Tutorial; How to use the Mini Monkey Mini Sling

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

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

The keys to sucess with this carrier are;

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

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

Happy Carrying!

-Madeleine

Images show Madeleine wearing the DracoMom Hatchling carrier in 3 pictures, one with a 3 month sized doll on her front, and two with a 6 week sized doll. In the centre picture Madeleine's daugher has joined her to smile at the camera.

DracoMom Hatchling Carrier Review

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

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

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

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

Key DracoMom Hatchling facts:

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

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

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

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

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

-Madeleine

Mini Monkey TWIN Mesh Carrier review

Since I originally reviewed the Mini Monkey TWIN carrier back in 2018, Mini Monkey have updated it to replace the soft denim chambray panel with an even softer, airy mesh fabric. So I thought it was high time for a fresh review!

The first thing to say is much of the carrier remains the same. In terms of how long it fits, how it can be used, who it fits etc….. is all unchanged and still covered in great depth by my orginal review (which you can find here). So I won’t repeat this in the text here, and instead I will focus on the differences and what make this newer version, quite frankly better, than the older model.

But first, for those who prefer a video review, you can see and hear my full thoughts on the Mini Monkey Twin Mesh and see it in action here;

So what has changed?

First and foremost the main change is the fabric.  I did actually really love the old denim chambray.  It was so soft – like a really soft denim shirt.  And it coordinated with everything.  But it was kind of hot.  And let’s face it – carrying twins is a hot affair. Even in the winter!  So switching this panel over to mesh is a really welcome change.  And not only is it mesh, but it is really ultra soft, ultra breathable, ultra lightweight mesh.  It is the same Mesh they use on the Mini Sling, which always absolutely flies off the shelves come summer because it is unbeatable in terms of how thin, cool and light it is. Making this a fabulous option for sprint, summer and actually all year round.  Plus this mesh fabric is extremely fast drying, which is great because slings do get dirty (sick, spit, nappy explosions) and something that can be washed and dried quickly is a big big pro!

The second main change is that Mini Monkey have redesigned the back part of the carrier.  On the older denim version the back part moved and would annoyingly sometimes get stuck in the plastic clips when attempting to loosen or tighten the carrier and as a result I have got stuck in this sling more than once!  On the newer Mesh version this has been completely redesigned.  Now the back part is sewn into place and the buckles for loosening and tightening are lower down on your back which makes them easier to reach than before.  Additionally they’ve added a sizing thing that allows you to adjust where this crossover is on your back to allow for different parent shapes and sizes.  It is definitely an improvement.  However, it is still a bit of a source of frustration because;

  1. While the buckles are much easier to loosen off than before, they are still not that easy to reach!  And it’s still a bit tricky to do!
  2. Likewise while it is much easier to tighten than before, it’s still quite stiff and really can be quite hard to firstly find the right angle to pull the strap at and actually get it to move!  This is something that you get better at over time but it is a bit of a knack and still not super easy.
  3. While it does adjust to fit different size backs – I am finding it doesn’t go small enough for very petite parents.  There are 3 settings and Mini Monkey have labelled them suggesting they fit XXS, S and M-XXL respectively.  I am size 12 and 5ft7/170cm and definitely wouldn’t describe myself as an XXS and yet I am using it on the XXS setting.  On anyone significantly smaller than me, say UK8 and below (or in mens sizes shirt collar size of 14)… I am really struggling to get the straps anywhere near tight enough.  Particularly when babies are smaller.   Consequently, I don’t think this carrier works well on more petite parents.  For everyone else, including plus sized parents, broad shouldered parents and everyone in between there is loads of adjustability – it’s just the very petite that its not work for.  

However, those niggles aside, I do think this back panel panel is vastly improved and combined with the new mesh fabric I really do think that the Mini Monkey TWIN mesh carrier is one of the best dedicated Twin carriers out there.  It is fairly intuitive to use, it folds down really very small and works really well for babies aged between 8 weeks and 8 months (ish!) – so really plugs the gap before babies are ready for the one front one back options like the TwinGo.   

The Mini Monkey Twin carrier currently costs £115 and can be purchased through Sheen Slings here.  I also have 2 available to hire and offer discounts to those who hire first to ensure you can try before you buy and be completely sure it will work for you before you invest.  Or if you’d like to talk through your options and whether this verses something else (like 2 singleton carriers or a woven wrap) might work better for your family feel free to get in touch!

-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

How do I use an Ergobaby Embrace? Video tutorials for front, hip and forward facing carries with the Embrace carrier

The Ergobaby Embrace is a beautifully designed newborn specialist carrier.  Made from super soft jersey, it combines the softness and cozy cuddles of a stretchy wrap with the ease and intuitiveness of a clip on, no tying involved buckle carrier.  Suitable right from day 1, it is an ideal choice for a new baby and is available to purchase through the Sheen Slings webshop here.

But how do you use it?

Good question! Here are my video tutorials taking you through the different ways you can use this carrier as baby grows and develops

Front Carry with a Newborn

One of the things I love about the Ergobaby Embrace is that you can use it right from the beginning. Ergo suggest from 7lb (3.2 kg) and I have seen it give a great fit to several babies who were just shy of 6lb (2.7 kg). Provided baby is happy to open their legs enough to sit straddingly the material, this carrier will give a lovely cosy, snuggly fit to even a brand new baby.

To fit a brand new baby you do need to shorten the carrier. As shown in the video, you do this by rolling the waistband toward you. Please note that the “toward you” bit is important. If you roll the wrong way it doesn’t fit as well and it does trip parents up sometimes!

Front carry with a baby 2 months plus

As baby grows, the Embrace can grow with them – once they start to become too tall for the newborn position you can stop rolling the waist band and instead simply put it on directly. Note that the jump from rolled to unrolled is quite a big one, so you might need to pay attention to how you are popping baby in and where the waistband is on you to ensure you get a good fit. As explained in depth in the video above. Once in this position – generally from around 2 months (although maybe a little earlier or later depending on your baby!) they will stay with the unrolled waist band going forward and this typically lasts well until around 9 months or so when many babies start to grow out of the Embrace (again this might be a little earlier or later depending on the baby!).

High Shoulder Carry

You won’t find this position in a manual as this is a carry I invented for a client to solve a specific issue (you can read more about how it came about here). However, it works suprisingly well and can be great for those times when baby is just really unsettled – particularly if this is a way you find yourself holding baby in arms frequently.

Hip Carry

This is another carry that isn’t in the manual, although I have no idea why not. It works really well with the soft spreadable shoulders of the Embrace and is great for those “nosy” baby’s who want to see everything but aren’t yet ready to face outwards. Or for those times where baby is too tired to face outwards and needs to sleep but is protesting about your attempts to get them to sleep! In the hip carry they can see everything just as they would facing out, but their head and neck are supported and they can turn away and filter out when they are ready to finally succumb to that nap.

Facing Outward

The final position this carrier offers is the forward facing position. I beleive Ergo included it because market research showed at least 50% of parents won’t consider a carrier that doesn’t offer a forward facing position. But it is worth noting that of all the positions shown here with the Embrace this one is the least comfortable for the wearer. Facing your baby away puts baby’s center of gravity away from you, so puts more strain on your back in any carrier. But this is exacerbated in the Embrace because the stretchy material means baby pulls further way and thus puts proprotionally more strain on your back. Plus as baby’s are often starting to grow out of this carrier by the time they are ready to forward face – I can’t help thinking offering it is a bit of a gimmick. That said however, it can be fun for a short period and parents do find it helpful to try forward facing and see how baby gets on with it. Thus once they are ready to move onto another bigger/longer lasting option they know whether it is worth investing in a more robust carrier that offers forward facing or whether they can cast a wider net and purchase something that doesn’t offer this position safe in the knowledge they wouldn’t really use it anway.

You’ll note I don’t show a back carry here. Again there is no back carry in the manual and Ergobaby don’t recommend this position for the Embrace. I don’t either. Because the Embrace doesn’t have a chest strap and because it is made from stretchy material, it simply won’t feel as secure (nor be as secure) in a back carry compared to a carrier made from a non stretchy material and that has the chest strap for added security. Plus in general, most parents find their little one has outgrown the Embrace before they are ready to start exploring back carries anyway.

I hope this helps! Remember if you are struggling at all with this carrier (or any other) please do reach out! I offer both online consultations and consultations in person… often all it takes is a few simple tweaks and a consultation can be the perfect way of troubleshooting and gaining confidence. Or if you don’t have one yet but are thinking of purchasing one you can read my full review here and purchase through the Sheen Slings webshop here. Plus I do hire these out as well – allowing you to try before you buy or even rent one for the full 4th trimester period and save yourself needing to buy one at all.

-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 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

How to do a Hip Carry with an Ergobaby Embrace

The Embrace is a lovely soft newborn suitable carrier. The manual demonstrates both a parent facing carry from newborn onward and a outward facing carry once baby is strong enough to be faced outward. But did you know you can use it in a hip carry too? The method isn’t shown in the manual but actually this carrier works really well in this position.

Here is how to do it;

The hip carry is a great option for when baby starts to enter what I call nosy phase – where they want to look round and see everything. Often babies start to want to see everything (and start to fuss when faced in toward their parents) before they are physically able to be carried forward facing in a carrier. Carrying them on the hip can be a great solution as it gives them the same view as forward facing while still offering neck support and stabilising their torso against the caregiver.

Even once baby is strong enough to be outward facing while awake, the hip carry can be really useful for times when they are getting tired and need to sleep. It can be particularly helpful at times when baby is sleep resisting!! As it will allow them to look around but as you walk they will be gently rocked to sleep. Once asleep it is easy to shift them to your front (if this is more comfortable for you) or you can keep them on your hip safe in the knowledge that they are adequately supported in this position.

As ever if you are unsure about how to do this position, if your baby is ready to forward face or anything else to do with this carrier or any other do feel free to message me and I can offer suggestions or set up an online consult to help you troubleshoot!

-Madeleine

Beco Gemini and Beco 8 compared – what are the differences?

The Gemini and the 8 are both fabulous carriers from Beco, but what are the differences and which one should you go for?

Hopefully this will help;

The main difference is one of size and complexity! The Beco Gemini is both smaller and simpler. It doesn’t have lots of features and extra bits and bobs. Consequently it is, cheaper and folds down a lot smaller. Particularly the “cool” version which is made from thinner material and folds up into a very compact bundle. Because it is so lightweight it doesn’t feel bulky to use with a small baby, and so generally even though the 8 works well with a newborn, the Gemini is still often the one the feels more natural with smaller babies. The smaller panel means they don’t look as overwhelmed, you don’t need to use an insert and it just seems to mould to smaller form better. The smaller panel does mean, however, that most children grow out of it somewhere between 18 and 24 months. At least 6 months before they’d grow out of the 8. But many parents aren’t still carrying regularly at that point anyway and those that are are often more than happy to move onto the Beco Toddler. Consequently the Beco Gemini tends to the sling of choice for the minimalists – those who want a comfortable carrier that is very simple, and folds down tiny.

The Beco 8 by contrast is bigger, the panel is bigger so it will last longer and it has more features. It has a removable infant insert that is included and does give a great fit for babies right from newborn. It has a zip down part that reveals mesh making it “all seasons” suitable. It has a hood. It has a wonderfully shaped supportive lumbar panel. And a zipped pocket for keys and a phone. The Beco 8 is a great choice for parents who want a carrier that will last and last – maybe their child is already 6 months old and they’re worried they won’t get enough use out of the Gemini or just know they want to get a carrier that will last as long as possible. It is also a fab choice for parents who want those extra features and will use them and don’t mind the extra bulk.

Either way, they are both fab carriers and work well for a range of parent shapes and sizes! You can read my full review of the Beco Gemini here and purchase it here, and you can read my full review of the Beco 8 here and purchase it here. I offer free 20 minute video fitting with any carrier purchase, so no matter what you choose I will help ensure you feel completely confident using it. Although like any carrier at all it has to fit your body, and so it’s really worth trying on before you invest. You can try either of these on at any of our sessions, or arrange a hire (I post to anywhere in the UK, or if your local you can collect from my home), and I offer discounts to those that hire before they buy so trying first won’t lose you money!

-Madeleine

How to switch between a Front carry and a Hip carry without taking your carrier off or your baby out

Hip carries can be so helpful one baby hits what I call “nosy baby phase” where they want to see everything and anything. Learning how to switch between front and hip carries can be a powerful tool in your parenting toolkit. Particularly when

  • Baby was sound asleep in the carrier on your front and has now woken up and is starting to cry because they want to see more or feel like they have more freedom. But you are out and about its its not convenient to take them out right now – instead switching to a hip carry will help you get to your destination while giving them more to see and the feeling of more freedom to stretch and kick as they wake up
  • Baby is fighting sleep and refuses to go into a front carry as they want to see everything and definitely not sleep. So you put them in a hip carry and 5 minutes later they are sound asleep on your hip. Being able to switch to the front will keep your back more comfortable for the duration of the nap

Fortunately, it’s actually really easy to switch between Front and Hip carries in a buckle carrier without taking the carrier of or the baby out. Here is how to do it

This method works for any buckle carrier that allows you to cross the straps at the back. The video shows the Beco Gemini but this method works just as well for the Ergobaby Omni, Adapt, Izmi Baby, Ergobaby Embrace, Beco 8, Lillebaby, Mamaruga, Kahu, Connecta, Manduca and a great many others besides. Provided you can cross the straps across your back you can do this.

-Madeleine