The Tula is great, but it has its downsides. It's not at all compact - if I take it anywhere, it's like it has to have its own seat. It's incredibly hot in the humid midwest summer, as mine is a canvas carrier. In addition, it is pretty heavy - normally this last one isn't a problem, but it can be when I'm carrying it when Peanut is tired of being worn. My ring sling is woven, so it has most of the same problems - it's great for trips, but it's kind of a bear to lug around.
In comes the Bitybean (LINK). I had a chance to try one recently. On paper, the specs are similar to the canvas soft-structured carriers - it's for infants and toddlers between 3 months old and ideally 3 years, from 8 lbs to 40 lbs. It can fit anyone from a size 0 to a maximum waist size of 46 inches, but there's also an extender you can purchase that adds an additional 12 inches. Like many others, it can be worn in a front or back carry. So, already it's stacking up well against the competition.
Now, let's look at the ways that the Bitybean pulls ahead - and there are many! Here are just a few:
- Price. In comparison to the $115 to $200 that are common for canvas carriers, the Bitybean is only $59.95. That's at least half of the price of most other carriers! Like many of the other carriers, you can additionally purchase an infant liner or sleep hood, which are also both moderately priced. I know that price is a huge reason that many women feel they aren't able to babywear, and the Bitybean really helps to make that concern vanish.
- Compact and lightweight. This blew me away. The Bitybean comes in a convenient little sleeve that is about the size of a soup can. It also weighs almost nothing (8 ounces!), so I can throw it in my diaper bag/purse - as you can see below, I've tried to consolidate everything to one bag already, and the Bitybean (the orange and black tube at the top) fits in there easily and doesn't weigh it down.
- Breathable and water-safe. I mentioned above that I throw the Bitybean in my diaper bag - that's because it is incredibly convenient to wear out and about. It is made of a light nylon/polyester blend, so it's almost the texture of a rain poncho. This makes it incredibly breathable and lightweight in the summer, but it has the added bonus of working great while swimming or in the rain. We wore it on a rainy day at a festival this last weekend, and I didn't have to worry about damaging it when it rained on it, or about it weighing a hundred pounds when it was saturated with water. The bulk of the rain just slid right off the back. Both of the kids have swimming lessons this summer, and so I plan on wearing Peanut in it in the pool. I can't think of another soft-structured carrier offhand that is designed to be worn in the water! (Check Bitybean's website for good pointers on water wear, like wearing your baby in front while in the water so you can make sure their head is above water.)
Added bonus: If you're prone to spilling (as I am), it's not a big deal, as most liquids just roll right off and/or dry quickly.
This is what we get when Big Sis takes the photos.
- Ergonomic. I wore the Peanut, who is now just over 20 lbs, in the Bitybean for several hours at the festival this weekend. My back didn't hurt. I love the quickness of a ring sling, but the problem as a baby gets older is that it's not an even distribution on your back - the Bitybean was developed with parents and babywearing experts to make it safe and ergonomic for mama as well as baby. I wore it the past couple of weekends while doing housework, and it was convenient and comfortable.
I am really pleased to have the Bitybean in my babywearing arsenal. I still love my ring sling and my Tula, and they each have their time and place - but I can't imagine ever going back to lugging either of them around in my purse or in the car when the Bitybean performs every function they do and more. Great, great buy - and cute colors (LINK)!