Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bitybean ultra compact SSC - review

The bitybean! 
As you can see, this is seriously compact. The Bitybean purports to be a suitable carrier from newborn to 40lbs. I tried it out with two dolls of differing weights and a 14kg/32lb Audrey, and was pretty surprised.


With 6kgs of doll? Totally comfortable, easy to put on, no dramas. The body is not overly long and it's easy to position baby well for full knee-to-knee support. 
Very surprised that the shoulder straps are quite so comfortable. 


Flat shot - you can see the seat panel folds up and is secured over baby's legs with clips, because no one wants their small baby to fall out the sides. (instructions state that these MUST be used up to 15lbs, and that you can choose after this weight (when many babies would be sitting or have good core strength) to continue use or to place baby directly into the seat of the carrier, on top of the belt.

The bitybean is basically a trimmed down ssc - still very adjustable and with the safety features like a chest/back clip, which can be slid up or down the casing to adjust for best fit. I think having this properly positioned really helps those shoulder straps sit flat and snug.

You can see here how the little leg "belts"  fasten when you have the carrier ON and baby IN. They don't need to be super tight, but they're great insurance against lurching or slipping.

As with all ssc, back carries need to wait until your child is sitting unassisted. This doll is 10kgs and I found it difficult to get high enough to be really happy. You can see that the shoulder straps are cinched to their limit.


I KNOW, I'm such a bad parent, her seat isn't knee to knee... And relax, because it doesn't NEED to be. Beyond approximately one year of age, the hips are formed and it's not imperative to keep an "M" position when wearing. It is often more comfortable for the wearer to keep the child's weight supported and close to the wearer's centre of gravity, but no one will die or be actively harmed by a seat that doesn't reach all the way from knee to knee. 

For the parent who wants a carrier for their young baby and occasional older child use, or a spare to stuff in the nappy bag/take to the pool, this is a pretty nifty solution. OH, you can also use it IN the water, where it does a much better job than a water ring sling...  Like any ssc, it's not infinitely adjustable, so you should try before you buy, but it does a good job of covering the essentials. 





JPMBB little wrap without a knot - ring sling! Review and giveaway ;)

JPMBB LITTLE WRAP WITHOUT A KNOT RING SLING


You know what? I kind of love this. At first I was uhhhhh what is this dumb cover thing?! And then I remembered (while wrapping my newborn size demo doll) how often Audrey used to clunk her head into the rings, and how I would want to wrap the tail around to cushion them but then it was tangled and couldn't adjust it... So anyway. I put the sleeve on, pulled it down over the rings when I was done and happy days, no pinchy rings.

For a wearee of wovens, this sling is a bit of getting used to... And clever. It's stretchy (cotton/elastane). In a double layer, for security (please don't try using a single layer, not safe) and with a nice deep seat, it's remarkably comfortable.
 I think it could be fantastic for new wearers who sometimes have trouble adjusting with precision. I pushed it to the suggested weight limit of 14kgs with my ever-helpful 2.5yo, and it was actually comfortable and supportive. If you have a pusher or a leaner I wouldn't recommend it with a toddler, because they are strong enough to get the fabric to roll down their back and take advantage of the stretch. 
(Please remember that this is going to be terrific for front and hip carries, but isn't suitable for back carries.)
However, for smaller babies (and hey,  14kgs IS the maximum suggested) I think this is great. I had no issues adjusting, and I like the double-color - reversible, simple, smart. I also love that I have one to give away- just go comment on my facebook page to get involved! 



JMPBB (je porte mon bebe) Original stretchy wrap

The Je Porte Mon Bebe (JPMBB) Original wrap: 95% Cotton and 5% Spandex, 5m long, 70cm wide. Suitable for newborns (3.5 kgs) till 14 kgs. Yes, just for fun I DID try it with Audrey's 14 kgs, and while it wouldn't be my first choice, this stood up to some enthusiastic bouncing pretty well. It was of course much better with my 4kg and 9kg demo dolls, but I think that's really ok.  





The edges are flat serged/overlocked and sit smoothly and snugly, and petite wearers can trim down the ends if they feel swamped by length. Just like the Basic, the instructions are clear and emphasise tying the wrap snugly before popping baby in to ensure a secure, close carry. 



The Original is a really substantial hybrid with four-way stretch, meaning you have the option to carry on your front, hip or back (please follow the instructions! You always want three layers over your baby when using a hybrid in a back carry) and has a pocket panel placed at centre.


What's the financial damage? $129aud. Given that the stretch is very forgiving for new wrappers and the hybrid support means hip and back carries ARE an option, I think this is an okay spend. The JMPBB original in our local group library gets a lot of love and I haven't heard any reports of sagging or seen any physical wear on it, unlike cheaper stretchies, which really do sag and become a bit tired with time. 



JMPBB (je porte mon bebe) basic stretchy wrap




Je porte mon bebe make a range of stretchy wraps and carriers suitable from birth (3.5kgs/8lbs) till 14 kgs/32lbs (no age or height restriction) - the Basic is the simple stretchy model; 4.6m by 50cms, 95% cotton, 5% elastane.

 The French terry jersey knit is textured on one side and I really like the grip this gives - the 'right' side is the smooth side. This feels quite plush and cushy, and even with my 'heavy' demo doll (9kgs) I was happier than usual with it's staying power - thanks to the horizontal AND vertical stretch.
The Basic edges are flat serged (overlocked) so there's no bulk and a very flat, snug fit. I love the 'no-panel' centre panel - the 'tattoo' design is damn cute and doesn't add yet more bulk to the supporting layer over baby - in the comparatively warm Australian climate, that's a win. Of course, this also limits carries - stick with PWCC (as in the video above) or FWCC, and enjoy the benefits of a wrap that stretches - quick poppable carries that accommodate frequent nappy changes.

What's my verdict? For $65aud, this has me tempted to keep a stretchy in the stash for the next baby. Super snug, comparatively breathable, very supportive. The instructions are fab for showing a dad and for showing HOW snug you need to pretie. The biggest issue with troubleshooting stretchy wraps is starting with them tight enough, and I love that the printed instructions emphasise this and show how to flip shoulders and keep baby's face visible.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nunamoochie retro review


Who can say DREAMY? Nunamoochie's Retro completely exceeded all my expectations. Colleen and Tanni have made excellent use of their family connections in India to produce some really lovely textiles - there is a lovely organic cotton jacquard Mehndi ring sling in our group collection, and the aesthetic of Retro is just gorgeous. (For playful, check out Year of the Horse and Elephant Ears!) 

Retro is an absolutely budget handwoven; a size 6 will set you back a lofty $129USD  - less than a lot of machine-wovens on the market. Why? By manufacturing and finishing in India, production costs are kept low, and it's quite lovely that these savings are passed on to parents looking for beautiful handmade textiles. 


Sleep baby, sleep... All Audrey has done in this wrap is sleep. Given that she's a typically rambunctious two-and-a-half year-old, this is remarkable. There's something peaceful about this wrap. Even in an incredibly messy DH (don't judge, the post office was about to close and she had no shoes on...) ...she nearly dozed off mid-sushi. This is a THIN wrap, but it has the same kind of density as... dare I say it... Pamir. I know. I just went there. Elastic diagonal stretch and twists/knots up to nothing. It's almost creepy. And yes, that's 15kgs of child on my back. 


Retro has bounce, cush, and glide, with just a little grip on the (hemmed) rails where you see some dramatic pinstriped action. It's thin enough to wear on thirty-degree (Celsius) days and seriously sleek.

 This is not like girasol or indajani, this is a completely different ballgame in the same price range and I am going to be watching what comes next with GREAT interest. In the meantime, I'll be over here channeling My Fair Lady (I think the closest I get to that is Audrey Hepburn yelling "Move yer ARSE!") in black, ivory, and CLASS.






And now the good bit... I have a Retro ring sling to give away! With a very comfortable flat box pleat at the shoulder to cup without siding down, I promise this will add style to the most basic mama ensemble ❤️ head to my facebook page and comment to be entered into the draw!



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Beco Gemini review

We pushed the Beco Gemini to it's limit - and it was fun! I've seen this in action a LOT at baby wearing meets - often Dads are drawn to the simple utilitarian design and like the idea that they can get a carrier with buckles RIGHT NOW for the squishy small person they've just been entrusted with.

Specs go a little something like this: 7lbs/3.5kgs - 35lbs/15.9kgs. The body of the carrier is 28 cms tall (can be extended up to 37 cms with the headrest fastened up), and the seat is 17cms (can be extended to 33cms with snaps, as worn with the long-legged, 15kg 2.75yo Audrey). As far as OSFM... Yep. Like the Soleil, the waist cinches to a snug 28 inches, and will expand to 60 inches. Shoulder straps are similarly adjustable; they'll cinch to 23 inches and let out to 42 inches.

Because of the relatively narrow seat and short body, this is that rare thing - a soft structured carrier that doesn't require an infant insert. The price you pay is that it maxes out earlier, with a lower weight limit than the Soleil model, and a maximum seat width of 33 cms. However, as I said, we put it to the test, and while Audrey and I were both comfortable and well-supported by the Gemini, it wouldn't be my first choice for a hike in the woods, but a great hey, gotta run through the supermarket, must contain the child option. 

This is marketed as a 4-in-1: front outward facing, front inward facing, hip carry and back carry. 
I don't love outward facing, but for some kids (over the age of 4-5 months, with healthy hips and with good head control, for short periods of time) it works. You know your child better than I do, so please keep the necessary safety issues in mind and proceed as best suits you. Snapping the seat to its narrowest setting is obviously necessary. 
Front inward facing is totally my thing and this carrier does it well. Hip carry - not so much. We tried it on the way to a back carry. I can make it work, but it feels a bit awkward and I don't know where to put my arm. Back carry - Far out. Maybe we just hit the sweet spot, but this was great. (Please remember that your child needs to be sitting independently before moving to a back carry in any soft structured carrier.) We actually DID go for a walk to the shops like this and Audrey fell asleep, so I guess she was comfortable. I was. 

Verdict? This is a fantastic ergonomic option for people who really want the security of buckles and are a bit scared of baby falling out of a wrap or ring sling. 
I prefer to recommend soft structured carriers once kyphosis has straightened a little and baby has good head control, but if you want one carrier from birth - 12/18 months this is great. You could certainly keep using it past that point, but bear in mind that it might not be quite as fabulous as a Soleil with a wider base and a taller body. 

If you'd like to know what I think of Beco's ethics, go have a quick read. Also, thanks to http://www.becoaustralia.com.au I have one to give away at my facebook page! 


Love these safety buckles; you need to use two hands to manipulate the centre button and both sides of the clip, making an accidental release impossible. 

With press-studs fastened outwards, the seat can be broadened to 33 cms.
Seat adjusted inward for forward facing or smaller babies with a narrower span knee-to-knee: 17 cms
With headrest panel clipped down, the body of the Gemini is quite petite.

Headrest up. 
Chest strap keeps shoulders pulled in nicely for a back carry. 

Guess how she fell asleep... Yup. Just like that. 
I'm not sure I can manage to BF a child THIS tall, but a baby would be a distinct possibility. 

Love those safety clips. 

Beco Soleil Review

The Beco Soleil is the wider base, must-use-infant-insert sibling in Beco's SSC family.
The hard specs are this: suitable for 7-45lbs/3.5kgs - 20.5kgs. You need the insert for infant use and as with all SSC, while I don't love this, I think the Beco infant insert is a better design than the Ergo; easier to secure baby in (yes, I have tried it with live babies at baby wearing meets) and very snug. The reborn doll I'm wearing is about 4.5kgs and you can see my carry meets TICKS guidelines. I found I could get a very snug fit by crossing straps in the back, but I also liked the square feeling of straight straps, and I honestly didn't notice a difference in support, just fit. 

Once your baby no longer needs the insert AND can sit independently, they're ready for back carries. Again, I found this easier to use than the Ergo; the straps are not as chunky as the Tula, and I was able to swing Audrey into a back carry while keeping the chest belt secured and just removing/rethreading my arms through the straps. I had a little trouble tightening, but that was just me being unco and not realising which way the buckles ran. I especially like the safety clips - not JUST on the waist (where you need two hands to simultaneously press the middle and side catches) but also on the arms. I'm not much of a fan of hip carries in SSC, but it is another possibility. 

As you can see, Audrey (currently 2.75yo and about 15 kgs) easily fits into the body of this carrier. Given that the seat is about 16 inches/40 cms wide, she's supported to mid-thigh and that is absolutely fine for a child who is walking and has healthy hips. Knee-to-knee is essential for babies as their hip joint forms and matures; it's not an absolute requirement on and on through childhood. Audrey complained that she couldn't get her arms out, but not a word about her legs!

In terms of being a OSFM carrier, this does a really good job. Waist cinches to a snug 28 inches, will let out to 60 inches. Shoulder straps are similarly friendly; they'll cinch to 23 inches and let out to 42 inches. If you are going to buy ONE carrier and your baby will be little in a mild season, this is a fantastic and affordable option. If you can't handle the insert, or can get by with a ring sling or a stretchy wrap for the first few months, the Soleil will keep you comfortable from 4-5 months right up to the weight limit. 

A quick word also on Beco's integrity as a company; as more and more carrier companies are looking for innovative and unique prints to customise carriers and make SSC ever more attractive, issues of cultural appropriation have arisen and ignited discussion within the baby wearing community. Eco was recently approached about such an issue and handled the matter with absolute grace and tact. They went to far as to withdraw completed carriers from the market, issued an unreserved apology, and have established a contact to ensure that such an oversight should not occur again. In a global market, this kind of integrity and willingness to listen is really something. I've been delighted that the quality of their carriers matches the quality of their customer service. 

This is my 4.5 kg reborn, placed in insert as shown below, then in the Soleil. Straps are straight. 

Please excuse the uncooperative legs...

Baby's feet can dangle freely, the body of the carrier fits snugly over the insert. 

I'm a weirdo. I like my chest strap low. I also find this much easier to do up - I leave it very loose, then do up like a bra and cinch. 

Crossed straps. 

Safety buckles.

With a big kid!

No complaints...




Thursday, February 5, 2015

Kowalli baby carrier cover review and...



We've been having some random and odd weather lately. The kind where you get dressed and then by eleven am need a hoodie or more socks because the beautiful morning you saw at seven am has evaporated into dark clouds. Of course, an hour later it warms up... 
So Kowalli's microfleece carrier cover has been kind of awesome. It's become my house hoodie if wearing, the quick extra layer I can put on VERY speedily, and I kind of love how light and simple it is. Having a few polartec jackets for camping over the years, I KNOW this stuff washes and wears really well, so even if your carriers don't hang around for the grandchildren, this might. 

Where it REALLY wins? Being OSFM. Michael is a slim 6"3 beanpole. Finding jackets that fit him for width AND length is kind of impossible, so the Kowalli has been fantastic for night walks. I am a less statuesque 5"6 and tend to drown in his stuff, so having ONE warm snuggly thing that works for both of us is amazing. Having elastic that can be cinched at top and bottom is fantastic for insulating little bare legs. 





Basically, it's a slightly asymmetrical tube with a front pocket (yay warm hands!) which you can wear under or over your existing jacket (yes, Michael tried putting a hoodie over it. It worked better for him than for me) - I have found it easier to use than a jacket for back carries, simply because it's lighter and less fiddly to put on. Yes, it works with a ring sling, and if you really want baby's head on the right side of your chest, just spin the Kowalli 180 degrees and it works there too. 



Overall, I love this. In Melbourne's four-seasons-in-one-day climate, it's a very
versatile accessory - rolls up compact, light to carry, easy to put on, works with all carriers, all ages, and a wide variety of wearer shapes and sizes. If you want one, you can head to www.kowalli.com  and YES, Alizah WILL ship internationally to any country, you just need to contact her at info@kowalli.com and she will set up a shipment for you - Lovely or what?!