The BundleBean babywearing cover is one of those rare products that truly are UNIVERSAL. Many things claim to work with everything else and then in reality are all a bit hit and miss. But not so for the BundleBean cover. It truly is 100% waterproof, and it truly fits every carrier and every sling I’ve ever tried with it. Which is well over 100 different brands and models at this point!
It will fit over stretchy wraps, ring sling, woven wraps, Meh Dai, buckle carriers and even over the big structured hiking style carriers. It will work on most buggies and pushchairs too.
The reason for this flexibility comes from the 4 elasticated velcro ties, which can attach to each other, themselves, to other tabs on the cover… offering you a huge number of different configurations to suit all different sling types and all different parent shapes and sizes. From the super petite to the plus sized, men and women alike. Likewise the elasticated panel and well placed poppers means that the panel will fit all the way from newborn to 4 years!! So lasting you as long as you could possibly need.
See the cover in action and hear me rave about it some more here:
It comes in 2 weights – a fleece lined all seasons version that will definitely keep baby cosy in the winter, and a lightweight rain cover that will keep baby dry without adding warmth (so great for warmer months or if you and baby are prone to overheating).
All in all the Bundlebean is a great accessory for any babywearing parent, perfect for getting out and about in the British wind/rain/drizzle!! At £29.95 for the lightweight rain cover and £39.95 for the fleece lined version these make perfect gifts for new parents too! Available from the Sheen Slings webshop here.
What I love about the Melliapis Simple Sling is the material it is made from. Its a 100% cotton, super soft, lightweight muslin material. Which results in a wonderfully soft, very light weight compact sling that is perfect against newborn skin.
But what is really magic about this material is that it is deceptively strong. Made by weaving 2 layers of material together to give a subtle waffley texture, this material is a lot stronger than you’d think from first glance. So while it is soft and light enough for the tiniest newborn, it is also more than capable of carrying older babies and even toddlers as well.
This is definitely one of my top choices for summer, as the material is so thin it really won’t make you or baby hot. And not just summer, but wearing around the home or and out and about too. Even in the winter this is a great option for travelling or generally for anyone who wants an option that packs down small enough to fit into the change bag and can be put on quickly when needed.
For me this is the unique selling point of this sling – just how lightweight it is. The real beauty of ring slings is how quick they are to put on and how well they work as a “just in case” sling. So it’s always irked me that so many ring slings on the market are made of quite heavy, hot material! I’ve spent the last 5 years trying various ones that market themselves as “lightweight” – from other thin cotton ones that made from 2 seperate layers and are difficult to use as the 2 layers get into a mess while you try to tighten the sling, to linen ones that are often diggy and rough feeling, to silk ones that again feel difficult to tighten and many more besides – and invariably I have been left disappointed. However, the Melliapis Ring Sling is totally different to these. The double weave means the layers move together and not separately. And the material is super soft and really malleable. All of which means this ring sling tightens with the greatest of ease. It is soft, light, cool AND easy to use! Finally the holy grail of my ring sling search!!
You can see just how easy it is to use in my video review here;
Another thing I love about this Sling is that it comes with Eco-friendly packaging. Not a plastic sleeve or plasticated cardboard box in sight! And the Eco packaging is matched by a truly budget friendly price! At just £40-£42 this is easily one of the cheapest slings I sell, and in terms of how long you can use it – right from newborn (even preemie) all the way through to toddler hood it definitely offers really good value for money. While really powerful for hip carries, this sling like all ring slings can be used for front and back carries too and can be awesome for breastfeeding on the go, quick pops out and sleepy transfers!
Shoulder wise, the Melliapis Simple ring Sling features a simple gathered shoulder. This means that the rings are sewn in by simply “gathering” the fabric width into the rings. This allows the fabric to fan out the maximum amount over the shoulder immediately after the rings. Why is this important? Well there are various methods for sewing rings into a piece of fabric – involving gathering, pleating or combinations of the two. And each different method yields a different shoulder style, and in turn different shoulder styles suit different shaped shoulders and personal preferences. The pro of a gathered shoulder is that it can really be spread out to cup the shoulder to the max, while the con is some people really don’t like the fabric spreading out that much. Particularly with thicker wraps this can feel untidy or even bulky. But again this is where this fabric comes into its own, it is so thin it doesn’t feel obtrusive spread out and if you prefer a neater shoulder the fabric is thin enough you can easily fold it upwards on your shoulder to get a neater feel.
The one thing to be aware of with this sling is that from end to end it is only 1.87m long. This is a little on the short side for a ring sling (most are 2m or 2.2m in length). The advantage of the shorter length is less fabric left dangling and less fabric to roll up so packs down smaller etc. The downside is if you are plus sized this the fabric might be on the short side – leaving you with only a relatively short tail to tighten with. This sling does fit well upto at least a size 20 or 22, but I haven’t tried it over this. So if you are a larger size or would like a longer length sling for another reason I’d definitely try this sling before you buy and check it is long enough for you.
All in all the Melliapis Simple Ring Sling is a very versatile, very lightweight sling with a tiny price tag. It’s a great option for newborns and anyone looking for a quick, easy, packs down small option for any age baby or even toddler. Thin enough to keep you cool in summer, but snuggly enough you’ll happily wear it all year round. Cost is £40-£42 and these can be purchased from Sheen Slings directly at sling library meets, consults, workshops, doorstep collection or post directly to you (just get in touch to arrange!).
Suptumitously soft and super adjustable – the Mamaruga Zen Sling is a real gem of a baby carrier. It combines the feel of a wrap with the intuitive practicality of a buckle carrier. Whilst also being one of the very few carriers that genuinely works beautifully well for tiny babies and then seamless grows with your child to continue giving them a great fit all the way into toddlerhood.
See how it works and hear my full thoughts here on my video review… or read on for more
Key Zen Sling Facts:
It’s massively adjustable! Both the width and height of the panel can be adjusted allowing this carrier to shrink all the way down to accomodate a newborn and then seamlessly grow and grow and grow all the way to still give a perfect fit to a 2 year old, possibly even older. Better still the height actually adjusts in two ways – with the overall panel height adjusting separately to the leg openings. Most adjustable carriers only allow you to alter one of these – which means often either shorter babies with chubby legs or tall and slender babies aren’t as well fitted… but by offering both the Zen Sling offers all babies a completely customisable fit! And one that’s really easy to adjust as baby grows.
This carrier is weight tested for use between 3kg (6.6lb) and 20kg (44lb). Realistically this is one that will work for most babies from within a couple of weeks after birth through to 2 ish… For reference my daughter was 13 kg at 2, 15 kg at almost 3 and my son didn’t hit 20kg until he was 5… but it’s always reassuring to know that the fabric has been weight tested beyond what you will need!
It is made from dreamily soft Jersey knit fabric. Feels a bit like a favourite pair of jogging bottoms. The kind you secretly want to wear all the time! Except that the Zen Sling comes in all kinds of lovely patterns and looks really stylish and not at all slouchy and slobby!
The fabric is slightly stretchy, this is wonderful with babies as doesn’t feel rough or restrictive on them, allows them to wiggle while still holding them securely. Consequently sometimes parents don’t like this as much with bigger toddlers as the stretchy material does feel like it has more give than a woven cotton. The closely related Zebulo is a great alternative if baby is a bit older and you want something light but more toddler proof!
The Zen Sling offers 3 carrying positions – front carry (facing parent), hip and back carry. It doesn’t offer a facing outward carry but it does do the hip carry really really well so often parents find this is an ideal alternative and do not miss facing outwards.
The shoulder straps are designed to fan outward across your shoulder if you find this comfortable, and are designed to cross across your back when wearing baby on your front. When wearing baby on your back there is a chest strap that comes separately that can be threaded through the straps if desired. This carrier doesn’t offer “ruck sack or H shaped straps when wearing baby on the front, as it is very difficult to attach this seperate strap to your own back! So this is definitely a carrier for those who prefer to wear their straps crossed rather than those that prefer the H shape.
My one gripe with this carrier is the waist band. It is also made from soft jersey and I find as baby grows this has a tendency to fold/scrunch under baby rather than lie flush and this can be a little diggy over time. It’s a small gripe, against an otherwise amazing carrier but it’s the one thing I personally would change!!
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;
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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).
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.
Ultimately, 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.
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.
It 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.
How 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!
The 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.
First sign of Autumn always brings a flurry of questions about keeping warm while babywearing and so I was so excited when Wombat&co kindly offered to let me try out the new version of their Wallaby coat. Even more excited when the box arrived on my birthday!
The first thing that stood out as I unpacked the coat – was just how soft the faux fur lining is. It is lush. Over the two weeks I had the coat, literally everyone I encountered ended up stroking it and commenting on just how soft and luxurious it is. Really snuggly to have around you and baby. And the outer doesn’t disappoint either. Waterproof, sleek and everything you’d expect of a good quality well made coat.
The second thing that stood out, was just how warm it is. This coat is WARM! Super snuggly and extra warm. In all honesty, it is too warm for London in September. I did get out a few times with it but particularly while wearing my daughter I was roasting. However, this isn’t a criticism at all because it is still pretty darn mild in London this year… so I took the Wallaby up to Derby with us for the weekend. Here, several degrees cooler… the Wallaby was perfect – kept me nice a cosy while standing around waiting for fireworks on a brisk hillside! So I’d say this coat is a great choice for the coldest months, or for late Autumn to early Spring if you live somewhere a bit cooler than London and its weird micro-climate that makes it 2-3’C hotter than anywhere else in the UK. In fact I found myself wishing I’d had this coat back when I lived in New York and winter meant walking to work in temperatures of around -10’C!
I love that this coat presents the wearer with plenty of options – the Wallaby can be worn as a normal coat (with the panel zipped out) or as a maternity or babywearing coat with the panel inserted. The panel can be inserted in either the front the back thus accommodating both front and back carries.
Being able to use as a normal coat is a huge draw for me as it means it will still be useful when I am no longer carrying my children and, more immediately, that I don’t need to swap coats on a day out if I set out wearing our our daughter but my husband carries her home. Nor do I need a separate coat for the rare baby free evening.
And when wearing the Wallaby as a normal coat, you’d have no idea it was designed with babywearing it mind. It looks clean, simple and sleek and is well designed to keep you warm and dry. From the soft ribbing at the sleeves, to the deep fur lined hood and huge amazingly soft snuggly fur collar. Both the hood and the collar attach via poppers so you can wear one, both or neither depending on your own personal taste and how warm or dry you need to be. Additionally, the coat can be cinched in at the waist to give a more fitted look if desired. I love how these features all mean that you can personalise this coat to fit in with your own style and preferences.
For the other 3 modes, you add the panel into the mix. Its great that the same panel can be used for maternity and babywearing – you simply alter the panel to the right shape using the drawstring toggles at the top or bottom. The advantage of having just one panel that can accommodate either a bump or a baby means that you don’t risk losing the babywearing panel while using the coat as a maternity coat and visa versa you don’t risk losing the maternity panel before your next pregnancy while wearing your current baby. The disadvantage, however, is that you only have 1 panel.
So if you do get pregnant again and want to still use this coat while back carrying this coat – as it comes – can’t accommodate both without a second panel. Likewise tandem carries (for twins or siblings) require a second panel. While not on their website, Wombat&Co state that additional panels can be purchased from them by emailing them directly and these cost £20.
While front carrying my daughter, I liked how high the panel reached on her and I liked that you can close the neck of the coat with poppers if you’d like to, or even employ the huge faux fur collar to keep extra warm. Although as it was September and still fairly mild I mainly just work the neck completely open. But I could see how this coat would really keep us both warm and the wind and rain out in the cooler and wetter months to come. One thing I didn’t like as much was that this coat doesn’t come with a hood for baby. There’s a lovely big hood for the adult, but nothing for the baby. While the panel does reach up very high, Rachel’s head still got a little wet on the one day we went out in rain. And I seriously regretted not thinking to pack a hat for her.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of the pockets. They are probably big enough but the main problem for me was that they fasten with a single popper. This popper sits right over where Rachel’s feet were so I simply couldn’t do up the pockets without pressing down hard on her feet. Without being able to do the pockets up I felt like my phone or wallet might fall out if I sat down (or be susceptible to pickpockets). For me I’d either prefer deeper pockets so that my phone felt less likely to fall our or better still pockets of the same size but fasten with a zipper.
For back carries, I found this coat the easiest to get on and off of any I have ever tried. They key to this is that you can undo the collar at the back of the coat … giving a very wide opening that allows you to put the coat on almost as normal without trapping babies head. With other babywearing coats I have always found it pretty tricky to line up the head hole and the child without getting into a bit of a mess! The Wallaby is so much easier! And as the collar can be easily closed with poppers once the coat is on, you don’t get a cold back either. Win.
Finally a word on the all important sizing. I am a size 16. Well my top half is probably a 14-16 but I usually err on the side of size 16 for coats in case I need to wear layers underneath. They sent me a size 12 – it was a bit snug on me but by no means too snug. I think their size 14 would be perfect for me. Based on this I would say their sizes run slightly on the bigger side. Thus, if like me you are a bit between sizes err on the side of the smaller one. Also if like me you allow a size up for wearing jumpers under coats…. this coat is soooooooooooo warm you’ll never need to wear a jumper under it, unless you are going to the Arctic Circle or somewhere similar, so you can feel free to size down! Sadly though, Wombat&Co don’t currently offer these coats in a huge range of sizes – at the moment just UK size 6 through to 14. I am told they do also offer a size 16 but this is currently sold out. As someone who is a size 14-16, I find having to buy the biggest size available a bit disheartening, and considering that the average UK dress size is a 16 – there will be many who are simply not catered for in the current sizes offered. I really hope this is something that Wombat&Co will look into further and offer a more realistic range of sizes in the future.
All in all the Wallaby is a really lovely, toasty warm coat that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone. Currently priced at £156.90, it isn’t exactly cheap… but as this coat is well made and very flexible in its use, it should last you years and so I am sure would be worth the investment. And men needn’t feel left out either – Wombat&Co also make a babywearing coat for men – the Bandicoot.