Get that baby ONYA already!!

It is not too often that a BRAND NEW never been made before soft-structured baby carrier comes on the market. No 'fourth generation', no 'II', no 'now with designer fabrics'. I mean brand spanking new! And not only NEW, but GOOD. Like really really good!

That is what happened in September of 2011 at the ABC Kids Expo in Kentucky, with the official launch and release to market of the Onya Baby Carrier.

And babywearers everywhere were itching to get their hands on one to try it out and see for themselves what all the hype was about and what this new carrier had to offer.

I was no exception!

I "met" Diana Coote, the creator of the Onya Baby on Twitter and we started having great babywearing conversations. I immediately loved all the great things she was posting about babywearing and living an active lifestyle with baby!

So, when the carriers finally hit the market after four years of research and development (this fact alone is reason enough to give this carrier and the company BIG props), I asked her if I could have one to review.

She gladly obliged and sent me the 'Cruiser' in Leaf Green/Raw Umber.

Image Courtesy of Onyababy.

The first thing that hits you when you take your new Onya Baby out of the box is how incredibly well made it is. Your eye is immediately drawn to the padded and contoured waist strap and leg padding for your little one and you just know it is going to be a very comfortable fit even before you put it on. With little details like covering the waist buckle and putting it over on one side versus in the middle and the super cute Mama and Baby Koala logo on the carrier, the esthetics of this carrier are also very appealing.

And then you put it on and get your baby up on your tummy or your back and you are completely blown away!

This is one comfortable baby carrier.

And not only that, as a baby carrier educator I look for certain things in all carriers that I review and the ONYA Baby  hits all the major points that I am most concerned with.

  • Proper positioning of baby in an upright and tummy-to-tummy (or back carrying) position. CHECK.
  • The fabric of the carrier extending from knee to knee and baby sitting in a good flexed and abducted ("M") position. CHECK.
  • Good support and just the right amount of padding for the wearer's waist and shoulders, with the option to cross the straps diagonally across your back when front wearing. CHECK.
  • The body of the carrier high enough to fully support baby up to the neck/bottom of ear lobes, with an optional sleep hood. CHECK

But wait....

There is more!

Not only is the ONYA Baby a really great and comfortable baby carrier, it also has this ingenious little zippered pocket at the front that once opened reveals the full versatility of this product.

It is a CHAIR for your baby too!

Say WHAT??

Now I know some of you may have done something like this before with your wrap or mei tai carrier. Strapped your carrier to a chair and then fashioned some kind of contraption to safely tie your baby into it, not unlike those very expensive separate chair harnesses one can purchase.

Well, this is exactly what the ONYA Baby does. Strap your ONYA to a chair, unzip that little hidden front pocket and voila! Instant and SAFE seat harness for your little one.

Think about it mamas. You go for a nice walk with baby to your local coffee shop and decide to sit down and enjoy a latte and get a little snack for the two of you. But there are no high chairs. So you take baby out of your carrier and try to drink a hot beverage with them squirming on your lap or have baby eat something without making it look like a 'Category 4' hurricane of cookie crumbs and squished grapes has passed through the place. The whole situation can kind of take the joy out of the whole 'babywearing walk and chillin' with your little one' idea that you had in the first place.

NOT ANYMORE!

With the ONYA baby, you and baby can have your own chairs and you can enjoy your nice chai latte without risk of scalding the top of your child's head and baby can squish as many grapes as he or she wants in the comfort and safety of her own chair on the opposite side of the table!!

The chair option on the ONYA is ideal for the baby who has perfect head control, but can't quite sit on their own in a chair.

I did not have a four to six month old baby on hand, so asked my three-year old to give it a go!

I can see how the ONYA would be very handy to have and be able to 'put' baby somewhere when you are out and need to have your lap to yourself. The only issue I can see with it,  is that it is not a 'booster' seat and unless the tables are relatively short, baby would still be quite low and may not be able to reach any food or toys ON the table.

The Onya Baby is a very welcome addition to the soft-structured baby carrier world and I am thrilled to give it a very enthusiastic two thumbs up!! It is a great carrier to transition to when your baby is about 3-4 months (~15 lbs) and it has been tested up to 45 pounds!! I wore my 36 pound three-year old in if very comfortably and wouldn't hesitate to put my 5-year-old in it for a piggy back ride as well.

Diana from Onya Baby posted a great comparison chart of the different Soft-Structured Carriers on her blog this past week and has given me permission to repost it here for you to see how the ONYA stacks up to the other SSCs on the market. You can also go HERE to read her original post and see the rest of the chart.

 

The Onya Baby Carrier retails for  ~ $149.00 and is available at these fine retailers.

Happy Babywearing Everyone!

Natasha~

 

A twofor from Natural Mother Productions.

I have been very remiss and absent from my babywearing blogging lately. I am so very sorry everyone! So to make up for it, I have a two in one review for you!!

A few months ago I got an email from a lovely baby carrier making Mama of 7 (her last pregnancy was a twofor as well)! She wanted to send me one of her carriers to see what I thought of it.

Well, you know me, I am not one to pass up trying out a new carrier and I am especially pleased when it is from a fellow Canadian Mama working to support her family while doing something that she loves.

So without further ado...

Here is Natural Mother Productions!

Michelle Dunn is the creative juice and super mama behind this brand, and she makes the loveliest custom mei tai and full buckle carriers!

So she sent me one of each! Woohoo! Double the fun!

The first is the Mei Tai.

My first impression of this carrier was Wow!! The stitching and workmanship on this piece is amazing. There is just the right amount of padding in the waist band and the straps of the carrier to make is super comfy. I especially like the angle of the shoulder straps on this Mei Tai. The way that they are attached to the body of the carrier keeps the straps nicely on your shoulders versus riding up onto your neck. This keeps the weight of baby off your neck and distributed better over your shoulders.

The body of the carrier is quite unique and to be honest, I was not sure what to make of it at first. The top half of the mei tai is padded and provides a more rigid support for your baby's upper torso and head. The lower half has a slight contour to is and is not padded. At first this confused me, but after further review and trying it out with a couple of different aged babies, I am convinced that this may actually be quite brilliant!

Here is the thing. My beef with a few of the other quite popular mei tai carriers is how stiff the bodies of these carriers are. This can make it very hard to use them effectively, especially with younger or smaller babies and makes getting these little ones in the proper position with legs out, in the flexed & abducted or 'M' position very difficult.  The fact that the lower half of the NMP mei tai is NOT padded allows you to bunch in the carrier more at the base so that you can properly position your baby in a nice seated and froggy-legged position from 10 pounds and up (as stated by the manufacturer).

For the record, I will state that, with maybe one exception that I know of, mei tai carriers are not the most ideal baby carriers for newborns and in my opinion should be used from 3 months and up (the upper weight limit on most carriers is 35 lbs). In this regard the NMP Mei Tai is no exception to my rule.

What I do love about the NMP Mei Tai is the body and headrest. It is a nice high body and easily covers babies all the way up to the shoulders and neck (and head if need be). The headrest part can be folded down to accommodate a baby that is awake and wants to look around, but keeps its firmness when upright and provides good support for the sleeping baby.

The one thing that limits the use of this mei tai for me with my big kids, is the base of the seat. For bigger toddlers (2-3 year olds), I did not find that it gave the knee to knee support that is ideal in baby carriers. For younger babies, this is not a problem and the 12.5 inches gives ample support and makes a very nice seat for baby to sit in and get the above stated knee-to-knee support. And as you can see, I wore my little 11 month old helper, Baby N, very comfortably for about a half hour in my NMP Mei Tai and we both loved it.

Little N's mama is also rather petite and was having problems finding a carrier to fit her body comfortably. The NMP mei tai carrier was a very good fit for her and she loved how easy it was to get it on and off.

The high and more rigid upper body of the mei tai works great when wearing your babies and toddlers on your back. And, as you can see here, there is little to no chance of your little ones leaning back too far in this carrier!

The Natural Mother Productions Mei Tai is a lovely addition to the babywearing world and anyone's carrier stash and Michelle's custom work is both beautiful and functional!

And her Buckle Carrier is no exception!

As I have mentioned before, my biggest complaint with most of the mainstream buckle carriers (think Ergo, Beco and Boba) has always been the straps and the chest clip. Especially when carrying baby on the front and having to reach back and trying to get the clip done up with your arms behind your head. Well, I am happy to report that the NMP Buckle Carrier has taken care of this for me! The straps of the NMP carrier criss-cross across your back and actually buckle directly into the body of the carrier. I personally feel that having the straps of any carrier (wrap, mei tai or buckle carrier)  crossed on your back, distributes the weight of the baby better and is a lot more comfortable for the wearer.

I had my friend, Josline (a tried and true Ergo user) try out the NMP buckle carrier with her 15-month-old, 29 pound little one and she LOVED it. As did her daughter who needed some uppy time for a much-needed nap. The structure of the NMP Buckle Carrier is much like the Mei tai with the high-backed, sturdy upper portion and contoured lower seat area. A nice addition to the buckle carrier is the sleep hood that buckles directly into the upper straps near your shoulders.

The NMP Buckle Carrier does not come with a chest strap like most buckle carriers and I will admit that I was nervous about this at first for back carrying. I have one slightly slope-y shoulder and find that I 'need' that extra support with most other carriers to feel secure in a back carry.

I was pleasantly surprised by how the NMP Buckle carrier fit both me and my 3-year-old, 35 pound 'baby'. The design and cut of the straps just sort of 'fit' perfectly around the shoulders and are nice and snug and thus, seem to eliminate the need for a chest strap. Princess L and I went for a nice walk with our gorgeous NMP carrier and were both very, very happy with it!

Michelle custom makes every one of her carriers and she has some gorgeous prints to choose from. I am particularly fond of the 'Carnival bloom' print and the 'Zesty Zinna' one too! The carriers are good for babies from 10 to 35 pounds and are a one size fits most design (you can discuss with Michelle if you need a more custom size).

Natural Mother Productions is offering my Natural Urban Mama readers a discount on her fabulous carriers!  Let her know that I sent you and you will get $25.00 off of a buckle carrier or $20.00 off of a mei tai carrier. 

Happy Babywearing Everyone!

Natasha~

 

 

 

Straightforward. Enigmatic. Outstanding.

Are three words that I would use to describe my good friend Jennifer Banks. Search Engine Optimization also happens to be what Jen does for a living at Epiar, THE search engine marketing experts in Edmonton. And she is really, really good at it!

Last week I had the pleasure of hearing her present to a group of Bossy Mama entrepreneurs and teach us as much as she could about SEO in just under two hours. Not an easy task and yet, many of us left that room with so much information and tasks to do that I am sure there were a lot of late nights for some this past week.

Now I am no expert in this at all, and in reality, I am actually a very recent (6 months) convert to the powers of SEO. And this is all because I had the pleasure of meeting, and having drinks with Jen at another Bossy Mama Networking event.  Yes, I actually told her that I thought that SEO was just a bunch of bull!!

Little did I know that the lack of SEO on my own website was hurting me. Jen schooled me very quickly in this with the help of some very cool and FREE tools that anyone can use to figure out some simple things about keywords, and how people really use search engines.

And here is the REALLY BIG LESSON that I learned from Jen about SEO and what I think everyone with a website/blog/Facebook page/twitter account needs to know.

Do not assume that you know what people are using to search for whatever it is that you are selling/peddling/writing about.  Because chances are YOU ARE WRONG!!

The best tool to use to figure this out is the Google Keyword Tool. This is a free tool that anyone can use. You simply enter your search term or phrase and your country/location and poof! up pops all kinds of useful info for you.  Including if what you think people are "Googling" and looking for is actually what they are looking for! (And in my case, I was very wrong, and yes, I have since fixed this!!)

Another really cool free tool that Jen told us about is UberSuggest. This keyword suggestion tool is really neat. It takes your base term and extracts Google suggestions for it. And if you hit 'expand' it will list all suggestions associated with your base term and list them alphabetically. Ubersuggest is an awesome tool, especially for bloggers looking for new post topics and questions that people are actually searching for.

The other sweet tool that we learned about is the SEOMOZ's Open Site Explorer Link Popularity & Backlink Analysis Tool. In geek speak this tool tells you all about your "link juice".  It shows you who is linking to you and you can also use it to scope out your competition too and see where they are getting their link juice from!  Go here to learn more about what you can do with all this spiffy new information.

There was so much that Jen taught us that night and it really is hard to put it all in one post. My advice is this, A) follow her on Twitter, B) read her Techmommy blog and C) call up Epiar, book a consultation and ask about their SEO for Small Businesses pack.

And then settle in with a glass (or two) of wine and your laptop and get to work optimizing the shit out of your site (and know that this may take a while, but will be so worth it)!!

Cheers all,

Natasha~