Review: Soul AnoonA

*Full Discloser: as  a SOUL brand ambassador I was able to spend time with the AnoonA prior to sending it traveling to a collection of hosts as part of a ‘traveling carrier program’ (TCP). My review of the AnoonA below reflects my own experiences and opinions.*

There’s been a lot of buzz in my community about infant to toddler carriers. Soul‘s solution to this need, the AnoonA, has made a timely appearance in the market place. As a mother of just one I doubted the benefit of an infant to toddler carrier for my already 10 month old but what I found during my week with AnoonA is that this particular carrier offers such versatility that even at this age there is lots of room to grow and that the AnoonA could grow with us!

Fabric, Colour, and Price Point:  
The AnoonA is 100% woven cotton. The traveling carrier in Lapis is a beautiful deep blue (a more vibrant version of a dark denim) , and ready to wear right out of the box. The AnoonA retails for $86.04  USD directly from SOUL however coming from India there is a significant shipping fee. There are many US retailers who carry SOUL if you prefer domestic shipping options, I’ve seen it listed at approximately $120.00 from stateside retailers.  The recommended weight range for this carrier is approximately  7 – 44 lbs and with my little guy at a very generous 22 lbs we decided to take it out and give it a spin right away.

First Impressions: 
Because we are primarily wrappers, we use carriers for quick ups into the store, traveling through airports, and as ‘in the car’ alternative to any situation in which someone might use a stroller. We recently acquired a Soul Linen Onbuhimo but because of my son’s  short stature, his legs are about an inch too short (for only the next two weeks at the rate he is growing) and thus his legs are slightly over extended in the Onbuhimo. But I LOVED the quick ups on the back and so does he. So how would the AnoonA fare in comparison?
Well the first carry we tried was the back carry with the AnoonA set to the ‘large’ setting. We took a walk around the neighbourhood and before we were back my son was sound asleep. Let me tell you, sleepy dust is bound to win over any mom. Baby boy slept on my back while I got some housework done, marveling at the immediate success of the AnoonA and wondering if I could figure out a way to nap standing up so I didn’t have to ruin things with a pesky transfer fail.

The Carrier:
So let’s talk about adjustability; the AnoonA has it in spades. It is, however, important to note that with adjustability comes a lot of  ‘persnickety’ bits. The straps and elastics are part of what makes this carrier so special but also part of what makes it a bit fussy to adjust.

Having tried 4 of the 5 carries the AnoonA is capable of, I think that the more i used it, the less bothered I was with the details. But this is the carrier that can go between mom and dad, between baby and toddler, kid one, kid two, and maybe even kid 3!? Because of that you will want to take the time to make sure the carrier is adjusted correctly for both the wear-er and the wear-ee each and every time it is used. Remembering that this carrier isn’t for ‘right now’ but for ‘always’ really helps get past all buckles and snaps and possible ways of doing it wrong.

 

Case in point, our second back carry we attempted to shorten the panel to bring the height to my son’s shoulder blades and off of his neck. Of course I managed to get the neck support folded in the wrong direction, not noticing as I snapped a few photos.

The good news is that after reading the manual once again and looking over the buckles again with my son not climbing me like a tree, I managed to find where I went wrong and the third time was the charm!

Now let me not forget that this is Texas “y’all” and this time of year, the heat is no joke. The SOUL team is based out of Bangalore so they know a thing or two about the heat. The AnoonA is cotton so it’s not specifically breezy but it’s not oppressively hot either.  Still, be sure to practice safe summer babywearing practices like dressing down, staying hydrated, keep baby hydrated, keep moving and taking breaks as necessary, and protect yourselves from the sun’s rays.

Carries:
The AnoonA offers five different carries; front carry, newborn front carry, front carry facing out, hip carry, and back carry.  We tried all but the newborn front carry and will look forward to a review from some of the traveling AnoonA hosts who will be able to try out that particular carry in the coming weeks.

Firstly the back carry – as I mentioned above was loved by my son and while it took a little fidgeting  and figuring out, it was well worth it. Getting to know your AnoonA is essential for a safe and properly fitted back carry.
It was comfortable – enough. I say enough because I did find it a bit diggy in the under-arms after a while. I feel as though more time and adjustments could have probably helped me find that sweet spot but perhaps I could have loosened the carrier a touch as well. I did find that the waist belt was much more comfortable than I anticipated, especially as someone who prefers no belt on the mom-fluff. Baby boy felt secure and high. I like the back carry in the AnoonA well enough that I would carry him this way for a moderate length of time.

The front carry – this carry felt like an old friend. It was easy to get a good deep seat and the criss cross straps in the back distributed the weight evenly. I took my son to the airport to welcome his grandparents for the weekend and he snuggled in during those initial ‘stranger danger’ moments. It felt good and looked pretty and matched my Soul Day Bag. The extra back clip was probably not entirely necessary in this configuration but in the spirit of trying out the carrier as intended I reached my T-Rex arms back there and secured the extra buckle.

The front carry forward facing – I’m not going to lie here, I don’t like this carry in general. I’ve tried a forward facing carrier from one of our local lending libraries before and was not a fan of this carry at 6 months and I am still not a fan at 10 months. If you like forward facing – the AnoonA will do it well for you. It’s very adjustable and getting a deep seat is easy as pie. Your child ultimately sits in the carrier similarly as they would in a chair. That said it is easy for their posture to slouch so following the directions is imperative and I would recommend chatting with the Soul Family members online if you had any trouble shooting questions about fitting for this carry. The booklet spells it out pretty clearly but it does take some time to get it right and comfortable.. In fairness to the AnoonA it was comfortable for us, it was easy to change the shape of the AnoonA to make it suitable for safe forward facing carry, and there was ample support to get my child’s legs into the M (or froggy) position.
My son thought it was a hoot and was swinging his legs and arms at anything and everything close by. To me it was a lot more trouble for mom but babies who are used to forward facing may not find it so stimulating.

Lastly, hip carry – This carry was my least favorite. I have carried my son on my hip in a ring sling or wrap for a while now and doing so in a buckle carrier distributed the weight just a little too differently for my personal tastes. It was unintuitive for me to use the carrier in this way. I was happy that this was an option for the carrier and the versatility of the AnoonA really shines in its ability to create so many options but for me this just wasn’t comfortable. The manual has many great pointers to help you get the fit correct and find your own comfort for the hip carry including tips on how to pull it down from high on your neck (a problem I faced with the strap when wearing the hip carry) but I can’t see myself using it in this fashion again. I am really looking forward to feedback from the hosts of this travelling AnoonA who have more experience with buckle carriers than I do.

Here you can see us trying some of the carries possible in the AnoonA for the first time. *please note this is a blind run – not an instructional video. You will see us refer to the instruction booklet a lot in this video. Please visit https://www.facebook.com/soulslings for more information about properly fitting your AnoonA. 

Reception:
To say that there is excitement about the infant to toddler carrier by Soul would be completely accurate. Soul released the AnoonA on June 2nd and as of the writing of this review (June 5th) it was sold out from the SOUL website and by many of the retailers who stocked up for release date. My understanding is that Soul is working on restocking this new carrier very quickly.

Final Thoughts: 

The AnoonA by Soul is the most customizable full buckle carrier I have tried to date. While a little persnikety at times, the adjustability of this carrier means that it has tremendous longevity and can firmly hold its place as your family’s only carrier. Moms of multiple children will be thrilled to have one carrier they can use for more than one sized child and moms of singletons, like me, will be thrilled that this carrier will grow with their child. It may take a bit of time to figure out that ‘sweet spot’ for both you and child for each style of carry, but the AnoonA seems absolutely worth the little bit of fussing as, once properly fitted, it is snug, secure, and comfortable.

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