Connecta Review

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

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Rachel 9 months

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

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

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Rachel at 5 weeks

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

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

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

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Tandem Carry with 2 Connecta

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

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

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

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

 

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