This post starts my review of slings, buggies, rucksacks, pushchairs and other kit for taking babies out into the wilds!
I am beginning with the Hugabub wrap. This was the second sling I purchased after the birth of my daughter. With a very refluxy baby, I was desperate for a means of getting on with life without constantly holding her upright and I bought the Hugabub following a recommendation from an NCT volunteer. Bought second hand from eBay this is my favourite all-rounder sling to date and goes almost everywhere with me. It is my sling of choice for carrying a young baby on the front, both in the house and cross-country walking.
About the sling
The Hugabub wrap (not to be confused with the Hugabub sling) is a fabric wrap sling from Australia. Designed for front-carrying premature newborn babies through to toddlers, the Hugabub prides itself on excellent support for both baby and your back and for facilitating all the benefits that come with keeping baby snugly cozied up against you. The wide fabric allows for even weight distribution and with four different ways of tying the wrap, it allows a fair degree of versatility.
The wrap doesn’t have a stated weight limit but describes itself as suitable for premature babies to toddlers with a variety of tying positions for different ages. As long as you can pick up your baby, this should be a useful wrap but it’s hard to see a front carrier being the most comfortable option for longer walks for a sizeable toddler. I’ll keep you posted on that!
Ease of putting on/taking off
The wrap does take a bit of time to get used to and until you’ve got the hang of it, you will probably benefit from an extra pair of hands getting baby in and out. It took me two or three tries to be able to tie it correctly to fit my baby and a week to be able to do it with speed. However, once you have got the hang of it it’s very quick. Only issue with this wrap for outdoor walking is that if you have to put the sling on al fresco then it can be difficult to stop it trailing on the ground, or in the bog… The solution to this is to put the sling on before leaving the house and just pop baby in when you get to you destination. New slings come with a DVD instructions and there are plenty of You Tube videos and a link on the Hugabub website which show you how to tie it if you get stuck.
Comfort is where this sling scores major points. Because it is wide fabric that wraps over both shoulders and around your hips and back, it provides fantastic support and weight distribution, particularly for ladies with our broader hip bone structure! It is recommended for people who suffer from back problems. With a tiny baby you can literally wear it all day and so far I have tested comfortably 2 1/2 hours with my 4 1/2 month year old who weighs in at just over a stone (or around 7 kg). The wrap comes in a variety of sizes although 98% of people find the ‘huggable’ standard size suitable for their needs. The only downside to the wrap is that being a long large piece of material, if you are walking in warmer weather or up moderate hills, this won’t do anything to reduce working up a sweat. Being cotton however, it is breathable.
It is also designed for maximum comfort for baby with the sling securely supporting shoulders, back and head in the front-to-front positions and allowing comfortable forward facing carrying for when baby gets bigger and wants to look out more. I can say from experience that this sling is particularly brilliant for refluxy babies or those with bad colic as allows you to carry for inconsolable baby cuddled upright but still have your hands free to do other things and with research showing that babies who are carried for at least 3 hours a day cry on average 43% less and 54% less during evening hours (Pediatrics; Vol 77 No5, May 1st 1986)
Being effectively a large piece of material the Hugabub is incredibly easy to roll up and pop into any bag and is lightweight to carry. It is machine washable on a normal cycle and can also be tumble dried. Because it covers the torso, you can count the hugabub as a layer of clothing and either get away with a very light top under it for summer or a large fleece thrown over you and baby for winter. In terms of durability, the sling seems to last indefinitely making it the perfect hand-me-down item. Some users have reported it becoming baggy in areas after continued heavy use but I am yet to personally experience this with my second-hand sling.
This is a large wrap so there is no disguising the fact you have a carrier on. However, the ‘look’ can come down largely to the colour you choose. It comes in an array of gorgeous colours with the darker colours particularly discreet. My daughter’s Dad regularly wears our hugabub so this is not just one for the ladies but is perhaps less male friendly in the style stakes than a more structured carrier.
The wrap has four front wearing positions which covers baby facing towards you and facing out and side on, with variations for older babies. It is also possible to tie the sling so you can breastfeed completely discreetly whilst on the go – perfect if you need to feed baby whilst half way round a walk. There are no back carrying options with the wrap.
At $120, US or around £85 new in the UK, these are not the cheapest carriers on the market. However, their durability means you can pick up a good quality second hand wrap from eBay for anything from £15-£40. In terms of long term value for money and their resale value, they definitely hold their own.
Read other kit and product reviews here.