The Close Caboo was a success in so many ways. I absolutely loved it, and so did Ted. But there was one person in our house who didn’t.
Kev wanted to carry Teddy too – he was the first one of us to manage to successfully navigate the Aldi Carrier of Doom, after all. And anyone with eyes could see how happy Ted was in the Caboo.
But it wasn’t for Kev. He didn’t like the fact it needed to be tied, and felt insecure without buckles to fall back on. Of course, at this point, with Ted around three months old, I was still having many a middle-of-the-night online shopping session (my delight when I got a nearly-new Jumperoo on eBay for twenty quid woke the sleeping baby). I was straight online to research my fingers off.
Kev was working in a coffee shop at the time, and a couple came in with a baby in a carrier – he told me it had looked so comfortable, and the woman doing the carrying had managed to flip it on and off so easily, he had to ask what it was. And funnily enough, it was the same carrier I’d been looking at myself.
Carrier Number 3 – Connecta
The Connecta was our first SSC: a soft structured carrier. The term ‘soft structured carrier’ covers a hell of a lot of baby carriers – they are based on the general shape of a meh dai carrier, which is basically a large rectangle of fabric with four straps coming off it, two of which you tie over your shoulders, two of which go around your waist. SSCs are essentially this, but instead of tying them yourself, they have buckles. Some have big padded waistbands, some tie in a cross on your back, some do up like a rucksack. Most can be used for front and back carries, and some can be used to face the baby outwards (though that’s worth a whole post in itself). They don’t have the rigidity of carriers like the Baby Bjorn, though they do have some structure to them and some are ergonomically shaped.
Made up of a panel of fabric (they use several types, including a lightweight, breathable UV-proof version that seems perfect for hot holidays, not that I’m likely to have one any time soon!) with lightweight, unpadded straps, the Connecta has big sturdy buckles that would reassure any nervous parent, including my husband. The straps are best worn crossed at the back for a front carry, then rucksack-style for a back carry. The Connecta isn’t suitable for facing-out carries. It comes with a little accessory strap that can be used to cinch in the fabric at the bottom for newborns, to get that perfect knee-to-knee support, or equally can be used for a tad extra support across your chest when doing back carries.
This carrier is so easy to use. I’ve mentioned before, I’m absolutely cack-handed and exceedingly inflexible. Even I could get wriggly, hefty Ted in by myself, and as soon as he could sit up by himself, I was able to start hauling him onto my back.
My husband loved it right from the start, and so did Ted. The fabric is durable, not as soft as the Caboo, but with enough give that Ted can totally relax into it and go to sleep. It has a huge hood that can be rolled up under his neck as extra support, or clipped over his head when he falls asleep (or when it’s raining, it was quite useful for that in rainy Manchester when he was tiny).
I loved it too. Because never mind how easy it is to use, blah blah blah… I GOT A HARRY POTTER THEMED ONE.
Yes, among the Connecta’s many different colour schemes, patterns and themed… they do one called ‘Mischief Managed’.
But all I could find were tiny images like that – old shopping pages with the words ‘sold out’ in big letters. It seemed like it was an old design, a special edition that didn’t look to be coming back any time soon.
A plain one wouldn’t do. I had to have the Deathly Hallows Connecta, as a life-long Harry Potter obsessive, I just had to!
Eventually, I got creative. This was my first encounter with It’s A Sling Thing, the UK’s biggest online sling library. I noticed through my trawling that they had a couple of the Mischief Managed Connectas for hire. Well, I’m nothing if not opportunistic, and I sent off a tentative email asking if one might possibly be for sale if I asked nicely. And lo and behold, the lovely ladies at It’s A Sling Thing sent me out my very own Harry Potter baby carrier!
Isn’t it beautiful? And yes, as that picture shows, it is indeed still going – and still sending Ted off to sleep. It has a weight limit of 24kg, and as Ted’s only around 15kg now at fifteen months old, it’s going to be going for a while yet.
There are some negatives. As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’ve had significant upper back problems since I had Ted, and if I wore Ted in the Connecta for a long time, it started to pull. I think this is because a lot of the weight is carried on your shoulders and upper back, as the waistband sits quite high and isn’t padded. However, now these back problems have (finally) been mostly sorted out, even though Ted is now officially enormous, the Connecta feels a lot more comfortable for me.
It was with the Connecta that I did my first few back carries. I tried for the first time when Ted was about five months old, and comfortably sitting up independently (unless you’re a very experienced babywearer, it’s not recommended that you try back carries before then, particularly in a SSC).
Those pictures were taken a couple of months apart (the first one was my first try, and he was totally too low down and loose, but hey, I was still working it out). As you can see, Ted’s always been quite the fan of the back carry! I have to say, it revolutionised my babywearing even further. Grumpy little boy who wanted to play with the oven while I was trying to cook? Sling him on my back. Overexcited little boy who wanted to play with the hoover while I was trying to use it? Sling him on my back. It took a while before he was comfortable enough to fall asleep on my back, but he got there in the end, thanks to some lovely bouncing around at a Sling Swing class.
The worst problem I had with back carries in the Connecta came, actually, after that Sling Swing class. As you can see, I had the straps a bit too tight, and I couldn’t find the accessory strap to secure them a bit further forward. Turns out that’s a really good way to get some impressive broken blood vessels around your armpits. I’ve actually totally lost the accessory strap and need to get a new one, as when the weather gets better I can see a lot more back carrying in my future (it’s a bit more difficult in the winter unless you can afford a specific babywearing coat – I can’t, and so Ted’s spent most of his longer carries on my front while it’s been cold, as it’s quite uncomfortable getting him on my back over my normal coat).
If I had to sum up the Connecta in one word, I’d have to say ‘workhorse’. It’s not going anywhere.