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 tidy up the long flappy straps on your baby carrier

Wondering how to tidy up the long dangley straps on your baby carrier? Wishing those straps were shorter?

  1. Find that little elastic loop right at the end of the webbing
  2. Wind the strap up – folding from the end up to the length you would like the strap to be
  3. Use the elastic to fasten

Viola!

Wondering how to tidy up the long dangley straps on your baby carrier?

Find that little elastic loop at the end, wind up the strap and use the elastic to fasten

Viola

Shown with an Ergobaby Embrace but this trick works for virtually all buckle carriers – including all Ergobaby, Tula, Manduca, Beco, KahuBaby carriers and many many more. To check if your carrier can be tidied in this way simply check for the loop of elastic at the end of the strap.

-Madeleine

Knots or Buckles?

Something I hear over and over again from parents when investigating slings and carriers is that they feel safer with a buckle than tying a knot.  They are worried with a knot that they might do it wrong while a buckle just clicks in and then its safe and nothing can go wrong.

I totally understand this.  I hear this a lot and I genuinely understand this because I remember when I was starting out I felt exactly the same.

But 7 years of carrying my own children, 6 years of running a sling library and 5 years as a carrying consultant teaching and supporting over 1000 families has taught me that this one of those fallacies that gets repeated over and over again until it is so much in social consciousness that everyone just assumes its true.

So let me bust some myths;
  1. A knot can not be tied “wrong”.  If you’ve tied a double knot, it is secure.  There is no secret way special technique.  Even the sloppiest knot in the word, so long as its a double knot, can not undo spontaneously.  In fact, I actually dare you to try…. wiggle, pull on it, do your worst… it will not untie unless you actually purposefully look at it and untie it.  The only other way to get out of a double knot is to actually cut or tear the wrap.
  2. You can do a buckle up wrong.  A buckle requires you to line bits up, on some buckles its possible to get these misaligned and not immediately notice. If the buckle isn’t securely fastened it can undo.  It’s rare, and most people will notice but it can happen.
  3. The worst offenders are safety buckles.  Generally safety buckles require an extra bit to click in as well … a button and or specific prong… if the buckle is not all the way pushed in the safety bit won’t be down and actually the buckle is probably easier to now open than if it wasn’t a safety buckle at all.
  4. Buckles can break.  They are generally made from plastic and accidents involving stepping on them, slamming in car doors do happen.  This can render your carrier unusable until your are able to get a replacement buckle.  Again the safety buckles are often more sensitive to being stood on or other accidents than regular buckles. In the last 6 years I have had only 2 buckles break and both have been safety buckles.
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It is important to understand I am not saying that knots are necessarily better.  Buckle carriers can be hugely convenient.  And hugely comfortable.  And if you have tried both a buckle carrier and a tie on carrier (i.e stretchy wrap, woven, meh dai or half buckle) and you feel more comfortable and confident in the buckle carrier and it has the features you want … please please do go for it.  With my total and complete blessing.
I write this blog, really for the people with tiny newborns who want to use a stretchy, but are worried.  Are worried because they are worried they won’t do it right or because a relative has expressed doubts, because they’ve only seen buckle carriers.  So often I meet parents who have a buckle carrier for their baby but it doesn’t fit yet, and want something for the newborn period but knots scare them.  If this is you, please please do check out your local sling consultant or sling library and give it a go.  I hear over and over again, from parents once they have tried a wrap or tie on carrier “oh this isn’t difficult, oh it feels so secure” this is nothing like what I thought”.
It is always worth trying, because ultimately there is not “best” or “safest” sling… only what you personally find easy to use and are confident using.  And tying a knot and clicking a buckle in correctly both require the same amount of concentration!!!
-Madeleine.
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How to do a Hip Carry with a Buckle carrier

Many of us naturally will carry baby on our hips when carrying in arms, as doing so gives one arm free for making lunch and puts baby in a position where they can see what we are doing and and chat to us while we potter about.

Ever wondered if you can carry your baby on your hip in a buckle carrier?

Many baby carriers do offer this option (but its not always wonderfully clear or even in the manual).  Here is my method, shown with an Izmi Baby Carrier but this same method will work just as well with an Ergo Omni, Adapt orEmbrace, Connecta, Kahu Baby, Mamaruga Zen or Zebulo, Beco Gemini, Beco 8, Lillebaby, Manduca, JPMBB, Sleepy Nico and many others.

 

Developmentally, the hip position is one that works best once baby has “some” head control… so generally around 2-3 months onwards.  It is an absolutely great position for “nosy” babies who want to see everything while still getting a good view of their caregiver.  It’s a great position for communication and shared moments.  As such, hip carries can be a great alternative to forward facing, as it gives baby the same view but makes it easier for them to see you, for you to read their cues and also for them to tuck in and relax ready for a nap when needed.  It can also be less harsh on the parents back compared to forward facing.

Happy hip carrying!

-Madeleine

Carrier shown here is the Izmi Baby carrier and is available here.

 

FAQ – In search of a “easy” carrier… what are the easiest baby carriers?

Whenever I ask a parent what they want in a baby carrier, top of the list is always “something easy”.  Over the years I’ve had different ideas about what makes a carrier easy to use, or easier than other carriers.  I have come to the conclusion the biggest factor by far is not actually anything to do with the carrier or carriers in question but the parent’s personal experience and way in which their arms work.  

IMG_1080You see, over the years every time I would think oh this carrier is easier than this other, a parent would come along and find the opposite.  I had one hilarious sling library session a while back where parent A came in with a carrier that they found fiddly and difficult and so I suggested carrier B. Which they tried and adored and found soooo much easier and intuitive and then as they were trying this on and falling in love with it parent B walks in wearing carrier B, and says how difficult and fiddly they find carrier B and how its impossible and can they try something else.  You can probably guess the ending here … yep Parent B falls in love with Carrier A.  You see Carrier A just had buckles that flummoxed the first parent but made total sense to the second parent, while Carrier B had a strap the second one couldn’t reach but the first had no trouble reaching it and found this strap much more intuitively placed and much more secure.  Easiness is not a measurable parameter – it depends entirely on the individual and is not something that can be easily guessed by reading reviews. 

IMG_1116The only way to know if a carrier will be easy for you is to try it.  Don’t listen to marketing gumpf… actually try it! Check for yourself that you can reach the strap, that you can undo the buckles, that you can tighten in that direction, that the method for putting it on and taking if off actually works with how your arms like to do things … what feels right for you.

In fact, actively beware of slings that market themselves as being “easier”.  This ease often comes at a price.  For example, I have blogged before about the Baby K’Tan, which markets itself as being very easy with nothing to tie or adjust.  All of which is true but what it doesn’t tell you is that because you can’t adjust it, if it doesn’t happen by pure chance to fit your exact body shape perfectly, you’ll struggle to get a really comfortable safe carry out of it.  This is just one example (of many) of a sling where comfort has been sacrificed for ease!

IMG_1091The key I have found is to try 3, once a parent has tried 2 or 3 they can start to articulate what exactly they are finding easier about one over another then it becomes an easy task to pinpoint what is working for that individual.  This is where sling libraries and babywearing consultants come in, we have huge product knowledge and can easily spot these patterns once you’ve tried a couple of carriers on make recommendations to try based on what is suiting you personally.  We can show you different ways to put a carrier on, ones that aren’t in the manual but may well be easier for you, and we can help you gain confidence not only in using that carrier but also that your spending your money wisely on something that will actually work for you.  The easiest and best sling for you.

-Madeleine

Lillebaby Complete All Seasons Review

20170427_080049 (2)The Lillebaby Complete, as its name suggests, has and does everything!  It has a frankly staggering 6 carrying positions, works from a newborn (or maybe a month old) until at least 3, maybe even 4 years old.  Its filled with clever design features and has a emphasis on parent comfort with oodles of padding and lumbar support.

So what’s the catch?  …It is not small.  All this padding and features means this is a pretty bulky carrier.  If your after a lightweight travel sling or something that folds up pretty small to slip into your change bag or under your pushchair – this is not it.  However, if you’re looking for something you can wear a growing baby in for hours on end during long Sunday walks or on buggy free day trips this maybe just what you’re looking for.

Like ALL buckle carriers, it’s definitely worth trying this on before you buy.  All buckle carriers fit different body types better or worse.  In particular, as the Lillebaby is bulkier, it tends to work less well on a more petite frame.  More slender parents usually find the level of padding too all encompassing, and find a better fit with a less bulky carrier.  The length of padding on the shoulder straps also means that this carrier works better for taller parents, parents below around 5’4” ish or whom are very petite will often struggle to the straps tight enough when back carrying.  This is definitely a carrier that works best for more average to bigger builds.

For those it does work well for – it has some really lovely parent comfort features.  First and foremost is the lumbar support.  This was one of the first carriers to add a lumbar support panel, and I still think it’s one of the best because of how it’s shaped.  Its shaped so it sits right in a the middle of your lower back and support radiates upward.  I also love the fact its removable!! Because while its fab for front carries, when you move to back carries you might not want a lumbar support panel right in the middle of your tummy.  Secondly, the straps can be worn crossed or rucksack style across the parents back according to personal preference and comfort.  Again choice is great as often different partners have different preferences and the Lillebaby is a carrier that will often work really well for partners who have very different body shapes and difference preferences.  And the straps tighten in two directions so you can either pull forward or backward so works well with different mobility levels and relative wrist strengths!  Many carriers tighten in only 1 direction and some parents find tightening backwards a real challenge! So two way tightening can be a real boon.  Thirdly, it has a very wide firm waist band that really anchors the carrier combined with firm long padded straps.  As discussed above the amount of padding doesn’t suit everyone but for those it does fit well, the firm padding does make for a supportive comfortable carrier.

For the baby, the Lillebaby complete is weight tested from 3.2 to 20 kg (7 to 45 lb) and the manual demonstrates 6 different carrying positions.  These are;

  1. Fetal – wide seat setting.  Suitable for first few weeks only, if at all.  In this position baby goes legs inside the carrier.  You start by rolling up a blanket to make a little cushion for the baby to sit on, then sit the baby on it and bring the whole carrier up and around them.  Lillebaby suggest this for newborn – 3 months.  In reality, I don’t like this position and only very rarely show it to people.  I don’t like it because by having the legs in the carrier this can put extra stress on developing ankle joints.  Also parents are often confused by the whole blanket thing and essentially making their own infant insert out of a rolled up blanket.  Most babies can actually skip this stage and go directly to the second position.  It’s only really the very curled up babies who would benefit from this position and usually most parents with a very curled up baby find this carrier too all encompassing for their tiny baby and opt to use something like a stretchy wrap or Caboo until baby is a bit bigger and fits in one of the other positions anyway.
  2. Infant facing inward – narrow seat setting.  Suitable from a few weeks old until around 6 months.  In this position baby sits directly in the base of the carrier using the narrower seat setting.  In this setting the bottom of the panel is tapered, which allows you to fit a smaller baby by putting them in the part that is narrowest and then as they grow you sit them deeper into the panel where it is wider … so that in this way you can get a great knee-to-knee fit for babies all the way from a few weeks old upto 5 or 6 months.  Likewise you can alter the position of the neck support to ensure baby is supported upto the nape of the neck but no higher as they grow.  So in theory as soon as baby can open their legs wide enough to sit astride this narrowest part, this carrier can be used.  This varies from baby to baby but for most this is usually from a few weeks.
  3. Older baby facing inward – wide seat setting.  Suitable from 6 months onwards. This is actually the same position as number 2 in that baby sits directly in the base of the carrier with legs out either side, but differs in that now you use the wider setting.  The Lillebaby is so wide on this widest setting that babies are not usually big enough to do this until they are around 6 months old – often older.  This wider seat position will then go on supporting them until they are at least 3 years old (although many parents will prefer to use the back carry position from a year or 18 months onward for their own comfort).  Likewise the infant neck support can be used clipped up to extend the height of the carrier to continue to support a growing toddler.  Often parents are worried about knowing when to move from the narrow seat to the wider one – and it’s simply a case of being guided by your child and how long their legs are!  Once baby is long enough to sit comfortably in the wider seat without any material passing the backs of their knees they are ready for this position and will find it more comfortable verses the narrower setting as they are better supported.  While, if the material does pass the backs of their knees then they will be more comfortable in the narrower seat position.
  4. Infant facing outward – narrow seat setting.  Generally from 6 months plus.  In theory the forward facing position can be used once baby has strong neck and head control (for more facts on forward facing and how to tell if your baby is ready please click here), however they do also need to physically fit the carrier in that position.  And because the Lillebaby is a relatively big carrier, while many babies might be developmentally ready earlier… few actually fit the Lillebaby Complete in this position before 6 months.  This can sometimes be frustrating for parents who feel they’d like to forward face earlier and there are other – smaller carriers – where you can forward face earlier.  The flip side is that because this carrier is bigger it can be more comfortable in the forward facing position as baby is more contained and thus puts less strain on parents back (as the forward facing position is, for absolutely any carrier, the position that puts the most strain on parent’s backs.  The physical size of the Lillebaby carrier can help mitigate this, but the con is baby has to be bigger too which of course means more strain anyway… so it is all a bit Catch-22!).
  5. Hip Carry – either seat setting. Suitable once baby has reasonably good neck and upper torso control.  The hip position can be a lovely alternative to forward facing, as it affords the same view for baby while giving both them and you a little more support.  It’s a particularly good option for babies who’d like to forward face but are not quite big enough yet.  The one downside to this position with the Lillebaby specifically is the firmly padded shoulder straps often don’t sit as comfortably over the shoulder in this position compared to lighter weight/softer straps.  If the hip position was one you were using a lot a more softly padded strap would be more desirable, although as this is a position people tend to use more infrequently it’s not really a big critism. 
  6. Back Carry – wide seat setting. Suitable once baby can sit independently, roughly 6 months onward and can last realistically to around 3 years or even beyond.  Last but not least the back carry position is one where the Lillebaby really shines!  An adjustable chest strap and all that padding means many parents will continue to be comfortable carrying their growing toddlers on their back to at least 3 years of age!  The one thing to check is that you can get this carrier tight enough!  Because the padded shoulder straps are relatively long, more petite parents can find that they simply can’t get the carrier tight enough to be comfortable on their back.  It is really worth being aware of this and checking before you buy – parents of young babies must always think I am mad when I make them try this carrier on their back with a doll before letting them buy one but there is nothing worse than shelling out for a carrier for your 3 month old, happily use it on your front and then discover a few months later that it doesn’t fit you on your back!!

 

There are a whole host of other cool features on this carrier too, including:

  • head support panel attaches via buckles that are on elastics which allows this panel to support gently and move with baby rather than being rigidly fixed into place.
  • If your not using the head support the buckles neatly tuck away and the panel poppers into place.
  • There is very soft light padding under the side buckles to ensure that these do not dig uncomfortably into parents side or into breast tissue.
  • A breathable zip down mesh panel to give the “All Season’s” aspect of this carrier.  This panel can be neatly tucked away to help keep baby cool during the summer months then zipped back up to help keep baby snug on cooler days. It’s definitely a nice feature although, how much cooler it is I have never been too sure – I’ve always found padding level and bulk to have more of an affect on overall warmth of a carrier than the presence or absence of mesh.  

 

My one complaint about this carrier, however, is that it is not easy to switch between the narrow and wide seat positions.  If your are only using this carrier to face baby inwards this is not so much of an issue as you’ll only have to do this once when baby grows out of the narrow seat position.  But if you are using this carrier to carry your baby facing outwards – you’ll need to swap ALL the time.  Forward facing is a position best done in short bursts, and I encourage parents to follow their baby’s cues and turn them inward before they get too tired or overstimulated…. HOWEVER, because the Lillebaby requires you to take the carrier off and put the baby down and faff for 2 minutes completely reconfiguring the waist band, this is A LOT easier said than done. It’s a real shame as it’s often this that puts parents off and they choose a carrier where they can switch back and forth more easily.   

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All in all the Lillebaby Complete All Seasons is a feature packed, long lasting behemoth of a carrier – perfect for those looking to carry for long periods and use their carrier for a long time.  It’s well made and very well designed.  Like all carriers it’s well worth trying before you buy as it doesn’t fit everyone, but for those it gives a good fit to this can be a great versatile option.  The Lillebaby Complete costs around £140.

 

-Madeleine

 

 

Review of the Kaya Babywearing Baby Carrier from Nomad Children

New to the UK, KAYA are a Bulgarian based brand whose gorgeous carriers are being brought to the UK by London based Babywearing shop Nomad Children.  Their range includes woven wraps, ring slings, full buckle carriers, meh dai and stretchy wraps.

Here I review their full buckle carrier, which is made from their beautifully soft woven wrap material.  The soft material and adjustability of this carrier means that it is soft and moulds beautifully around your child to give them a great fit.

To see it in action and hear my full thoughts, please watch the video below!

 

 

Vital facts about this carrier:

  • Adjusts in both width and height to allow the carrier to a perfect fit for babies from 8/10 weeks or so all the way through to toddlerhood.
  • Waistband is wide and relatively well padded at the sides (unpadded at the centre) and is worn apron style which means it can be worn quite high and good for those with relatively shorter torsos.
  • Wide and firmly padded shoulder straps, which are designed to be worn in “ruck sack style”.  theoretically it is possible to cross the straps over parents back but in reality this is challenging.
  • Offers two carrying positions – front carry and back carry.  Back carry is relatively low compared to some other carriers.
  • Has a detachable hood which attaches via poppers.

-Madeleine

Baby Bjorn One Review

There are some carriers I have in the library because they fit a wide range of people, are very versatile and are generally brilliant.  And then there are ones that are a bit different and I have because they are good for a specific situation or a particular subset.  The Baby Bjorn One definitely fits into the latter category.  It does not fit a wide range of people, it isn’t particularly versatile but there are some for whom this is the right choice.

It’s also a carrier that is asked for A LOT!  Which is understandable, because it’s readily available in high street stores and one you often see out and about.  But it’s also one I see brought to troubleshooting sessions over and over again.  Often its possible to tweak it and get a better fit but sometimes it just doesn’t fit well and ultimately something else ends up being better.  And of those who come asking for the Bjorn One who haven’t yet bought one, the vast majority opt for something else following trying a range of different options on.

The simple fact of the matter is that the Bjorn One only fits a relatively small range of people really well.  There are two main reasons for this

  1. The torso of the carrier is very long. The Bjorn One has a fixed panel that runs between adult and baby between the waist strap and the shoulder straps.  The panel doesn’t adjust, only the shoulder straps and unfortunately this panel is very long.  Generally if you are below about 5’8” (172cm) and/or have a shorter torso this panel will be too long for you.  It’s still possible to wear the carrier – either by scrunching the panel or by dropping the waist belt to your hips rather than your waist but the result will be a less good fit and will be less comfortable for you the wearer.  If you drop the waist band this will put more pressure on your shoulders and is likely to give you back ache, while if you scrunch the panel it will be more comfortable except that you might feel the rouched panel material against your (and your baby’s) tummies.  Which is a little non-ideal.  Consequently, anyone over about 5’8” tend to find this carrier far more comfortable than anyone under this height.  In fact this carrier can be good option for the very tall – 6ft and over, because the shoulder straps can go pretty long and accommodate taller frames.
  2. The panel running between adult and baby tends to sit over breast tissue on women.  This can be very uncomfortable for new mothers, particularly those who are breastfeeding.

Consequently, it is often the case that the Bjorn One works a lot better for men than women.  This is not an absolute, there are some taller women who it does fit well and isn’t uncomfortable over boobs and conversely there are men for whom it doesn’t fit at all well… but it’s really not at all uncommon for couples to come to me for help with their Bjorn One baby carriers and for the dad to say he is pretty comfortable, while the mother is experiencing back pain and/or discomfort when her boobs are feeling full.

But for those who it does fit, the Bjorn can be a great choice.  In particular parents who love it love it because;

  • You fit the parent first and then the baby slots in after.  Compared to carriers where you do the straps up around you and baby, some parents find they feel more secure getting baby in and out.  This is particularly true of those who are very nervous about using a baby carrier.
  • The Slide and Release buckles.  While most carriers use standard buckles, the baby Bjorn have these special buckles that involve overshooting then sliding back.  They then have a seperate button that needs to be pressed while sliding the buckle the other way again.  The advantage of these buckles is that because they need very specific movements they can’t be undone by mistake or by a parent who is on “autopilot” … you have to think about it!  Again for nervous parents this adds to a feeling of security and safety.  Although its worth saying while some parents find these buckles really intuitive to use, others find the sliding past really tricky and can’t seem to ever get the hang of them!  So this is definitely a marmite feature.
  • The straps are not overly padded and not too bulky on the shoulders.  Which can be a draw for slimmer taller people who can find more bulky padding a bit too much.

20180305_174345The Baby Bjorn One offers 3 carrying positions. Baby facing parent on the front, Baby facing outwards on the front and a back carry.  Although in practise, while the 2 front carrying positions are pretty straight forward, the back carry is a bit more tricky! Because of how the straps are configured, to get baby onto your back on your own you need to first place baby on your front and then get your arms out (walk like an Egyptian method – one over, one under) swizzle baby around to your back then put your arms back in.  It’s a mega faff, and most babies complain alot during the process!  The lower waist band position of the Bjorn One also means this carry is pretty low and so its harder to monitor your little one once they are back there.  Consequently, Bjorn don’t recommend the back carry position before 12 months.  You can see the method for getting a child on your back here filmed with my very tolerant, bribed with a biscuit now 3 year old here;

In terms of size baby can be carried on the front from 3.5kg.  The one contains an built in infant insert which acts to raise the height of the baby within the carrier.  The width of the carrier also adjusts through ‘locking’ zips at the bottom.  In practise the carrier still feels a little large for the smallest newborns but works for most from around 6 weeks onwards.  Then as baby grows the infant insert can be unzipped, and the zippered base can be made incrementally wider so the carrier can grow with baby.  Generally speaking it fits baby reasonably well up till about 18 months to 2 years give or takeHowever, many parents move on from this carrier earlier than that (more like 11-15 months ish), simply because front carrying becomes heavy and many parents struggle to back carry with the One.  So instead they often move onto a bigger carrier than is easier to get baby onto the back with.

The forward facing carry can be used once baby has full neck control and is tall enough that their face fully clears the top of the carrier.  Unfortunately, a hip carry position isn’t really possible because of how the straps are configured.

Another thing to consider is the material – Bjorn has a number of finishes for this carrier but the standard one at least is pretty rigid and not entirely soft!  Many parents don’t like how “hard” it feels for a newborn.  However, this is something Bjorn have improved on and their newest models are softer and they do also offer a mesh which is softer and lighter and many parents prefer for this reason.

Finally – do consider if you think you’d like to breastfeed in a carrier.  Because the Bjorn has material running between you and baby, it is extremely hard to breastfeed in this sling without taking it off first because part of the carrier sits over the boobs.

You can see it in action and here my thoughts in my video review here

 

All in all the Baby Bjorn One can be a good option for parents with longer straighter/flatter torsos and particularly those who are more nervous about babywearing but it is very worth trying on before you buy, and comparing to a few other brands as it certainly doesn’t fit everyone.  It works well from around 6 weeks to somewhere between 1 year and 18 months, which is a smaller age range than many of its main competitors and at a cost of £139 it is maybe not quite as good value for money as other similar carriers from brands such as Ergo and Beco.

Beco 8 Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

20181010_183528All of which is good stuff!  But the downside is that with all these added bits this carrier takes up quite a lot of space when folded!  Roughly about twice the size compared to the Gemini.   It’s also correspondingly more expensive.  However, it actually isn’t that expensive when you compare it’s market equivalents – the Ergo Omni 360 and the Tula Explore.  It out lasts both of these and is £30 or so cheaper too.  

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

You can see me go through all the features and demo this carrier in full here.  The video shows the newer version Beco 8 which features softer material and much easier to use buckles!  We now have 2 Beco 8 in the library – one in this red and the other in a beautiful winter floral print – both of which are the new model with the softer fabric and easy buckles.  

All in all the Beco 8 is another great carrier from Beco.  The 8 will particularly suit bigger babies, those who are higher up on the centile charts and will benefit from a bigger carrier that will last them longer before they grow out of it.  It’s a great sunday hike, wear all day carrier as it doesn’t compromise on comfort or features!  It’s a flexible carrier offering multiple carrying positions and combines a firm supportive waistband with lighter softer shoulder padding.  The Beco 8 costs £125 and is available to purchase from our webshop here.

-Madeleine