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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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

Furry Snuggles Guaranteed – the Wombat&Co Wallaby v2 Babywearing Coat Review

20170920_142458First 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.

IMG_20170923_230640_378The 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.

20170920_173940Being 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.

 

20170921_162511While 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.

 

20170923_115040Finally 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.

 

-Madeleine