With its ‘adapt and survive’ mantra, and a focus on helping parents to retain a sense of self, even with the kids in tow, New Zealand company Phil & Teds has always been ahead of the pack in designing innovative family kit.
It has a collection of clip-on travel highchair, portable travel cots, and buggies that span doubles to running strollers.
So it’s no surprise that the business has come up with the Phil & Teds Airlight baby carrier – a super light and compact baby carrier – or sling – that folds up so tiny it can fit in a handbag. It’s not yet available in the UK, but can be shipped from the US, where it costs $49.99 (around £33).
This carrier is sold on being lightweight but how light is it?
Weighing in at 390g, the Airlight does exactly what it says on the tin. Not only is it small and light enough to carry around in a handbag but, once fastened on, it barely feels like you’re carrying anything.
Does its structure in any way compromise the strength?
Not particularly. Its cotton mix body feels very durable, although it looks quite flimsy, while the surrounding double-layered mesh felt strong enough to support my four-month-old daughter.
The one possible weak point I noticed is where the mesh is stitched to the side buckle straps (pic below), as I could envisage this becoming worn over time.
So does it feel secure?
Yes it does. The buckles are high quality and the finishing on the zip and stitching is good. The fabric is strong and the whole carrier feels very well made – which all contributes to a feeling of sturdiness, despite the light design.
I had no worries about carrying my baby about, and felt really confident that she was safe and secure.
How is strapping baby in?
This was a lot easier than I imagined it would be, as the carrier doesn’t have lots of catches and buttons to fasten.
Once you’ve put on the carrier, it’s just a case of sliding your baby inside and zipping up the front. I really liked how simple it was, and that I didn’t have to faff around with fastenings while trying to keep my daughter from falling out.
Is it comfortable for little ones?
Despite appearances and the lack of padding, my baby loved being in this sling and it was a surefire way to get her off to sleep.
The carrier hugged her to my body, which seemed to make her feel very secure and comfortable, and the height of the sling provided good head support.
Is it comfortable for you?
It was ok, the lack of padding on the shoulders is noticeable, and I must admit, I struggled to adjust the carrier to a really comfortable position at first.
But, once I had adjusted the straps I did find it reasonably comfortable. I don’t think I would use it for a very long outing, but for short periods of use it does the job.
What are the seating options like?
The carrier can be used on your front or your back depending on the size of your baby, and it comes with a newborn insert for using from birth.
With the newborn insert, the carrier can be used for babies 3.5-5.5kg, then for babies up to 9kg without the insert. For older babies of 9-12kg, the carrier can be used as a backpack.
What do you think of the seating positions?
Although the height of the carrier can’t be adjusted as your baby grows, unlike a sling like the BabyBjorn, the newborn insert means the Airlight does have two possible positions when used on your front, which is probably all you really need in a basic carrier.
I like the fact the carrier can also be used as a backpack-style sling as your baby gets older as it gives it a longer lifespan.
How easy is it to adjust the straps?
There are straps, which can be adjusted on each side, as well as the main support across the hips, plus a strap across the shoulder blades at the back (pic below).
While I found the side and hip straps really easy to adjust by just pulling on one end, I found it impossible to alter the one across my shoulder blades once I was wearing the carrier.
Ok, you could make sure it was a good fit before leaving home and having your baby in it but, in reality, there are times when you need to switch the carrier between different people and would need to adjust it on the go.
Are there any nice and surprising features?
I loved the fact the carrier folds up into a slim ‘bumbag’ in the waistband, which could then be fastened on your hips, or slipped into a change bag or handbag. Because my baby carrier is a totally essential bit of kit, I was excited that I could easily cut down on the amount stuff I am carrying around by using the Airlight instead.
How does it compare to other carriers you have used?
Having used the BabyBjorn original with my son, then invested in a BabyBjorn Miracle carrier for my daughter for its extra back support, the Phil & Teds Airlight cannot be compared to these in terms of comfort.
But I would use this as an additional carrier for using on holiday or when I’m heading out with the buggy and don’t want to carry a larger, heavier sling. That is its real selling point, rather than as an everyday carrier.
What do you think of the design?
Once I’d figured out which way was up, I liked the design as I felt it was simple, but looked cool. The six different colour options are bright and there are some nice touches like coloured piping. The Airlight feels very neat when you’re wearing it, which is refreshing.
Although my sister-in-law (who is also a mum of a six-month-old) compared it to a corset, she was really impressed with the tiny size of the Airlight.
My husband was initially dubious about how comfortable the carrier would be, but was pleasantly surprised. He told me he thought it looked insubstantial, but was delighted that our daughter would sleep in it.
And the Phil & Teds Airlight carrier is unbeatable on size and its tidy, compact way of folding away(pic below). It would be brilliant for packing in a cabin bag for a weekend away.
Is it suitable for a newborn baby?
I’m not sure I would recommend it for a newborn because personally I think I would want to feel there was more than one layer of fabric between a tiny baby and the outside world.
However, I’d recommend it for a baby from about three months, once the very floppy stage is over.
Is it easy to clean?
Very. It’s completely machine washable – which is a big plus.
What’s in the box?
Phil & Teds Airlight carrier.
Any additional extras?
The Phil & Teds Airlight is a useful innovation for parents on the go, as it is so small and light that it can be packed tidily into its own storage and stowed in a handbag, change bag or small suitcase.
It may not be padded, but comfort and safety have been carefully thought out, and the design is fresh.
I’d recommend the Airlight for parents who want a nifty solution to carrying their baby, without taking up the space of a traditional carrier.