Ergobaby and they will usually post you out a free replacement right away. Over the last 3 years I have had to replace 5 of these buckles (across 4 carriers!), and each time Ergobaby have sent me a replacement within a week. But what they’ve never sent is instructions on how to do it!

So for anyone needing to replace a buckle on their Ergobaby carrier – here is how to do it, as shown while I replace the buckle on one my library collection carriers:

So how do you do it?

Well …

  1. Email Ergobaby UK for a replacement buckle. It can help to take a photo so they know which one is broken, and it can also help to confirm which colour way so they provide the right colour buckle.
  2. Remove the old broken buckle. If you have a newer Omni you may well be able to simply unthread it. It will take a fair bit of force. However, if you have an older one the buckle will be too narrow and you won’t get it off this way. Instead Ergobaby advise you smash it off with a hammer or rolling pin. So if your struggling to get if off, instead wrap the buckle in a towel to protect you from flying debris and then hit it hard with a hammer or rolling pin and throw away the resulting pieces.
  3. Replace the new buckle. Check the other strap to ensure you are threading it correctly. I can’t stress this enough. The video above is edited in the middle because I threaded it on the wrong way first time! And then swore because I had to take it off and do it again!!
  4. It will take alot of force to pull the strap through the buckle. The new buckles are wider and designed to be able to pull onto the strap without unpicking the end, but it is a tight squeeze – so you really do have to wrench it. I find it easier to pull the elastic through first and then use the elastic as leverage to pull the rest through. It worked really well on this carrier, however, I’ve had others where it has proved almost impossible. Particularly if the stitched end is a little fatter (which is the case on some colourways! I always struggle more on my Pearl Grey carriers than I do on the blue ones!)… it might just not work. In that case you have two options. One, unpick the stitched end or, two, cut the elastic tidy loop off. If you unpick the stitched end chances are you will need to pay someone with an industrial sewing machine (like a local cobbler) to resew it. If you cut the elastic then you won’t have it to tidy the straps.

If you have any questions about replacing your own buckle please do get in contact and ask!

-Madeleine

Ergobaby Omni 360 Review

Omni means “all” or everything and the Omni 360 is the model from Ergobaby that has everything. Adjustable seat, 4 carrying positions, hood, pocket, lumbar pad, safety buckles. You name it, it has it.

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!

Key Omni 360 Facts:

  • Weight tested from 3.5 to 20 kg (7 – 44lbs), realistically fits from approximately 8 weeks to about 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 8 weeks. The reason is the panel is simply too long and the carrier is very bulky and it’s just hard to get a good fit on a very young baby. You can sometimes get it to work a little earlier using this method to adjust the panel, but in practise it just works best once baby is over 8 weeks or so. Once baby is over that age it adjusts and continues working beautifully until around 2 years of age – so this is a fantastically long lasting carrier that you should get roughly 2 years of use out of.
  • 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 a really 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).
  • 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 the Omni 360 is how easily it adjusts between the inward and outwards modes – it can be adjusted with just one hand, and how well it does both. The bucket shaped seat ensures you can get a comfortable seated position for baby in both inward and outward modes. In fact this is genuinely one of the best carriers on the market when it comes to the outward position… it really does give a fabulously comfortable deep squat position. The hip carry doesn’t work quite as well as the other three, 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 – and getting used to tightening from both ends to position the lumbar pad well – but once you get the hang of it becomes quick and easy.
  • Heavily padded shoulder straps. The straps are well padded and fairly bulky. These are the most marmite part of this carrier – many parents love the padding and find it really comfortable, while many other parents just find it too much bulk and ultimately choose something like the Beco 8 or the Beco Gemini, or even the Kahu Baby for something that feels less cumbersome.
  • 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 the video) 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, 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 safety buckle. The buckle can be undone one handed, but requires a very purposeful movement so can’t be undone by accident or absentmindely. Which is a both a pro and a con – pro because of that added layer of security, but con because it makes it more fiddly to do up and undo. And also because the safety aspect of these buckles do make them a bit frail and they are prone to breaking if you don’t line them up properly and use a little too much force. I’ve had to replace 5 in the last 4 years! Ergobaby are fab at providing spares but there is that inconvenience factor of needing to replace.
  • Fits a wide range of parent shapes and sizes. In particular it works well on average to plus sized frames. The straps all have plenty of webbing and this carrier is designed to be inclusive and fit most parent shapes and sizes. But it is pretty bulky and so often doesn’t feel right on smaller or petite frames. Often more petite parents will tell me they feel like it is wearing them rather than the other way round. Even for bigger frames, it all comes down to fit – this works for a very wide range but not everyone. Carriers are a bit like jeans – different brands fit different people and small differences in shoulder shape and how it sits on your waist can make a huge difference to comfort so aways worth trying a few different brands on and comparing. However, this is a carrier that does fit a huge range and if it does fit you well it will be supremely comfortable.
  • Pocket. The Omni comes with a detachable pocket big enough for keys, phone and maybe a small wallet too. Fab for stowing those essentials, although its worth noting it is only attached by velcro and pretty easy to remove (and accidently misplace!).
  • One final con or “thing to be aware of” is that the lumbar pad is not removable. Which does mean when you 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 the super petite do sometimes struggle to get this carrier tight enough (although this really is only an issue for absolute most slender of the population).
  • Comes in two main finishes, the standard “cotton” and the mesh as shown in the video above. There are two main differences. Firstly presence or absence of mesh on some of the panels and on the shoulder straps. Second is that the mesh has sliders to adjust between inwards and outward carrying modes, while the cotton has buttons. Both can be done one handed and/or without needing to put baby down, but the sliders are much faster and a bit less faffy. Their only con is if you are prone to fiddling, you might find yourself fiddling with them!
  • The mesh is marginally cooler. It is more breathable for baby, however, for the parent – so much of the warmth comes from the padding and the overal bulk and as this is the same on both … there isn’t a huge amount of difference. The bulkiness means that neither would be one of my top choices for the height of summer (you can see my top summer picks here).

All in all the Ergobaby Omni 360 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 £154.95 and these can be bought through the Sheen Slings webshop here. As an authorised Ergobaby stockist your new carrier will come under the Ergobaby 10 year promise, meaning your carrier is guarenteed for an incrediable 10 years! I also hire these out (and offer exclusive discounts to anyone who hires first) so you can try before you buy risk free too.

– Madeleine

Top 10 Hired Slings in 2020! And 2020 in numbers.

2020 has be one weird year. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear that I hired less slings, saw less families, ran less consults, workshops and sling clinics than in previous years. BUT, as I reflect back on the year I was still able to

All of which feel like massive wins. I am hugely grateful that despite all the restrictions I was still able to support those 116 families.

Each year I also total up which slings and carriers hired out. Here are 2020 and 2019 compared!

The order has changed a bit, but many of the same names have been popular again this year!! Perhaps most interestingly is the fact that the most popular ones hired out just as much as in the previous year. Despite the fact hires were down by just over 40%, the Ergo Omni 360 and the Beco Gemini hired out as many or more times than the did in the previous years. What really suffered were the lesser known brands. You can see the Connecta fell right off the list and the Kahu baby was much lower. In fact very many simply brilliant brands like the Sleepy Nico, Manduca XT, Didy Klick, Mamaruga Zen barely hired out at all.

The reason for this is simple. So often the lesser known brands are the ones people discover when they come along to a Sling Library session or come along to a consultation. They will try on the brands they’ve heard of and expect to like then, based on what was and wasn’t working about those I would suggest other carriers to try. So often this would then lead them to discovering something they’d have never found otherwise. Without Sling Clinic sessions … the only way to try a range and discover less well heard of slings has been a one-to-one session. The alternative has been postal or doorstep hires and quite understandably people taking this option have been more inclinded to stick with what they know best. Its not a bad thing – everyone has ended up with carriers that fit them and their families well. But I do look forward to a time when Sling Clinic sessions and workshops can come back as they really do facilitate more families experiencing more different types of slings and carriers.

Fingers crossed Sling Clinic sessions will be able to come back soon. Before Christmas and the Tier 4 annoucement I had the green light from 2 venues – Kingston Town Children’s Centre and a brand new venue in Putney! Kingston Town will still be able to go ahead even under tier 4 so is looking hopeful for late Jan onwards (although unsure if further announcements may change things over the next few weeks). The Putney venue won’t be able to go ahead under tier 4 but should be able to under tier 3 or definitely tier 2. So it’s simply a case of crossing my fingers, watching the news and hoping for the best, but hopefully Sling Clinics will be back soon.

And in the meantime online consultations, in person consultations in clients homes and contact free hires are still going ahead (full info on all my Tier 4 friendly services here).

-Madeleine

Isara Quick Full Buckle Back Carry Tutorial

The Isara Quick Full Buckle is a bit different to most other buckle carriers on the market. It’s mismatched straps are designed to snap together, rather than into the panel. That means how you do it up is a little different to the method you’d use for most other carriers.

Here is how I do a Back carry with this carrier;

If you have this carrier or are thinking about purchasing one – I hope this helps! Any questions please do comment below or get in touch! My full review of this carrier can be found here, and my method for the front carry can be found here.

-Madeleine

Kavka Baby Carrier Review

New to the UK market, the Kavka Multi-Age baby carrier hails from Poland. The first thing to say about it is just how adjustable it is. Made from super soft woven wrap fabric it micro adjusts in both height and weight to fit babies right from just a few weeks old to at least 2.5/3 years of age. It is weight tested from 3.5 kg all the way to 20 kg and in fact my 18 kg almost 4 year old fitted in it remarkably well.

It is, however, relatively bulky. The panel is wonderfully soft and light and the fabric moulds and beautifully to support babies of all different shapes and sizes without excess bulky. But it is fairly bulky for parents. It has a thick, wide firmly padded waistband teamed with soft but thickly padded shoulder straps. Padding is a bit like marmite – some parents find more padding equates to more comfort and while others find the reverse. This is a carrier that definitely works for the former rather than the latter.

The other main source of bulk, and my main bug bear with this carrier, is that when adjusted to fit a newborn all the excess fabric is pushed between the wearer and the waistband. This fabric lumps into big folds that pushes the waistband out and the result is that it is really hard to really get the waistband tight enough when the carrier is on the narrowest settings. As anyone who’ve read my fit tips blog will know, getting the waistband snug is the absolutely foundation to getting a comfortable carry. So this bulk really does interfere with parent fit and undoubtedly comfort. At least while on the newborn setting. As baby grows and you let the panel out this becomes less and less of an issue.

So paradoxically the fit and parent comfort are likely to get better as baby grows! It is however a crying shame, because this carrier is packed with amazing modifications to ensure it gets a great fit for newborns. From all the adjustability to having fastening clips on the waistband as well as on the panel … allowing you to get a perfect newborn C shape in the carrier.

You can see how all this works and what it looks like in use here in my video review;

So this is definitely a carrier I am conflicted on, the adjustability, the softness and the options for fastening are all simply wonderful. I want to like it more, but the bulk at the waistband and the firmness of the straps slightly spoils it all for me. But it is worth saying that that is in part my bias based on how well it fits my body and it will fit other bodies differently. So it is really worth trying it on and I am excited to see it on clients and get to know what body types it fits best.

Because it has so much adjustability in the shoulder straps too – offering 3 points of tightening (see the video above for how they all work) and the option to wear with straps crossed across the back or ruck-sack style. The straps are extremely long too, so has the capacity to fit a huge range of different parent sizes from XS to XXXL. The long straps can be easily tided away with little elastics at the ends.

The carrier also offers 3 carrying positions for baby; front, hip and back carry.

So all in all the Kavka baby is an extremely flexible carrier offering a lot of adjustability. It’s closest competitors on the UK market are the Isara the One carrier, the Manduca XT and the Mamaruga Zen and Zebulo carriers. If you are looking for something like one of these carriers but with more padding then the Kavka is definitely worth you trying. However, if like me you er on the side of less bulk then I’d skip this one and focus on the Manduca XT or the Zebulo instead.

The Kavka baby retails at £119 for the standard cotton model or £125 for a linen or bamboo model. They also make a Multi-Age Plus which is bigger and weight tested from 6 kg to 25 kg and retails for £125 for the standard cotton models. We have one of these in the library collection so do get in contact if you’d like to give it a go.

They can be purchased from MamaZen, and thank you to MamaZen for providing us with this one to try.

-Madeleine

Isara Quick Full Buckle Front Carry Tutorial

The Isara Quick Full Buckle is a bit different to most other buckle carriers on the market. It’s mismatched straps are designed to snap together, rather than into the panel.

That means how you do it up is a little different to the method you’d use for most other carriers. Here is how I do it;

The video shows first how I do cross straps and then how I do ruck sack straps too.

If you have this carrier or are thinking about purchasing one – I hope this helps! Any questions please do comment below or get in touch! My full review of this carrier can be found here.

-Madeleine

Isara Quick Full Buckle Review

The Quick Full Buckle is the newest carrier from Isara. Isara are a Romanian brand known for making super adjustable well designed carriers and slings from ultra soft, beautiful woven wrap material. While their other carriers are feature packed, the idea behind the Quick was to provide the user with the “ultimate simplicity“, “a few seconds is all it takes to be ready – buckled up in just 2 clicks. It’s quicker than QUICK!”

Except is isn’t.

I was so excited to try this carrier. Parents ask me all the time for something that is quick, something that is easy and I really really wanted Isara to have cracked the holy grail. And on paper it sounds great – 2 clicks, that’s it. Most carriers need 3, eliminating one buckle must make this faster? Right?

Except it doesn’t. Sadly, it just isn’t easier. Yes there are only two buckles but it means that instead of doing one side up and clicking it in and feeling secure before reaching round to fasten the other side, now you have to do both sides at once. The fastening all happens under a flap making it really hard to see what you are doing.

You can see for yourself in my video review below. I honestly only managed to make it look so smooth because I was watching myself do it on my phone screen while making the video. Without a mirror or a phone screen there probably would have been a bit more fumbling. It’s definitely something you would get used to feeling for and managing, and you would get faster at with time. It certainly isn’t “hard”, but its not simple and it’s definitely not faster compared to other carriers with 3 clicks.

There is actually A LOT to like about this carrier;

  • It is beautifully soft right from brand new. Made from lovely soft woven wrap material, it is strokably soft and will gently hug your baby
  • The padding is light yet supportive. It molds to your body beautifully, enabling it to distribute weight without the need for extra bulk or weight
  • It folds up into a relatively compact, lightweight bundle
  • Very very long webbing ensures this carrier will fit parents from XXS to XXXL and beyond.
  • Convenient zippered pouch located on the waistband is easily big enough hold essentials like phone, keys and spare change.
  • It looks very sleek and neat. Particularly if you take the time to roll up the excess webbing and use the little elastics at the end of the straps to secure, this carrier looks very tidy. The pocket completely covers the buckles meaning that it not only looks neat but also there is no chance of baby catching their foot on the buckles etc. However, it does have the flip side mentioned above that it is harder to see how to get the buckles done up!
  • Comes with a removable hood that simply poppers on and can be useful for a bit of extra head support or rain/sun protection.
  • It offers 3 carrying positions – front, hip and back carry. On the front it is possible to wear the straps cross over parents back or in rucksack style. If wearing ruck sack style it is possible to have the shoulder straps already done up at the front and then simply slip your arms in and do the “bra” strap up behind you (if you have the flexibility to do this! Sounds simple but do watch baby’s legs when slipping your arms in and gently guide them so the strap runs under the legs … because it is easy to accidentally catch a leg in a strap doing it this way!
  • The system for adjusting this carrier is very simple. Both the height and width are adjusted together at the same time by simply following the colour guidelines to stick the velcro into the right place for your baby’s height. There is a colour coded chart on the waistband its self, making it super simple to see what you need to do. I did find lining up the velcro a little fiddly, but your not doing this often so this isn’t an issue. And of course you can completely ignore the colour box guidelines to micro-adjust height and width … so if your child is longer in the body or wants the back shorter to get their arms out you can vary the height and width independently. Did take me a while to get my head round exactly how to do this you are holding the carrier upside down and inside out while doing it and spatial arts isn’t my strong suit but it is certainly possible!!

I absolutely love the fit this carrier gives for newborns in particular. This carrier is weight tested from 3kg and on the smallest setting it does synch down small enough to fit a baby who – if not new newborn – is a little as a few weeks old. In particular I love how the straps fasten into the waistband and how this allows a newborn to adopt a really beautiful natural C shape with absolutely no pressure or pull across their midback. It is really lovely.

However, the downside of fastening into the waistband comes when baby grows and starts to pack on the pounds. Most baby carriers fasten the straps into the mid-panel because as baby grows they need this mid-back support to help support their weight and prevent them sitting too deeply and feeling like they are slumping or drooping. Likewise, this extra downward pull from baby sitting too deeply will feel much heavier for the parent as baby’s weight is not being distributed as well. Fastening the straps into the mid-panel gives a much better weight distribution for the caregiver.

So while this carrier gives a wonderful position for newborns, it will get heavier quicker as baby grows. It is weight tested to 20 kg, and the panel grows easily large enough to accomodate a 18 month to 2 year old. But this strap positioning and resulting weight distribution will mean many parents will find this carrier far too heavy before that point. Not all – some parents, particularly those who find many carriers cut them under their arms or rest on breast tissue, may find they prefer the altered weight distribution. So if that is you, I do urge you to try this carrier as it may well work brilliantly for you. But many parents will find this carrier is time-limited and that by 9 months to a year they are finding it a lot heavier than it should be and choose to move onto another carrier.

When you compare the Quick to Isara’s other full buckle carrier “the One”, the Quick feels like a bit a false economy. Retailing at £117, yes it is cheaper than the One that retails at £159, but the One is far more adjustable. It offers the option to fasten to the waist band or the mid-panel and it genuinely works brilliantly from newborn all the way to preschoolers. Meaning that you will likely get 2 more years of wear out of the One compared to the Quick. Not to mention with its 3 clicks is actually arguably just as fast if not faster as the Quick once you’ve got the hang of it and got it set up for you. And when you compare the Quick to other light weight compact carriers that give a lovely snuggly fit for newborns like the Izmi Baby carrier, the Ergo Embrace, the Kahu Baby carrier and Mamaruga Zen Sling – all of which come in under the £100 mark. This carrier really doesn’t feel like the best investment.

Huge thanks to Joanna of Happy Hugs who loaned me her Isara Quick Full Buckle to test. Happy Hugs are the UK’s main Isara retailer, stocking their entire catalogue and are the best place to purchase Isara carriers. Joanna offers free try out sessions in Kingston and if you are at all interested in an Isara Quick, the Isara the One or any other Isara carrier I hugely recommend her fab service.

-Madeleine

BundleBean Babywearing Cover Review

The BundleBean babywearing cover is one of those rare products that truly are UNIVERSAL. Many things claim to work with everything else and then in reality are all a bit hit and miss. But not so for the BundleBean cover. It truly is 100% waterproof, and it truly fits every carrier and every sling I’ve ever tried with it. Which is well over 100 different brands and models at this point!

It will fit over stretchy wraps, ring sling, woven wraps, Meh Dai, buckle carriers and even over the big structured hiking style carriers. It will work on most buggies and pushchairs too.

The reason for this flexibility comes from the 4 elasticated velcro ties, which can attach to each other, themselves, to other tabs on the cover… offering you a huge number of different configurations to suit all different sling types and all different parent shapes and sizes. From the super petite to the plus sized, men and women alike. Likewise the elasticated panel and well placed poppers means that the panel will fit all the way from newborn to 4 years!! So lasting you as long as you could possibly need.

See the cover in action and hear me rave about it some more here:

It comes in 2 weights – a fleece lined all seasons version that will definitely keep baby cosy in the winter, and a lightweight rain cover that will keep baby dry without adding warmth (so great for warmer months or if you and baby are prone to overheating).

All in all the Bundlebean is a great accessory for any babywearing parent, perfect for getting out and about in the British wind/rain/drizzle!! At £29.95 for the lightweight rain cover and £39.95 for the fleece lined version these make perfect gifts for new parents too! Available from the Sheen Slings webshop here.

-Madeleine