I have to make a confession at the very beginning – I simply hate writing all those ˈhistoricalˈ introductions about manufacturers of wraps and carriers… 😉 Well, it’s great and all to get to know something new, you often get a brand-new perspective, but… I really do not enjoy all the digging on the Internet until I find something worth publishing. As regards Fidella, I have already done my job (you can read all the necessary information in the Fidella Outer Space Lilac Ring Sling Review). Moreover, I really cannot complain about this brand – my job was quite easy due to the fact that Fidella’s website contains a fairly extensive ˈAbout Usˈ section. May all the manufacturers think alike and thus make my life a bit easier…
As I already mentioned in the article about Fidella RS, the brand is usually perceived as a manufacturer of carriers in the babywearing world. Fly Tai and Fusion Toddler are the absolutely most popular carriers from this manufacturer. Our thanks for the opportunity to test them go to the Facebook group Moderní nosičky (i.e. Modern Wearers)!
Similarly to ˈManducaˈ being used as a synonym for practically any carrier, ˈFly Taiˈ is often used as a general name for any mei-tai (at least by a considerable part of the babywearing world). It is simply so classical that the trade name became a common name. And I have to point out that it is completely well-deserved.
However, I have to poke a bit right from the start. The ˈnumberingˈ of the Fidella carriers is slightly confusing. Let’s take the ˈNew Sizeˈ – do you also hear ˈnewbornˈ in it? Far from it! The smallest size of this mei-tai, suitable for infants from birth, is the ˈBaby Sizeˈ. The New Size is, according to the manufacturer, “suitable for infants from 3rd month of age and the size of 74, to 104 cm/15 kg”. In my opinion, it is just wrong wording – the right being ”from 3 months of age“ (the 3rd month of age = 2 months finished, the third in progress). But even so, I am quite interested in seeing a baby actually measuring 74 cm in two or three months of age… Emilka had the mentioned size when she was about 18 months old. Of course, my tiny kid is certainly no standard, but I still insist on the fact that the vast majority of children wear the size of 74 when they are at least 6 months old. In any case, I think that the mentioned 74 cm is an overcautious specification. As Emilka was not very much taller at the time of our testing, I would not be afraid to say that the carrier is suitable even for a slightly smaller baby. On the contrary, the upper limit of 104 cm is too optimistic, in my humble opinion. While it is perhaps technically possible to position that tall kid in the carrier, the practical part would not be that easy. Such a tall ˈbabyˈ is rarely that cooperative to be tied in a mei-tai (this statement is based on my experience with still-younger Emilka, who I sometimes have problems to agree with during the process of tightening).
This is the end of all my criticism! Well, as far as the design is concerned – this particular Fly Tai we tested is not really my cup of tea (Hot bang-bang girls? Really??). But that is the very last downside you are going to read about (moreover, it is really irrelevant). As I have already written, Fly Tai is a kind of legend in the babywearing world – and this position is well-deserved! As you already know, I am no big fan of the cord-adjusting systems. However, there is no other option when you want the mei-tai to be adjustable. But no more critical comments, let’s start praising!
Most mei-tais I have tested so far had smaller or larger deficiencies for my taste. Indian Soul and Kol Kol mei-tais were very little padded (despite being very decent otherwise). Lenny Lamb Wrap Tai was not padded at all. On the other hand, Andala Tai was padded too much (more specifically, the carrier was a bit too much overall for me). In fact, only the Rischino Half Buckle carrier passed with flying colours.
The Fly Tai felt great – for both Emilka and me. The padding is just right – wide, thick and long enough. The shoulder straps are adequately long and wide – neither too long nor too narrow and easy to work with. The shoulder straps do not tend to slip under the wearie’s bum. When tied on my back, the straps were not reaching my ankles (although, I could have wrapped them around me once more 😉 ). I did not feel bound as in case of some other mei-tais. And moreover – it was very comfortable wearing Emilka’s 9 kg, almost as comfortable as in a wrap (which is a wonder to hear from me, a typical wrap creature 😀 ). The quality is high beyond dispute – it is obvious that the Germans are meticulous.
OK, now getting to the second, less cheerful, part of the review. Fidella Fusion, the full-buckle model, is a very popular carrier not only in the Czech Republic (and therefore, unfortunately, people often buy it in blind). I am sorry to say it, but it’s been a long time since a carrier did not fit me that much… It is definitely a carrier of high quality, beautifully sewn at first glance. There are certainly many babywearing parents whom it will fit perfectly. Well, that has not happened in our case. Although I was really looking forward to testing Fusion…
The Toddler version is, according to the manufacturer, suitable from the age of 3 months and 74 cm of height (similarly to Fly Tai New Size). The upper limit is less optimistic (yet more realistic in my opinion) this time – 98 cm. However, the upper weight limit is really megalomaniac – 30 kg! Again, the numbering of sizes is confusing. The smaller version – Baby Size – is OK. However, the bigger size – Toddler, is suitable from 3 months – really? Show me a baby with 74 cm when they are only 3 months old… My (repeated) experience is that an inexperienced mom buys this version for her tiny little 3-months-old baby and then wonders why it does not fit very well. At the same time, the system of two sets of buckles becomes unnecessary if we take a 74-cm-tall baby into consideration. The idea is good, though – the lower set of buckles is used to attach the shoulder straps under the wearie’s legs, which is suitable for yet-not-very-strengthened babies. The upper set of buckles is used when the baby grows a little. In my opinion, there are very few wearies measuring 74 cm and yet needing the extra support of the lower set of buckles. Moreover, the idle set of buckles simply hinders.
The system of adjusting the back panel uses cords. As you can see in the pictures, I could have loosen the back panel for Emilka a bit more – except I couldn’t – the knot was so strong that it was impossible to untie (unless I wanted to break all my nails). This is one of the reasons why I do not really like this kind of system.
The shoulder straps are really richly padded and very wide. Only the padding is kind of short, in my opinion. The chest buckle was impossible to move downwards enough for my wearing to be comfortable. As you can see, the front buckle is loosened to the full (which I did not have to do with any other carrier), but it still did not help much… even if I managed to loosen the back panel a bit more, that bit would still not do the trick – I usually place the chest buckle between my shoulder blades, preferably even lower.
The system of tightening the shoulder straps is quite unusual. Despite having bidirectional buckles, the back strap is still tightened from the top to the front. Why not. Maybe it is a little more complicated but it still functions well and it eases the manipulation when one uses the lower set of buckles (those placed under the wearie’s legs).
The waist belt is really thin and soft, its padded part being very short – good news for slim moms; however, when one does possess a model’s figure, then the padded part reaches their hips. In that case, the padding loses any function and the whole weight is carried by loins only (judge for yourselves – I wear size 38). Moreover, the upper part of the waist belt bent under Emilka’s 9 kg. There was probably no way to prevent this from happening. However, it did not affect my (dis)comfort after all. Thumbs up to the bidirectional buckle.
Let’s admit it – I am simply a carrier-nerd. Manduca is my thing – yes, the exact carrier which is so often deprecated by experienced wearers as ˈthe worst carrier everˈ. On the contrary, I criticize the generally praised Fidella… Unfortunately; it is purely subjective when it comes to judging the comfort of carriers. Apparently, I belong to the minority of wearers who did not like Fidella. After just about 30 minutes, my shoulders were sore and I desperately longed for setting my child free…
In short, what others praise does not necessarily have to be the best for you. Do not buy in blind – try, try and try different carriers before you finally decide! 😉