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On my second child there were times when a buggy and a toddler weren't a good mix and having both hands free was needed. I bought mine second hand from a good friend. I didn't want an expensive one because I knew it wouldn't be something I used all the time.
It is easy to put on after you have adjusted the straps a couple of times to get the best fit for your comfort. Everything clips with the buckles that are reassuringly stiff. When newborn your baby faces inwards, but they can face outwards once they have some head control.
It was comfortable to wear. On the long days I used it by the end I couldn't wait to get it off, but I guess if you buy a more expensive model you get more padding. My daughter always fell asleep in it, which is a good sign she was comfortable in it. My little girl is very light so it actually lasted longer than the 12 months due to her size.
If you are on a budget I think this carrier ticks all the boxes, but if you have a bit more to spend you can get better models I think.
We got given this carrier from my sister-in-law before my son was born. I wasn't keen on the look of it as I had wanted something a bit more ergonomic and wasn't really impressed by 'crotch dangler' carriers. Then my son was born and we discovered that taking him around in public in this carrier was actually better than faffing around with prams or buggies in and out of our boot all the time. Our son seems to have no problem drifting off to sleep in this carrier, doesn't show any signs of distress while in it and overall seems happy to be toted around in it.
I hadn't used it up until I needed to get things done as our son does NOT like to be put down. He faces into me and likes to cuddle right in when he's being carried so it's lovely for us both. I did find the carrier to be somewhat cumbersome and not at all like I expected it to be - there is a strap that goes around your back to take some of the weight off from the carrier so it doesn't feel like you're being weighed down by a baby. The two straps that sit on your shoulders I found comfortable and padded enough to offer comfort when wearing. I was able to bend down but every time I was bending down I had to use my other hand to hold my son in place - a big downside and doesn't fill me with confidence!
The carrier comes in a navy colour and it does look boring. No fancy patterns or colours! Still it's better than a huge buggy or pram for getting about and my husband doesn't have complaints carrying our boy about for a few hours in his carrier - though I'm not sure how it will hold up over time. Our baby is 15 weeks old and weighs about 11-12lbs and the carrier distributes his weight nicely. It can sometimes be a bit of a struggle to get him into the carrier with one person doing it but when two people are putting him it's made a lot easier so perhaps not the carrier to take on the go with only one pair of hands available, though my husband manages just fine I'm not sure I'd feel confident enough to carry our baby when out and about on my own.
Inside the carrier is lined with a soft fleecy material that is padded out and my son loves to cuddle into me, with his head resting over my heart, whenever I'm carrying him. The first time I had him in the carrier he was distressed beforehand and as soon as he was close to me he was absolutely fine, made not a peep, cuddled in and nearly fell asleep. His feet happily (I assume) dangle down and his hands pop out at the side. There is adjustable poppers on the front of the carrier to adjust the size and make things more snug or give more room as the baby grows. There is also poppers on the straps for size adjustment. As he develops better head control and gets bigger we'll be able to have him forward facing in the carrier.
The downsides of this carrier are that I'd like it to be a bit more snug, thus making it a tad more secure and safer to bend down and get on with things. I have a toddler to chase after and wouldn't feel confident running too hard in this carrier. Like I said you can't bend down without holding onto the baby in the carrier and you can't bend down too far even doing that. The upside to this carrier is that it is cheap when you compare with the likes of Mei Tai carriers, ring slings and Ergobaby carriers...but you get what you pay for, I suppose! For the price (anywhere between £25-35) I do think it's a decent carrier but you have to accept it's not a top of the range thing, that it's quite basic and will allow you to do simple things like getting from shop to shop or doing some hoovering but you won't be chasing after toddlers or doing a full houseclean when wearing your baby in it ;). Also because it's fairly inexpensive to buy first-hand it can be picked up second-hand for about a tenner - or so I discovered on eBay. When you compare that with an Ergobaby you're looking to fork out £50-60 for a second-hand carrier.
It is comfortable (seemingly so, anyway) for my baby and is comfortable enough for me, if a little bulky and not entirely everything I'd want in a carrier, that I would give it to someone after we use it and I would recommend buying it - after all it's so cheap that if you don't like it you don't feel cheated out of £50/£100 like you would with other carriers and slings on the market. I will still be looking for an alternative 'full time' sling/carrier so I can do some housework or bake cakes with my toddler without tending to a screaming baby all the time - he hates to be put down! - but this carrier does what we want it to for getting out and about in public.
To be honest when I was expecting my daughter, having a carrier didn't even cross my mind. With all the excitement of shopping for a pram and other baby accessories I really didn't think of the practicality. As when my daughter was first born I hadn't yet passed my driving test so when dad was busy at work, it meant I had to get public transport to and from places and my space ship of a pram sometimes was awkward to get on and off the bus! Not only this, when trying to do things around the home like dishes and cooking and cleaning it meant I was constantly moving around the flat and so for ease and peace of mind I decided to get this carrier from my beloved website kiddicare.com and I think I paid about £25 for it, but have now seen it on that site for £32.99.
After reading some good reviews about it, I figured it wouldn't disappoint and it didn't! I bought it perhaps when my daughter was 3 months or so (in hindsight I should have got it from birth really!) and it was really easy to use. At first go it was quite fiddly, as there are a lot of straps and it seems quite complicated! However, once you have it on once it's pretty straightforward and you remember how it goes on.
*** How To Use ***
It is a front carrier only, meaning it cannot be positioned on the back (like giving baby a piggy back!) but can be used so baby is inwards facing or forward facing (advised from 3 months +). Personally I always used it with my daughter inward facing as most of the time she was in this, she was asleep!
It came with a picture diagram to explain how it goes on, as it has velcro straps to secure around my waist to make it adjustable for people of different sizes and shoulder straps which are to hold baby in place. The front compartment is for baby and has clips around baby's side to hold them in and then 2 hooks on the shoulder to hold baby up. The most practical way to use this is to put it on first simply over the head and secure at the waist, and adjust the straps to preferred suitability and then put baby in last.
*** My Opinion ***
There are both good and bad aspects to this carrier. Not one to end on a bad note I'll do the con's first!
1. It says it is designed for 0 - 12 months however, once my daughter reached 6 months using this just wasn't practical as she was far too heavy and giving me back ache! As it is only a front carrier, it probably would have been great to use for a 1 year old on my back but on my front she weighed me down and it was not comfortable at this stage at all.
2. It only comes in beige which isn't the most attractive of colours, I would have preferred it in black to be honest.
3. Where baby does go forward facing, there is a flap under baby's chin which never seems to actually stay down and folded. This isn't such a problem when baby is in the carrier facing me as this flat is actually just shielding the back of my daughter's head but having her facing outwards she found it annoying and of course just screeched her little head off!
Pros's - of which there are more!
1. It really is comfortable to use and makes getting around with a little one much easier, which to be honest is the entire reason I bought it, and for this it was great.
2. It's machine washable so easy to clean and although a neutral colour it washes well.
3. The adjustable straps are easy to use and customise, so both me and my partner had great ease using this and taking turns carrying our daughter out in it. It may arrive looking like a bundle of straps and you may wonder where to start, but once you put it on once you realise how straightforward it is!
4. The straps are also thick and secure, and although I was hesitant about velcro being the attachment holding my baby onto me rather than the floor it actually was really strong, and after 3 months consistent use the quality didn't wain and so it is quite long lasting.
5. It allows you to be much closer to your baby, and if you are out in public transport you will save time and hassle from trying to battle the other mothers and their prams on the bus/train!
*** Overview ***
Overall, this is actually a really great carrier and I would definitely recommend it. I haven't used any others to be able to make comparisons, but I had only minor problems with this one, and should I pop another one out I will definitely be using a carrier the majority of the time from birth! Even though I drive now, going to supermarkets etc these are so much easier to use, as you can be hands free and do more things like normal whilst still maintaining a close bond with your new baby :)
The Tomy Freestyle Classic Carrier has easy to use clips for quick fitting and adjusting, 2 carrying positions allowing baby to be carried facing inwards or outwards (from 3 months) and is machine washable, 100% cotton for natural softness, durability and easy care.
I bought this while pregnant and I was convinced I would use it all the time when my baby was born. Sadly this was not the case and bar some dribble stains it is still as good as new 8 months on!
This was very cheap for a baby carrier, and I now know why. My baby was too small to use it for a few months (have to be 8lb I think) so we opened it with great anticipation when she was big enough. Thankfully there were 2 of us when we decided to use it as it was exceptionally complex to use, so many straps and fasteners. I still haven't figured out how to use it on my own and I have reluctantly retired it for this baby.
It can be used front facing when they are bigger which is handy when your baby is more aware and nosy, and the baby can face you when they are tiny - my baby looked so small in it at first and kept headbutting whoever was carrying her, her legs were also at the right height for kicking dad in the genitals, which was funny for me but not so much for him.
Finally, this also caused bad back ache for myself and my husband after wearing it, it does not seem very supportive.
If I have another child I will do some proper research, or buy a baby bjorn as I love the idea of slings/carriers and know they are great for soothing clingly babies, but this carrier just didn't do it for me.
I bought this baby carrier whilst pregnant as an alternative to taking the pram everywhere but it turned out to be a waste of money for me. It was easy enough to get on and off and get our baby into and out of, but I just didnt' think it was comfortable for him of for us.
The first time we tried was when he was a few days old. He dangled in the carrier with his head buried inside it while I continuously tested his foot reflex to make sure he was still alive. I thought it might be better to wait til he had more head control, so out it came again a couple of months later. He certainly seemed more comfortable this time and his head was no longer buried, but after 10 minutes my back was aching and I was ready to take it off, thinking maybe it would be better to have used it when he weighed less.
I sold it and have since heard that these carriers are notoriously uncomfortable for parents. I have recently bought a newborn to toddler buckle carrier and am happily carrying my 13 month old, 24lb baby around for half an hour or so on my front or back in that.
I bought this carrier in a bit of a hurry during that manic last phase of pregnancy where you feel you have to buy everything immediately otherwise you will never be ready for the baby to arrive (of course, when the baby does arrive you realise that all those things that you thought would be essential actually didn't matter at all, and actually those precious first weeks of maternity leave would actually have been far better spent putting your feet up and eating chocolate whilst watching DVDs).
Consequently, I didn't put as much thought or research into buying the carrier as I should have done, and just plumped for the Tomy Freestyle as it was middle of the range pricewise and seemed nice and comfy.
Unfortunately, unlike the pram which I had thoughtfully put together and practised before the little bundle arrived, I didn't think that I would need a lesson in putting on the carrier before hand so just left it in the box until I needed it. BAD MOVE!! On the day I decided that I was a new mum in control of my life and could go for a walk on my own through the woods with my little baby neatly tucked in my baby carrier (just like in all the pictures) I tried to put it on and got completely lost in all the harness type apparatus.
True the harness is supposed to be fully adjustable to suit you and the baby, but quite how you are supposed to adjust and put your baby in is completely beyond me. I struggled for quite some time, before baby had enough waiting and we needed to abandon our walk. The next time I decided to try to use it, I had assistance in trying to get the carrier on, but still to no avail - I did actually manage to leave the house that time, but had not adjusted the straps correctly, and had to hold my arms under my baby the whole walk - not comfortable at all!
When I did finally manage to leave the house with the straps adjusted properly, I was so concerned as to whether or not my baby could breathe in the carrier that the walk was not relaxing, so the carrier went back in the box never to be used again.
So you can probably tell by now, that I am not a fan of this carrier. If I had done some more research I probably would have gone for a different model which would have been easier to get into (and would have tried a fair few on before purchase - definately recommend that you do this!).
If you can work out how to use the Tomy Freestyle, it does have some good features - for example it is machine washable (essential) and you can carry your baby both forward and backward facing. It is also very padded, so if you can adjust it properly, it is probably comfortable for you and baby (though, I must admit I never found it so).
For me, not a good purchase - I never got to be that mum in the pictures striding out purposefully with babe comfortably attached to the front - oh well - luckily my pram manages off road quite well, so we didn't need it in the end anyway!
As any expectant mother will surely know, there is a period just before your baby is born when you cant really do much but you need things to keep your brain engaged. I therefore set myself the task of researching a baby carrier, as I and my husband are keen walkers so we wanted to be able to incorporate our baby into this without the hassle of lugging a pram around.
After reading all the reviews in any baby magazine I could lay my hands on we settled on the Babasling as it had had rave reviews and we liked the fact that it seemed simple to use.
Boy were we wrong! Needless to say it got half a dozen outings, resulting in half a dozen rows and is subsequently now on eBay!
So It's fair to say I was more than dubious when we decided to try another baby carrier and didn't expect to have such a positive experience.
We bought the Tomy classic freestyle from Boots for £24.99. I picked it because it was a middle of the range price and also because of the lumbar support it claimed to have as the main difficulty with baby carriers is that after a while they kill your lower back.
Whilst unpacking it I was pleased to find that not only was it extremely comfortable to wear, owing I think to the really thick padded straps, but it also comes with some really hand extras.
The dribble bib protects your chest when the baby is facing you, which they are advised to do until they can hold up their own head, and the soother carrier means you can attach a spare dummy to carry with you.
However the real test was my husband as he is a complete pain when it comes to wearing the baby carrier, he was never convinced that the babasling felt right and was forever adjusting it and jiggling our daughter around!
But right from the first time of wearing the Tomy carrier he was pleasantly surprised and is now very happy to use it all the time.
The only rows we have now is who gets to use it as we both really enjoy walking whilst carrying our daughter.
It also passed the baby approval test as our daughter loves being in it, although admittedly she didn't like facing my chest as she likes to be able to see what's going on!
The lumbar support really does make a difference as it spreads the weight around your lower back so no one place is taking the strain.
It is definitely worth the money, it was only half the price of the babasling, and is really simple to use.
An absolute recommendation.
When I was pregnant, I bought a cheap baby carrier from Lidl for £10. It was quite sweet, seemed fairly robust (to my untrained eye) and I was happy with my purchase. My son came along a few months later and when he was about a month old I put him in the carrier at home so that I could get on with making the lunch. He usually wouldn't sleep in the day, but within 30 seconds of being in the carrier, he was fast akip and I was able to potter around - wonderful! Unfortunately about 15 minutes later my back was really aching (he was quite a big baby, very tall and heavy). I desparately wanted to put him down, but couldn't find a way to do it. In the end I had to bend down over the moses basket, take the straps off my shoulders and leave him 'wearing' the carrier until he woke up. The shoulder straps and the flimsy strap around the waist were so unsupportive, and there was no way of taking him out without either taking off the whole carrier with the baby in or having another person help. I never used it again.
I used the pushchair for a while, until he was three months old and we planned a trip abroad to visit relatives. It was going to be a struggle travelling with the baby and all the other things, as well as the relative we were visiting being in a wheelchair. I was worried about my son's safety, too, and decided that the best thing to do was buy a very supportive carrier and use that for the week instead of taking the buggy. It would save on space, and keep my son safe with me constantly. So I took a trip to Mothercare. A very helpful salesperson helped me try on every type of carrier there, and I tried putting my son in them to see how it felt. I knew I wanted something supportive, sturdy and that would last. He was already about 15lb, so I didn't want to buy something we'd only get a month's use out of. The Tomy Freestyle carrier had a large, padded velcro strap around the waist and back as well as an adjustable clip, very thick shoulder straps, and velcro around the baby's legs as well as a plastic clip so that he's safe in there but can be taken out easily. My decision was made, and I paid my £24.99 to the cashier happily.
With a little practice I was able to slip the carrier over my head whilst holding the baby, get him into the carrier myself and do up all the neccessary clips. I left one leg hole closed each time (alternating sides, as the adjustible clip that went over the velcro seemed to loosen slightly, and also he was growing so quickly the holes needed widening!). In order to get him into the carrier, I put one leg in the already velcroed leghole, then strapped the other leg in. Then I supported his back while I
clipped each shoulder strap on. It was very easy once I figured out where all the clips etc went. The carrier has a small bib attached by poppers, where baby's head rests on your chest. This is realy useful as young babies sick quite a lot! There was a sparre bib in the box, too, which came in useful.
I tried it out the next week on the 1.5 mile walk to the bus stop, took the bus to the town and met up with my mum who happily had the car seat in her car to take us home later! Once on the bus I was easily able to take my son out of the carrier and sit him on my lap. It took just a minute to get him back in at the end of the journey. At the end of the day I felt good, no back pain whatsoever. It also helped with Joshua's reflux to have him upright, as he used to cry a lot when laying down in the buggy.
I used the carrier often around the town and at the supermarket. But the next real test was a day out at the zoo. Joshua spent a few minutes facing outwards (hadn't done this before), so that he could see the animals more easily. The button that holds the top down (where the back of the head would rest when facing the other way) kept coming open, and even when it didn't the material kept curling up, hugging his chin. For this reason he was quite uncomfortable facing outwards and much prefered being carried facing me. I hoped this would change as he grew, but unfortunately we always had the problem so he never much liked facing outwards. By the end of our zoo trip, I was a little tired and was feeling the strain of having had a baby strapped to myself all day.
These little trips out were all well and good, but the main reason I bought the carrier was for our week-long buggyless visit to Grandpa's. Getting the train to the airport was quite painless with my son in the carrier and our large wheeled suitcase. After checking in, we sat down for lunch and I had my first try at breastfeeding with the baby in the carrier. Apparently this is possible, but I couldn't figure out how. I had to remove the carrier completely in order to feed. Getting on and off the plane was easy, and I must say I felt quite smug watching the other parents quibbling with folding buggies and screaming children who didn't want to relinquish them. We walked on past and I was able to use both hands to hold onto the rails as I boarded (useful when you get a little dizzy with heights). I sat down in my tiny EasyJet seat, took off the carrier and stowed it under the seat, and cuddled my sleeping baby.
During the week we spent hours walking, all the time with my son strapped to me in the carrier. Being able to use both hands was very useful, even if only to hold my son's hands as we walked, and I never felt as though he was in danger of falling. I did support him with my hands most of the time but if I needed to I felt confident letting the carrier take the full strain. I was able to do almost everything I needed to (including use the toilet - the joys of being a single mum!) with my son securely attached to my chest. The only thing I struggled with was eating, but that was only once when I wanted an ice cream but there wasn't enough space in front of my face to hold it!
The first day or two were not too bad. By the middle of the week all I wanted to do was sleep or soak in a hot bath, but we plodded on. Carriers are most definitely not a permanent buggy replacement! I did manage to get through the week, but was very glad when Mum met me off the train with a buggy and a waiting car!
I continued to use the carrier until my son weighed about 20lb, at around 7 months. I washed it in the machine in a mesh bag at 30 degrees with no problems. I had hoped it would last longer than that, but he grew very quickly! By this time he was struggling to fit into the carrier, was far too wriggly and my back couldn't cope with more than half an hour of carrying. He was also able to sit up well in his buggy like a big boy, so didn't want to spend so much time cuddled on Mummy's chest.
I enjoyed carrying my son in the carrier. It saved a lot of space, especially as I didn't drive until he was 6 months old so used the bus a lot. It enabled me to be very close to my son and comfort him whilst doing other things. If I had my time again I'd buy a Tomy Freestyle carrier straight away, it's certainly worth the money.
So in short,
- One person only needed
- Neutral colour
- Easy to get baby in and out
- Sturdy and safe thick material two fastenings
- Adjustable leg holes and shoulder straps grow with the baby, waist band can shrink with your baby bump!
- Can go hands free when needed
- Saves on space
- No carrying buggies up and down the stairs
- Supportive and comfortable around the shoulders and back
- Baby can see the world if carrying outwards
- Not quite so comfy facing outwards due to material curling up to chin
- Gets heavy after a while
- Not easy to breastfeed (but not really an issue as you can remove easily)
If a baby carrier is what you want, this is definitely one of the best. Don't scrimp and buy a lower quality one especially if you're planning anything more than a quick trip around the supermarket. The only reason it drops a star is because of the curling up when facing outwards.
also on Ciao under the same name