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

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9 Ways to Wear a Close Caboo

The Close Caboo is an excellent and very popular newborn specialist baby carrier.  I have blogged before about its pros and cons and compared the different models available.  Here I wanted to focus on what you can do with it!  Most people only ever use the Caboo in one way.  The one and only carry that is shown in the manual that comes in the box.  This is a carry that works for most, but not all and even those it does work for sometimes another carry might be a nice option from time to time.  While the manual shows only one, there are more suggested on the box and more on their website and even more that are possible according to individual needs.

In fact I can do 9 different carries with a Close Caboo!  And I am sure this is by no means an exhaustive list but rather a comprehensive starting point for you to get creative and find options that work for you!  Let’s take a look at each in turn:

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#1 Double Cross Carry – aka the normal one, the one in the manual.  The key features of this carry are that the carrier goes on with logo upright on your back, rings and the side and baby’s legs straddle the cross at the front.  The material is then spread so it supports from knee to knee and shoulder to shoulder on both sides and the tie on 3rd layer completes the carry.

 

This position is one that works for most adults and most newborns.  It works best for babies in the ‘fourth trimester’ (newborn to 12 weeks).  Babies older than this can often grow out of this position developmentally – often finding it too enclosing when they start to become more awake and more naturally inquisitive (at this point one of the hip positions below can work better).   Smaller, more curled up babies and those who are born prematurely may prefer not straddle the cross (if they do not yet open their legs this wide) and for these babies position #2 is usually a better option.  Likewise there are other positions that change the fit for the adult below.

 

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#2 Double Hammock Carry – Very similar to the first carry, this main difference with Double Hammock is simply that baby sits on the cross rather than straddling it.  Carrier goes on exactly the same way for the parent and feels broadly the same for them, but for the baby both legs go through both straps.  The material is then spread so it supports from knee to knee and shoulder to shoulder on both sides, and twists at the shoulder helps keep the top of the carry snug and face clear of material.  Finally the tie on 3rd layer completes the carry.

 

 

This position can feel better for a very new baby.  Particularly smaller babies or those born early.  Or simply those that love to sleep really curled up.  Sometimes for these very tucked up babies it can feel wrong to try to tease them apart to get one leg either side… instead using the double hammock variation allows them to remain very tucked up and doesn’t change their position at all and doesn’t open their legs any wider than they would by themselves.  This is a position I teach regularly to parents of babies born early, or parents of babies who have low muscle tone.  Not every baby needs it, and some who are born at term just prefer it anyway.  Or at least for the first few weeks and then they might progress to using the Double Cross carry instead.  Again like the double cross carry this position works best for the 4th trimester/newborn position.

 

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#3 Seated sideways – In this position baby literally sits sideways in the sling.  The carrier goes on the same way, and distributes the weight the same way for the adult but again what has changed is how the baby sits within the carrier.  In seated sideways baby sits at a 90 degree angle to the adult within one layer of the sling with their legs together sticking out of the sling, and then the second layer comes up and over the legs to support baby’s back and to close the gap, and finally the 3rd layer completes the carry.

 

 

Because baby is not chest to chest with the parent and instead has no pressure on their chest or tummy at all this can be a great position for babies with reflux, or any baby where pressure on these areas might want to be avoided (i.e. post surgery or for any other reason).  It can also be a great position for babies who simply don’t seem to like the chest to chest position, or find the double cross or double hammock positions too confining.  Or for those babies who simply seem to just want to have a better view!  Seated sideways allows babies to see their care givers faces better and see outwards a little better – while still giving plenty of support – hence it can great option for babies who are starting to want to look out more but maybe aren’t ready for a hip position yet.

Or simply any baby who just needs a change of position (because lets face it we all like to change our position from time to time to stop us getting too stiff!).  This position is also one of the best options for a baby who is wearing a sleeping bag or sleep sac!  Generally it’s pretty difficult to put a baby in a sleeping bag in a sling but because the legs are together and stick out to one side, Seated Sideways is one of the few positions that does work well with a sleeping bag.

Seated Sideways can be used right from newborn for as long as it is still comfortable for you and baby – as long as care is taken to ensure baby is upright within the sling and that the sling is tight enough to keep them upright and to keep them from slumping.  I do like to stress that it is key to ensure baby is upright, because when upright their airway is protected by supporting their head and neck in a neutral position, while if more horizontal/cradle it is more difficult to ensure this neutral position and there is an increased risk of baby adopting a chin to chest position which can restrict airflow.  But as long as baby is seated up right and sling is well-adjusted this can be a fab position for any baby.

 

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#4 Upside Down – This position completely changes the fit for the adult. Turning the carrier upside down doesn’t alter baby’s positioning, but will feel very different for the parent.  Specifically, by putting the carrier on upside down the rings are now at the parents shoulders rather than under the arm at their sides.

 

So why might you want to wear the Caboo upside down?  A small number of parents find the rings dig into their sides.  I should stress that most parents don’t notice the feel of the rings at all but a small number of parents do.  It really depends on body shape and where those rings end up on you.  For most, the rings sit at the parent’s side over a relatively fleshy part of their torso and as such the parent doesn’t notice them at all.  But for a few parents, often those who are particularly petite the rings come more to the front of their body and maybe sit over the ribs or less fleshy part of their body and dig in.  For these parents the solution is simply to turn the Caboo upside down.  This gets the rings off the ribs and up onto their shoulders where they feel more comfortable. It is worth noting that while this position does tend to work really well for more petite frames, it doesn’t work as well on broader or longer torsos because having the rings at the shoulders constrains where the cross sits on your back.  On a more petite frame this will still be mid back whereas on a longer or stockier torso it will be higher up on your back and this maybe less comfortable.

Another advantage to wearing the Caboo upside down is it changes the direction in which the sling is tightened: loose material is moved upwards toward the rings and then pulled downwards through the ring. Compared to moving downwards and then pulling forward when wearing the Caboo the rightway up.  Many parents find moving loose material upwards more intuitive and thus find tightening easier in this position.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Caboo can be used upside down to acheive either a double cross carry (as shown in the photos) or a double hammock carry – depending on how you thread baby’s legs.  Either position for baby works equally well in combination with wearing the Caboo upside down.

 

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#5 Double Cross Carry Shifted to the Hip – as the name suggests this position is really similar to #1 Double cross carry the only difference is the fabric is simply shifted over towards the hip first and then baby placed in the fabric now off to one side near the hip.

This carry is good for fairly young babies who still need a fair amount of head and neck support but are starting to become more interested in the world and want to have a better view of what’s going on… or at least while they are awake! It can be a tricky age … where baby fusses to get a better view but they aren’t yet developmentally ready to go into a full hip carry carry or to forward face.  So this position, which still has all the same support for baby can be really useful for those couple of weeks while their neck strength plays catch up to their noseyness levels!!  It’s also a good option for adults with weaker backs because it is still is a two shouldered carry (most hip carry’s are one shouldered only) so it still spreads the weight across both shoulders and across the back evenly.  So the adult doesn’t usually feel more strain on one side than the other despite baby being on one side.

 

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#6 Hip Carry – More of a true hip carry than #5, the carrier goes on sideways across one shoulder with baby on the opposite hip.

This carry is a great option for slightly older babies who have reasonable head control and have gone through that developmental leap from a sleepy newborn into the “nosy, must see everything” baby phase!  This is often the age many parents move away from the Caboo as they start to find baby gets frustrated with too much material near their face and an obstructed view in the standard double cross carry.  The hip position usually solves all this frustration by giving baby a much better view while still feeling secure and supported.  In fact, assuming baby does have good head and upper torso control, they can even have their arms out, which again can make this carrier much more fun for them while they are awake and alert.  Generally this position works best from about 4 months (give or take) for as long as it is still comfortable for the parent.    

 

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#7 One Shouldered Front Carry – While most parents prefer a 2 shouldered carry, there are sometimes circumstances where this is non ideal – shoulder injury, weakness on one side, etc.  Or even temporary factors – maybe you slept funny last night and now have a massive crick in your neck and can’t stand having weight on that side…  or maybe you sat out in the garden and managed to sunburn on shoulder… either way you’ll be alright in a day or two but still need to use your carrier in the meantime.  In any of these circumstances it is useful to know that the Caboo can work just as well as a one shouldered carrier.

To do a one shouldered carry you simply slip one shoulder strap under your arm instead and then retighten the carrier as need.  For the baby the carry is much the same as positions #1 and #2.  And much like both of these positions, this carry works really well with newborns as it’s a really snuggly comfortable position for baby.

 

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#8 Torso Carry – Continuing on the theme from #7, it is also possible to do a “no shoulders” or Torso carry with a Caboo.  For most parents this is nowhere near as comfortable as the standard double cross or double hammock variations… BUT on just a handful of occasions I have met a parent with terrible neck pain or shoulder issues that mean any pressure at all on their shoulders is unbearable.  And on these very rare occasions a torso carry was the answer.

Additionally, without any fabric on the shoulders, the Torso carry is a lot cooler for the parent than other positions so great for those absolutely boiling days (or great if you’ve got absolutely terrible sunburn across your shoulders and/or back).  This is a position that can work well for newborns and older babies alike.  It works particularly well for babies who don’t like any fabric anywhere near their face!

 

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#9 Twin Carry – last but not at all least the Caboo can actually be used as a tandem carrier to carry newborn twins!  This carry works best for twins under about 8 weeks (give or take depending on their size), and gives them a lovely snuggly carry which helps ease their transition from the womb by providing closeness not only with their parent but also with their twin – with whom they are used to spending the last 9 months closely nestled to!

Babies are positioned similarly to how they are in carry #1 but instead of sitting astride the cross, each baby straddles one of the two straps only and then the final layer acts to close the gaps and provide overall support and stability to the carry.  You can also use the Caboo upside down to carry twins too, and some parents find this easier to tighten.

 

All in all the Caboo, like many baby carriers on the market, offers a huge range of flexibility and the possibilities go much farther than a manual ever does.  I hope this helps inspire you to have a play with your carrier and try new carrying positions and find the things that work for you.  Whether you have a Caboo or another carrier entirely, this is something a Sling Consultant can help you with – help you assess your needs and see if your carrier can meet them.  See if there is a way to use that carrier differently to get more out of it.

-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

 

 

Why I don’t recommend the Baby K’Tan

Probably seems a little harsh to say about a pretty decent, ergonomic, simple carrier aimed at newborns but I don’t generally recommend the Baby K’Tan for one simple reason – It’s sized.  It does not adjust to fit different sized parents, instead you need to buy the correct size to fit you.  There are a few problems with this:

  1. Unless you and your partner are exactly the same size it’s unlikely you can both use this carrier.  You’d have to buy two – one for you and one for them.  Likewise it might not be possible to share this carrier with anyone else who might carry your baby – grannies, granddads, aunts, nannies etc.  
  2. While this can be a great carrier if you do have the right size for you, many people find they fall between sizes.  Or outside the sizing.  K’Tan actually make a total of 6 sizes, however, at the time of writing this only 3 of these seem to be readily available in the UK.  Small, Medium and Large which apparently correspond to dress sizes 8-10, 12-14 and 16-18 respectively.  But in practise many people who follow this guide still find they end up with a carrier that is slightly too small or slightly too big and as a result can not use the carrier at all. 
  3. If your size changes significantly you may find the carrier no longer fits you.  This might sound unlikely but it’s very common to gain or lose weight quite a bit of weight in the months after birth.  Women’s bodies change loads in the postpartum period and men may find their body shape changes too with the new routine (my marathon running husband put about 8-10 kilos on in the months after the birth of each of our children until sleep and routine settled down enough for him to get back to running as much as he was pre-birth).  
  4. As baby’s size changes you might need to buy a new carrier or find that they no longer fit.  In theory, because the K’Tan is made of stretchy fabric, baby’s size shouldn’t matter.  Bigger children should simply stretch the carrier out more so that the same size carrier that fits the adult should worth whether carrying a newborn or a 1 year old.  However, in practise this is not the case at all – the material just isn’t that stretchy at all and many parents report baby no longer fitting without sizing up.

ktanUltimately, all these problems are solved by having a carrier that is adjustable rather than sized.  

I mean don’t get me wrong, if this carrier does fit you well – if you do have the right size, you don’t lose or gain lots of weight, your partner is the same size as you and your baby doesn’t grow too much (!) this is a really nice carrier.  It gives a lovely snuggly fit that’s perfect for the newborn period and it’s really simple to use.

But those are massive ifs, and the simple fact is there is another carrier on the market that does all the same things, that offers the same carrying position, offers the same ease of use, the same softness AND is adjustable.  And really that is why I don’t recommend the Baby K’Tan – why spend £50 on a Baby K’Tan when you can buy the Close Caboo and have all the pros without the massive cons for £55?

– Madeleine

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.

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!

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 comprimise 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 Sheen Slings at sling library meets, consults and workshops (or please get in touch for doorstep collection or even postage).

-Madeleine

Connecta Review

img_2034The first time I ever saw a Connecta my first thought was “I bet that’s uncomfortable”.  At that point I’d only ever tried fairly well padded carriers like Ergo’s and Manduca’s and the thought of carrying my then 9 month old something with a completely unpadded waist band and barely-there padding made me shudder.  I was, of course, totally and utterly wrong.

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Rachel 9 months

What I realise now is padding is not necessarily an indicator of comfort.  Padding can be great if it fits you well, but if the shape is wrong for your body then that padding can actually make matters worse by ‘standing off’ your body in places and thus focusing the weight onto smaller pinpoint areas.  What matters far more than padding level is how a carrier fits you.  If it fits well it will be comfortable, if it doesn’t fit well then it won’t.  Simple as that!  The genius of the Connecta is by not having bulky padding it gives a lot of people an absolutely perfect fit – because the webbing waist band and the softly padded shoulder straps are able to mould exactly to your body and give a very even weight distribution.

Connecta currently come in 3 sizes standard (birth – 2 years ish), Toddler (18 months – 3 or 4 years), and Pre-school (3 or 4 years onwards). Each with two strap options – regular and petite straps. The petite straps have simply 1.5 inches less padding to enable more petite parents to get the straps tight enough while back carrying.  This review focuses on the standard (baby) size.  For further info about the toddler size specifically see separate review.

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Rachel at 5 weeks

The Connecta is a very flexible carrier.  It’s extremely simple – just 2 layers of fabric with some straps sewn on – but this means it can be worn in different ways:  In different carrying positions and at different heights.  All of which means it can fit a wide range of parents and personal preferences.

And the lack of padding and bulk means it’s really lightweight and not at all hot to wear – great choice for summer.  Also a great choice to use around the home as its so soft and comfy and you won’t overheat indoors.  It also packs down really small!  So it’s perfect to slip in your bag or under the buggy.  Sturdy, secure and comfortable enough for a long walk, but soft enough to wear around the home.

It fits a wide range of babies – generally speaking the Connecta works really well for babies from around 1 month of age through till about 2 years!  Which is a huge range!  This is because both the height and width of the carrier can be adjusted.  The width can be adjusted with the accessory strap that comes with the carrier, and the height can be manually adjusted by altering the position of the waist band on the adult and then simply putting the baby in deeper or shallower with respect to the carrier.  The intergrated hood can also help alter the height of the carrier and help support babies head – either by fastening as a hood for an older baby or by being rolled up into a neck cushion for a younger baby.

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Tandem Carry with 2 Connecta

Another reason this carrier lasts so well is the fact it offers 3 carrying postions – front, hip and back.  Front is great while they are little, then when they enter nosy, want to see everything stage the hip comes into its own and the back carry is fab as they start to get older and heavier.

It is worth noting that when front carrying the straps cross over the parents back.  Many carriers offer both crossed and ruck sack style strap configurations but because there is no attached chest strap it is difficult to wear the Connecta in ruck sack style while front carrying.  It’s possible when back carrying as the accessory strap can be then attached at the front to act as a chest strap, but this is very difficult to achieve while front carrying because of the difficulty in attaching something behind your body.  This is not a really a criticism as I find many people find crossed straps more comfortable anyway, but it is worth being aware of as there are people who don’t find crossed straps comfortable and prefer ruck sack style.  If you fall into the latter category but like the idea of the Connecta, then take a look at the Kahu which is a broadly similar carrier but does over rucksack straps.

20171110_114320The other thing to be aware of is that the shoulder straps adjust in one direction only.  This means that while they are very easy to tighten while back carrying, when front carrying you need to work against your wrist joint to tighten.  There are ways around this (reaching across your back from behind or doing the “chicken dance”) and while most people don’t find this an issue at all, some people really do struggle to tighten and for them this is a total deal breaker.  I’d say this is the case for about 1 in 20 – so definitely worth trying and seeing if this is OK for you or not.  If it is a deal breaker, the Kahu Baby and Intergra baby carriers both have two way buckles and can be a good alternatives.

All in all the Connecta is a very flexible, lightweight, simple carrier which will suit anyone looking for something they can use for a long time with their little one in different ways as suits their life!  Cost is £80 and these can be purchased from Sheen Slings at sling library meets, consults and workshops (or please get in touch for a doorstep collection or even postage).

 

Didymos Lisca Achat Review

20161215_110028This was the second wrap I ever bought and is still one of my absolute favourites.  I adore this wrap.  It’s just perfection.  I’ve used this with both my children and its proved itself to be absolutely perfect for tiny tiny newborns and heavy older toddlers/preschoolers alike.

What sets Lisca’s apart from other wraps is their loose herringbone weave – it gives these wraps a ususually large amount of diagonal stretch.  This diagonal stretch allows the wrap to really mold around you… to move and flex with you and your baby.  This is absolutely wonderful with a newborn as it gives a similar ultra softness and snugness of a stretchy wrap combined with all the pros of a woven wrap.

 

 

IMG_9533But this diagonal stretch sometimes worries people in terms of longevity – some worry that it won’t be supportive enough for an older baby or toddler.  But I don’t find this to be the case at all.  And I guess it depends on your definition of supportive.  Some of the wraps that are described as “toddler worthy” are very rigid! They are supportive in a cast iron, never yielding, toddler prison sense!  Didymos Lisca weaves are not supportive in that way – instead they are supportive in the same way a tubular grip style bandage is … shaping its self to you, giving you optimum support where you need it while still moving with your body.  Before I bought this wrap I had often heard the term “wraps like a bandage” and didn’t really understand it, but Didymos Lisca weaves really do wrap like and offer support akin to a super soft bandage.

20180616_114236Although I do think it helps that I have this wrap in a long size.  Mine is a size 7 (which is a base +1 for me).  This wrap absolutely shines in a multilayer carry.  It’s relatively thin (215 gsm), with a fairly loose/airy weave so even in warmer weather its not too hot to wear in a multilayer carry and it’s those layers that really contribute to that feeling of support when it comes to wearing a fast asleep toddler!  And to that feeling of security with a brand new newborn!  It is worth noting that you get thick and thin Lisca’s, and while the thicker Lisca’s may well work well as a midlength or a shortie, I’d always choose a long length for a thin Lisca.

But best of all when it comes to this wrap is the fact that it comes already super soft.  Right out of the box its already outrageously soft and cuddly.  Like a favourite blanket.  No breaking in, just ready to use.  Which will always make this a favourite choice of mine for someone looking to buy a new wrap for a newborn.  It doesn’t hurt that the herringbone weave and subtle colour choices make for a timeless classic look either.

All in all Didymos Lisca Achat is a great all rounder.  It’s easy to use, soft as anything and easy to look after (its 100% cotton so washing machine and tumble dryer safe).  While Achat was a limited edition colourway, Didymos does have other colourways that are very similar and are in their standard collection (i.e. always availible), in particular Burgund, Petrol, Azzuro, Minos, Smeraldo and Obsidian are all pretty similar to Achat, and retail at approximately £100 for a size 6.

– Madeleine