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

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Girasol Earthy Rainbow Review

IMG_20171003_104159_822Whenever someone is asking me about buying their first woven wrap I always say first and foremost buy something you love.  Yes things like weight and length do make difference, but you also have to love it.  If it’s a design and colour that you love then you’ll wear it loads, you’ll learn new carries as your baby grows and use it in different ways all because you love using it.

I bought this wrap because I love it.  I absolutely adore the colours!  This wrap makes me smile every time I wear it.  I reach for it on grey cloudy days because its cheers me up, I reach for it on sunny days because it looks so cheerful in the sun!  Really anyday, any weather … for me its just perfect!

20161222_132526I bought this wrap while 5 months pregnant with Rachel very much for me, but this has since become a library carrier too.  And a very popular library carrier too because;

  • The stripes make this a very easy wrap to learn with.  The stripes on Earthy Rainbow are just perfect to demo with and perfect for anyone who is new to wrapping because they make it so easy to see what is going on while your getting the hang of tightening.
  • Its really soft.  I bought this second hand and it was already soft, floppy and really well broken in.  I’ve now had it for another 2 years and its just blankety soft, absolutely perfect for putting a brand new baby in (or quite equally a growing toddler)
  • It’s very easy to look after.  It can be machine washed and tumbled dried so no need to worry about baby sick or accidently being dragged through a muddy puddle.  Likewise its a relatively tight weave so its not prone to pulls or broken threads – in fact in 2 years of use its never had a single pull which is frankly amazing in my house! All my other wraps have several. So I can feel free to throw this wrap in my change bag or in the bottom of my cargo bike without panicking about it becoming damaged.
  • It’s not too thick and not too thin. At 215 gsm this is a thin or medium-thin wrap which means it doesn’t feel too much with a brand new baby but equally is strong enough for a growing toddler.
  • Its a size 6, which is many peoples base size and thus the perfect place to start if your trying a wrap for the first time.  As this is a thin/medium-thin wrap I prefer it in a longer size as this means I can do multi-layer carries that are still very comfortable for carrying a growing toddler.  Generally speaking I prefer thicker wraps in shorter sizes and thinner wraps in longer sizes.

-Madeleine

Stretchies! Aren’t they all the same? (Updated)

I love stretchy wraps for the newborn period.  Despite owning slings of all types and styles the humble stretchy wrap is still my go to for my newborn.  But there are so many brands and at first look they all look the same – just a long piece of stretchy material!

But there are differences…  Differences in length and width, material the wrap is made from, differences in thickness and thus overall warmth – always worth considering particularly if your having a summer or winter baby or regularly visit somewhere with a particularly warm or cold climate!  But most importantly they have different levels of stretch and elasticity, which affect how easy they are to use and how supportive they are.  Those with less stretchy and/or more elastic recoil will be more supportive and less prone to sagging with time.  Some stretch in two directions – both horizontally and vertically (referred to as two way stretchies), while others stretch only in the vertical direction (one way stretchies).  In general, the two way stretchies are much easier to use than the one ways.  Pre-tying a one way stretchy can be a bit like finding the right setting on an old toaster where there is only about a mm between still bread and completely burnt… the window between to tight to get the baby in and so loose that it sags after a few minutes can seem just as small!  While this window is much wider on a two way stretchy and so much easier for a new sleep deprived parent to learn.

Here I compare 16 brands (although there are a great many more!) and you can see how they compare in each of these attributes in the table below.

Stretchy table page1Stretchy table page 2

Looking further at each of these in turn… the Boba wrap is one of the most stretchy of these wraps, and has fantastic elasticity or ping back.  Consequently, while it is not the most supportive wrap it is fantastically easy to learn how to use.  The different textured sides helps too – one side is smooth while the other is french terry which means it’s easy to see if you have twisted the wrap.  Additionally the terry gives this wrap a really soft snug feel, it feels cozy while still being pretty light and airy.  I’d happily wear it any day of the year other than maybe the absolute height of summer.  Great for tiny babies and the newborn period but wouldn’t be my first choice if I had a higher birth weight baby and/or wanted something that would last longer.

20180220_153947The Boba Bamboo wrap is very very similar to the standard (cotton) Boba in terms of how easy it is to wrap with, how crazily stretchy it is and how long it will last.  It even has the same soft snuggly french terry on one side.  The difference is purely that the Bamboo wrap contains a high percentage of Bamboo viscose (66.5%), so the resulting wrap has that softer than soft, luxurious feel that comes with Bamboo.  As well as the beautiful thermoregulating properties that Bamboo lends, meaning that this wrap will keep you warm in winter and cool in summer.  While cooler than the cotton Boba wrap it is still thicker than other bamboo wraps on the market such as the Hana or Joy and Joe.  So maybe not my top choice in summer, but the snuggly terry side would sway me for a winter baby.  Full review of this wrap here.

The ByKay was my least favourite to use.  I found it very wide.  Its the joint widest along side the Kari Me, and I found it too wide15578810_1069647676497592_69531266827945960_n.  Combined with the thickness of the material it was a bit claustrophobic … too much fabric to deal with with a newborn and I just some how couldn’t get all 71cm of it comfortable on my shoulders, nor seem to be able to keep it away from Rachel’s face.  I would usually twist or ‘flip’ the wrap at my shoulder on the side her face is angled toward but I must have slightly over tightened the wrap as I simply couldn’t do this!  That said any looser and I think she’d have started to sag.  The lack of stretchiness and one-way stretch only meant that it was very hard to get the tightening correct… I had three goes and never got it quite right.  Also its worth stating that Rachel didn’t seem to love it either, she screamed like a banshee going in each of the 3 times.  Normally, I don’t really pay attention to things like babies screaming going into wraps because like having their nappy changed they just don’t like being interfered with and will normally settle in to a carry after a moment or two.  But this was the only one that she screamed like this going into!!  Of course she could just be feeding off of my own discomfort.

IMG_20171215_093451_875In complete contrast, the Ergobaby Aura wrap is absolute joy to wrap with and one of my favourites (alongside the Hana and Lifft discussed below). The fabric is a viscose made from fibres extracted from Eucalyptus and Acacia trees and the result is a wonderfully light, thin and deceptively strong wrap.    It has 1.5 way stretch (does stretch in both directions but much more so vertically than horizontally), which means while not quite as easy to get the hang of as a true 2 way stretchy its miles easier than a 1 way and has the added bonus that comes with less stretch of being more supportive and thus lasting longer.  Other features worth a mention include contrast stitching – the top and the bottom of the wrap are hemmed in different colours which means that your learning to tie your new wrap you can tell the top from the bottom and can immediately tell if you’ve twisted the wrap.  It’s such a tiny thing, but can make a big difference to a beginner and is a really a lovely touch.  As is the storage pocket – positioned at one end, which you can simply scrunch or fold the whole wrap into to give 1 neat, very small package to slip into the change bag.  The Aura wrap is a great option for a summer baby, complete beginners and anyone expecting a bigger baby and/or wants a wrap that will last a bit longer.

IMG_20170930_220035_365Made from 100% Modal the Fornessi Carry Me is super soft, ultra thin and very light.  It’s a great summer baby option as the material actually feels cool to the touch – sounds odd but think like a swimming costume or gymnastics leotard… cool to the touch and won’t make you over warm while walking, getting on with jobs etc.   I have to say I really like this as I am very prone to overheating, especially while wearing my daughter.  It has 1.5 way stretch similar to the Ergo Aura wrap…  which means while not quite as easy to get the hang of as a true 2 way stretchy its miles easier than a 1 way and has the added bonus that comes with less stretch of being more supportive and thus lasting longer.  In fact, this is definitely a great option for anyone looking to use a stretchy wrap for longer or who is expecting a bigger baby because it is also very strong.  Modal is deceptively strong for such a thin material!  Full review of the Fornessi can be found here.

img_1850Hana Baby Organic wrap remains a strong favourite, and the most popular at the library by far for all the reasons I’ve given previously.  Its sumptuously soft and light and really very easy use with great stretch and elasticity.  It’s made from Bamboo which, as well as having anti-microbial properties, is a thermoregulating material so it feels light and cool in summer but will still keep you warm in winter. Thus making it a great all rounder, it will suit babies regardless of the season of their birth and also regardless of their birth weight.  I’ve seen this work equally well for 97 percentile babies and the tiniest of preemies.  In fact as the manufacturer’s recommended weight minimum is just 1 kg, combined with feeling so light and thin, this wrap is usually my first port of call for anyone coming for a consult with a baby born early or with IUGR.  It’s also a UK based brand – hailing from London.

The Hana does come in two different sizes – regular and shorty.  The shorty is a meter shorter – 4.5m versus 5.5 – and can be great for more petite parents who can be put off by the oodles and oodles of fabric of most stretchy wraps.  Hana baby state anyone upto a size 14 can fit the shorty size, while the regular fits all.  To put this in context, my husband is 180cm but very slender and wears the shorty size.  He can tie this at his front, and in fact if he uses the regular size he has incredibly long trailing fabric ends that are trip hazards unless he passes these round his body again.  While I am a size 16 and 170 cm and I need a regular.  I can use a shorty but I need to tie behind my back and I personally prefer to knot at the front.  Firstly because I can tie a better knot if I am looking at it (!) and secondly because then if I sit down I don’t have a knot in my back. But I have met many people who have tried both and choose the shorter and knotting behind their back because they simply prefer to have less fabric.on

20180219_175610The 3rd Bamboo wrap on my list is the Izmi Baby wrap.  Along side the Hana, Lifft and Aura wraps, the Izmi Baby wrap is another favourite. The material is super soft, has a luxurious sheen and beautiful drape.  But it doesn’t just look good – it has 2 way stretch and is very easy to tie and to use.  However, where it differs is that it much less stretchy than others, it still stretches equally in both horizontal and vertical dimensions but much less so compared to each of the other Bamboo wraps … only 1.6x in each direction verses 1.8-2x for the others.  This reduced stretch makes this wrap more supportive, but without comprising ease of use.  Just magic!  It is thicker than the Hana wrap, but it is still fairly light and the thermoregulating properties of Bamboo mean that it doesn’t feel overly warm so works well all year round.  Full review here.

20171129_172440Also made from gloriously soft bamboo is the Joy and Joe Organic Bamboo Stretchy wrap.  It is very very similar to the Hana Baby wrap above, and just like the Hana is an absolute joy to wrap with.  However, it differs from the Hana in two key ways – price and width.  It is very narrow, the narrowest of any I have tried and in my opinion simply too narrow.  I couldn’t spread this out as much as I’d have liked.  It is also £6 cheaper than the Hana so worth figuring out how much the extra width is worth to you personally!  Full review of this wrap can be found here.

I often think of the Je Porte Mon Bebe (editted to add renamed Love Radius in Jan 2019) Stretchy wrap as the Rolls Royce of stretchy wraps.  Its one of the wider and longer wraps, and weighing in at almost 900g it is certainly the heaviest and thickest!  It combines really great two way stretch with fantastic elasticity.  So while it is one of the stretchiest on this list, the ping back is so great this wrap with never sag, not even with an older child.  There is no trade off between stretchiness and support with this wrap.  In fact it is classed as a hybrid, which means it is strong enough/safe enough to be used for back carries.  Back carrying is not recommended with most stretchy wraps, as they are not supportive enough to ensure a safe back carry with an older baby, but hybrids such as the JPMBB are the exception to this rule. It is one of the more expensive stretchy wraps on the market but its longevity, support and fact it can be used on the back, hip and in a wider variety of ways than most stretchy wraps makes it well worth it.  It’s only downside is as one of the wider, longer and heavier wraps it can feel a bit inundating to beginners and/or the more petite.  I would recommend this to anyone who is unsure between a stretchy wrap and a woven, or anyone with a bigger baby, and to twin parents as its strength, stretch and overall flexibility of use make it a great choice for tandem carries… either for carrying two newborn twins together in one wrap or later in combination with another sling.

img_1894The Kari Me is one of the older more established brands and also hails from the UK – they are based in Nottingham.   Its is a great all rounder.  Like the Boba and Hana Baby wraps it has great 2 way stretch and is easy to use.  It is a little thicker than both of these but much less thick than the JPMBB.  I would happily use this with a Winter, Spring or Autumn baby.  I’d probably avoid it in the height of summer, as it is a bit thicker but perfect for the rest of the year.  In terms of supportiveness I would say it is more supportive than the Boba, Hana Baby, Joy and Joe etc but on a par with the Fornessi, Ergo Aura and the Lifft.  It is very wide, but unlike with the ByKay this didn’t bother me as much.  It does roll up quite a lot at the sides so it seems less wide than it really is.  My only downside to this wrap compared to the others is softness.  My Kari Me which has been the library a couple of years and been tried on numerous times and been out on a few hires is pretty soft, but I am always shocked when someone brings me a brand new one just how stiff and slightly rough it feels.  It makes me think of a brand new woven wrap that needs ‘breaking in’ to reach its full lovely potential… but one of the main advantages of starting with a stretchy compared to a woven wrap is that stretchies are soft from the outset and don’t need breaking in.

20170304_122240The Lifft Stretchy wrap new to market but has fast become a favourite here.  Again, like the Boba, Hana and Kari Me – the two way stretch makes it very easy to use and tie perfectly every time.  In terms of support the Lifft is more supportive than both the Hana and the Boba, so will last you longer.  While the Kari Me and the Ergo wrap both offer a similar level of support to the Lifft, the advantage of the Lifft is it is thinner. It’s not quite as soft and thin feeling as the Hana, Ergo Aura, Fornessi or the Lillebaby, but it is the thinnest of all the cotton stretchy wraps I looked at.  I’d happily use the Lifft pretty much all year round, even in the summer (unless it was really really hot and then I’d probably opt for one of the thinner bamboo/viscose/tencel type wraps).  It is unusual compared to all the others in that the ends are not tapered.  Generally, stretchy wraps have tapered ends to give less bulk and make it a bit easier when tying a knot.  That said, I still found it very easy to tie a knot and found the blunt ends gave a bit more usable length.  The length was a about perfect for me, in between the long and short Hana lengths, I can comfortably tie in front but with very little extra length left over.  I did, however, find the width almost a bit too narrow.  I like to pull the wrap right up to the back of Rachel’s neck and then stretch the bottom part over her feet and I found at 52cm, it is a stretch to do both.  It’s not a big deal, but in an ideal world I’d like an extra couple of cm.

img_1889The Lillebaby Tie the Knot is made from Tencel – which is a fabric very similar to the Modal of the Fornessi and Mezaya wraps.  While man made fabrics, both Tencel and Modal, are sustainably produced from natural material (wood pulp) via a very eco-friendly process – so it has serious green credentials.  The resulting fabric is extremely lightweight and really luxurious feeling.  It feels almost like silk; shiny, super smooth and deceptively strong and supportive.  This wrap is a great choice for anyone living in or visiting a very hot climate.  Of all the wraps compared here it is the absolute lightest and thinnest.  But it’s only a little thinner than the Ergo Aura and the Fornessi Carry Me, and I would say a little harder to get the hang of than these two.  Like Aura and the Fornessi it is also a 1.5 way stretchy, but i found it a bit stiffer in hand and much more slippery than either of these two… which made it a little harder to handle.  Interestingly, this wrap has two features that sets it apart from other stretchy wraps.  1 – It has a two part pocket at the front.  The larger part acts as a pocket to neatly store the wrap when not in use and the smaller part provides a space to place a muslin for head support.  This is a nice feature as many parents worry about head support… properly tightened a muslin shouldn’t be needed with a stretchy wrap but a rolled up muslin can bring peace of mind for any parent worrying about this.  I don’t usually need to use a muslin with most stretchy wraps, but I did find it really hard to get the top part of this wrap tight enough, despite really focusing on it!!… so of all the wraps the Lillebaby was the one I felt most needed a muslin for head support.  2 – While it is very very long (over 6m!) it has little pockets at each end, enabling the user to roll the ends up to the desired length.  This means this wrap is a good choice for families where adults of very different sizes will be sharing the same wrap.  Often more petite parents feel inundated by a wrap if its too long but don’t want to buy something their partner can’t use as well… at over 6 m even the most broad and tall of men would easily be able to tie this at the front, while a more petite parent can simply roll up the ends to have a lot less fabric to deal with.  However, the issue with this is that when rolled up and secured with the little elastics the ends do look a little bit like a pair of dangling testicles!!  Its not a good look! Plus they do seem to come undone all the time so all in all I am not to sure of these little pockets!

20171024_100944Also made predominantly from Modal, the Mezaya baby wrap is light thin, and very very stretchy.  Unlike the other wraps made from fibres extracted from wood chip (Fornessi, Ergo Aura and Lillebaby), the Mezaya has true 2 way stretch due to the addition of elastane.  The result is a wrap that is incredibly easy to tie and is extremely forgiving – there is a wide window between too loose and too tight.  In fact it is so stretchy I think it must be impossible to tie to tightly – there is absolutely no need to leave any space for the baby at all.  But the downside is that this wrap is one of the least supportive, as baby grows it rapidly becomes too bouncy with the added weight.  I would say this wrap is perfect for newborn until about 3 or 4 months but likely to be quickly become less comfortable soon after that.  Its also interesting to note, that despite being made from the same material as the Fornessi, the Mezaya feels completely different.  In fact while all the other ‘wood-chip-fibre’ wraps feel very soft and cool to the touch, the Mezaya is slightly thicker than the other three and feels more like a cotton wrap.  Full review of the Mezaya wrap can be found here.

img_1924As I’ve mentioned previously, the Moby wrap was my first ever baby carrier.  I bought it while pregnant before Tom was born.  I bought it simply as it was the one everyone recommended, and it remains the one everyone has heard of and the one people recommend.  In fact the phrases Moby wrap and stretchy wrap are often used synonymously.  It’s a bit of a mystery to me as to why, because of all of them the Moby is one of the hardest to use.  While I found the ByKay harder to use, I think that’s more to do with the fact I used this for months with Tom and I simply got used to it eventually rather than it being any easier!  So why is it one of the hardest to use – it is a one way stretch, and it’s the least stretchy of them all… which just means there is a very small window of error between having this wrap too tight and too loose.  In fact it is easier to use this wrap more like a woven wrap rather than as a stretchy wrap.

img_2813

Tom starting to slump in the Moby wrap

What it does have going for it, is that if you do get the tightening correct on it, the Moby wrap is very strong and supportive and won’t sag with a bigger child or twins … but even a little bit too loose this carrier will really sag!  I have so many photos of my husband David wearing our Moby with Tom deeply slumped inside!!  While I did eventually learn to tighten it correctly, and have successfully taught dozens of parents who’ve brought their own Moby wraps to sling library sessions… poor David never did learn to tighten it correctly!  While this time around with Rachel, he’s figured out using the Hana wrap with no fuss at all.

20180228_103319Cheaper than any other wrap on here by at least £10 is the Sling School Stretchy.  I have tried a lot of budget stretchy wraps over the years and the vast majority have left me cold.  The Sling School Stretchy is very much the exception to this.  It has been designed by sling consultants and this very much shows – it has 2 way stretchy, which makes it very easy to tie and use.  This wrap feels very very similar to the Lifft, both in terms of how the material feels to the touch and in terms of the amount of stretch.  The stretch is an perfect balance between stretchy enough that its easy to pop baby in and out of and enough recoil and strength that it will continue to support baby as they grow.  To keep the costs down the designers have made 2 compromises.  The first is that this wrap is unhemmed.  As jersey fabric doesn’t fray this doesn’t affect use or safety, but does make the wrap look a little less ‘finished’.  The second is that this wrap is narrow – its only 50 cm wide which is a bit narrow for my tastes.  Plus the unhemmed edges have a strong tenancy to curl reducing the usable width even further.  So while the material itself is more than supportive enough to support a bigger baby, the narrow width is likely to mean that babies will grow out of this wrap sooner rather than later.  However, as most parents love stretchy wraps for the 4th trimester period and then feel ready to move onto something else by 3-4 months anyway, many will happily just move on as this starts to be an issue.  Making this wrap an excellent budget friendly option.

20171109_094029The Wrapsody Hybrid stretchy wrap is like the JPMBB classed as a ‘Hybrid’.  However, this is where the similarity ends.  While the JPMBB is thick, warm and heavy, this is light and cool and feels (and looks!) a bit like a sarong.  The JPMBB is very stretchy and elastic, while the Wrapsody is barely stretchy at all and stretching only in 1 dimension rather than 2.  In fact, it’s very easy to see why this is classed as a hybrid as it feels like a halfway point between a woven wrap and a stretchy wrap.  So what does this mean?  Well it means this wrap is really really supportive, and strong.  And you can do loads with it – basically any multilayered tie you can do with a woven wrap you can do with the wrapsody – front, hip and back carries.  You can also pre-tie it like a normal stretchy too.  However, the lack of stretch does make this a bit of a challenge… just like the Moby it has a really narrow window between too tight and too loose and so it does take a good bit of getting used to and maybe isn’t the most beginner friendly.  However, the Wrapsody is a great option for anyone who is on the fence between a stretchy wrap and a woven.  Anyone who likes the idea of a woven but intimidated by the price tag,  and/or want something lighter than a woven for the height of summer or a warmer climate.

-Madeleine

Ergo Aura Wrap Review

IMG_20171215_093451_875The Ergo Aura stretchy wrap is absolutely lovely.  Made from fibres extracted from Eucalyptus and Acacia, the Aura wrap is beautifully soft and one of the lightest wraps on the market.

Despite being ever so light, thin and soft the Aura is deceptively strong!  So strong in fact, it has rapidly become one of my 1 year old daughter’s favourite places to sleep.  Generally, I only expect a stretchy wrap to work well birth through till about 3-5 months, but the Aura is strong enough to work wonderfully from birth for as long as you want to use a stretchy wrap for.

The key to this strength is in the stretch of this wrap.  I would class this as a 1.5 way stretchy – it stretches only a little along its length (1.4x) but much more so along its width (2x).  Generally I tend to prefer wraps with 2 way stretch (stretches equally along the length and width), as these tend to be a little easier for new parents to learn.  However, the downside of that increased stretch is that these wraps are not as supportive and babies tend to grow out of them faster.  Wraps with 1 way stretch (stretching only along the width) usually last a lot longer but are harder to get the hang of tying because there is a narrower window between too tight and too loose.  What I really like about the Ergo Aura is that it walks the knife edge between ease of tying and supportiveness – it has the supportiveness and longevity of a 1 way stretchy wrap combined with being nearly as easy to tie as a 2 way stretchy.  It’s not quite as forgiving as a 2 way stretchy wrap but it’s honestly still as easy as pie to get the hang of and worth the trade for the extra longevity.

IMG_20171215_095358_829Two other factors also contribute to this wrap being as easy as pie to tie.  Firstly – its width. At 54cm wide this wrap finds the perfect balance between wide enough to spread nicely over baby and your shoulders and narrow enough to make it easy to handle and deal with while tying.  Secondly, contrast stitching.  The top and the bottom of the wrap are hemmed in different colours – one light and one dark.  It’s subtle enough that you need to look for it to see it, but it means that while your learning to tie your new wrap you can tell the top from the bottom and can immediately tell if you’ve twisted the wrap.  It’s such a tiny thing, but can make a big difference to a beginner and is a really a lovely touch from Ergo.

Another nice touch is the storage pocket positioned at one end, which you can simply scrunch or fold the whole wrap into to give 1 neat, very small package to slip into the change bag.  They’ve also cleverly sewn the warning label as the backing for the same pocket – this is clever because it helps stiffen the pocket helping it keep its shape better and keeps the warning label out of the way.  Often warning labels get in the way while wrapping and form this stiffer bit right about where you want to knot the wrap – by putting it right at the end over the pocket area, this issue is avoided.

All in all the Ergo Aura wrap is just lovely.  A great option for a summer baby, or for anyone who likes the idea of a light but strong wrap.  You can see more on how it compares to other stretchy wraps here.  Currently it comes in just 3 colourways including this gorgeous goes with everything grey stripe and costs £49.90.  We got ours directly from Ergo UK.

 

-Madeleine

 

 

 

Fornessi “Carry Me” stretchy wrap Review

I have been so excited to try the “Carry Me” stretchy wrap by Fornessi because its made from 100% modal.  While I have tried a great number stretchy wraps made from cotton, bamboo viscose and even one made from Tencel, I’d never even heard of Modal until a couple of weeks ago.  So I was really intrigued to learn more about it and what its like as a stretchy wrap.

IMG_20170930_132719_607It arrived in probably the most beautiful packaging I’ve ever opened, and inside was this absolutely gorgeous pink wrap.  I am not normally a pink fan but I will make an exception here – their “Piglet Pink” is absolutely beautiful and Rachel and I have had so many positive comments while wearing it out and about.  In fact in the 3 weeks its been here several clients have picked it out and asked to hire it…!  Its been a real shame to have to say, I am really sorry that one isn’t mine to hire out.  They come in a range of ultra-chic up to the minute shades, all of which are quite different to the normal blacks, greys, and dark blues that stretchy wraps most commonly come in.

Looks aside what does is it feel like?  It is very thin and very light.  It feels super soft and smooth but pretty strong considering how thin it is.  It feels cool to the touch.  That sounds a bit weird but think like a swimming costume or gymnastics leotard … cool to touch and won’t make you over warm while walking, getting on with jobs etc.  I have to say I really like this as I am very prone to over heating, especially while wearing my daughter.

IMG_20171019_110400_802How easy is it to wrap with? Like most stretchy wraps its pretty easy once you’ve got the hang of it and done it a few times. Ease of wrapping with a stretchy wrap all comes down to the stretch.  In general wraps that stretch in 2 directions (both vertically and horizontally) are much easier to get the hang of than wraps that only stretch in 1 direction (vertically only).  The Fornessi is a 2 way stretchy, however, it stretches more vertically than it does horizontally… so more like a 1.5 way!  Consequently, its a little stiffer than brands with true (equal) 2 way stretch such as the Hana Baby, Boba or JPMBB.  This is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself but it also has very little “ping” back. A true 2 way stretchy wrap can be stretched outwards to give more space as your putting baby in and then “pings” back around baby and giving a characteristic bounce as your walk.  The Fornessi doesn’t have much elasticity, which means it is more supportive as baby grows but means the window between too tight and not tight enough is a little smaller.  And I mean only a little smaller … its still very easy to use and still a much much wider window than 1 way stretch brands (such as the Moby, Liberty, ByKay etc), and thus much much easier to use than these.  Plus the lack of ‘bounce’ compared to others is certainly something I appreciate while walking with my 9kg 10 month old! In fact considering how thin it is, I was pretty surprised by just how supportive this wrap is.  Deceptively strong!  While I would say stretchy wraps are best from birth to around 4-6 months, the Fornessi is certainly strong enough to continue used to around a year if you have a baby like Rachel who likes to take her daytime naps snuggled in!

IMG_20170930_220035_365The real selling point of this wrap, compared to others on the market is the fabric its made of.  Modal is a semi-synthetic fibre made by spinning cellulose extracted from beech trees into a fibre.  The resulting fibre is a type of rayon/viscose – an artificial silk like fibre.  Its a good choice for a stretchy wrap because like silk it is soft, thin, strong, has natural elasticity and heat regulating properties.  But better still it has serious ecological credentials… beech trees can be grown sustainably and the solvents used to extract the cellulose are used over and over and over in a closed loop system which means very little wastage and no disposal of potentially harmful solvents.  Which means this fabric has a much smaller ecological foot print compared to cotton or bamboo viscose.  Interestingly, Tencel is also produced from wood pulp via the same process, resulting in a very similar fibre that shares the same advantages.

So its not at all surprising that the wrap I’d say the Fornessi Carry Me is most similar to is one made from Tencel – the Lillebaby Tie the Knot.  When compared to cotton wraps, both are very light and thin (two of the lightest and thinnest wraps currently on the market), and very strong.  Both have this “1.5” directional stretch, but the Fornessi is more stretchy than the Lillebaby and consequently a good bit easier to tie.  And while both are soft, the Modal fabric of the Fornessi is not as slippery as the Tencel of the Lillebaby and thus is much easier to physically handle.

The one thing I don’t like about the Fornessi wrap is its width.  It is too narrow.  At 50 cm its one of the narrowest stretchy wraps I’ve ever encountered.  Added to this it rolls up at the edges which makes its functional width even narrower – you lose a cm or two at either side giving a functional width of only 46/47cm.  The advantage of a narrower wrap is there is less fabric to deal with when tying, which can make tying a little easier. But the disadvantage is there is less to spread out over baby and across the parents shoulders and backs.  I found while wearing the Fornessi, I kept unconsciously picking at the material in an absent minded attempt to spread the material out further.  Having tried wraps ranging in width from 50 to 70 cm, I find a functional width of 55-60cm to give the best of both worlds in this regard.

All in all the Fornessi Carry Wrap is a lovely thin, soft wrap that works brilliantly from newborn to 6 months and maybe even a year.  Its an great choice for anyone expecting a summer baby, anyone looking for a stretchy that may last a little longer and for the environmentally conscious.  Cost is at the higher end of the stretchy wrap market at £59, but this does include free next day delivery.  For more on how this wrap compares with other stretchy wraps see my full comparison article.

-Madeleine

Winter Babywearing! … the hows and whats of figuring out how to leave the house in the cold and the rain!

Autumn has definitely hit… so its not at all surprising that parents are starting to ask me about how to combine using their carrier with going out in increasingly cold and wet conditions!

When choosing how to dress baby the first thing to consider is that most carriers counts as 1 layer for your baby.  As a general rule the NHS and the NCT all recommend your baby wears one more layer than you – so its nice and easy to remember that when using a sling or carrier the extra layer is provided by the baby carrier itself.  I say ‘most’ carriers… if you have a particularly thick or warm carrier or are using a thick infant insert (such as the infant insert for an Ergo 360, Ergo Original or a Tula etc) then this maybe more like 2 layers.

IMG_20170910_191725_171The second thing to consider is where baby goes relative to your layers – under your coat or over your coat??  In general, unless you have a confidently walking toddler who will be alternating a lot between walking and being carried, it is better to have baby close to your skin and then put layers around you both.  By having baby close to your skin, you’ll intuitively know if the baby is too warm or too cold because you’ll feel it, and your body will subconsciously respond to raise or lower your skin temperature accordingly as well as consciously signalling you to adjust your own layers.  Amazing, huh?!!  Additionally, by having layers around you both, when you do come in out of the cold it is really very easy to remove layers from baby without waking them up.  Finally, by having baby close to your skin you are both able to more efficiently heat share, so efficiently in fact that you’ll most likely both need 1 less layer just from each others body heat!  I love babywearing in winter because its like walking around with your own personal hot water bottle tucked into your coat!

When putting layers around you and baby start with both you and baby in indoor clothing only.  They don’t need a big snowsuit or bulky jumpers and these will again make it harder for you to intuitively gauge their temperature and efficiently heat share with them.  Plus its harder to get a great position and fit in a sling while wearing bulky clothing.

IMG_20171003_104159_822Then protect their extremities – any parts not covered by the sling.  Think hat for their head and socks/tights/booties to keep feet and lower legs warm.  Slings can often cause trousers and leggings to ride up so its often worth thinking about tights under trousers, leg warmers or long socks to compensate. My personal favourite solution are JoJo Maman Bebe’s slipper socks simply because they stay up and stay on the feet while keeping them warm (and because I am a sucker for a rainbow!).  For the crafty among you – my mother in law also made us some amazing knee high sling socks using this pattern.  She also adapted it to include a drawstring to help keep them on after we lost the first pair she made!

Next add layers around both you and baby.  There are so many options for this! Ranging from free, low cost all the way to specialist coats.  Here are some ideas to add warmth;

  • Raid your wardrobe – knit cardigans, larger coats, maternity coats can all work well.  Raid your partners wardrobe too!
  • A sling cover – waterproof and with ties designed to easily attach to a carrier or sling, these are an easy way of keep baby warm while working with your existing coats etc.  There are a number of brands but we really love the Bundlebean which folds up small and costs ~£30.
  • A coat extender – simply works with your existing coat to add a panel for baby.   We have a ZipUsIn and I love the joy on peoples faces when they test it out and find this simple low cost thing fits with their current coat!  They cost ~£30 and there’s a handy guide on their website to ensure you buy the right one for your coat.  Even better these are also available in Boots so if your anything like me and have boots points you’ve forgotten about it might be an even cheaper option!  Alternatively, if you are feeling crafty you can knit your own coat extender using this pattern.  Or even simply tuck a blanket around the baby carrier and then pop your coat on as normal leaving it open.  Not as waterproof but certainly cheap and cheerful!
  • The most elegant but of course most expensive solution is to purchase a specialist babywearing coat.  When my march born son came along I decided against this, as I felt it was a vast expense for something that I wouldn’t use much.  I mean he was a summer baby and I’d only carry him for a few months right?  Hmmmmmm… turned out I was so wrong, I carried him regularly for 3 years and went through 3 winters.  In particular, I really struggled keeping him and I warm while carrying on my back and I hated carrying over coats as it was so bulky and uncomfortable and I always worried he was cold.  Just before Rachel was born my normal coat was in dire need of replacing and so I caved and bought myself once of these wonderful coats as I now knew that I would get the use from it.  The other reason they appealed is that most also can be used as normal coats too, so hopefully can still be used for many years to come.  These coats come in a wide range of styles to suit all tastes and bodyshapes.  Brands I would recommend include Mamalila, Wombat&Co (review here), Angelwings, Lenny Lamb, and Lileputi.  These are all brands that either myself or a close friend have used, loved and offer good quality and flexible use.  There are also a number of cheaper more budget brands such as the Verbaudet coat or the Bonprix maternity coat but be aware that these coats don’t offer back carrying functionality, so while cheaper than those listed above won’t last as long and may prove to be a false economy in the end.

While not all of these ideas are waterproof, those that aren’t can always be used in combination with an umbrella.  In fact, given the unpredictability of the British weather, I highly recommend always having a small compact umbrella in your change bag just in case.

-Madeleine

Lifft Stretchy Wrap Review

FB_IMG_1488654953551This is fast becoming a favourite.  Released in December last year, the Lifft Stretchy is pretty new to the market and I first tried one at the Northern Sling Exhibition earlier this year.  As I already had 7 different brands of stretchy wraps in the library, a new stretchy wrap definitely wasn’t on my shopping list for the day…  However, before the exhibition Alex from Lifft had been in contact and I’d promised I’d try it.  I was pretty certain, I’d try it, shrug and decide it wasn’t significantly different from those already in my library, make polite comments and then be off on my merry way.  Nope, wrong,… I immediately absolutely loved it and bought one for the library on the spot.

So what makes it so great and a worthy addition to the library?

  • 20170304_122240It is very easy to tie and use.  It has both lovely stretch and great elasticity so it is very easy to pop baby in and out without worrying about baby slumping over time.
  • It is thin.   Not as thin feeling as the bamboo or tencel blend stretchy wraps, but the thinnest of the cotton stretchy wraps I’ve tried.  As the standard stretchy wrap carry involves three layers over baby, its important to consider warmth and season!  The Lifft wrap is one that I feel would work well all year round even in summer (maybe not on the hottest of days, but fine for the vast majority of the british summer.
  • It is very supportive.  Support, and thus how long the stretchy wrap will last you before you start to feel like your baby is getting to heavy and/or wriggly is a tricky one!  Often more supportive wraps are the ones that are less easy to tie or they are considerably thicker and thus warmer to wear.  I love the Lifft because it bucks this tread, it is thin and easy to use and yet it is still very supportive and will last you longer than many other brands.
  • Price point.  At £35 direct from Lifft, its a fair bit cheaper than a number of comparable brands – and that’s always nice!

My one slight nit picky con with this wrap is I find it a bit narrower than I’d like in an ideal world.  That said, my husband finds narrower wraps easier as he is less likely to get tangled or twisted!!  But I like enough width to be able to pull the centre pass up to my babies neck and then down to cover their feet (as Rachel is always kicking her socks off!).  I can *just* about manage this with the Lifft, but its not as easy as compared to other wraps that are say just a couple of cm wider.  But this isn’t a deal breaker at all and I’d still reach for this with any newborn for all the reasons above.

To read more about how the Lifft wrap compares to the other 7 stretchy wraps in the library (and to see a truly giant table) please click here!

-Madeleine