This is a personal review of my experience with using the Manduca baby carrier for the past five years through three kids. In particular, I’ll be discussing its capability as a newborn carrier and whether it’s a good alternative to the Ergobaby or Baby Tula.
(Above) Me carrying my third baby in the Manduca, Jan 2020
Overview Of The Manduca
Designed and made in Europe, the Manduca is one of the only soft-structured baby carrier made with organic cotton. The first Manduca has been around in Australia since 2012 and the design hasn’t really changed since then, the only difference being changes in colours and patterns.
- Manduca Review – Newborn & Baby Carrier
- What’s The Best Baby Carrier?
- Manduca Baby Carrier Instructions
Manduca Review – Newborn & Baby Carrier
Features of the Manduca
- Suitable from 3.5kg up to 20kg
- Attached canopy hood for baby
- 100% organic cotton
- Body panel height can be extended
- Can be used for breastfeeding
- 2 carry positions – front (inward facing) and back
- Shoulder straps can be crossed and worn in “X” style
Price of the Manduca
How much does the Manduca baby carrier cost?
You can also find secondhand Manduca baby carriers starting from $80 and this is a very cost-effective way of obtaining a Manduca, particularly if you just want to test it out.
Comparatively speaking, even at R.R.P, the Manduca is far more affordable than other big brand names with the Ergobaby or BabyBjorn. You can find out more in my cost comparison of baby carrier brands.
Manduca for newborns
Is Manduca safe for newborns?
Yes, the Manduca is designed to be used from birth, with a built-in newborn insert for babies 3.5kg and above. However, the way to use it is a bit tricky and some babies may not like it very much.
The insert essentially creates a second seat that is higher up than the standard seat, so that a newborn can sit with her legs folded inside the carrier, instead of sticking out.
For a video demonstration of this, refer to the Manduca Baby Carrier Instructions at the end of this article.
This isn’t a problem for a newborn because they are used to being squashed in the womb, but after 6-8 weeks, as she grows a bit bigger, it can start to feel uncomfortable for the baby, or yourself.
As baby’s legs get stronger and longer, they tend to prefer having them outside of the carrier, rather than folded against your belly.
Adapting the Manduca for a newborn
Based on some customers’ experiences (myself included), there is an awkward period between 2 to 4 months where the baby isn’t quite small enough to sit with their legs folded in, yet aren’t big enough to sit in the standard seat with their legs outside.
If you try and put them in the standard seat before their legs are long enough, it might create red sore marks around their legs. Or, you might find their legs spread out way too far apart.
The workaround this (which I only found out with baby no.3) is to use the Manduca Size It – a band that you tie around the base of the seat to make it narrower for your baby.
Note: If you’re using the Size It, you do not need to use the built-in newborn insert at the same time. Use one or the other.
(Above) The Manduca Size It (highlighted in yellow) is used to make the seat base narrower for a newborn.
This is a quick and easy solution that doesn’t cost very much. Even with the added cost of the Manduca Size It, the baby carrier still costs significantly less than other big brands.
Pros & cons of Manduca
- Certified hip-healthy by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute
- Ergonomic for baby and the wearer
- Most affordable big brand full-buckle baby carrier
- More lightweight than other standard carriers
- 100% organic cotton
Overall, I’d highly recommend the Manduca as a greatly affordable baby carrier that can withstand the test of time. I’ve used it for all three kids and even carried my three-year-old without a problem.
It is one of the top rated baby carriers on ProductReview and has proven itself consistently over time that it is well received by parents in Australia.
- Might require the Size-It band to be used between ages 2-3 months
- Adjustments can be overwhelming
As mentioned previously, when the baby is between 8 and 12 weeks old, the Manduca might require adjustments using their Size-It strap (sold separately) to make the base seat narrower and more comfortable for the baby.
I have personally never used the Size-It so I can’t speak for how well it works for newborns. If you don’t want to buy it, you can always just ride out those awkward few weeks by using a pram instead.
Additionally, because the Manduca can be used in three different carry positions, it comes with 10 points of adjustments – four on each shoulder strap, and two on the waistband.
This can get quite overwhelming but it’s actually fairly simple if you follow the Manduca instructions manual and you don’t need to use every adjustment if you’re only using one or two positions.
What’s The Best Baby Carrier?
Manduca vs Baby Tula
|Manduca||Tula Explore||Tula Free-To-Grow|
|Positions||Front, back, hip||Front, outward, back||Front, back|
|Straps||Straight & crossable||Straight only||Straight only|
|Newborn||From 3.5kg||From 3.2kg||From 3.2kg|
It is worth noting that the Manduca has the most number of reviews on ProductReview with more than 100+ reviews. Even though the Baby Tula Free-To-Grow has a higher rating, it is only based on a handful of reviews.
At first glance, the most outstanding advantage of the Manduca is its affordable price point, especially considering its made from organic cotton. I’ve used mine for five years and can honestly say that its quality definitely stands up to the test of time.
The only disadvantage of the Manduca is that it is only suitable for newborns 3.5kg and above, while most baby carriers are made for 3.2kg and above.
This is not too much for a problem if you don’t plan on going out-and-about with your newborn in the first few weeks. Newborns put on weight very quickly so it won’t take long for them to reach 3.5kg.
Manduca vs Ergobaby
|Manduca||Ergobaby Omni 360||Ergobaby Adapt|
|Positions||Front, back, hip||Front, outward, back, hip||Front, back, hip|
|Straps||Straight & crossable||Straight & crossable||Straight & crossable|
|Newborn||From 3.5kg||From 3.2kg||From 3.2kg|
In this comparison, the Ergobaby Adapt trumps the Manduca and its Omni 360 counterpart in every area.
It is worth noting, though, that like all Ergobaby carriers, the Adapt comes in the standard full cotton version, as well as the cool air mesh version, which has a mix of polyester in it.
Winner: Ergobaby Adapt
Manduca Baby Carrier Instructions
How to use it for a newborn
Using the Manduca for a newborn requires a bit of practice. It essentially requires the newborn to sit froggy-style in the carrier with her legs tugged in, instead of hanging outside the carrier.
How you fold the baby’s legs will depend on what feels comfortable to you. Generally, you’ll want to try and maintain the M-shape by having it spread out, like in the video screenshot below.
(Above) Screenshot from the video, showing the newborn’s legs in the M-shape position but tucked within the baby carrier.
Watch this demonstration video below to see how to use the Manduca built-in newborn insert.
How to do back carry with Manduca
The back carry is only recommended for babies older than four months with good head control.
It is easier to do with a toddler as you only really need one hand to support them. The video below demonstrates the back carry with an older baby.
For younger babies who require more support, you will need to do the back carry a little differently. The illustrations below are taken from the official Manduca instructions manual (refer to page 10).
Essentially, with the waist belt fastened, you hold baby like a sling and gently swing her to your back while at the same time turning the waist belt around.
How to breastfeed in the Manduca
The way to breastfeed in a Manduca is universal to all SSCs (Soft Structured Carriers), also known as full buckle carriers.
This video demonstration shows how this can be done and it is as easy as loosening all the straps so that the baby seats lower until she is at nipple height.
Manduca Baby Carrier
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This was written at night while my kids are in bed. Help me stay awake so I can keep producing free & useful content for Aussie mums!