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Our 6-week-old baby girl was getting ready for her first flight over to Northern Ireland and the thought of carrying her up the rickety steps of a budget airline was something that wasn't resting easily on my mind. As I'd been in and out of more Baby related shops in the past few months than I care to remember I was aware of baby carriers and baby slings and decided that having 2 hands free and carrying a the little one would be the safest and most sensible option to facing the dreaded airplane steps.
As we had seemed to favour Mamas and Papas for many of our baby carrying needs we decided to get the Babycruzer Deluxe from our local M&P retailer for the not so tiny sum of £35. Although in the world of Baby Carriers, £35 is not considered to be very expensive at all.
The Babycruzer Deluxe comes in two patterns, Famiglia (a brown pattern with M&P logo squares) and City Scape (an almost denim effect plain grey). Although this isn't a great deal of choice compared to the countless patterns and colours available for prams and car seats, it did suit us perfectly as we already had the City Scape scheme on a few other items.
>>>Baby on Board
The concept for the Babycruzer is very simple you strap your baby on to your front so that you can carry them around and still be able to use your hands for other things. It also helps save you from dead arms and pins and needles that can come from holding babies for long periods of time.
The Babycruzer can be used for babies who are between 3.5 kgs (7.7 lbs) and 9kgs (19.8 lbs) and consists of a harness in which you place the little one and a number of padded straps that cross over your back. There is an additional Lumber support strap that goes across your back to help distribute the load.
This allows you to have your baby sitting
facing forwards or facing towards you. It is recommended to sit the baby facing you for newborns and sleeping babies and until the baby is able to hold up their head. Whereas the forward facing posture suits a baby who is awake are much more interested in everything that is going on around them than your face that they see all the time, not to mention it looks much more comfortable for them.
The Babycruzer Deluxe also features a rain hood (for when the baby is facing you only!), head support and a bib to help keep your clothes clean.
>>>Out of the box
As a man I whole-heartedly believe that instruction manuals are only included with products to act as additional padding and packaging. However, with our date with the rickety steps fast approaching I wanted to make sure I could quickly attach and remove the Babycruzer as quickly and safely as possible and so I surrendered and opened the instruction booklet.
I wish I hadn't bothered. The booklet contains 8 pages of non descript images and equally useless instructions and despite my bets efforts to try to understand what the picture was supposed to be showing me, I ended up picking up the Babycruzer and playing with it until I got to grips with how it works. It could just be that I am not used to reading instructions, but I doubt that anyone would find these to be clear or helpful.
The basic premise is to get your child safely in place and clipped in and then to lift the harness and put the padded straps over your head so that they cross behind you and then clip in to the bottom of the harness. After a few attempts with just the harness and a few expletives along the way, it was time to try with a baby. Setting the harness on the sofa and strapping her in was reasonably simple as was lifting the harness and after a reasonable amount of struggling with the straps, we had a secure fit.
>>> Are you sitting comfortably?
Everything was going well on the day of the flight, we'd checked in with plenty of time to spare and had sailed through security, all that was left was to put the little girl in the Babycruzer and fold down the pram read to get on the plane. Something that was not as straightforward as was planned.
The padded harness is quite compact and sturdy. However, the straps are the complete opposite and there seems to be no good way to pack the Babycruzer as the straps make it quite cumbersome even when folded up and as it doesn't come with any sort of bag or sack to store it in it expands to fill as much space as possible.
The main problem with the Babycruzer is that it is fine when used in your own house and you have plenty of time and space to assemble it. In a crowded airport this became quite a difficult task and once baby was secured trying to get the straps over my shoulders and attached beneath while not taking anyone's head off with flailing arms and coats proved impossible. Things only got worse once on the plane, with even less space to remove and then reattach the Babycruzer it became very frustrating and tiring trying to comfort a baby who clearly hates being sat in the harness whilst attempting to fasten all the straps securely. In fact I was not happy enough that I had attached all the straps correctly that I ended up holding onto the harness with one or two hands to make sure she was safe, which made having the harness at all completely pointless.
We used the Babycruzer on the return flight a few days later and the story was the same if not worse. The Babycruzer is fine once the baby is fastened in and it is strapped on. The problem is that the straps are long and thin and I found that they kept getting twisted and so making it harder to straighten everything out to put it on. It doesn't feel like a compact and secure unit when not attached it feels flimsy. It is quite hard to explain this and hopefully the attached pictures show how clumsy the Babycruzer is before being attached. I must also say that the attached bib that is there to protect your clothes is also useless as my delightful daughter decided she would protest at being put in the harness for the 4th time in as many days by being sick all over my new top, the bib managed to stop non of the sick and seemed only to rub it in more.
I have tried to use the Babycruzer a few times since and although it is easier to use when you have space and time it is still quite awkward to use and it seems pointless to do so as the girl simply hates being put in it, no matter which way she is sitting.
I was thoroughly disappointed with the Babycruzer as it is very awkward to use. The straps click into place using absolutely huge locking mechanisms and although these are secure they are uncomfortable for the parent as they can dig into your sides and hips and as the straps only click in one way up it can be unnecessarily complicated to click them in place. The idea of being able to carry a baby hands free is brilliant, but the Babycruzer simply does not make this easy to achieve. So unfortunately we have given up trying to use it anymore, so it now sits sprawled across a chair looking awkward and clumsy as a reminder that we have wasted £35 on something that simply did not live up to our expectations and wasn't at all user friendly.
Baby carriers and slings are brilliant ideas and once securely fitted the Babycruzer was relatively useful when taking on the rickety steps, but there are plenty of other brands and styles out there, and I would recommend that you look elsewhere.
Pictures of Mamas & Papas Babycruzer Deluxe - City Scape