Soul Slings Review – Linen Full Buckle Toddler Carrier
Baby-wearing is all the rage these days and with good reason – It’s natural, convenient, comfortable and great for bonding with your child. Up until Karma was a year old, she was carried regularly for grocery runs, in the metro and on buses. We lived in Singapore then and I actually did not know much about the baby wearing scene back home in India. Singapore is a country where you walk everywhere so I used my carrier and stroller often and Karma was happy in both. But then Karma started walking and we lost the habit of baby-wearing. So before I jump into my Soul Slings review, let me first give you some background on why I decided to get back on the baby-wearing wagon especially since my toddler loves to walk.
Karma shot up in height and outgrew her carrier. She also started walking and imposing her independence, which meant, she didn’t want anyone to pick her up most of the time. And then we moved to Mumbai – a city that is not stroller friendly at all. Most streets in Mumbai don’t have proper side walks and Karma tends to run off exploring often. So for safety purposes, I prefer not letting her walk near streets with traffic or proper sidewalks. Hence, we reconsidered baby-wearing… or in this case, toddler-wearing. That’s when I realised how common and popular baby-wearing is across India.
At 14 kgs, she fit the weight criteria for a lot of carriers but Karma is tall for a 2-year old and wasn’t physically comfortable in most. So I asked around and a number of moms recommended Soul Slings. I contacted them and the good people at Soul offered to send me a carrier of my choice in exchange of an honest review. (Perks of being a mom blogger!). In fact, I sent them Karma’s height, weight and explained my requirements and they reverted back with excellent advice that helped me make my selection. They even sent a doll carrier for Karma and you will read about it soon enough.
I chose Soul Linen Full Buckle Toddler Carrier. I wanted black but Karan chose Cotton Candy on Black Chambray and I have to say, I love the colour. Getting Karma back into the habit of being ‘worn’ in a carrier took some steps (which I will share soon), but we have been using it for the past 2 months. We took it along on an international vacation too and it’s also featured in my top 5 essentials for traveling with a toddler list. So here is my detailed Soul Slings review with my favourite features.
Soul Slings Review
1. Generously Sized
My number one concern was finding a carrier that is comfortably sized for Karma and fits both my husband and I. In addition, I also wanted something that she will not outgrow in a few months. She’s tall for her age and is rather feisty. She would have just refused to be worn if it felt tight or too snug. But at the same time, I’m petite and stand at 5’5” where as my husband Karan is over 6 feet tall with a dhai-kilo ka haath. So you see, lot of sizing issues! I was pleasantly surprised by how the Soul carrier fit both of us easily and accommodated Karma without too much fidgeting.
2. Fabric Quality
Photos do not do justice to how good the fabric looks and feels in real life. It was the first thing that struck us when we opened our linen carrier. The fabric is perfect for hot and humid weather like Mumbai and even the padded straps will not make you feel sweaty. It’s very breathable and soft. Given than Karma pretty much lives in shorts and tees, the edges don’t hurt or dig into her skin.
3. Easy on the Back
It was easy enough to carry Karma as a baby even without a baby carrier but now that she’s a toddler and weighs enough, my back can’t take it. In fact, Karan is twice my size and even his back can’t take it. Old age does that to you! Haha… My skinny arms have proper muscles and I’m not complaining but picking her up for over few minutes really takes a toll on us. Soul carrier distributes the weight of your child evenly and you can wear your child in front or back carry positions. The weight distribution and the sturdiness of the straps really keeps the pressure off your lower back.
4. Simple Buckles
I have only tried a limited number of carriers and I am not an expert baby-wearing mom. Managing some of those buckles while trying to manage Karma was equivalent to working on a laptop with very very slow internet! No-one… and I repeat, no-one wants to see that version of me! :p But I loved the easy snap-in buckles of my Soul carrier. You can even open the buckles with one hand. But easy doesn’t mean weak. They’re very sturdy and strong. I also really like the elastic band used to secure excess strap after adjustment so it doesn’t just hang loose. Small details that matter!
5. Great for Travel
For a family that takes a minimum of 15-20 flights a year, this carrier is a must-have. On our recent trip to Karma’s 10 country, USA, she and I were on our own in New York. It was my first time in NY and even though I had my stroller too, my Soul carrier was a saviour at times. From walking up staircases with Karma, my diaper bag and stroller to hailing a cab in the rain with an umbrella in hand, I could not have done any of it without my toddler carrier. It will be especially useful if you are visiting a place that is not stroller friendly.
Yes, by definition, carriers are designed to keep your hands-free but I still feel I should mention it because of this one incident. After our 16 hours flight to LA (Karma’s longest flight yet), the poor kid was totally zonked and wanted Karan to pick her up. We had a connecting flight to Abu Dhabi before that so we essentially spent the last 24 hours in airports and flights. Karan, needless to say, was quite exhausted himself and it was time to disembark. Karma knows the flying drill well so as soon as she saw people standing up, she wanted Karan to take out our bags from overhead compartments while holding her. Like a boss, he strapped on the carrier, hoisted Karma up, took out the bags and we got off the plane, went through immigration and baggage claim without any meltdowns. #Winning
7. Super Stylish
If you have been following me on Instagram, you know I like my baby gear to look cool. 😉 I loved the look of my soul carrier. And they have a lot of funky colours and prints. Yes, you might think our choice of cotton candy (essentially pink) is a bit cliched but after I asked Karan if he really wants the pink one, he answered – I’m a proud feminist father of an awesome daughter and I will carry her in a pink carrier. Order the pink! Can’t argue with that! But what I loved most was the white noise pattern on the straps. It gives the whole linen feel and looks very hip! Between the three of us, we own a lot of white noise pattern tees so this carrier just fit right into our wardrobe.
Suggestions for Soul
To wrap up my Soul Slings review, I give their Linen Buckle Toddler Carrier an easy 8 on 10. In terms of quality, it is definitely one of the best I have seen. The wearing mechanism is easy enough to figure out even if you are not a seasoned baby wearer. There are also enough self-help videos on Soul’s Youtube channel. Size wise, it is hands down the most versatile and adjustable toddler carrier around.
However, I would ideally like two more features in addition to everything else. Firstly, a front facing carry option so Karma can see what I see. Karma used to love front-facing-hold as a baby and it would be great to have that carry option in a toddler carrier too. Secondly, maybe a small zippered pocket to keep keys or my lip balm. Their recently launched baby carrier Soul AnoonA actually does have both these features. Maybe if I have another baby… 😉
If you are new to toddler-wearing or are returning to baby-wearing after a long gap, please do watch out for my step by step guide to toddler wearing. I will be posting it soon.
Our Soul Linen Full Buckle Toddler Carrier was sent to me by Soul Slings and I didn’t pay for it. However, the views and comments shared are my own. I will never recommend anything to my readers that I won’t use for myself or my family.