Carrier of the Month - The Integra Baby
By Susie Cooke, Babywearing Consultant, Helix Baby
AT A GLANCE:
Weight – from 3.5 to 24kg (7.5lb to 52lb), accessory strap for small baby
Positions – front inward facing, hip and back carrying
Straps – rucksack and cross strap options
Fabric: 100% cotton, Solar 100% Nylon Solarweave
Hood: large, attached, adjustable
Adjustability: waist belt adjustment up to 52 inches
Parenting is hard enough, without a complex sling to work out too. The Integra Baby carrier is cool, compact and simple. The perfect combination to make carrying your IMPORTANT cargo that little bit easier.
I know I should be neutral for a review, but I LOVE this carrier! It is my personal “go-to” buckle for quick ups, travelling or days out. I have 4 (!) in my own collection and I just love the simplicity of it.
It is very similar to the Connecta carrier. I get asked a lot “Are they the same?” or “What is the difference?”. Well, they ARE different brands, very similar in design but DO have minor differences. The owner of Integra was the inventor and owner of Connecta, before selling and then launching Integra.
The carrier comes in three different sizes; size 1 for baby, size 2 for toddler and size 3 for preschool. The confusing bit is that they are all weight tested to the same range of weight, 3.5 – 24kg. So you could technically “safely” wear your 24kg 6 year old in a size 1, however it would not be comfortable! So Integra also give you guidelines of when best to use each size. The size 1 however, is the only size to be used for a newborn baby.
Size 1: Suitable from newborn (7.5lb) until around 2 years of age;
Size 2: Suitable from around 18 months or 22lb/10kg until your child is around 3.5 years of age;
Size 3: Suitable from around 3 years or 33lb/15kg until around 5 years of age.
All sizes offer front inward facing and back carrying positions. Although it’s not in the user manual, its also possible to do a hip carry too.
The accessory strap included is used as a chest strap when back carrying. Prior to that, it must be used to cinch the panel width on a size 1, making it suitable for newborn so it fits knee-to-knee. It can be a bit tricky to get the ideal fit this way; the accessory strap can slip and it can take a few goes to get it in the right place. For an inexperienced wearer or first time parent, this could be frustrating or off putting.
My personal view is that there are other softer and easier options to use when babe is small. However, once babe is big enough not to need the accessory strap (usually around 6 months old), the Integra really does excel!
Below you can see my youngest, 6 months, in a size 1 front carry, my middle son, 3 years, in a size 2 hip carry and my eldest, 5 years, in a size 3 back carry.
Integra is an “apron-style” carrier. It doesn’t have a chunky waist belt and you put it on like an apron. With this style, you tend to take more of baby’s weight over your shoulders and back. However, I find that you can get a much better fit for a wider range of wearers, especially very petite or larger sized wearers.
Straps cross for a front carry and rucksack for a back carry. Buckles are large and easy to use. It also has 2-way buckle adjusters. These are so helpful because you can tighten the carrier either by pulling forwards or backwards, whichever you find easier. It means you can tighten in the same direction when doing a back carry too! You can also move the buckle along the strap if you are finding it uncomfortable; some large busted ladies I have helped found the side buckles dug into them, so by sliding the buckle towards your back, this doesn’t happen.
The hood is big! But I find that very handy, as when I am back carrying solo, I can reach behind and fasten the hood in place by myself. For younger babes, it can be rolled up and secured to create a neck support, or even tucked inside for newborns.
It is also available in their Solar version. It is the same carrier, but made with super thin, fast drying, water-friendly Solarweave fabric; perfectly cool for a hot, sunny holiday, using in the shower or at the swimming pool/seaside and for packing up compactly to travel with.
I don’t own a pram or buggy, so when we go out, I have to carry everything as well as the children! The biggest draw for me was how COMPACT the Integra is. Being able to pack it in the change bag/rucksack easily, along with everything else, was essential. Especially as my family grew and I needed to take more than one carrier with us!
With a budget friendly price tag, the hardest part about buying an Integra is deciding which amazing pattern to choose. There are so many basic prints there is something for everyone. There is also a Harris Tweed collection (yes, I have one of these), many woven wrap brand collaborations (yes, I have one of these too!), and of course the Solar collection (you’ve guessed it, I actually have 2 of these!).
VERDICT: Quick and easy to use, compact and stylish. The Integra is a great choice if you are looking for a neat and simple buckle carrier, with baby, toddler and preschool options.