I remember the first time I heard about Sleepy Nico – about 18months ago. An American friend of mine had had an apple design one for her son when he was small and loved it.. so when I saw a green emerald cord Sleepy Nico on eBay, I thought it might make a nice addition to my demo stash for using at my sling meet (a stash which since then has grown to encompass a pretty enormous sling library) so I bought it.
A friend of mine had a baby boy on Christmas Day that year – and asked me if I had any buckle slings that might be suitable for a small baby? I went round with the green Sleepy Nico. It was love at first try for my friend and her son… and that moment, Sheffield’s love affair with Sleepy Nico was born.
18 months later, I have seven baby sized Sleepy Nicos in the Sling Library… and one of the brand new toddler ones as well. They are hardly ever in stock at the end of library sessions or one to one consultations with younger babies, and I can only see the demand growing.
The brand began life in London in 2008, and for the last two years has been thriving in Suffolk, under the guiding hand of Angeline Braidwood, who is committed and dedicated to making beautiful and comfortable full buckle carriers. They are very comfortable and very simple, with a lovely soft corduroy structure for the softly padded waistband, straps and panel, with a fabric outer attached to the panel for individuality. The straps of the baby carrier are crossable for wearing baby on the front, with the straps buckling directly into the side of the panel. There is a chest belt for rucksack strap wearing on the front or on the back. There is a hood which can be velcro-ed into place (recently redesigned to reduce any risk of scratching).
They fit babies from about three months to twelve months, with some flexibility for a month or two on either side (I have successfully cinched the panel a little narrower and shorter for younger babies to ensure hip opening is not too excessive) and many families are so very attached to their Sleepy Nicos that they carry on using them when not quite knee to knee anymore (but still safely – see my article here about this!)
They are all fully tested to the appropriate British safety standards.
What’s so special about these carriers, then?
Well, they are unique in their design and in their sheer comfort factor. They are handmade by Angeline’s team of experienced seamstresses with immaculate finishing. The cord used is very soft and mouldable, so the waistband and the straps rarely cause any digging. Having a little friction means the straps are less likely to roll about on the shoulders. There is a little bit of gentle leg padding to comfort knee pits. The webbing is narrow and pliable, and most people find it easy to tighten. By the time parents begin to think of moving on from their stretchy or Close carriers (children developing some head control) the Sleepy Nico is ready and waiting, just the right size for this age group.
Furthermore, Angeline offers the option of customising the fabric outer panel, which is extremely popular for parents wanting a carrier that is unique and special to them. The made to order carriers are then given names with meaning to their owners. I’ve seen some pretty spectacular Sleepy Nicos, such as Superman, camper vans, cheerful puppies, dragons, dinosaur bones etc – you can see some examples here.
I’ve lost count of the number of families who have tried the Sleepy Nico, loved its comfort, simplicity and personality, and gone on to purchase their own. There must be over 50 in Sheffield alone, so many that Angeline came to the Sheffield Slings Christmas party to see some of her carriers in action around the tree! It is my second most popular baby carrier (topped only by Connecta).
There was great demand for a toddler carrier (I found the Wompat and the toddler Melkaj the closest in similarity originally) so a month ago, Sleepy Nico produced the first one – two were made, passed safety testing and one now lives with me (the other at the South London Sling Library!) I find it comfortable for smaller toddlers – as it is so soft and gentle, but I’d probably use something with greater rigidity for a preschooler.
The design is a little different from the baby carrier in that the straps are created primarily for ruckstrap carrying toddlers on the back, with a chest belt and long webbing attached directly from the panel onto the cord strap. During the testing process, it became obvious that many parents choose to continue with front carrying and prefer the option of crossed straps across the back for this position. Therefore the design was amended a little to have a buckle insertion of the webbing at the end of the strap (rather than a buckle at the side of the panel as you get with the baby version). This allows the straps to be pre-buckled together in a crossed strap position.
The toddler version has Perfect Fit Adjusters to allow the shoulder straps to be worn more snugly for petite parents, which is welcome.
Feedback on the toddler carrier has been very positive with many parents moving directly on from their baby ones into the bigger version.
I love the Sleepy Nico carrier. If I was to have another baby, I’d get a Sleepy Nico of my very own for sure, for the days when wrapping was just that little bit too fiddly. I’d have great fun choosing my custom fabric and I know I’d be comfortable and so would my baby. There are many other lovely baby carriers out there, for sure, and not everyone gets on with every carrier, but the softness and mouldability of the SN makes it one of my top choices.