How to do a Back Carry with a Half Buckle or a Meh Dai, using the “secure hip scoot” method for getting baby onto your back.

Half Buckles or Meh Dai style carriers are extremely versatile, offering a range of carrying positions and options for tying. Fitting tiny newborns and growing toddlers alike. Often parents don’t realise that these can be used for back carries, when in reality it is often easier to get a baby onto your back in a half buckle or Meh Dai than it is in a full buckle carrier. The reason that they are easier is to do with the straps – you don’t have to worry about when to get your arms in or need to let go of anything to get your arms in, you simply tie the straps around once baby is on your back.

While there are various methods that will work, my favourite is the secure hip scoot method because

  • you can check baby is well positioned and comfortable in the panel before you bring baby onto your back
  • it feels secure at all times so you know baby is safe and securely held even if they wiggle or start to fight when you are bringing them onto your back

Here is my full video tutorial, including 2 ways of tying the straps at the end – a straight forward knot at the waist and a “tied Tibetan” style knotless chest band which is helpful if you find the shoulder straps are liable to fall off your shoulders or dig in:

This carry can be used once baby has good neck and trunk control, typically around 6 months. Although it is worth mentioning that many babies don’t enjoy this position until they can see over their parents shoulders, typically around a year. Placing the waistband higher on your waist can help give them a better view earlier, although many parents simply choose to wait until baby is taller.

It is worth noting that generally most parents will find baby feels lighter on their back, because as a species we generally load bare better on our backs than our fronts. So mastering the back carry can be a really good option if your starting to find baby is feeling heavy on your front. Back carrying is a skill and does take practise, so if you are finding it hard it is well worth looking up your local babywearing consultant for a face to face consultation or booking an online consultation as often one to one real time help can really flatten the learning curve.

The carrier shown in this video is the Limas Baby Plus carrier, but this same method will work with many if not all half buckles and Meh Dai including the Didymos DidyKlick, DidyTai, Hoppediz Hop-tye and many many others.

-Madeleine

Summer Baby Carriers – My Top Picks for Warm Weather Babywearing

While carrying in warm weather is more about common sense than anything else, there definitely are some carriers that are cooler to wear and fare better as temperatures rise. If you are prone to overheating, live in a warm climate or want a summer friendly baby carrier (or want to hire one from Sheen Slings for an upcoming holiday or just for the summer) – here are my top picks:

1. Kahu Baby Sunshine Carrier

There are two reasons this carrier tops the list. The first is its genius lightweight design. The Kahu Baby is ultralight, packs down small and does not compromise on comfort or fit. Part of the genius of this carrier is how simple it is.  Designed to be really intuitive to use, without any added bells or whistles or fiddly extra bits.  Just really clever minimal design that ensures it fits a huge range of sizes and shapes of parents, men and women and is supportive enough for long walks while remaining light and soft enough to happily wear all day around the house too. Likewise it fits a huge range of babies ages and stages, from just a few weeks old through to 4 years. Offering 4 carrying positions and loads of versatility without adding loads of bulk and thus without adding any extra warmth.

The second reason is the Sunshine fabric. Kahu Baby carriers come in a few different fabric options, and while the are all lightweight and perform well in warmer weather, the Sunshine fabric absolutely excels as temperatures rise. Made from a woven polyester that is rated UPF50+, this fabric blocks 99% of the sun’s harmful UVA & UVB rays.  The fabric feels soft, breathable, silky and actually cool to the touch!  It’s also a wicking fabric, meaning you won’t feel sweaty in this carrier and that it dries extremely quickly (either after getting wet or washing).  Making the Sunshine the ultimate warm weather sling. 

The Kahu is available to purchase here, and you can see my full indepth review here.

2. Izmi Baby Carrier

Izmi Grey Mesh
Izmi Grey

The Izmi Baby is another absolutely genius incrediably lightweight carrier. It offers 4 carrying position and is one of those very rare buckle carriers that really really works brilliantly for newborns. In fact, it is a carrier I have had success over and over again with babies who are born prematurely because with its optional booster and ability to adjust the width – it is possible to make this carrier really very small to ensure a great fit even on tiny babies. The adjustable width and flexible neck support panel means this carrier can also grow with baby, continuing to fit all the way from teeny tiny to at least 12 months and often further. The flexibility doesn’t end here – this carrier also offers 4 carrying positions (front inwards, Front outwards, hip and back) and fits a absolutely huge range of different parent shapes and sizes. Particularly fitting petite parents well. Many carriers will fit a huge range but won’t go small enough for the very petite – but the Izmi will go so small my 3 year old can use it to carry the demo doll!!

As well as its all round brilliance, the Izmi Baby is one of my top summer picks because it’s lightweight design paired with thin breathable cotton means that it is genuinely one of the coolest baby carriers on the market. And if you are particularly prone to overheating or live in a very warm climate, they sell a mesh version too, where the centre portion of the main panel is replaced entirely with an airy breathable mesh.

The Izmi Baby is available to purchase here, and you can read my full indepth review here.

3. Beco Gemini Cool

Gemini Cool
Gemini Cool Black
Gemini Cool Navy
Gemini Cool Navy

If your looking for a bit more padding than offered by the Kahu or the Izmi, then the Beco Gemini Cool is definitely worth considering.

You will note that there are no heavily padded carriers on this list at all – and the reason for this is padding can be a bit of a double edge sword when it comes to summer babywearing as that extra bulk can really suddenly feel very warm as the temperature rises. So while you might find heavily padded carriers comfortable the rest of the year round, you may well find your sweltering come summer. Even with a supposedly cooler mesh version.

The Gemini Cool is a great option if you do prefer a bit of padding because it has a really sturdy supportive waist band, but the wide shoulder straps are very thin and very softly padded. It is often the bulk at the shoulders and across the back that causes a lot of this hot and sweaty feeling and so by having very softly padded shoulders the Gemini feels a lot cooler. The Cool mesh version also feels a lot cooler than the standard cotton counterpart because of the materials it is made from. The panel features a center portion made entirely out of breathable soft, supple yet really strong and supportive mesh. The rest of the carrier is made from this same mesh combined with a really soft, thin, cool to the touch fabric. The result is a supportive carrier that performs really well in the warmer months and year round! It fits an absolutely huge range of parents shapes and sizes, and fits babies from just 2-3 weeks old through to at least 18 months, offering 4 carrying positions (front inward, front outward, hip and back).

The Beco Cool is available to purchase here, and you can read my full indepth review here or see the standard cotton and the cool variants compared here.

4. Melliapis Ring Sling

Petrol Melliapis Ring Sling
Petrol Melliapis Ring Sling

Ring Slings are fantastic options for summer. Made from just a loop of fabric these are as a general rule cooler to wear than any buckle style carrier (even the super light ones outlined above). And of all the ring slings I have ever tried, the Melliapis basic ring sling is my absolute top pick for warm weather. Made from two layers of muslin woven together to create a material that is surprisingly strong, the Melliapis Ring Sling is one of the most lightweight slings on the market. Super soft on newborn skin but easily strong enough to carry an up down toddler too. It folds up absolutely tiny to easily fit inside a bag, or even to be worn as a light scarf while your not using it! It feels light and airy to wear – making it an excellent option for summer.

The Melliapis Ring Sling is available to purchase here and you can read my full indepth review here.

5. Mini Monkey Mini Sling

At just 187g the Mini Sling is the lightest and smallest carrier on our list. Made from a silky soft smooth mesh and covering only 1 shoulder, it is definitely the sling that will keep you and baby the coolest too. Similar in style to a ring sling, the Mini sling is a loop of fabric with strap to tighten at the back and a fine adjustment strap for supporting the neck and upper back at the front. It is one of the absolutely simplest carriers to use, but not nesicarly the most comfortable to use. Rather this carrier has been designed for speed and lightness in mind, so excels best as a “just in case” sling that slips into your bag (or even a large pocket) or a “just while I quickly do x” sling. Great for holidays too as the thin mesh drys quickly and so is a great beach or poolside choice.

You can read my full review of this sling here.

6. JPMBB Physio Carrier

The JPMBB Physio carrier zips open to reveal the best mesh panel I have ever seen. The top layer rolls up to expose a huge section of light and airy yet strong mesh. Making this carrier one of the absolutely coolest of the padded buckle style carriers. Even the padding is cooler than on most carriers due to clever combination of mesh and breathable cool fabrics. The Physio fits babies best from about 7 or 8 months through to 3 or even 4 years of age. You can use it with a younger baby too – you’ll just need the infant booster pack that includes a booster pillow and a neck pillow. And as such this carrier is always popular for summer holiday hires.

What’s not on this list….

There are a great many other carriers that feature mesh panels and advertise being great for summer. Carriers like the Ergo Omni 360, the Tula, the Lillebaby Complete, the Baby Bjorn Air Mesh, the Beco 8 and many many more besides. When it comes to these carriers, ultimately how warm you and baby will feel is more about the padding and the bulk and much less about the presence and absence of mesh. Yes it can be nice to get the mesh version of one of these carriers for a bit more breathability but these are all a good step warmer compared to anything on this list. Great all year round carriers but just don’t make the grade if you live in a warm climate, looking to borrow something for holiday or particularly prone to overheating in the summer months.

Another type of carrier missing from this list are the stretchy wraps and Caboo type carriers. Again there are options amoung these that are cooler, but with three layers over baby – none of them would be my first choice on a truly boiling day! Plus there are really quite a few options when it comes to stretchy wraps so I will save summer stretchy recommendations for a future blog post.

-Madeleine

Tutorial – Front Wrap Cross Carry with a Long Woven Wrap

If you’ve never used a woven wrap before, Front Wrap Cross Carry is a great place to start.  This carry is a true all rounder, it is supportive and easily adaptable so it works really well whether you are carrying a tiny newborn or a much older child.  Once you’ve mastered this carry it is a quick and easy and you will happily use it over and over again as baby grows.  Plus it is a great carry for introducing you to how to use a woven wrap and makes learning different carries easier (if you want to, you can just stick with this one if you prefer!).  

While the basic method of how to do this carry never changes, I have included 2 videos.  The first with a few tweaks and optimizations for a brand new newborn and the second with a few tweaks and optimizations for a much older child!  And of course you can carry every age in between and mix and match between some of the tweaks and none, as feels right for you and your little one.  

Front Wrap Cross Carry with a newborn;

Front Wrap Cross Carry with spread passes for an older child;

For this carry you need a long woven wrap.  Size will depend on your size, and you can read more about wrap sizes here, but generally most people will need anything from a size 5 to a size 7.  In the first video I am using a size 6 while in the second I am using a 7.  I am a UK dress size 16 and 170 cm and find that I can just about comfortably use and tie off a size 6 with a smaller baby, with an older baby I need a bit of extra length to comfortably get a good double knot.

Happy Experimenting!

-Madeleine

Tula Explore Review

The Tula Explore is the first carrier from Tula that offers the option to forward face your baby!

See it explained in detail and in action here;

 

Key Features of the Tula Explore;

  • It’s width and height can be adjusted through poppers which means this carrier doesn’t need infant inserts.
  • Manufacturer recommends it for use for babies from just 3.2kg (7lb) all the way upto a fantastic 20kg (45lb).  More realistically, however, I’d say this carrier works well from around 4 weeks through to 2 years old.
  • For the baby it has very soft leg padding and a softly padded neck support pillow that can be placed in different positions for different ages and stages.
  • Offers 3 carrying positions – front inward, front facing outward and back carry position.  This carrier does not easily offer a hip carry position.
  • For the parent it has a fairly wide and firmly padded sturdy waistband, and it’s shoulder straps are bulky but soft and moldable.  The long webbing but short padded part means this carrier is one that can fit both women and men very well and both the petite and the plus sized.  Straps are designed to be worn “rucksack” or H style, and do not cross across the back.
  •  It also has a detachable hood and a pocket on the waistband for small things like phone and keys.

All in all this is a fab option for someone looking for a sling that will last into toddler hood, want to forward face and are most comfortable with straps in ruck sack style.  It is very similar to the Ergo Omni 360, in terms of shape and size.  The main differences being that this carrier is a little simpler to use with the absence of buckles to do up at the shoulder straps but offers a bit less flexibility than the Omni as it doesn’t offer a hip position or the ability to cross straps across the back.  The Tula Explore retails at £154.90

-Madeleine

 

Mamaruga Zen Sling Review

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!!

 

-Madeleine

Lillebaby Complete All Seasons Review

20170427_080049 (2)The Lillebaby Complete, as its name suggests, has and does everything!  It has a frankly staggering 6 carrying positions, works from a newborn (or maybe a month old) until at least 3, maybe even 4 years old.  Its filled with clever design features and has a emphasis on parent comfort with oodles of padding and lumbar support.

So what’s the catch?  …It is not small.  All this padding and features means this is a pretty bulky carrier.  If your after a lightweight travel sling or something that folds up pretty small to slip into your change bag or under your pushchair – this is not it.  However, if you’re looking for something you can wear a growing baby in for hours on end during long Sunday walks or on buggy free day trips this maybe just what you’re looking for.

Like ALL buckle carriers, it’s definitely worth trying this on before you buy.  All buckle carriers fit different body types better or worse.  In particular, as the Lillebaby is bulkier, it tends to work less well on a more petite frame.  More slender parents usually find the level of padding too all encompassing, and find a better fit with a less bulky carrier.  The length of padding on the shoulder straps also means that this carrier works better for taller parents, parents below around 5’4” ish or whom are very petite will often struggle to the straps tight enough when back carrying.  This is definitely a carrier that works best for more average to bigger builds.

For those it does work well for – it has some really lovely parent comfort features.  First and foremost is the lumbar support.  This was one of the first carriers to add a lumbar support panel, and I still think it’s one of the best because of how it’s shaped.  Its shaped so it sits right in a the middle of your lower back and support radiates upward.  I also love the fact its removable!! Because while its fab for front carries, when you move to back carries you might not want a lumbar support panel right in the middle of your tummy.  Secondly, the straps can be worn crossed or rucksack style across the parents back according to personal preference and comfort.  Again choice is great as often different partners have different preferences and the Lillebaby is a carrier that will often work really well for partners who have very different body shapes and difference preferences.  And the straps tighten in two directions so you can either pull forward or backward so works well with different mobility levels and relative wrist strengths!  Many carriers tighten in only 1 direction and some parents find tightening backwards a real challenge! So two way tightening can be a real boon.  Thirdly, it has a very wide firm waist band that really anchors the carrier combined with firm long padded straps.  As discussed above the amount of padding doesn’t suit everyone but for those it does fit well, the firm padding does make for a supportive comfortable carrier.

For the baby, the Lillebaby complete is weight tested from 3.2 to 20 kg (7 to 45 lb) and the manual demonstrates 6 different carrying positions.  These are;

  1. Fetal – wide seat setting.  Suitable for first few weeks only, if at all.  In this position baby goes legs inside the carrier.  You start by rolling up a blanket to make a little cushion for the baby to sit on, then sit the baby on it and bring the whole carrier up and around them.  Lillebaby suggest this for newborn – 3 months.  In reality, I don’t like this position and only very rarely show it to people.  I don’t like it because by having the legs in the carrier this can put extra stress on developing ankle joints.  Also parents are often confused by the whole blanket thing and essentially making their own infant insert out of a rolled up blanket.  Most babies can actually skip this stage and go directly to the second position.  It’s only really the very curled up babies who would benefit from this position and usually most parents with a very curled up baby find this carrier too all encompassing for their tiny baby and opt to use something like a stretchy wrap or Caboo until baby is a bit bigger and fits in one of the other positions anyway.
  2. Infant facing inward – narrow seat setting.  Suitable from a few weeks old until around 6 months.  In this position baby sits directly in the base of the carrier using the narrower seat setting.  In this setting the bottom of the panel is tapered, which allows you to fit a smaller baby by putting them in the part that is narrowest and then as they grow you sit them deeper into the panel where it is wider … so that in this way you can get a great knee-to-knee fit for babies all the way from a few weeks old upto 5 or 6 months.  Likewise you can alter the position of the neck support to ensure baby is supported upto the nape of the neck but no higher as they grow.  So in theory as soon as baby can open their legs wide enough to sit astride this narrowest part, this carrier can be used.  This varies from baby to baby but for most this is usually from a few weeks.
  3. Older baby facing inward – wide seat setting.  Suitable from 6 months onwards. This is actually the same position as number 2 in that baby sits directly in the base of the carrier with legs out either side, but differs in that now you use the wider setting.  The Lillebaby is so wide on this widest setting that babies are not usually big enough to do this until they are around 6 months old – often older.  This wider seat position will then go on supporting them until they are at least 3 years old (although many parents will prefer to use the back carry position from a year or 18 months onward for their own comfort).  Likewise the infant neck support can be used clipped up to extend the height of the carrier to continue to support a growing toddler.  Often parents are worried about knowing when to move from the narrow seat to the wider one – and it’s simply a case of being guided by your child and how long their legs are!  Once baby is long enough to sit comfortably in the wider seat without any material passing the backs of their knees they are ready for this position and will find it more comfortable verses the narrower setting as they are better supported.  While, if the material does pass the backs of their knees then they will be more comfortable in the narrower seat position.
  4. Infant facing outward – narrow seat setting.  Generally from 6 months plus.  In theory the forward facing position can be used once baby has strong neck and head control (for more facts on forward facing and how to tell if your baby is ready please click here), however they do also need to physically fit the carrier in that position.  And because the Lillebaby is a relatively big carrier, while many babies might be developmentally ready earlier… few actually fit the Lillebaby Complete in this position before 6 months.  This can sometimes be frustrating for parents who feel they’d like to forward face earlier and there are other – smaller carriers – where you can forward face earlier.  The flip side is that because this carrier is bigger it can be more comfortable in the forward facing position as baby is more contained and thus puts less strain on parents back (as the forward facing position is, for absolutely any carrier, the position that puts the most strain on parent’s backs.  The physical size of the Lillebaby carrier can help mitigate this, but the con is baby has to be bigger too which of course means more strain anyway… so it is all a bit Catch-22!).
  5. Hip Carry – either seat setting. Suitable once baby has reasonably good neck and upper torso control.  The hip position can be a lovely alternative to forward facing, as it affords the same view for baby while giving both them and you a little more support.  It’s a particularly good option for babies who’d like to forward face but are not quite big enough yet.  The one downside to this position with the Lillebaby specifically is the firmly padded shoulder straps often don’t sit as comfortably over the shoulder in this position compared to lighter weight/softer straps.  If the hip position was one you were using a lot a more softly padded strap would be more desirable, although as this is a position people tend to use more infrequently it’s not really a big critism. 
  6. Back Carry – wide seat setting. Suitable once baby can sit independently, roughly 6 months onward and can last realistically to around 3 years or even beyond.  Last but not least the back carry position is one where the Lillebaby really shines!  An adjustable chest strap and all that padding means many parents will continue to be comfortable carrying their growing toddlers on their back to at least 3 years of age!  The one thing to check is that you can get this carrier tight enough!  Because the padded shoulder straps are relatively long, more petite parents can find that they simply can’t get the carrier tight enough to be comfortable on their back.  It is really worth being aware of this and checking before you buy – parents of young babies must always think I am mad when I make them try this carrier on their back with a doll before letting them buy one but there is nothing worse than shelling out for a carrier for your 3 month old, happily use it on your front and then discover a few months later that it doesn’t fit you on your back!!

 

There are a whole host of other cool features on this carrier too, including:

  • head support panel attaches via buckles that are on elastics which allows this panel to support gently and move with baby rather than being rigidly fixed into place.
  • If your not using the head support the buckles neatly tuck away and the panel poppers into place.
  • There is very soft light padding under the side buckles to ensure that these do not dig uncomfortably into parents side or into breast tissue.
  • A breathable zip down mesh panel to give the “All Season’s” aspect of this carrier.  This panel can be neatly tucked away to help keep baby cool during the summer months then zipped back up to help keep baby snug on cooler days. It’s definitely a nice feature although, how much cooler it is I have never been too sure – I’ve always found padding level and bulk to have more of an affect on overall warmth of a carrier than the presence or absence of mesh.  

 

My one complaint about this carrier, however, is that it is not easy to switch between the narrow and wide seat positions.  If your are only using this carrier to face baby inwards this is not so much of an issue as you’ll only have to do this once when baby grows out of the narrow seat position.  But if you are using this carrier to carry your baby facing outwards – you’ll need to swap ALL the time.  Forward facing is a position best done in short bursts, and I encourage parents to follow their baby’s cues and turn them inward before they get too tired or overstimulated…. HOWEVER, because the Lillebaby requires you to take the carrier off and put the baby down and faff for 2 minutes completely reconfiguring the waist band, this is A LOT easier said than done. It’s a real shame as it’s often this that puts parents off and they choose a carrier where they can switch back and forth more easily.   

IMG_20170427_085231 (2)

All in all the Lillebaby Complete All Seasons is a feature packed, long lasting behemoth of a carrier – perfect for those looking to carry for long periods and use their carrier for a long time.  It’s well made and very well designed.  Like all carriers it’s well worth trying before you buy as it doesn’t fit everyone, but for those it gives a good fit to this can be a great versatile option.  The Lillebaby Complete costs around £140.

 

-Madeleine

 

 

Beco 8 Review

20170828_185016In many ways the Beco 8 is the Beco Gemini’s big brother.  The Beco 8 shares so many of the features that I love about the Gemini. In particular;

  • Firm thick padding at the waist band combined with soft light padding at the shoulder straps.  This combination is rare in the carrier world, but is one that really works for some many people because it gives great support at the waist and weight transference onto the hips without feeling bulky on the shoulders.
  • Ability to wear the straps either ruck sack style or crossed acrossed the parents back depending on personal preference.
  • Easy to adjust seat. The seat of the carrier has two settings – narrow and wide that can be easily swapped between using a simple pair of poppers.
  • 4 carrying poisitions.  You can carry your baby on your front facing you, on your front facing outward, on your hip and on your back giving you plenty of flexibility to use this carrier in different ways.  And the adjustable popper seat means its super easy to quickly switch back and forth between facing in and facing out positions.

But where the Beco 8 differs from the Gemini is that it is bigger.  The panel is about 1cm longer on the Beco 8, while the wide setting is about 2cm wider.  The narrow setting is actually the same on both carriers.  The bigger panel simply means this carrier will last longer.  It will take longer for your baby to grow out of it.  The taller panels often mean smaller babies don’t fit as well but as the Beco 8 comes with a small infant insert to raise the height of the baby within the carrier this isn’t the case for the Beco 8.  This is a carrier that works really well from newborn (or at least a few weeks old) until around 2 years of age, quite possibly longer.  In terms of weights, the Beco 8 is weight tested from 3.2 to 20 kg (7 to 40 lb). When you compare this to the Gemini these extra few cm give you about an added 6 months of longevity and 4 kg extra on the weight max.

IMG_20181013_193343

Beco Gemini (Navy) laid over the Beco 8 (Grey)

The panel isn’t the only thing that is bigger about the Beco 8 – it also has a lot of extra features and stuff!  Which contribute to this feeling like a bigger bulkier carrier.  In particular it has;

  • Lumbar Support – a little panel that sits comfortably over your lower spine and helps support your lumbar region and stabilises the waist band.  This is fab while carrying a heavier baby on your front, and can be removed if you don’t like it or so that you don’t have a weird pad on the front.
  • Hood – to cover baby’s head for sleep or if there’s rain and handily hides away inside the head support cushion
  • Zip down mesh panel – the standard carrier is made from a durable but fairly soft polyester, then in warmer weather the central panel can be unzipped to reveal breathable “3D mesh”. I am not entirely sure what 3D mesh means other than you can’t see through it! Like overlapping layers of mesh, so there is no possibility of little fingers getting stuck or of it getting snagged on anything.  This is the same mesh as is on the Gemini Cool but the beauty of the 8 is you don’t need to choose between mesh or solid… you get both in one carrier.  (Unless you don’t like the idea of polyester and mesh, and in which case they sell a all cotton version which lacks this zip down panel).
  • Infant insert – which simply attaches via poppers so easy to remove if you don’t need it or don’t like it.  I like that this insert pillow has a narrow and wide setting as this allows different baby’s to be accomodated in different ways as suits them as they grow.

20181010_183528All of which is good stuff!  But the downside is that with all these added bits this carrier takes up quite a lot of space when folded!  Roughly about twice the size compared to the Gemini.   It’s also correspondingly more expensive.

This is a great carrier for those who want a long walk carrier and those who want all the features and bits and bobs.  But it doesn’t have the simplicity and sheer magic the Gemini has in being quite a slimmed down non fuss, easy carrier.  There are more bits and bobs to faff with and get used to.  Some love this, some people really want those extra bits… while for others less is more.  Really just depends on personal preference!

All in all the Beco 8 is another great carrier from Beco.  The 8 will particularly suit bigger babies, those who are higher up on the centile charts and will benefit from a bigger carrier that will last them longer before they grow out of it.  It’s a great sunday hike, wear all day carrier as it doesn’t comprimise on comfort or features!  It’s a flexible carrier offering multiple carrying positions and combines a firm supportive waistband with lighter softer shoulder padding.  The Beco 8 costs £125 and is available to purchase from Sheen Slings at sling library meets, consults and workshops (or please get in touch for doorstep collection or even postage).

-Madeleine

Connecta Review

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

20171027_111530

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.

img_2035

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.

20180923_115151

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 has two way buckles and is an excellent alternative.

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 webshop here, or by arrangement at sling library meets, consults, workshops or doorstep collection.

-Madeleine

Boba X review

Adjustability and longevity – if I had to describe this carrier in just two words they would be it, because this carrier has both in spades.  Many carriers on the market advertise birth till 4, but few actually really cover that whole range.  The Boba X is probably one of the very few that really will take you from birth (or a few weeks old) until as long as you would like to carry for.

35049203_1565384343590587_484277701725650944_oSo what’s their secret?  The panel adjusts, both the height and width of the panel can be fine-tuned to fit the baby and then can be let out bit by bit as they grow to grow with them and adapt to their needs as they develop and change with time.  The panel material is also really soft and light, which means when it is cinched down on the smallest settings it’s not too bulky.  If is of course a little more bulky than when it isn’t cinched down but it’s not overly so… which allows a really form hugging fit to be achieved on littler babies (without them feeling lost in oodles of carrier) as well as still having all that growing room for the future.

In particular for infants I like that the hood, rolled up inside the carrier, can be used to support the neck and that this can be moved using the panel height adjusters to ensure it is in exactly the right position.  There is also a small lip of very light flexible fabric that then cradles the head… ensuring that the neck is well supported but baby still has freedom to move their head.  There is also lovely padding at the baby’s legs.  All in all this is a carrier that can work really well for a new baby.   Maybe not right in the first days – the first days and weeks I always think it’s very hard to beat the snuggliness of a stretchy wrap or Caboo.  But from around a month or so old, around the time you are starting to think about getting out and about more… this carrier would work perfectly.

33430673_1550005675128454_1748467291982397440_oAnd then grow with baby!  Simple velcro tabs adjust the waist band… and combined with the height adjusting buckle the panel with grow smoothly with your baby right into toddlerhood. Offering 3 carrying positions along the way – front, hip and back.  Then, and this is the real magic… it comes supplied with a pair of zip on panel extenders which convert the carrier from a standard sized carrier into a toddler/preschool sized carrier.  These extenders are nicely padded so really comfortable for the child and the zips are all hidden internally where they can’t rub. Which means the Boba X will still happily carry a 3 or even a 4 year old.  In fact you can see my son, aged 5 still just about squeezes in.  So the Boba X should last you as long as you need to carry.  And its so well made I am sure it would last through siblings… in fact I can see this being a great option for anyone with siblings that are quite close in age, because this carrier could be easily used with either.

34790196_1563244383804583_871256084751319040_oBut what about the parent?  Again the Boba X is really adjustable – you can wear the straps crossed or in ruck sack (H) style, and the chest strap is on a slider and so easily adjusted to fit a range of different shapes and sizes.  Likewise there are perfect fit adjusters allowing more petite or shorter parents to get a really snug fit, even when back carrying.  The straps are really easy to tighten thanks to the “pulley” system or dual adjust that allows the same strap to be tightened either from the panel end or from the strap end depending on which direction is easier.  This feature is really good for anyone who suffers from weak wrists or limited mobility through their arms or shoulders.

Boba have also thought about how you might carry your stuff!  There is a little zippered pocket on the waistband that is just big enough to house a phone, keys and a credit card.  And for those who can’t pack that light… there are bag clips on the shoulder straps – little flaps on poppers that allow you keep a bag strap on the padded shoulder strap allowing you to comfortably carry a bag at the same time as wearing your baby.

20180704_234811The one thing I don’t like about this carrier is how the straps cross across the parents back.  The straps are slightly curving – and as a result they work brilliantly in the rucksack/H configuration.  But this curve means that when you attempt to cross them… the curve is going the wrong way resulting in the straps sitting awkwardly on your back.  Ultimately, if I was to use this carrier I’d always choose to use it with rucksack straps and never to cross.  The thing is though, many people prefer crossed… and what I am finding is those who like crossed straps don’t find this carrier as comfortable as others where the straps don’t curve away while those who prefer rucksack style or don’t have a strong preference really love it and find it incredibly comfortable.

Another thing to be aware of is that when folded up the Boba X isn’t the smallest carrier.  If your looking for something that folds up small and fits in the change bag, something for more occasional use – this is not the carrier for you.  Instead the Boba X makes a good choice for anyone who wants to use their carrier for hours on end, and to work flexibly in lots of different situations.   Also with all this adjustability comes more bits and pieces.  The beauty of the older Boba’s (i.e the Boba 4G or the 3G) was they were very simple… just one strap to tighten or adjust.  I would get them out whenever I had a client who wanted something really easy or were confused by having too many things to adjust.  So while a big part of me rejoices at a super adjustable Boba, a very small part of me will miss the beautifully simple does less Boba’s … mainly for this subset of clients who find to many straps confusing or too much faff!

33475183_1549890681806620_2564568493345210368_oAll in all the Boba X is a hugely adjustable carrier that will last you as long as you want to.  It comes with oodles of features to ensure comfort of both parent and babe and is a really good choice for anyone looking for a very flexible carrier and one that will fit parents of different sizes and children of different sizes.  Cost is £125 and can be ordered through Sheen Slings or from Slumber Roo.

-Madeleine