Since my son was born last autumn I have averaged 5K steps a day – that’s around 850,000 steps in total. Not that I’m bragging, but like many new mums Nap Laps of the local streets are my cardio. And like many new parents, I often opt to do this handsfree by wearing a sling. This is probably why I found myself (virtually) cooing over Millie Mackintosh’s baby Sienna, and her leopard print BabyBjörn carrier too.
Unbeknownst to me, a baby carrier is the new post-partum power accessory. Keen on gold hard wear? Shop Artipope. Want a designer collab? Cybex has your back – or front depending on how you carry. Or should you want to really break the bank, head over to Gucci.
I’m sure this new breed of carriers, which look less like a parachuting accessory and more like designer bags, are aimed at the women have the time, money and energy to swerve the “uniform” of milk-stained loungewear and yesterday’s maternity bra.
For me though, who puts herself firmly in the latter camp, these carriers have an appeal too. They’re a carefully chosen distraction from the same black gym leggings and nursing jumper that I wear because my changing hips, breasts and more won’t fit my pre-baby clothes and I no longer have the mental capacity to devote to putting together outfits.
When it comes to carriers though, it does pay to pause on cooing over prints for a second and to digest the practicalities of the carrier. They’re an investment and safety comes first after all.
Cut to another nap lap (or 10) to see if Millie Mackintosh’s most-loved carrier – that’s also graced the ‘gram of Vogue Williams, Rochelle Humes, Lucy Mecklenburgh, Gigi Hadid et al – is as functional as it is fashionable.
First off. Why all the fuss about the leopard print BabyBjörn range?
Back in 2018, BabyBjörn launched a limited edition leopard version of its signature Baby Carrier One. The product sold-out in no time at all. This year, the animal magic is here to stay with the brand’s most popular carriers and bouncer all in ‘Leo’ print.
Which is the best BabyBjörn carrier?
BabyBjörn has two carriers available in leopard print: Baby Carrier One and Baby Carrier Mini. Of these, the Carrier One offers more longevity as this style is suitable from birth through to three-years-old as you can transition from front-carrying to back carrying when your child reaches the right age and stage.
This is the carrier used by Millie Mackintosh and also the style that I put to the test.
The Baby Carrier One at a glance
Carry facing-in, facing-out and on your back
Can be used 0 - 3 years (min 3,5 kg - max 15 kg / 53 - 100 cm)
A sturdy waist belt and padded shoulder straps to relieve pressure on your back and shoulders
Two different height positions
Is the Baby Carrier One easy to use?
Unlike other carriers that require a spare pair of hands, or two, to get the carrier on and your little one secured without any potential baby-meets-floor catastrophes, a solo parent can put on the BabyBjörn One all by themselves.
It’s designed to be put like a t-shirt with no fiddly clips to do up behind your back. That said, it still requires some practice – preferably without an overtired and squirming baby.
It took three outings for me to truly master putting on the carrier. And a confession: it took a few more YouTube videos to get the correct fit for myself and baby; the adjustable, extra-wide seat with zips gives a custom fit but this also means there’s much room for error in the beginning. Too narrow, too wide - I spent the first few walks trying to figure this out. Plus, because all the buckles are at the front, there are multiple clasps to get your head (and body) around. Once you have though, it’s quite simple.
Is the BabyBjörn Carrier One comfy?
The soft cotton fabric is not too dissimilar from soft jeans and I’m told it helps to keep a newborn baby in a natural position, with their back in a C-curve. In practice, I like the fabric as it feels sturdy yet soft and I feel comforted by the geeky fact it complies with the requirements of the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, class one for baby products. Essentially it’s not just chic but child-friendly and safe to taste (as babies love to do).
The ergonomic design of the carrier distributes the baby’s weight but I did find that even with a lot of tinkering of the thick straps and a waist belt that my bonny 5-month-old felt heavy on the front, rather than his weight sitting more around my middle.
But the more I read about baby carriers the more I discover that everyone has something to say about fit – and it makes sense. It’s hard to design one carrier to fit all shapes and sizes because we all have different torso lengths, boob sizes and more. Plus, some mums want breastfeeding access, some do not (for note, this carrier makes it impossible to feed as there is mesh in the way).
Another thing to consider is baby comfort. It’s easy to adjust the seat width and head support as your little one grows, which means you can easily customise the carrier to what your baby needs that day. My little one goes up a clothing size seemingly overnight so I welcome the ease at which I can widen the base of the seat and loosen the head support.
Do baby carriers hurt baby hips?
As a first time mum, I’ve quickly learned that there are some strong opinions on baby carrying, especially when it comes to hips and the right way and wrong way to go about babywearing. The Baby Carrier One is acknowledged to be 'hip healthy' by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
For context, Hip Dysplasia (also known as developmental dysplasia of the hip) is a hereditary condition where the bones of the hip joint are not aligned correctly. This prevents the hip joints from functioning properly and it can cause issues down the line.
Most babies are born with hip dysplasia but over the years mothers and paediatricians have put the blame of hip problems on carrier companies. A call with BabyBjörn refutes this and their brand rep assures me that all their products are hip healthy.
But there are steps that carers who carry can take to ensure the health and safety of babies’ hips. The IHDI recommends carrying with your baby’s hips in a natural position during the first six months of life, with their hips bent a little more than a right angle and spread so each hip is spread 40 to-60 degrees. Essentially in an 'M-position'.
The BabyBjörn One Carrier promotes this Froggy or ergonomic M-position but do check your baby’s position before setting off on your 35467 lockdown walk. I found reaching into the seat of the carrier to tuck my son’s pelvis helped with mastering the M-position.
Is it safe for a baby to sleep in the carrier?
The carrier is designed to support babies and keep them in a natural position so it would be hard not to let a little one nod off. In fact, 20 steps is normally all it takes for my son to go from squirming to slumber. But any trip with a carrier – whether the baby is sleeping or not – should follow the T.I.C.K.S. rule for safe babywearing.
In view at all times
Close enough to kiss
Keep chin off the chest
Is the BabyBjörn Carrier One worth it?
In the months after birth when every day is dedicated to keeping a newborn fed, winded and milked, it can be hard to feel like yourself – you’re physically and emotionally drained. So even the smallest of pick-me-ups can help you feel like your old self again.
For me, donning a leopard print sling for the fourth trip around the block was the injection of life naptime and my sense of self needed.
If I came for the prints, I stayed for the practicalities that this carrier offers: you can slip it on, it’s machine washable and is snuggly and sturdy. Win.
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