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I did a lot of research when looking for a sling for my new baby. I had had a babytrekker for my son, from Canada, which was clip fastened, but seemed to be one of those carriers which are no longer recommended due to the way the baby dangles by their crotch in them. many of my friends had used the baby hawk at this time, and so, it was a good starting point for my research.
You can buy many, many different patterns and prints of baby hawk, and most of the online reviews I found were very positive. I do recommend shopping around, as mine came in at £65 delivered, which compares very well with most retailers.
I felt very confident when it came to use this sling for the first time, it seems intuitive, and the instructions confirm this, at least for front carrying, inward facing, which is, at the time of writing all I have used it for, as my baby is still very young.
However, I have some issues with it. My baby doesn't find it very comfy, and the ties are confusing to untie (easy to tie, but they both tie in the same pace, so it is hard to pick out which ones to untie to get the baby out safely.)
it does also seem to slip very easily, which seems worrying.
As a result of these things, we use it less than I would like, as slinging really has a lot of advantages for our lifestyle. I suspect I need a lot more practise, and, possibly an extra adult (which is a downside for single parents or parents travelling alone.
I am, thus far, really worried that I have made a bad choice, since I can't just get a different one.
I can only hope that it gets better with practise / as my baby grows, as it is meant to be suitable from birth to toddlerhood. It's also meant to be better posturally for babies, but, since it slips, I am not even sure that's true.
It does seem very easy to tie correctly, but, then, often, there ends up no fabric under the baby's bottom! I can't imagine what I am doing wrong for this to happen, and, it really shouldn't be so difficult to work out, as often you will be trying to tie straps, manage a newborn and an older child simultaneously.
So many people love this carrier, and so far, I can't work out why. I don't even find it very comfortable to wear, and ended up with back ache carrying a very small, light baby for only an hour or so.
With my baby girl long outgrowing her Chicco Baby carrier, I was still keen to purchase another carrier that would be suitable for an older baby. My husband was keen to have a carrier that would go on the back, and I wanted one that I could still use on the front, as when I am out at the weekend doing my messages in town, I can let my daughter have her morning nap in the sling/carrier whilst out and about. Our solution was to purchase this BabyHawk Mei Tai sling, which is suitable for both front and back carrying.
The babyhawk mei tai is suitable from birth up to 40lbs, however a baby should only be placed in the back position when they are six months plus. Now, since I already had a baby carrier which had been heavily used since my daughter was a newborn, I didn't get this sling until my baby girl was just over five months old, so I could only have her in the front position initially.
THe mei tai is based on an asian style sling, with material ties that allow you to carry a baby comfortably and securely, leaving your hands free. In fact, the BabyHawk brand promotes this for 'comfort, style and fashion'. My first baby carrier involved clips and so I had no experience of tying a sling, and I was a little apprehensive that it would take too long to get baby in and out and just be too much bother in the end. I did a little research online and found a LOT of positive comments about this mei tai sling and how easy it was to tie, which put my mind at rest when I ordered the product.
When you order your babyhawk mei tai, and there are a handful of websites to choose from, you will see that there is a huge variety of babyhawks to choose from in terms of pattern and design. On the material of the mei tai there is room for a pattern, back and front or only on one side (depending on how much you want to spend). Although on some websites there is only a limited amount of patterns to choose from, you can also go through websites where you can even customise your own design. In the end, since I didn't want to spend the earth, I opted for a front pattern but no back pattern, and a rather vibrant pattern. THe material itself was brown, and when the product arrived, I have to say that the pattern against the brown material looked very stylish. The other thing about these material slings, although I have yet to do so, is that it is machine washable. It is also worth pointing out at this point that the material itself, especially around the neck/head area is stronger and offers decent support for baby's head.
Along with the ability to create you own style in regards to a sling, the other positives of these slings are that they are generally comfortable to wear, despite the weight of baby. Despite my initial worries about the ties, there really is no problem at all. A little book comes with the sling that has colour step by step photographs showing the variety of ways to wear this sling from newborn upwards and back and front (inward) facing, and I practiced a couple of times in the house before I was brave enough to try it out myself going into town. I can certainly manage the inward facing sling myself, and have no problem with the ties. When my husband puts out daughter on his back when we are going out a walk, I do find that it takes two of us so one of us holds our daughter, whilst the other ties the straps. There is information inside the booklet to show you how to do the back style of sling by yourself, but it involves shifting baby round your back with one hand, and with a wriggly baby like mine, that just wouldn't be a safe option.
I wear this most weekends when I am going into town to do errands and my husband often wears it when we got out walks at the weekend, to avoid the hassle of the buggy. There are negatives however and they are worth pointing out. Despite following the instructions as well as can be, and making sure there is no slack in the ties when securing them around my daughter, she still manages to slip down as I walk around, sometimes more than others. My husband finds the exact same when she is on his back in the sling, and very often if we are out walking, we may have to tighten the straps again and hoist our daughter up higher on my husband;s back. I can't see any other way for her not to slip without the sling being uncomfortable to wear. When I say slip however I just mean that she gradually slids down a few centimetres from where she started off at.
The other slight negative of this product is that a baby's legs have to be quite wide to get the sling to wrap around them, and my daughter doesn't always like sitting this way in the sling, but she is getting used to it, but even my mum has commented that the cling makes my daughter have to widen out her legs a lot.
In terms of comfort, the sling is super comfortable if you are not walking at any fast pace with a baby in the inward facing position. One weekend when hubby has a sore back, I took my little girl on a walk with her inward facing, however since I was going at a faster pace than when I would be walking around town, I felt that I was being pulled forward and it started to feel slightly uncomfortable. If you are just strolling around then there is no issue with comfort.
All in all, there are pros and cons of this sling, but I still like it, and find it great for being out shopping - no buggies, hands free, napping baby who is cuddly and warm. However, it does slip down a little and the baby has to sit with legs quite wide apart. SO not perfect but not bad!
Having being a huge fan of the Moby wrap/sling I was really disappointed when I felt my little boy was becoming too heavy for it. Although still a no where near the maximum weight for the wrap, I found that if he was in it for any length of time the material would stretch with his weight so it felt like he was dangling off me, stopping to tighten it up was not the easiest task with an energetic 3 year old it tow so I was on the lookout for a new carrier!
Summer was approaching so I didn't want another wrap (way too much material for hot days!) so I decided a Mei Tai style carrier was the way to go. A Mei Tai is basically a square piece of fabric with straps coming from each corner. After several weeks perusing my options I decided to go for a Babyhawk, for both practical and asthetic reasons!!
*** The Babyhawk ***
A Babyhawk can be used from newborn up to 40lbs. You can carry baby on your front or your back, though Babyhawk recommend only the front carry for the first 6 months.
The body of the Babyhawk is the shape you get if you place half a hexagon on top of a square! The hexagon part is padded and provides neck/head support for younger babies (this can be folded down if not needed to give baby a better view of the world). The square is the bit that forms a seat for the baby to sit in.
Coming from each corner (or thereabouts) of the square is a strap. The bottom corner straps are not padded and go round your waist, the first section of the top corner straps are padded and go over your shoulders (more about this later!)
The Babyhawk looks extremely stylish. The straps and the border of the square come in a great range of colours, then for the finishing touch there is a panel on the square which comes in an unbelievable number of different designs - all stunning in their own right! It is even reversible so, although the straps are the same colour, you can have a different patterned panel on each side. What's more, if you go to the Babyhawk website you can choose your own colours/fabrics and get exactly what you want - for no extra cost! It is a US company, but at the time of my purchase they had an offer on shipping costs which meant it was going to cost me the same to be shipping from the US as it would from a UK company. They regularly do this so it's worth keeping an eye out and having the privilidge of choosing all your own fabrics. As my other half sometimes uses the carrier I went for a more masculine print on one side and a lovely feminine print on the other!
There is also the option of having a pocket inside the panel (I declined this) and/ a toy ring sewn into the shoulder strap, I did go for this. I don't use it often, but it is extremely handy for attaching toys to if I know my little boy is going to be in the carrier for any length of time.
There is also the option of having the Babyhawk lined with minky fabric to make it extra snuggly, but unless you can afford a summer AND winter carrier then I wouldn't both with this!
*** Putting it on ***
Wearing the Babyhawk is very simple, if you've never worn a cloth carrier before it may seem a little daunting, but trust me, you will soon get the hang of it....even where the back carry is concerned! There are several ways of wearing the Babyhawk, the following is the one I always used for the front carry.
You start by putting the Babyhawk on as though you are putting an apron on! So the body (square part!) of the carrier hangs down over you knees and you tie the waist straps around your back. You then hold your baby to your chest and pull the body of the carrier up against baby's back. The next bit can be a bit tricky the first few times. You toss the straps over your shoulders. They have to cross across your back and be brought back round to the front. At this point make pull the straps tight and make sure baby is sat deep into the carrier (I sometimes do a little jump to jiggle them down!). You take the straps over the top of baby's legs. Cross them over, take them under his legs around to your back and tie in a secure double knot. Don't worry - it sounds far more complicated than it is! I suggest that you have someone around to help you the first couple of times, and do it when baby is happy - not screaming!
Getting baby into the back carry is a little trickier! Tying the Babyhawk is basically the same, though I tend not to cross the straps across my chest as I find it uncomfy, but wear them more like a rucksack. It's getting baby onto your back that is a bit of an artform. There are suggestions on the website...and on youTube! The best thing to do is watch several, try a few out and you will find one that works for you. I tend to do one where I cross my arms in front of me, pick baby up under his armpits. I then lift him over my head (I already have the Babyhawk tied apron style, with the straps passed under my shoulders and held between my knees!), which uncrosses my arms and puts him in the perfect position. I then bend forward, grab the straps whilst he balances on my back, pass them over my shoulders, pull them tight and he is secure enough by that point for me to stand up, jiggle him down and continue tying! Believe me, I practised this one many, many times with hubby stood ready to catch the falling baby before I dare do it on my own! But, he never fell! He is now almost one and we have it down to a fine art!
*** Comfort - you and baby! ***
I find the Babyhawk incredibly comfy. The weight of the baby is very evenly distributed so there is no pulling on the shoulders and the padding in the shoulder straps prevents them from digging in. I have used it extensively for both front and back carry's. As my son has got older and heavier I find a back carry is much comfier for me than a front carry, but still use both.
My little boy always looks very comfy when he's in it. The 'seat' of the carrier is nice and wide so it doesn't cut into them anywhere, they are definitely 'sat' in it, rather than dangling like they seem to be in some carriers. He often falls asleep in it so the padded head rest is very useful as it stops his head from lolling too far back.
Both the front and back carry are like having a great big cuddle! When my little boy is in the front carry I find it impossible not to wrap my arms round him and kiss his head repeatedly, and when he's in the back carry he wraps his arms round my waist. You don't get that when pushing a pram!
*** Cost ***
The Babyhawk is not the cheapest carrier on the market, nor is it the most expensive. Most online UK shops sell them for around £65. They start at $89 (£57) on the US Babyhawk website...and there you have a full choice of colours and fabrics...however, be warned, you may be charged by customs. I was not, my friend however was. If I remember correctly it was around £18. It is worth factoring into the cost the re-sale value of these. They sell second hand for around £30 - £40, more if the fabric is one of the more unusual ones, or is double sided, etc.
*** Durability ***
I think Babyhawk suggest you only spot clean the carrier. Mine has been in the washing machine on the hand wash cycle several times and still looks fab!
I think I should stop writing! Do I need to say I think this carrier is amazing, or have you worked that out by now?!
Oh, one other thing. The Babyhawk folds up quite small. Unfortunately it doesn't come with a bag to pop it in, this would be a great addition as once folded, if it's not in a bag it the straps can become a little unruly! I found an old drawstring bag that I keep mine in and it easily fits into my rucksack style changing bag.
The BabyHawk Mei Tai is one of the most loved carriers and is the perfect choice for your newborn through toddler age. Stylish print on one side reverses to a solid color of the straps on the other, giving you two looks to one carrier. Use the lightly padded headrest up to support your younger babies, or sleeping babes. Fold it down when not needed so your child can see! Shoulder straps are lightly padded as well so the carrier is super comfy. The Mei Tai is a traditional Chinese style of baby carrier, consisting of a rectangular seat area with four straps: two that tie around the wearer's waist and two that go over the shoulders. It is great for carrying babies of all ages, on front or back.