There’s a lot of talk about “overstimulation” when it comes to newborns. But how about our toddlers? After all, all of that moving, running, pointing, screeching, chasing, tickling, bird-watching, grass-rolling, sand-eating toddler mania must get exhausting.
And, now, with a nearly a 19 month old on my hands, I’m glad that I can finally understand Miss Q more than ever – and not just because she’s getting really verbal. Though I felt (and feel) incredibly connected to The K Man, my daughter and I are more in tune than I knew was possible. She can give me a look and sometimes I feel like I’m reading her mind. Creepy, much? Maybe.
I don’t know whether it’s just maternal confidence or if it’s the extra effort I’ve made with attachment parenting, or whether it’s because she’s such a late walker that I’ve had to carry her nearly twice as long as I did her big brother. But there’s something so soothing for her when I see a meltdown coming and scoop her up into my arms and hold her tight against my heartbeat.
There’s really nothing easier or better with which to do this than a carrier. Think of it as giving your little one a hug that lasts more than just a few seconds. With a soft-structured carrier, you’ve got nothing separating you and your kiddo, except maybe your shirts.
Made by a company called Wickelkinder (let that roll off your tongue a few times…it’ll taste delicious), I’m delighted to introduce you to the Manduca – another great option in the soft-structured carrier category. The company was kind enough to send me a Grey Pattern Red model to review as part of my toddlerwearing series.
Each carrier is made of 100 per cent organic cotton – inside and out. You can’t buy a non-organic Manduca. Love this.
It features upholstered buckles (so the plastic never touches you or your baby’s skin); speaking of buckles, there are so many of them that you can really get a very customized fit. You’ll feel like you’re in a permanent state of hug in the Manduca.
There are extra buckles on the side, too, which mean you can criss-cross the straps on your back; this is brilliant for smaller-framed or petite women who may find soft-structured carriers too wide across the back of the shoulders. I actually found wearing the straps this way made even more of Miss Q’s weight fall on my hips. Very comfortable, and if I have her in a front carry, it’s my favourite way to wear the straps. Just be sure when you wear the carrier this way that you buckle one of the straps first and feed your little one through (I show you how in this video); it wouldn’t be safe trying to pop baby on your front and then buckle both sides. Of course, you can’t do this criss-cross method and back carry (OK, maybe you can but you risk boobies shooting to the east and west).
The Manduca is lightweight at only 600 grams (that’s 1.3 pounds for those of you in my camp who work in pounds and inches).
The way the straps feed in and out of the pully system (to let out/take in excess strap) is different from other soft-structured carriers I’ve tried – it means letting out the shoulder length is far easier (because you’re pulling from the side near your waist rather than the shoulder-blade area). You’ll never need anyone’s help trying to loosen the straps for breastfeeding. Or look like you’re trying to eat your own ponytail reaching for them yourself.
The Manduca has this interior “seat” to take up extra space and allow even a newborn to use the carrier. Baby’s legs are actually inside the carrier, and can stay that way until she’s older and bigger. It ingeniously holds your baby in a way that prevents her weight from resting on her wee legs. Super cool. Truly unique.
Each limited-edition Manduca carrier comes with a serial number that you can register. Doing so gets you Wickelkinder’s three-year warranty.
I really like the way the hood – though not detachable – fastens to the straps when Miss Q is nursing or sleeping.
I don’t know exactly what it is about the waist belt’s shape, but the support – especially in the back-carry position – is noticeably good. It certainly makes carrying my heavy four-year-old the easiest of any carrier I’ve tried to date.
I’ve saved the best for last, dear reader. The Manduca features a zipper near the top of its body that lengthens the carrier by several inches to a whopping 41 cm (damn you, metric system! That would be a little more than 16 inches), which makes it ideal for taller babies and toddlers. Keep it zipped when your baby’s small, and let it out when he needs it. Awesome.
The Germans are nothing if not into safety, and this really comes through in the three-point waist-belt buckle safety-fastening system. Leave it to them to make a safety buckle even safer. Instead of just a regular buckle (that requires you to squeeze both sides together to dislodge the male from female part…oh, how I dislike that terminology – it feels so icky to write), there’s an extra “button” that you have to press first to unlock the buckle. This takes some getting used to, and you’ll find you need two hands to do it; although it does get easier with time, I’d prefer to be able to “unlock” the waist belt with one hand, as that’s often all I have available.
There’s not one storage pocket on my model. Not one! You can let the hood out of its pocket to throw a set of house keys somewhere while you’re out for a walk, but there’s no zipper to keep them from falling out if you lean the wrong way. I’ve read that some models do offer a zippered pocket on the front, but not my Grey Pattern Red version. Drat. I need storage. And I want some without having to purchase the add-on Manduca Pouch (even though it looks good and functional and totally reeks of German practicality).
At about $160 to $195 (for some of the limited-edition prints, which are truly the loveliest of all), the Manduca is certainly the Mercedes of baby carriers. But remember that it’s 100 per cent organic throughout, and manufactured in Europe. This costs more – period.
I really wish the infant piece inside of the carrier was removable. There are elastic straps that keep it (very neatly) tucked out of the way, but I’d love it if it just came off altogether once you’re done with it.
For me: 4/5
For Big B: 4/5