Baby Bjorn Move Review

The Move is the newest carrier from Baby Bjorn, bringing their current offering up to 3 models – the Mini, the Move and the One. While the Mini is designed with just the newborn period in mind and the One is designed to last longer and offer more support, the Move is designed to plug the gap and come somewhere in between the other two. It is nowhere near as bulky as the One but offers more support than the Mini. It won’t last as long as the One, but it will last alot longer than the Mini. A best of both worlds, prehaps… or at least a comprimise between the two!

The Move replaces the older “Miracle” model. Which offered a very similar lumbar support and shape and sized panel, but was very stiff and warm and didn’t have an option for a wide comfortable seated position for baby. The Move certainly is vastly improved relative to the Miracle, much softer, more breathable and offering a more supportive and cuddly feel with a slightly more adjustable slightly wider seat.

See the Move in action, how to use it and hear my full thoughts on its main pros and cons in the video here or read on below.

Key Features and Thoughts on the Baby Bjorn Move

The Move is weight tested from 3.2 to 12 kg (7 to 26 lb). In practise I find while the lower end of this weight range is realistic the upper end is less so! The Move genuinely works fairly well with a brand new newborn. The Mini is a little smaller and can work better with really tiny newborns, but for most babies born at term – they will fit in the Move right from the start or within a week or two. The panel goes down short enough and can be squashed down width wise to accomodate most babies right from the beginning.

Most parents find this carrier works well upto around 6-8 months and then it becomes less comfortable for parent and babe. The reason being is that while the panel will continue to adjust in height, it doesn’t adjust further in width and so ultimately it just becomes less comfortable for baby as the weight of their legs is less comfortably carried. And less comfortable for parent as more of babies legs are sticking out and not stabilized against them and thus baby starts to feel heavier. Plus the design of the waistband and how it is stiffened is such that it rarely transfers as much weight onto the hips as other carriers with differently designed waistbands. So in general most parents will find they move on to something else long before baby reaches the 12 kg upper weight guide.

In terms of how the Move adjusts – it has a slider to allow you to incrementally increase the length of the panel as baby grows. There is a handy guide sewn in to help you work out where it should be based on your baby’s height in cm or inches. The slider is really stiff to move – you have to absolutely wrench the material through! Popping it on a table so they weight of the rest of the carrier is supported does help too, but it does need alot of force. This reason it is so stiff is to ensure it doesn’t move during use, so it is reassuringly stiff! And just as well you only need to move it occasionally as baby grows!

What does not adjust is the width. For a smaller baby, the material is very soft and does squash down. For a bigger baby you can pull it out and spread as needed. There are seat adjuster buckles that allow you to “shape” the seat to fit and these do help alot (as demonstrated in the video above). But there does come a point where you just can’t get the seat wide enough or shaped enough to support baby as their legs get longer. However, with a baby between 0 and 5-6 months you can usually get a good fit by first loosening the seat adjustment buckle, sliding your hands in to do a pelvic tilt, then pulling the fabric as wide as possible and retightening the seat adjustment buckle as much as needed to support. Beyond this point, then it is sadly time to move onto a new larger carrier or use a scarf to widen the seat as shown here.

You fit the parent first and then the baby slots in after.  This is a key halmark of all Baby Bjorn carriers – they all feature some kind of internal harness so that you can fit parent and baby seperately. So that you first fit the carrier to the parent and then fit the baby into the panel seperately. This is quite different to most other baby carrier brands where you strap the waistband on first then fit the panel and shoulder straps around both parent and baby together. The pro is that for very nervous parents it can feel a bit more secure while getting baby in and out. Some parents certainly find this method easier, while others find it more faffy. When it comes to “easy” there is always a healthy dose of personal preference mixed in, so always definitely worth trying before you buy. The con is the internal harness is that it is harder to use this carrier to breast or chest feed in, it is harder to shift the carrier to one side to access a boob and where the internal harness sits can also limit access or limit your ability to adjust layers etc. Some might manage it but in general this isn’t a carrier I would suggest for anyone looking for a carrier to support feeding.

In terms of fit for parent – this is a carrier that tends to fit some people better than others. The straps do all adjust to fit a wide range of sizes – but the stiffened material and the metal strut bits don’t really mould to fit individuals so definitely some people will find they get a lot better fit than others. It is definitely a carrier that is worth trying on and comparing with a few others before you buy… because most parents who try it find something else more comfortable. For those it fits just right it is perfect, but its not as many people as you might think. Plus while it does fit a wide range of sizes – it is not a carrier I would pick out for anyone who is at the far ends of the spectra – neither the super petite nor parents of a larger plus sized build. The straps do not go as small nor as large as some other carriers on the market.

The material is really lightweight, soft and breathable. It is in fact really soft and strokable – far softer than it looks in photos. Think high quality fitness wear – designed to be soft enough that it won’t rub or make you hot even while running a marathon! It’s definitely material I would be quite happy to have against newborn skin. The panel in particular is really soft and simply moulds to fit around baby. It is so different to older Baby Bjorn models where the panel was really thick and robust … this new air mesh material really does softly hug baby and support them in whatever shape they want to be in. This material continues round the parent harness too but the parts on parent have been stiffened for support. This is a shame as it doesn’t nesicary mould to fit you, and I’d like to see some of this stiffness removed and replaced with lightweight padding for a more adjustable tailored fit… but compared to the Miracle (which is the model the Move is effectively replacing) it is a huge step in the right direction from Baby Bjorn.

It offers 2 carrying positons – front inwards and front facing outwards. Both are shown in the video above. It doesn’t offer either a hip carry nor a back carry. You can read more about the pros and cons of carrying baby outwards facing here.

One of the things I really don’t like about this carrier is the manual. I feel like if you follow the manual to the letter, it will lead you astray. For example it states

“For secure closeness and control of your child, carying your newborn facing you high up on your chest. Once a bit bigger your child can be carried lower down to relieve pressure on your shoulders”

So I agree wholeheartedly with the first sentence – it is key to carry baby high and tight both so you can monitor their cues and keep them safe and for your own comfort (carrying high and tight protects your core and pelvic floor from strain). But the second part is simply not true. If you drop the waistband lower that your waist… it can’t transfer the weight onto your pelvis (as I discuss in detail here) and the consequence is you will feel more weight and more pull on you shoulders, not less!! You will also feel more strain in your core and pelvic floor. So please do adjust the waistband fit where ever gives you the best weight distribution, dropping it won’t save your shoulders!

Another example of the manual leading you astray is in the description of the parts of the baby carrier. It describes;

  • arm holes – but generally babies like their hands up by their face and not hanging down by their sides
  • head support and straps to tighten the head support – that puts pressure on the back of babies head. When parents come to me stating baby doesn’t like the carrier 9 times out of 10 just folding down this head support bit makes all the difference. No one likes pressure on the back of their head. It engages the flight or fight response and negates baby’s natural reflex to push their head back if they are experiencing low oxygen. Not to mention preventing them looking around and naturally strengthening their neck muscles. So please ignore this and fold it down (as shown in my video above).
  • Leg strap – for reducing the size of leg openings. The manual states these leg straps need to be used for babies between 3.2 and 4.5 kg (7-10 lb) to prevent baby falling out the side through the leg opening. But as long as the height is set to the smallest anyway the gap is so small already there is no way a baby over 3.2 kg could possibly fall out of this gap. The carrier would have to be extremely loose and low for this (or the height set for a much much taller baby), and even then I am not sure it is possible. So this leg strap is a bit redundant. It is also really fiddly to do up and parents often report worrying that it is cutting in but being concerned about safety if they don’t. I would love to see the manual explain that this is an option if you think the hole is big enough for baby to fall out of and otherwise not to worry overly about.

Does the Baby Bjorn Move offer good value for money?

Ultimately this is the key questions isn’t it – does the Move offer good value for money? At the time of writing, the Move retails at ~£120-£130, for a carrier that really only lasts around 6-8 months and only offers 2 carrying positions. When you compare it to something like the Beco Gemini, which is also light weight and mesh, offers 4 carrying positions and works from newborn through to 18 months but costs only £105. Or to the Kahu Baby – again lightweight, easy to use, offers 4 carrying positions and lasts to 2 years and cost £95. Or even the Ergo Omni 360 Cool Air, which is more bulky but again offers 4 carrying positions, works from 8 weeks and lasts to approximately 2 years and costs only a little more at £155. It doesn’t in all honesty seem to offer the best value.

If it fits you really well, and fits you better than these other brands that last longer and do more… then maybe it is worth it for you. But in reality it often doesn’t fit as well as these other brands, and if you are considering purchasing this carrier I hugely recommend you try it on and also try these others on and compare them before investing.

-Madeleine

How to use a scarf to extend the width of a Baby Bjorn or other narrow based baby carrier.

One of the downsides of a narrow based carrier such as a Baby Bjorn Mini, Original, Move, Miracle or other high street brand carriers is that baby very rapidly out grows the carrier in terms of how much support there is for their legs. As their legs get longer and they start to over spill the carrier, their legs pull downward and this is less comfortable for them because their weight rest on their inner thighs and they feel more of the weight of their legs. It is also less comfortable for you, because more weight pulling away from the carrier equals more strain on your body.

Fortunately, there is a relatively easy fix. All it takes is widening the base of the carrier to better support their legs. For this you will need a scarf. Ideally a woven scarf (i.e. not a stretchy knitted one), but it doesn’t need to be anything special. It doesn’t need to be strong enough to carry your baby – because your carrier will be doing this… simply any non stretchy material will do. Pashminas or rather market stall cheap pashmina knock offs are perfect!

Then you can use your scarf in one of two ways. The simplest is to pop your baby in as normal, and then tie the scarf around the outside of the carrier as shown here;

I love this method because not only does it support baby’s legs making the carrier more comfortable for them, it also helps redistribute more of the weight onto your waist and hips and thus really can improve your comfort a lot too.

An alternative method involves putting the scarf first inside of the carrier, as shown here:

I will confess I don’t find this method quite as comfortable as it doesn’t give the same feeling of waist support for the wearer. But it also doesn’t put a knot behind your back which is helpful if you want to sit down while wearing the carrier and also helpful if you struggle mobility-wise tying a knot behind your back.

Either method will give you a little bit more time with your carrier. It will still feel heavier than a carrier with a wider base and a proper waistband, but it will give you a bit more support and a bit more time. Often parents coming to one of my sessions who have a narrow based carrier find the scarf trick gives them another month or two before it starts to become too heavy again. But importantly this month or two gives them time to try a few different options – whether that is hiring a couple of different things or attending a session to try a few options – and ensure whatever they invest in next really works for them and last for as long as they need it too.

If you are hunting for the right next option please do get in touch and I’ll be happy to help. In the meantime I hope this trick helps!

– Madeleine

Front Double Hammock with a Long Woven Wrap Tutorial

Front Double Hammock is a fabulous carry for newborns. It is one of my personal favourite carries because;

  • It is very snuggly and supportive carry for both the parent and baby. For the baby the two “hammock” layers over baby’s back really cocoons and gently holds them in their natural posture. For the parent the spread out straps over the shoulders and across the back really help spread the weight evenly and the band around the lower back really helps transfer most of the load onto the parents waist and hips.
  • There is no fabric dividing baby’s legs, which means they can be as curled up as they like and you don’t need to try and prise their legs open or change their natural newborn shape in anyway.
  • The twists at the shoulder help get the top part of the wrap nicely snug and secure providing ideal neck support without having any material in the way of baby’s face. Which means plenty of airflow around their face and lovely clear sightlines for them too!
  • You can pre-tie it and the pop baby in and tighten around them. Likewise you can loosen to take baby back out without untying. Making this a very practical carry because you don’t have to keep retying it every time and you can pre-tie before you leave the house or before you drive your car … avoiding the need to tie near muddy puddles when you reach your destination.

Here is how to do it;

And it’s not just for newborns either. While many people will move onto the closely related Front Cross Carry as baby gets older (particularly for more wriggly babies, or those prone to straightening their legs) – you don’t have to. I still used this carry regularly with each of my children right through to toddlerhood. Particularly at times they felt tired or overwhelmed because it is such a close contact carry and so snuggly that it really would calm them down at times like this. In fact I still remember vividly that the last time I carried my eldest in this carry was when he was 3 years old and he had Chicken Pox. Those first few days he felt really poorly (and itchy) and all he wanted to do was snuggle and sleep against me. And he defininitely didn’t want to go on my back… he needed the security and the closeness of being in my front and this wrap really helped me support his weight and give me use of my arms while meeting his needs!

If you are struggling with this or any other carry please do get in touch. I can go through it with you step by step and provide real time feedback (whether online via Zoom or in person) and really help flatten the learning curve and ensure your 100% confident going forward.

-Madeleine

cheerful young woman screaming into megaphone

Sheen Sling Services under Tier 4/ Lockdown

This week brought the news that London has now moved into Tier 4/ Lockdown. How does this affect the services I can offer and how you access baby carrier help?

Online Consultations and Hires are continuing as normal and are completely unaffected.

Online consultations via Zoom or WhatsApp can be a great way of exploring your options or getting help with a sling or carrier you already own. You can read more about these here, and can set one up by simply dropping me a message through my contact page. I will be at home all through the Christmas period and into January so can accommodate pretty much any date and time needed!

Hires are completely contact-free. I can either post the sling or carrier of your choice directly to you or you can collect from my home. The carrier will be left in my front porch (space between inner and outer front doors) for you to collect at any time on the prearranged day so you can collect without coming into contact with me or any member of my family, and so you can time your collection around coinciding with shopping or exercise etc. To set up a hire simply get in touch through the contact page. If your not sure what would suit you best please feel free to ask or book an online consultation to go through your options in more detail.

All carriers and Slings are washed (by me) after each hire, so the carrier you hire will be freshly cleaned and ready to use. Then when you are ready to return you don’t need to worry about washing it as I will wash it again ready for the next family to hire.

Face to Face consultations in my home are temporarily suspended, but consultations in clients homes can go ahead for those whom face-to-face support is irreplaceable.

For some parents, online won’t be enough. Carriers are like jeans in that they need to fit your body and your baby’s body and so it is really important to try carriers on physically, compare them and ensure your confident using whatever you ultimately choose. This is particularly important for those with a history of back pain, post-cesarean section, parents of multiples, parents of babies suffering with reflux, parents of babies born early, parents or babies with additional needs and concerns and a whole host of other situations where face to face support is really needed.

For those that need it – guidelines are clear, direct face to face support can continue in clients homes. Interestingly, the guidelines state I can not continue to offer my home as a venue during Tier 4, but I can come to your home if you would like me to and you feel safe doing so. If you would like me to come but are unsure for whatever reason, do get in contact and we can risk assess this together. For my part I will;

  • arrive with freshly washed or quartineed slings and carriers for you to try and a seperate set for me to demo with so we will not be sharing. Likewise I will come with two freshly wiped demo dolls, one for me to demonstrate with and one for you to use in case you’d like to practise before trying with your own baby (or in case your own baby is not in the mood!)
  • I will wash my hands on arrival and santise as needed
  • I will wear my face mask throughout
  • I will maintain 2m distances throughout. My preferred teaching method is very hands off – where we explore each sling/carrier/technique together … mirroring each movement and each step. Which is very well suited to teaching while remaining socially distanced! On the rare occasions you might want me to adjust a strap or help, I will do so only with your expressed consent and any such close contact would last only a few seconds.
  • I maintain records for track and trace (as well as my professional insurance). You can read my privacy and data protection policy here.

So if you would like face to face help please do get in touch to set this up. You can find details on costs etc here.

The webshop will remain open!

Our webshop will remain open, and I will continue my daily morning post depo runs throughout tier 4 and beyond for all your carrier and accessory needs! We have some awesome winter accessories online at the moment including cozy woolly winter babywearing socks, fleece lined babywearing covers and snuggly baby legwarmers. I offer discounts for anyone who hires a sling or carrier first – so trying before you buy can definitely be a winner… and I offer a free 20 minute fit check consultation on ALL carrier, wrap or sling purchases so you can have complete peace of mind that there is help available if you need it to ensure you get the most from your carrier.

So if you would like babywearing help of any kind – there definitely are options! Whatever the tier, I will remain open and responsive to the current guidelines to ensure any one who needs help can access it.

-Madeleine

Isara Quick Full Buckle Front Carry Tutorial

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

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

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

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

-Madeleine

The Lowdown on Anti-Microbial Carriers

Two days before the second national Lockdown in the UK, Ergobaby announced the release of their first ever anti-microbial carrier. But what does this even mean? Should you get one? Is this something you need?

This is one of those rare moments where my past job collides with my current job. As many of you know before I had my son I was a scientist. Specifically, I have a MRes in Infection and Immunity and a PhD in Immunology. So it really is one of those moments where I am assessing this carrier not only with my Carrying Consultant hat on but also with my Immunologist hat on.

The first thing to consider is what does anti-microbial actually mean? Something that is anti-microbial is something that can kill or limit the growth of bacteria and fungi. Note kill or limit the growth of – not all anti-microbials kill bacteria and fungi, some simply stop or slow growth down. This means you can still get transmission or infection from something with this agent in it. You’re just less likely to because bacteria or yeast will grow much more slowly so there will be less present on that surface.

Anti-microbial IS NOT the same as anti-viral. Generally agents that are anti-microbial are not effective against viruses because viruses propagate in a totally different way to bacteria and fungi. Bacteria and fungi grow on surfaces, whereas viruses can not grow with out a host. For them it’s just about surviving in a transmittable form on a surface and not about growth. This is one of the reasons that, generally, surface transmission is less of an issue with viruses, few viruses truly transmit via surfaces. And the quality of the surface has a huge impact with viruses – shiny surfaces that can hold droplets are far far more effective for viral transmission than something that droplets soak into like fabrics. Fabric generally has extremely low viral transmission. Even if a virus can survive on the fabric, because of the way water soaks in and dries out on fabric, it is extremely difficult to catch a virus from touching fabric. Any fabric, not just specially designed fabrics, ANY FABRIC. Which is great news for baby carriers in general.

The second thing to consider is what the anti-microbial agent is and the mechanism by which is works. So for the Ergobaby carrier released last week, the agent is Silver ions. Silver has long been known to have anti-microbial properties. Bacteria can’t grow on its surface and its non toxic for humans (two reasons it’s popular for jewellery). Specifically it is the silver ions that are toxic for, and kill bacteria by binding to some of their essential cellular components preventing the bacteria from performing basic reactions required to live. Hence silver is used a lot in hospitals, from silver coated tubes and catheters to antibiotic creams used to treat burns. Silver ions are even added to plasters and bandages.

So potentially adding them to a baby carrier, may have certain advantages. If your carrier is prone to getting very smelly. If you use it frequently while working out with Carifit or someone, frequently spill stuff on it and don’t wash it – then silver ions may help keep bacteria from having a field day on your carrier. Although, I should say, the effectiveness will depend a lot on the concentration of the silver ions added to the carrier and on how long they remain in the carrier with washing etc. It’s worth noting that silver infused bandages are not washed and reused (but generally incinerated) so I have my reservations about the longevity of this protection. Likewise the Ergobaby anti-microbial carrier is the same price as the regular carrier, so this makes me a little suspicious about the concentration and how much silver ions have been added. There is no information about this, so it is difficult to tell how this compares with the amount added to bandages and plasters etc.

However, while this may potentially be a pro if you do find your carrier gets smelly very fast, my experience over the last 7 years working with parents tells me most parents don’t find this. In fact, I find most parents will wash a carrier long before it starts to smell. Certainly if it gets dirty or they spilt something on it. And for the parts of the carrier that get chewed on and possetted on there are simple solutions like suck pads to protect the chewed on parts of the carrier. Allowing you to regularly wash these while keeping the carrier clean and dry.

So ultimately when it comes to keeping bacteria at bay, most parents actually don’t find this a problem.

And when it comes to keeping viruses at bay – something that is on all of our minds at the moment in the middle of this global pandemic – silver ions have absolutely no effect on CoV-Sars-2 (the virus that causes Covid19) or any other virus because, as I mentioned above viruses replicate by an entirely different method to bacteria. And surface transmission plays a much smaller role compared to transmissions via droplets in the air.

So do I think you need an anti-microbial carrier? No, no I do not. For all the reasons above. Fabric is a lousy transmission surface for viruses and the chances of you or baby catching a virus off any fabric baby carrier is extremely small. You don’t need a special fabric to keep you safe.

For bacteria – if you don’t like washing your carrier ever and are prone to getting it wet, damp and filthy then maybe you would see a benefit, but if you are like most people and wash your stuff if it’s dirty then I doubt you’ll notice any difference buying an anti-microbial carrier versus buying a normal one. I would simply recommend buying a pair of suck pads instead!

My personal opinion with my both my immunology and babywearing hats on, is that this is all an example of clever marketing. Getting you to think that you need something that actually, for most people, won’t make a noticable difference. I do sell the regular material Ergo Omni 360, but I won’t be buying into this gimmick and retailing any of the silver ion ones.

If you don’t have a carrier yet and think silver ions are cool and would like to own a carrier containing silver ions, then please do be my guest and buy one. Do so with my total, unreserved blessing. However, this article is for the people who maybe already own a carrier then started reading the marketing and thought “OH NO! Did I make a mistake? Should I have bought this instead? Will my baby be safe?” Or for the people who were about to buy something else that they wanted more but the marketing made them pause and now they aren’t sure.

For all these people – you don’t need an anti-microbial carrier to keep your beautiful baby safe. Just carrying them close to your body in your carrier, or whatever carrier you choose that fits you both well, is keeping them so safe and so nurtured and so loved. And that is all that matters.

-Madeleine, MRes Infection and Immunity and PhD in Immunology

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

How to Wrap a Stretchy Wrap without Putting Baby Down First

While all stretchy wrap manuals and video tutorials always show tying the wrap first and then picking up baby, it is actually possible to tie a stretchy wrap without putting baby down first if they are already in your arms.

It is of course faster to just pop them down for a few seconds while you tie (and I am sure this is why all the manuals show this method!), but it can be really really inconvenient if say

  • Your baby has reflux and popping them down even for just a few seconds will cause a whole world of pain and discomfort for them
  • Your baby just fell asleep in your arms and you know the second you pop them down that will be game over for that nap
  • They are just really really sad and need the comfort of your arms right now

And I am sure a great many other reasons! Feeling like you might need to put baby down can be an real obstacle to using a carrier – leaving you sitting on the sofa while your baby snoozes for 90 minutes wishing you’d got the wrap on before they fell asleep so you could go to the toilet, get a cup of tea and do all those other things you quite wanted to do during this nap.

So know how to put a wrap on around a baby already in your arms is definitely a life skill! Here is how to do it;

The key is to take your time! It won’t be as fast as tying it without baby in your arms, so just relax and take the time you need to sway/bounce/rock baby as you gentle move the fabric and tighten it up around them. Then celebrate regaining your arms by making yourself a well deserved celebratory cup of tea!

-Madeleine

PS the Stretchy wrap shown in the video is the beautifully soft Izmi Baby Bamboo wrap which you can purchase through our webshop here.

Manduca XT review

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

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

Key Manduca XT facts;

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

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

-Madeleine

Rachel aged 3 in Manduca XT

How to get a great fit with your Buckle carrier

Intuitive and easy to use, buckle carriers are definitely the most popular type of baby carrier. They are fast and convenient and they can be super comfortable.

They can also be really uncomfortable. The key with any baby carrier is fit and getting that fit right. Small changes and adjustments in how you are wearing a carrier can make an absolutely huge effects on how well baby’s weight is distributed and thus how it feels to wear them. Small tweaks can take a carrier from “gives me back pain within 10 minutes” to “baby felt weightless and I comfortably wore for over an hour”.

There definitely is a knack and it can take a few goes to get the hang of optimally adjusting your carrier everytime. This is where face to face help with a consultant (online or in person one to one or at a sling library session) can really make a huge difference and take all the trial and error out of learning to get it right for you – for your individual shape, needs and circumstance. But for those who can’t make it to a library, or who have been to mine and appreciate the reminder – here are the main things to consider… the main adjustments you can make to ensure a comfortable carry.

The Waistband

Getting the waistband well positioned and snug is the FOUNDATION for getting the whole rest of the carrier set up well – ensuring baby is safe and comfortable and that your are well supported and the weight evenly distributed. And yet most manuals don’t tell you how to work out where to put it, nor give any sense of how tight it needs to be. I talk through this in depth in this video:

Where you waistband goes depends on two things – the size of your baby and your body and it how bears weight most effectively.

Size of your baby is the more obvious of the two and is easiest to see by simply holding your baby in arms. Hold them in arms at the height you’d like to carry them, at the height that ensures their head is at a level you are happy you can see them, kiss them, chat to them, monitor them etc easily. Then observe where their bum is! The waistband needs to go there. So for a newborn or very young baby you will need to wear the waistband a lot higher than you will for a 6 month old or a 1 year old etc. Likewise, when you move to back carrying, again, you may find you need to wear the waistband higher to carry baby at a height they can see over your shoulder. As they grow you maybe able to move this down again.

In terms of your body and your ability to weight bear, most people have a distinct “biting point”. A part of their body where if you put the waistband there you will get maximum transfer onto their pelvis and thus optimal weight distribution. Where exactly this biting point is, however, is very individual. And in particular it differs quite a lot between men and women. Men have a lower centre of gravity compared to women, so it’s not a surprise that they will naturally carry weight lower too. The trick is to find exactly the right place for you, whatever your gender or body shape is. Best way to do this is to take your hands and press down at different points and feel where you feel the best weight transference onto your hips (watch from 3.42 minutes for this). This is where your waist band should go for maximum comfort for you.

Once you’ve found where to put your waistband it is also key to get it tightened correctly. It needs to be parallel to the ground and it needs to be SNUG! Too tight and it will dig and be uncomfortable. But too loose and it will dig and be uncomfortable too because baby’s weight in the sling exploit the looseness and cause the waistband at the front to sink. Twisting the waistband and causing the digging (watch from 6.06 minutes above for visual of this). It will also be uncomfortable because there will be less weight transference onto the pelvis which will mean the shoulders will carry more weight and the baby will feel heavier. As a general rule of thumb, the snugger the waistband the better weight transference you’ll get.

The Shoulder Straps

Once the waistband is set, next thing to check is the shoulder straps. How they are positioned and how they are tightened.

Many carriers will allow you to wear the straps either crossed across your back or in “rucksack” configuration. It is well worth trying both and finding which one suits you best, because most people will find one of the two will suit them much better than the other (you can read more about this here).

Once you’ve found which one suits you best, then it’s all about learning how to tighten your straps effectively.

This might seem obvious but actually it’s often not. Inutitively, most parents will simply tug on the strap to tighten it, but as the two videos below show, this doesn’t lead to effective tightening. Instead the key is to;

  • support baby’s weight – so you are not fighting gravity
  • move any looseness over your shoulder and across your back to the buckles before tightening it out
  • wiggle your shoulder to release friction

As shown in the two video’s below.

How to tighten cross straps;

How to tighten rucksack straps

Hopefully these general rules will help act as reminders to anyone who is getting the hang of adjusting their carrier correctly. For more individual personalised help do reach out to your local carrying consultant (or I offer online consultations country wide as well as local face to face consultations), as there is really is a wealth of different ways carriers can be optimised and tweaked to get a really great fit.

-Madeleine

PS – Carriers shown in the videos are the Ergo Omni 360 and the Beco Gemini, both available to purchase through the Sheen Slings shop and both available to hire to try before you invest.