Cora's Corner

Honest opinions, news and reviews on mother and baby products, gadgets and gizmos.

Update on Stokke MyCarrier – Back Carry

Hello all!

This is probably going to be a bit of a reoccurring trend – but I must apologise for being absent for so long!  I had a few products lined up for review shortly after the Stokke MyCarrier, but Cora is really good at keeping me tied up and away from the computer.  I may still choose a few relevant items to review at a later date, so keep your eyes peeled and I will do my best!

The purpose of this post was a quick update to let you all know about the back carry method for the Stokke MyCarrier.  In my last post, which is a fair few month’s back, Cora was not yet long enough to travel safely in the back carry position, so I was not able to review it on that aspect fully.  Since then, we have taken trips using that method several times so I will endeavour to give you feedback in as much detail as possible.

Chinese Mei Tai – A Little Back Story…

As I mentioned in my first post, I’ve gone through various carrier types including the Chinese Mei Tai.  For those who are unfamiliar with this carrier, it’s basically a square of fabric (more like a rectangle actually), with long straps of equal length attached to each corner.  There are various ways to accomplish getting baby onto your back, but basically baby is positioned length ways on the fabric, whilst the top two straps then go over your shoulders and the bottom two go under each of baby’s legs and around your hips.  This achieves the ‘Happy Hips’ / ‘Froggy Legs’ optimum carry position to be safe for baby’s hips/spine.  The Chinese Mei Tai was originally designed mainly for back-carrying, and having had the chance to compare Mei Tai to Stokke, I have to say the Mei Tai performs admirably considering the simplicity of its design.  Why am I talking about the Mei Tai?  All will be explained further down…

Stokke MyCarrier Back Carry Vs. Chinese Mei Tai

So to achieve the back carry in the Stokke, you must first unzip the main piece and attach the alternative piece and insert the lumbar support (detailed images can be found in my first post) – the zip and positioning can be slightly fiddly if it’s been a while since you’ve had to mess around with the assembly of the carrier, but shouldn’t present too much problem.  Baby then can be clipped into the carrier and then lifted easily and safely straight onto your back like a backpack!  This is the niftiest part of the Stokke and the feature I love the most – the designers have certainly put a lot of thought into the execution of getting baby onto your back.

Carrying Cora around town in the back carry position was an interesting experience.  One trip lasted over an hour, by which time Cora was understandably fed up and wanted out.  This left me in a bind as I didn’t have the buggy, and I had a whole bunch of shopping too – not an experience I am keen to repeat any time soon!

I can’t be sure if my build or size had anything to do with it, or even my dubious posture, but I found back carrying to be a lot more tiring and uncomfortable than front carrying on the Stokke.  I have spoken to Cora Daddy at length about both carrying positions as he has had lengthy durations of both, and he doesn’t find there is a noticeable difference in comfort levels.  He does prefer front carrying, but only because he likes to be able to see Cora at all times and feels he is more in control of her safety when she is up front.

This is a noteworthy point as most public places can get rather crowded at times, and I felt that the Stokke’s back carrying position wasn’t quite ‘close’ enough to mum or dad’s body to feel completely confident in the safety of baby.  Without the tactile feel of baby being right up close to your back, and in fact with baby leaning at a slight angle away from your back, it can sometimes feel like she could easily catch on objects or people when you are in a narrow space and particularly when turning around.  I found myself very conscious of turning in crowds and in shops, afraid she might accidentally knock into something or someone.

This is also the main reason I mentioned the Mei Tai earlier.  With a carrier like the Mei Tai, baby is very cosily pressed up against your back so you can be certain she is creating as compact a footprint as possible – it’s much easier to gauge how much more space you have to allow for yourself and her when in a crowded area and so for me personally, it is a much better method of back carrying than the Stokke.

Essentially this is not a problem, as I quite like front carrying in general and so the Stokke still serves that end very well.  But on the occasions where I want to back carry, I definitely prefer using something like a Mei Tai.

The Mei Tai that I have is a very basic, bog-standard one that I purchased from Hong Kong.  It is the preferred method of carrying in Asia and significantly more popular than buggies or prams as space is very limited there.  Due to it being very no-frills, the support and comfort of the straps on my shoulders definitely have room for improvement, but it’s not something that greatly impacts the carrying experience.  It is also just a piece of sturdy but soft fabric, so the build up of heat is greatly reduced and it is significantly lighter too.  Mine is nothing to look at, and is actually a horrific, almost neon(!) pink, with a really awful flower motif on it.  Think garish curtain meets terrible table-cloth…  BUT!  Fear not – for those of you who are fashion-conscious and would never be seen dead at home with a table-cloth on your back (let alone outdoors), there is hope – a few online boutiques specialising in custom-made Mei Tais produce some amazing designs and colours, with more built-in luxuries than you could shake a stick at.  A good place to get an idea of the possibilities is hereSimply Mei Tai has many good design examples, and have modified their design to incorporate front carrying, hip carrying and all sorts of other interesting ideas.  From padded-straps to silk inner linings, and hoods to shade baby and keep their heads secure when asleep, the modernised (or westernised?) version of the Mei Tai is really quite swanky.

The only downside?  These perks come at a premium.  My Mei Tai cost me approximately £3.00, and the trade-off is that overall the designs and colours are very limited.  In the UK or the US however, you will need to expect to pay around the £90 mark – with many custom designs over £100.  Is it worth that much extra?  I’d like to know too.  If these modern Mei Tais are anywhere near as good as mine for back carrying, I’d definitely be intrigued as to how it would perform for all the other carries too.  The magpie in me also loves the choice of a nice looking design and colour, with all the extra trimmings!

So that concludes the full Stokke MyCarrier review – all in all it is a sturdy and safe carrier, and you cannot fault it for build quality and materials.  My personal preference is the front carry (facing inwards or outwards), but I would go for something else to back carry.  Have any readers since bought and used the Stokke?  What are your thoughts, and how have you been getting on?  I would love to hear from you all, and also anyone who has experience with the modern Mei Tais – do get in touch!

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Stokke MyCarrier 3 in 1 Carrier Review

 

So as it’s taken me longer than I had hoped to write this review, let’s just get straight to it.  Recently I purchased the new Stokke MyCarrier in my never-ending quest to find the best method of carrying Cora around town.  Let’s face it, as wonderful as my buggy is (and it is a wonderful buggy I assure you), sometimes it’s just easier to get around without one!

I have tried stretchy micro-fleece type wraps, more structured woven wraps, a ring sling and even a traditional Chinese Mei Tai.  All had their various pros and cons when it came to carrying her, but in the end the cons for me personally meant I had little confidence to take her anywhere outdoors with them.

When I saw that Stokke were releasing a structured carrier which could be used in 3 different ways, I was certain I wanted to try it, as it was the only type of baby-wearing I had yet to trial, and I know Stokke to be a trusted and reputable brand.  Reading the description of the MyCarrier, I was intrigued by how comfortable and secure it sounded, and its versatility.  The attention to detail in including an integrated sun shade/hood for the back carry, as well as storage pockets for change/mobile phones in the side panelling scored big points with me.

What is it?

In brief, the MyCarrier is a structured carrier by Stokke, released mid-March in the UK and currently retailing at £139.00 from a few big names like Mothercare and Baby Nest, which allows you to carry your baby from birth to 3 years (max 5kg/33lbs) in 3 different ways:

  • Front Facing Inwards: (from newborn – minimum 3.5 kg/7.7 lbs and 53 cm/21 inch – until your child can hold his/her head unaided.)
  • Front Facing Outwards: (only to be used once your child can hold his/her head unaided. Every child is unique, but a rough guide is around 4 months+.)
  • Back Carrying: (when your child can sit unaided and is longer than 72 cm / 28 inch.)

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy, modelled by Cora and Cora Daddy!🙂

Front Facing Inwards:

Stokke MyCarrier Stokke MyCarrier Stokke MyCarrier

Notice from the centre image that Cora’s legs are elevated into the ‘Happy Hips’ position, or also known as ‘Froggy Legs’ – the optimum and correct hip/spine position for babies being carried.

Stokke MyCarrier Stokke MyCarrier

Front Facing Outwards:

Stokke MyCarrier Stokke MyCarrierphoto 5  

The centre image shows a vital part that I missed when I scanned the diagram (and only found out when reading the text portion of the booklet) – under the front panel there is a zip and 2 poppers on either side you must undo in order to lengthen the carrier for a more comfortable and narrower seating position for baby when facing forward. 

Back Carrying:

Stokke MyCarrier Stokke MyCarrier Stokke MyCarrier

The clips fastened across the top of Cora Daddy’s chest can be repositioned up and down, depending on your torso length and height.  Cora is not yet long enough or sitting unaided so is only in the back carry position for demonstration purposes😉

The idea behind MyCarrier is that our babies have spent 9 months following the rhythm of our motions, why stop after they are born?  It is robustly designed with safety in mind for child, but doesn’t compromise on comfort for the adult.  Sounding great already, right?  So how did it do in our test run? 

In The Box

Unpacking the box, you will find 4 main items – the main harness, the front carry piece, the back carry piece and a metal lumbar support.  Of course, there were also instructions and a guarantee in the box.

Packaging 

Packaging

Back Piece, Metal Lumbar Support and Front Piece 

Back Piece, Metal Lumbar Support and Front Piece

Main Harness

Main Harness

My initial reaction was that it looked a bit complicated, and for parents who are perhaps a little less technically minded, it could come off as quite scary on first impressions.  There are lots of clips, fasteners, buckles and zips!  However, after taking a thorough look at the product in detail, I found it to be actually very intuitive and logical.  The pieces fit perfectly in place, and once you get one piece in place, the other bits and pieces follow quite naturally as it all slots together very well.  The product is so intuitively built that I found no need to refer to the instructions in order to put it together, and only looked at it afterwards to double check any warnings and usage notes – and I should stress that this is an important step for everyone, and the page comes at the end of the diagram portion of the instruction booklet.

If I was completely honest, I found the diagram instructions to be pretty redundant – I found them to be quite hard to decipher and it was much easier to work it out by looking at the product itself.

Safety and Comfort

So today I took it for a test run to town.  The sun was shining, the weather was mild and a perfect day to trial a carrier.  Having clipped together one side of the main harness to the front piece, I was ready to slip the harness on over my back, and clip the mirroring side together and slip Cora into the carrier.  She went in easily and without a fuss, this time facing outwards at the front.  My first 20 minutes of walking in the park quickly got tiring in the sun, but I put this down to being seriously unfit in my post-natal slump, and ignored the niggling ache beginning to form across my neck and shoulders.  By mid-walk however, I was starting to get that sinking feeling that I had blown a lot of money on yet another fancy bit of kit that didn’t suit me.  Still, unwilling to give up so quickly, I unclipped the safety carabiners on each side and moved them down one slot, as I remembered reading that they should be level with your armpit.  WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT MADE!  All of a sudden the forward drag I was feeling lifted and the entire carrier felt like a different experience altogether.  I managed to finish my 10 minute walk to the car without the tired ache across my shoulders. 

Later on as I got into the town centre, Cora was already crying and fussing from being restless in the car seat and as I plopped her into the MyCarrier, this time facing inwards at the front, she immediately quietened and started looking around at her surroundings whilst bobbing gently to my walking motion.  My 15 minute walk around town this time was pain and ache free, and in fact I felt as if the structure of the carrier was encouraging me to walk straighter – a definite bonus as I suspect I’m a bit of a sloucher when I walk normally!

Thankfully it was also a fairly breezy day, as I had made the mistake of wearing one too many layers, and I got hot and slightly sweaty across my back quite quickly.  The main harness covers a significant part of your back, meaning it adds a very padded and very warm layer to your clothes.  My recommendation in hindsight would be to dress lightly if it is a warm day.    

Beside this minor detail, the carrier felt secure and comfortable, allowing me to be totally hands-free and confident in the fact that she was both safe and enjoying being carried.

Functionality and Fit

Personally I felt both inward and outward carrying on the front works very well.  Both positions felt safe and secure, and the side storage pockets are a really nice touch.  In a nutshell, the product performs exactly as it says it does on the packaging, and fits well on both myself and Cora Daddy – which is an important factor for those who share carriers.  Cora Daddy stands 5’9” tall and is of slim/average build with fairly broad shoulders, and I am a puny 4’11” tall and of average build – so we are definitely different in size and shape and the MyCarrier performed admirably in fitting both of us.  

Style and Build Quality

The MyCarrier currently comes in 3 different colours; red, dark navy and brown.  I chose the dark navy as it is easy to match my clothing and my preferred colour of the 3.  I would have preferred if there was a bit more choice, but am fairly happy with the navy.  A dark colour also hides stains easier, for some this may be an advantage considering how much drool a baby can produce! 

The feel of the material that Cora’s skin has contact with is very soft and seems comfortable against her – Stokke states that the entire product is made with organic textiles and contains no harmful chemicals or parts, which is another plus point for me as Cora has very sensitive skin prone to rashes and allergies.  The overall feel of the product is sturdy and well-made, from the clips, to the poppers, to the harness material itself  – the seams are neat and tidy and I honestly cannot fault the build quality.  I can see the product being highly hard-wearing and durable for many years to come – and I will update this space in time as to its longevity. 

In terms of washing, the harness and front/back pieces can be machine washed at low temperatures, but cannot be tumble dried – this may be a slight inconvenience, but minor spills and stains can be mopped off with a damp cloth.  

Usability

As mentioned before, though I love my buggy very much, sometimes it really is easier to get around with a carrier or sling.  After test driving the MyCarrier I really do see us having a very deep and long-lasting relationship.  Popping her in the carrier means I can avoid having to find elevators wherever I go, this includes shopping centres, other stores and restaurants to name a few!  It also makes for easy trips on public transport, especially during busy periods.  Aside from this it gives your baby a chance to really look around and take in the sights as you travel, which is likely to keep them entertained for longer than in a buggy or pushchair, and therefore calmer.

Pros and Cons

So to summarise, here’s a list of pros and cons for Stokke’s MyCarrier:

Pros:

  • Strong and sturdy
  • Secure and safe
  • Hands-free carrying
  • 3 different carrying positions
  • Longevity (birth to 3 years old)
  • Comfortable for parent and child
  • Easy to use with a little practice
  • Organic textiles only, no harmful chemicals

Cons:

  • Can be slightly confusing to assemble initially
  • Fairly bulky, adds weight and heat
  • Cannot be tumble dried
  • Not that easy to fold away and put in a bag
  • Pricier than your average carrier

Verdict

Overall I rate this as a solid product which performs as it should – the cons for me personally are minor and are not things that cannot be addressed with a little adaptation.  Though at the higher end of the price scale, I feel this is reflected in the superb build quality and materials used – in this case you do get what you pay for.

A definite ++recommend++ from me and Cora, and hopefully it lasts the whole 3 years and I get to use the back carry too.  

 

Thanks for reading, hope this review helped you towards making a decision on your next exciting investment!  Comments and questions welcome.

 

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