I was given a Lenny Lamb Ergonomic Carrier on loan for two weeks in order to test it for the purpose of writing a review. I received no other compensation, and all opinions below are my own.
If you’ve found the right kind of sling for you, then you’ll know just how useful they are. If you’ve ever struggled with a new sling, you also know how confusing it can be. Other people seem to able to slide their child in and out blindfolded… you’re fumbling around for ages trying to figure it all out. My first foray into the babywearing world was when I was heavily pregnant. Unfortunately I hadn’t even heard of babywearing consultants back then. If I had, then I would definitely have made use of one to advise me on what to get and how to use it. Even for someone who is experienced with using slings, there are tips and tricks to get the most out of each particular sling. I ended up getting a Moby wrap online.
I found the wrap really comfortable, but I just didn’t feel confident that my newborn was in it securely. You have to be totally confident that a sling is not going to slip or open when you’re carrying a baby, or you’re not going to feel safe using it. It didn’t help that he liked to vomit straight down my top approximately 30 seconds after I’d finally get him into it either! I wanted something very convenient for around the house and getting in and out of town on the bus when we were going to our Mum and Baby Yoga class. Without someone to show me first-hand how to use it properly, the sling just didn’t work out for us and I sold it on.
After this initial failed attempt, I searched online again for an alternative and came across the more novice-friendly Manduca. It’s been well worth the investment over the last couple of years. The buckle sling suited me perfectly. It was light compared to the wrap, and very easy to use once the straps had been pre-adjusted. I eventually figured out the finer details for adjusting it to fit better. I was always getting comments about how cosy and comfortable Rascal looked when he was snuggled up in it. It was so handy for popping in and out of the shops and he was much happier in it than a buggy. The three-point safety buckle on the waist made sure it didn’t open accidentally. The shoulder straps were held securely by an extra strap so they couldn’t slide down my arms. My husband was happy using it aswell. It goes from newborn all the way to toddler so it’s had plenty of use.
One thing that people constantly mentioned when I said we were going to spend a few days in Lisbon was the hills. The resounding advice was to forget about bringing a buggy. A sling would be a much better option for getting around. The trusty Manduca has done quite a bit of travelling with us already, but now that Rascal is significantly heavier and very mobile, it’s just not as comfortable to use anymore. He’s a big boy now, and it’s a struggle to carry him. I was a bit wary of using it extensively for a few days when I’d be doing a lot of walking with him. Luckily we had a very kind offer from Kim in Knee to Knee Slings to borrow a toddler-size sling for the trip and see how we found it. Kim is a babywearing consultant, and the owner of the first baby wearing shop in Ireland. Exactly what I needed when I was first looking for a sling!
On a chilly morning myself and Rascal dropped out to the shop in Dun Laoghaire.It’s just a short walk off the main street and is easy to find. We wandered in to meet Kim and her own toddler. Rascal was delighted to find a playmate. The two toddlers circled each other and started cautiously trading toys, leaving me free to chat with Kim. It’s a nice relaxed environment – Rascal assumed we were visiting friends so there were no complaints from him about being bored of ‘shopping’. Kim is very welcoming and demonstrated exactly how to use the sling before we left. Apart from helpful advice for choosing a sling, she also provides ongoing support for customers who might have questions about using it later. The sling we took with us was a Lenny Lamb Ergonomic Toddler Sling. It’s a buckle sling with hood, that comes in two sizes. When I put it on, it immediately felt comfortable. It’s very similar to the Manduca, which made it easy for me to get the hang of. No messing about wrapping and tying anything. You just close the buckle around your waist, pop your child in, pull the straps over your shoulders, and fasten the clip at the back. Quick and simple to do, and pretty foolproof! You do need to familiarise yourself a bit with the various straps so that you can easily adjust them depending on whether you’ve got a nosey or sleepy child. This is where some tips from an expert can save you a lot of time and discomfort.
Like the Manduca, the Lenny Lamb sling keeps the baby/toddler in a M position (or frog/squat position). This is really important for reducing strain on growing bodies. It was something I’d always been conscious of as there is a history of hip dysplasia in my family. We had an x-ray at one point to rule it out in Rascal. You correct hip dysplasia in a young baby by keeping them in the M position, so using a sling can be great for either preventing or correcting hip dysplasia before your child grows enough for it to become a big problem. You can use the sling to carry your toddler on the front, back or hip depending on what suits you. The straps can be crossed at the back for extra support and they’re all adjustable. It has the three-point safety buckle and strap at the back that holds the shoulder straps in place so that they can’t slip down. All the things I’d really liked about the Manduca.
Unlike the Manduca that tries to be a complete solution as your baby grows, the Lenny Lamb slings come in two sizes so they can focus on being more suitable for either baby or toddler. The toddler size is for 6 to 20kg. Immediately I could see how much bigger it was, even the hood was far more spacious. The other big difference for me was that the waist strap is very soft and supple. I’d found the stiffer Manduca fine, but I was surprised at how much more comfortable this was. There’s a lot of extra padding overall in the sling which is great both for parent and toddler. If you’re carrying a heavy rucksack for a long period, you’ll know exactly what I mean about wishing the straps had a bit more padding when they dig in to your shoulders. I was looking forward to seeing how we fared for long walks with this sling. Because it’s so soft, it can be folded up really neatly which is wonderful when you want to keep it in your bag. One thing I really hated about the Moby wrap was the weight of it when I wasn’t wearing it.
Our holiday started in the early hours of the morning. I popped Rascal into the Lenny Lamb as soon as we got to the airport and left him there until we’d passed through all the check-in and security rigamarole. When you’re travelling solo with a toddler it’s brilliant to keep your hands free and still be able to let your sleepy toddler cuddle close to you. I’ve found that most security officials are happy to leave you walk through the scanner without removing your child from a sling. That saves a lot of time and hassle. Much easier than having to fold up a heavy buggy and get it onto a conveyor belt while you’re juggling bags and baby/toddler. The trip on the other end from airport to hotel was also done in the sling. As I dragged myself up and down hills in search of our hotel it was already clear that while I was still carrying a 13kg weight, this larger sling was fitting us much better than the Manduca, and putting a lot less strain on my back.
Apart from one disastrous outing where Rascal fell asleep on the tram (resulting in a 30 minute ordeal carrying him through metro stations and up a massive hill), I brought the sling in my bag and popped Rascal in whenever he got tired of walking. It was definitely a life-saver for getting around Lisbon. I was really surprised that I didn’t have much trouble with my back after carrying him so much. I have an old injury that is always causing me pain. I usually can’t go more than twenty minutes using the Manduca before it flares up. My muscles were sore from carrying Rascal more than usual, but I found the large Lenny Lamb very comfortable in comparison. It’s really made me see the advantage to changing slings as your child grows.
The hood was a big hit with Rascal too. He’s a bit resistant to being put into a sling around naptime, but loved the idea of hiding under the hood. Especially when out in bright sunlight that was irritating him. The shade from sun and wind, along with limiting his line of sight, made it much easier for him to doze off while we were on the move. When he fell asleep on the train, it was very easy to slide him into the sling and close over the hood. A few times I had strangers offer me help as I placed him into the sling, fast asleep, but it’s so easy to get him in that I was already done by the time they finished their sentence. That’s what I love about this kind of sling. It’s not quite so easy to get him in for a back carry, but he prefers being carried in front and I found I could leave him that way in the Lenny Lamb.
I have to admit, I was more than a little sad to hand back the Lenny Lamb at the end of our two week tryout. I hadn’t expected to find such a big difference using a toddler-size sling. In hindsight, it would have been incredibly difficult getting around Lisbon without it. If you’re interested in trying a sling for the first time, then pop out to visit Kim and get some personalised advice on what would suit you best. There’s really no substitute for learning how to make yourself and your child comfortable so you can get the most out of it.