Aside from Andala, MoniLu is probably the most popular carrier manufacturer in the Czech Republic. Anytime you go anywhere at a babywearing meet-up, or basically anything connected with babywearing, you can be sure to encounter at least one or two MoniLus. Therefore, we had the opportunity to look, touch and try these carriers in most of their versions over time and now we even got our hands on their hot new product – the carrier intended for the smallest babies, suitable from birth according to the manufacturer – MoniLu UNI Start.
All the MoniLu carriers have a lot in common, naturally – the typical soft-hard waist belt (in my opinion it is soft, but many fellow-wearers consider it “hard” – therefore I use this ugly term – “soft-hard” 😀 ), generously padded shoulder straps and particularly the materials and sewing of very high quality. At the first sight, it is obvious that these are no low-end products and you can be sure that these carriers are able to carry at least two, three, maybe even four happy wearies throughout their babywearing years without problems.
Wrap conversions made of their own woven wraps are also new in MoniLu’s portfolio – well done, MoniLu! What certainly makes a wrap conversion good and a carrier manufacturer reliable is the choice of suitable material so that the final product is as good, reliable and durable as possible. Weaving their own “carrier” wraps is certainly a step in the right direction. The MoniLu wraps are pleasant to touch, pliable and relatively thin – which is an advantage considering the system of regulation of the width of the back panel, and also they look quite resistant to pulls. As for the design, for me it is neutral, does neither charm nor offend me.
I will begin with the MoniLu classic – a single-size non-adjustable carrier suitable for children from 10 months/75 cm up to 2-2,5 years/88 cm. I will not deny that it is certainly my favourite among the tested models (of course, mainly because it is non-adjustable). Its cut and overall construction is very similar to our beloved Be Lenka Middlesize carrier we praised so much in our review with Linda. To be fair and not misunderstood, I have no idea who was first and if someone copied anyone – anyway, the difference between these two carriers in not substantial. Therefore, same as in case of the Lenka carrier, I have only positive things to say about MoniLu Middlesize!
This particular carrier is probably an older model – it used to be mine for a while before it went to serve as a helper carrier in our regional babywearing group (as far as I know, I was its third owner). I do not know how intensively it was worn by the previous owners; however, we really put it to the test as to the durability after we sent it on a testing tour for several months. It passed with flying colours and still looks perfect – no tears, gapes or pulls, everything is on its place, the wrap is in a great condition. All thumbs up!
The adjusting is fool-proof (basically non-existent), just as I like it in such carriers; however, in this particular one I lack the possibility to cross the shoulder straps. Well, nobody’s perfect (but of course, you can have your carrier sewn with the buckles that enable it). 😉 Unfortunately, this property decides whether a carrier is comfortable for me (yes, I repeat it everytime, I am a strange, stubborn carrier cross-head) and despite the thick shoulder strap padding, I did not feel like carrying my 10kg-weighing daughter for longer trips. However, speaking from experience from most of the “normal” wearers from our local group, MoniLu is generally considered to be one of the most comfortable carriers when speaking about the shoulders straps. The waist belt is very comfortable for me, being ideally tough without tendency to bend, it spreads the weight of the wearie ideally.
Regarding the position of the wearie, I have nothing to reproach – s/he is embraced perfectly by the back panel, legs in an ideal “M-position”; you could basically teach ergonomics using the middlesize model! I can also agree with the recommended range of height/age, or better said I consider the minimum recommended size of 75 cm a bit cautious – I can imagine wearing even a bit smaller child in it.
All in all, a great carrier (and a beautiful one – the blue, slightly glossy Yaro wrap is very elegant). People, buy those non-adjustable carriers, they do not bite!
In case of this type of the carrier, it is a re-test for us – we already had the opportunity to try UNI last spring, almost a year ago. It is recommended from 2 months/55 cm/5 kg up to approximately 3 years/95 cm/20 kg.
There are many reasons why this carrier is one of the most popular fully-adjustable carriers in the Czech Republic nowadays – mainly, the great quality of sewing and materials and the wide range of recommended sizes. Most of our fellow-wearers praised the carrier and some of them even bought one of their own after the testing.
Aside from the adjustable back panel, UNI is very similar to my beloved Middlesize model – generously padded shoulder straps with the possibility to wear them crossed, including bidirectional buckles (hallelujah!) and the typical MoniLu waist belt; this is just something that cannot make me unhappy (but to be perfect in my eyes the chest buckle should be detachable).
For those who have never seen UNI, just a brief description of the system of adjusting of the back panel: you can regulate the width of the back panel by folding the fabric on the waist belt, using a Velcro (similarly to the Kavka Multi-age carrier, but MoniLu lacks the strap that indicates the size of the wearie; however, the waist belt is sewn through in certain places by which you can estimate how much to fold the fabric of the back panel). And yes, Velcro + woven wrap, that cannot be an ideal combination, mainly in a tester carrier which is adjusted and re-adjusted virtually on daily basis. The wrap on the inner side of the waist belt gets damaged by the Velcro quite easily; however, in case of your own carrier you adjust just from time to time (and not every day for carrying wearies of different sizes), it is not a big problem (and moreover, it is not visible when worn 😀 ). Vertical adjusting of the back panel by hidden straps is easy, well-functional and looks great!
As for the position of the wearie, my critical eye has become much less critical over time and I do not really care about every centimetre anymore – I am not such an “ergo-nazi” as a year ago. I have had the opportunity to see many wearies of different ages and sizes in UNI and I’m still not very happy with really small babies worn in it (there is simply too much fabric in every dimension for a small infant). A 2-months-old should be very well built and his/her head should be at least a bit stable to be worn in UNI, in my opinion. The maximum recommended size is a bit optimistic but speaking from experience not unrealistic – it is possible to wear a 3-years-old in UNI (although there are adjustable carriers that are certainly larger as for the height and width of the back panel).
MoniLu UNI Start
UNI Start should be MoniLu’s answer to the growing demand for full-buckle carriers suitable really “from birth”, that last “as long as possible”. Right in the beginning, I must say that our opinion (mine and Linda’s) is a bit reserved about this and we are happier to see newborns in wraps or at least in mei tai carriers than in full-buckle models.
Start is similar to the classical UNI, but logically a bit smaller (it is recommended from 50 cm/3,5 kg up to 1 year/75 cm/15 kg) and the padding of shoulder straps is less chunky. The main difference is the presence of two pairs of buckles to which the shoulder straps can be attached – in smaller children, you use the lower set of buckles attached to the waist belt (it is ingenious that you can easily detach it if you do not longer need it!) and in bigger wearies, you just switch to the upper pair located on the sides of the back panel as in most carriers. If you use the lower pair, the straps go under the knees of the wearie, therefore the wearie can bend his/her back in the “C-shape” without problems, as desired in the smallest babies (similarly as in the Kavka carrier or the full-buckle Fidellas). Manipulation with the lower set of buckles is however a bit complicated mainly for the first-time-mums and first-time-wearers, same as the overall adjusting of the carrier – speaking from our experience, it is always better if someone experienced helps these new mums to adjust it for the first time, otherwise they were not really happy about the carrier. But if you want a fully-adjustable full-buckle carrier you should be able to adjust to a size suitable even for a tiny newborn, you must count on much more complicated and comprehensive adjusting than in case of models recommended for bigger children.
Emilka was 20 months old and measured a little bit more than the recommended 75 centimetres by the time we took the photos. Of course, she hopped in the carrier just for the photoshoot since it was too small for her – not in the horizontal dimension that much, but it is obvious that the back panel was too short for her (the winter jacket not helping but it would not make much difference). Therefore, I think that the maximum recommended height of the wearie is only approximate.
Hereby we want to thank the MoniLu company for providing us the UNI and UNI Start carriers for testing!