Ever since the birth of my first daughter I’ve been a huge fan of babywearing. I was put onto it by a wonderful friend of mine who has been a strong advocate of wearing both her babies and has become an incredible source of knowledge on all things babywearing. While I struggled to weave myself into a stretchy wrap with a newborn she patiently and repeatedly helped me practice. When I bought my first woven she made suggestions on length to purchase and what brands were best for my budget. And when I wanted quick and easy options she gave her opinion on ring slings and buckle carriers.
As a regular babywearer, Soul Slings gifted me one of their gorgeous Standard full buckle carriers for reviewing along with a Doll Carrier for my toddler. Here’s what we thought of it.
Why carry babies?
I’ve talked in a previous blog post about why babywearing is so great. You might question why this review is on a health and wellness blog; I’ve been a much more active mama because of babywearing. I’ve worn my girls for walks, while personal training clients, while doing strength training, and – possibly even more importantly – it’s saved my mental health. Miss H wants to be carried All. The. Time. She’s a heavy bubba, so wearing her in a carrier helps me to lug her around without my posture suffering. We can go out and about to playcentre, cafe catchups with friends, training sessions or the zoo, and go about our day pretty much a normal while she takes her naps on me rather than missing a sleep and getting cranky.
Now gaining popularity New Zealand, babywearing has long been a common practice in many cultures around the world and is thought to enhance bonding. When babies are carried so closely to our body, they feel our breathing, heartbeat, movements and hear our voice which can help them feel more comforted and secure.
Buckle carriers, also called Soft Structured Carriers (SSC), are one of the most widely used types of baby carriers and use buckles to clip the carrier in place on your body. They’re the closest type of carrier to a backpack if that makes sense, which also makes them one of the easiest carriers to use.
While I’ve been happy to use stretchy and woven wraps in the past, I don’t expect the husband to tie meters of fabric to himself; full buckle carriers are great for quick and easy carrying plus they sit evenly across both shoulders which distributes baby’s weight evenly across your body whether bubs is worn on your front or your back (unlike the ring sling I’ve been mostly using with Miss H from birth this time which sits across one shoulder).
All Soul products are made from 100% cotton, and are noticeably super soft to the touch which makes them very comfy to wear. Compared to the other carriers I’ve tried out, the padding feels a lot thicker – especially around the waist and on top of the shoulders – so it doesn’t dig in anywhere making it so much nicer to wear for longer periods of time. It’s also suprisingly lightweight.
As for the fabric, the printed cotton panel on this one is just beautiful. This is a limited edition carrier with the colourful front panel fabric coming from Olie, a family-run studio based in Bangalore, India that makes hand-crafted décor accessories. It’s from their Lost in Flowers collection that ‘explores life within the thickets of bright pink bougainvillea at small-town windows and doors in Pondicherry, India’.
Soul makes three full buckle carriers: the Anoona (recommended from birth to toddler), the Standard (for use from 4 months onwards), and the Toddler (for use from 2 years onwards). As my daughter is coming up to 6 months and I feel I’m done with carrying my 2-year-old, I opted for the Standard which has a weight recommendation starting at 7 kg.
A full buckle carrier is basically one that can be modified to fit baby and the wearer by making adjustments to various buckles. I’m 167cm with a bit of a mum tum and find this carrier adjusts to my body well. These soft structured carriers (SSC) distribute the weight of the baby evenly on your body, and can be worn in front and back carries.
Miss H is a 99th percentile baby for both weight and height, so at just under 10 kg, she’s already at the right weight and height/length to fit the carrier. However, it’s taken a while for her to sit in it properly as the panel width from knee to knee was too wide for bubba being so young plus she didn’t quite ‘fill’ out the space around her body and shoulders. With other carrier brands in this instance you’d likely use infant inserts but I despise using them (as they are fiddly and tend to make baby get quite hot) so I preferred to wait for her to grow into this carrier a little more before road testing properly. At almost 6 months and close to 10 kgs, she’s now fitting it well enough that she doesn’t have the front panel jammed into the backs of her knees so she’s no longer getting any rubbing/indentation from it.
HOW IT WORKS
I prefer to carry bubs in front so I can easily interact with her and see her face (though of course back carrying is more practical for you to go about your day as usual!). To get her in, all I need to do is buckle a strap around my waist, place bubba into the carrier with her legs in a froggy/M-shape with her knees close to level with her bottom, lift the front printed panel up over her back towards me, slip on the arm straps and clip the buckle that joins them together across my back. Then you can make smaller adjustments to the buckles for comfort if you need to.
This carrier also has PFA’s (Perfect Fit Adjusters) to help cinch the straps tighter and more easily which is great if you’re sharing the carrier with someone else.
The top of the front panel can be secured to clips over your shoulders so that baby’s head can be covered and protected against the elements. I also find it great for ‘hiding’ them from the world when you’re trying to get them to nap (nothing like a little sensory deprivation, otherwise Miss H is far too easily distracted!).
Extras: The Doll Carrier
Children love to copy us; it’s how they learn about life. When my second daughter came along four months ago, my eldest showed interest in everything I was doing with her baby sister – from feeding to nappy changes, rocking her to social interaction. And babywearing is no different. She knew what it was all about having been carried herself in a range of wraps and buckled carriers for almost two years, so this little doll carrier was perfect for her to copy mum.
The Doll Carrier is easy to buckle on to young ones – as my daughter is only two years old, she still needs help to put it on but is getting the idea. She reckons it’s comfy to wear and loves to pop her soft toys into it and wear them around the house. As she gets older she will be able to buckle it herself.
Where to get it
The carrier featured in this review is the ‘Lost in Flowers’ Standard Full Buckle which you can get for $176 from the Soul Slings website.
The cute ‘Topaz’ Doll Carrier my daughter is wearing is $25 from the Soul Slings website.
Carriers gifted by Soul Slings for this review
Images / NZ Real Health