March 15, 2011

EVERYTHING na Ma-SaYa: A SaYa Baby Carrier Guide

Maiba naman ako... Let's take a break from the sweet things in life.

Hello curious and confused hot mommas out there!

Being a first-time mom, I sympathize will all the new / rusty moms out there who are caught in the middle of the baby-carrier-quest and find themselves at a shopping crossroad.

Baby Carriers

There are ring slings, and pouches, and wraps, and bags, and so many other hybrid forms of the same thing going by a different name. Let me make it simple. For babywearing, I personally believe in only 3. Ring Slings, Pouches, and the SaYa Carrier.

Yes the SaYa Carrier. For me the greatest invention since the onesie (I hate it when my son's shirt rides up to his kili-kili). So that makes me one of Buding Aquino Dee's greatest fans (Though she doesn't know it and she doesn't know me.). Right now I think she is one of God's greatest gifts to Pinoy mothers. And I am also one of Eliza Ypon's (The Painter's Wife) most grateful followers. Here is an introductory vid if you've never heard of a SaYa Baby Carrier before.

There is much information on Ring Slings and Pouches on the net so I need not go into that. Go to Jen of Next9/RJellybean's video tutorial on how to use our local ring slings (mabuhay ang gawang Pinoy!). If you want to purchase one from her, visit the Next9/RJellybean site.

The SaYa Carrier, however, is a unique product which doesn't have much tutorials yet. So when I bought my SaYa Carrier, I was at a loss as to how to use this seemingly simple sling. The pictures of the models were great, but getting to copy it was a tad bit hard with no step-by-step manual. I had to rely on a wonderful blog which reviews and teaches you how it's used. Visit The Painter's Wife's SaYa Carrier instructional blog to help you out with this great invention. (Eliza, you're an angel!)

So seeing all the questions being thrown over and over again to those poor online sellers and SaYa bloggers, I figured why not make my own SaYa FAQ since I've asked them all these questions before as well?


It is important to note before I begin that the SaYa's I am using in this FAQ are as follows:
Versatekk in plain brown Size 0.
Versatekk in plain teal Size 0.
Semi-Stretch Knit in printed teal/brown floral Size Small.
I am slender, 5'3" tall with a 4-month old son who is very tall for his age.
My better half is 5'8", big build but not fat.
Oh!... And my shoe size is 6 and a half. (wala lang...)

ALL pictures are in hi-res. Simply click any one to enlarge for fine detail.

 What is the SaYa Baby Carrier?  
The SaYa Baby Carrier is a proudly Philippine-made baby sling made of stretch knit fabric. It is meant to have the functionality of any/all other baby slings in the market. It's a clever hybrid of all the baby carriers you have heard of or seen.

 What does it look like?  
The dual slings of the SaYa are made of stretch knit fabrics that are sewn interlocked, like a chain link.  It has nothing but fabric: no buttons, clasps, velcros, hooks, rings, snaps, or buckles.

 How does it work? 
There are two slings, the lead sling and the support sling that are worn in a criss-cross fashion, to distribute the weight on both your shoulders and to provide double support for the weight of your baby. The part where your baby sits/lies is the part where the two slings overlap.

 What are the kinds of SaYa Baby Carriers? 
There are 3 kinds so far. The Semi-Stretch Knit Dual Sling (SSK), the VersaTekk Blend Dual Sling (VTB), the VersaTekk Blend Pouch/Single Sling.

VTB in solid teal and SSK in floral teal/brown

 What's the difference between the Semi-Stretch Knit and VersaTekk? 
a) The stretch. As the name implies, the SSK has less stretch than the VersaTekk. I find the SSK to have more resistance, therefore less "bounce". It's nice to use with a younger baby because he doesn't drop into the pouch as much. It is sturdier, more rigid. VersaTekk has more stretch, therefore more "lundo". It's nice with a bigger baby because the weight is easily accommodated but a squirmy, restless baby might be a headache. There is no "better choice", it's a matter of preference. There is another review by The Painter's Wife for SSK vs VTB.

Note that in the picture in the question above shows the two SaYas side by side in a laid out position. The SSK appears to be longer by a few inches. However, in the pictures directly above where I used the weight of my laptop you can see that they end up at the exact same level of the doorstep. Ergo, the SSK does have just half the stretch.

b) The design. The SSK comes in solid/solid and solid/print choices. VTB Dual Sling only has solid/solid for now. VTB Pouch has reversible design. The seams are also different. The SSK has more of an evident seam because the material is not as flexible. It has that accordion-type of bunching. The VTB's seam is just like its hem, more discreet.

seam of SSK
seam of VTB
stitch and hem of SSK
stitch and hem of VTB

seam of SSK close-up 
If you ask me, I don't really know what the accordion seam is for, since the stretch it provides is negligible. For my purposes I use it as a marker, the accordion hems must be dead center of my back. If you know it's real purpose, give me a heads-up. -- UPDATE: Ok, I was right. According to Buding Aquino-Dee, creator of the SaYa, it's for aesthetic purposes only. It's simply a marker directly across the deepest part of the pouch to use as a guide depending on what position you're using.

c) The fabric. The SSK is made with a more cottony material. It is 95% Cotton 5% Spandex. The VTB is made with a more elastic material, like exercise leotards. It is 80% Nylon 20% Spandex.

SSK brown (close-up)
VTB brown (close-up

d) Wearability. I love wearing the VTB because it's so easy to put on. The fabric is more slippery so it's a breeze to adjust and sort out when bunched up. However, exactly because it's slippery, it tends to readjust more requiring you to fiddle with it more frequently. The SSK is more fixed in place ergo less hassle because the fabric doesn't slide as much. But you really HAVE to prepare it before putting in your baby because once he's in it's frustrating to fix.

 Is the Semi-Stretch Knit as versatile and durable as the VersaTekk Blend? 

 What's the difference between the dual slings and the VTB pouch? 
The SSK and VTB dual slings have 2 separate fabrics inter-locked. The VersaTekk pouch is a single sling, much more similiar to the traditional pouch carrier where you fit your baby in the pocket and use one shoulder as an anchor or support. There are positions that are easier to achieve with just the single pouch because there's less to manipulate and it's more advisable to use with older babies or babies who can support their neck/sit up. Ideal for dads who feel conscious wearing dual slings.

 Are the materials breathable/suitable for warm climate? 
Definitely YES. But here comes the tricky part. Both are actually breathable, only in a different sense. I find the VTB to be actually more breathable, meaning, more air passes through the fabric to keep baby cool. HOWEVER, the VTB is less absorbent, meaning it's not as effective in wicking perspiration from the baby and because it's more stretchy, it conforms to baby's body, making him more snug and warm. So once he's wet, he's wet.

SSK brown
VTB brown

The SSK, although less breathable, has the advantage of the absorbent cotton fabric keeping the baby dry and comfy, which, in effect, keeps him cool. But it's the cotton which might make him perspire in the first place. (Hahaha.. chicken or the egg ba?) Again, there is no "better choice", it's a matter of preference. And it also depends if your baby is more "pawisin" or "lamigin". Personally, I use SSK outside, and in warmer weather. VTB in airconditioned places like malls. Another mom might prefer it the other way around. But anyway, either one would generally do well all-around.

 Do I have to buy one for every stage of my baby's growth? 
The SaYa was meant to grow with your baby. It's stretchability makes it ideal for a newborn until he no longer wants to be carried. What starts off as a tight, snug SaYa, will naturally stretch as your baby gets bigger, heavier. I find my current SaYas to be more loose now than when I first bought them. But always stay just as snug and secure. Imagine your hair ponytail/elastic band. The more frequently you use it, the wider it gets. One SaYa is all you'll need.

 How do I know what size I need? 
The SaYa is meant to fit YOU, not your baby. Like most of you, I thought my first SaYa started out to be too small, despite getting the right size according to the chart. I later on realized, it was just right. It is NOT meant to fit you the way the non-stretch folded baby pouches look in pictures. If it hangs from your shoulder to your waist, it's too loose! For the SSK, Eliza said it right when she mentioned that the right SaYa should loosely hang just under your armpits when worn without the baby. I am 5'3", slender and am comfy with an M.

For the VTB, I suggest to down-size. I got a size 0. There are mothers who initially said they had the "perfect" fit, only to realize when the baby got bigger and heavier and the fabric got laundered over and over that the sling would sag really low because the fabric could still stretch a lot. Remember, babies actually like "masikip". It's how they were in our tummies. I say, TRUST IN THE SIZING CHARTS. It's easier to stretch a tight SaYa in time with use, rather than get a loose one you can't tighten. The only time I'd be a little more critical is for plus-sized wearers or SaYa sharers. Sizing charts available from all your sellers.

 I have a big/heavy baby, what size should I get? 
Again, size is dependent on the wearer, not the baby.

 What positions can I carry my baby in? 
Practically all the positions other baby carriers offer.
Cradle Carry (Duyan)
Nursing Position (Duyan)
Hug Carry/Tummy to Tummy (Yakap) - both feet in and feet out
Buddha/Kangaroo Carry/Front-facing (Tangan) - both feet in and feet out
Hip Carry/Side Carry (Sakay)
Back Carry (Lakbay)
Nursing Cover (Takip)

 Can I share the sling with my husband? 
Yes, for as long as your height and frame difference aren't too extreme, a size 1(medium/large) should be manageable for both of you. If you're 4'8" and petite while he's 6'1" with a big stomach, I suggest you get a size 0 (small) and 2 (extra large). However, I don't recommend sharing with the VTB, there will always be a certain level of stretching that will occur because of the nylon/spandex material and since the carrier is measured to fit the wearer, it will not always comfortably fit different sized spouses. In time, a VTB SaYa that your husband uses might and most probably will become loose on you and your baby. Don't compromise baby's safety to save a few pesos. Two separate SaYas are honestly a worthy investment for a 2-3 year period.

Click on the photo above to see a high-res version. Notice the fabric of the teal VTB, the one I've shared with my bitter better half, it seems more flexible now. The brown VTB below has been used by just me and the fabric appears to be more stiff and less "foldy". (Isn't my baby's knee cute? Hahaha!)

Unshared VTB

Shared VTB 
At 4 months old, my son is now riding the brown VTB with his bum level with my 1st hip. In the teal VTB his bum reaches my 2nd hip. Proof is seen with the teal VTB reaching closer to the floor carrying the same weight, a significant 2-inch difference.

Is there a maximum weight capacity? 
SaYas are made to be very durable and sturdy. Some SaYa loyalists are still using their slings for their 32 month old babies, even 3 year olds! By the time you reach the SaYa's maximum capacity, either your child has preferred to walk, or you yourself will refuse to carry his weight. As much as it's sweet to want to carry your child 'til such time, realistically your back's not made of steel.

 What is the stabilizer for? 
There are certain positions that are much better with a stabilizer, such as the back carry. It is simply an option for added security and stability especially for a restless child, a very heavy child or a position where it is harder to access or balance your child (like when his feet are free to kick and wriggle). It helps distribute the babies weight evenly between your shoulders and hips.

 Will wearing the SaYa leave marks on my baby's skin? 
It depends on how you wear your baby and if you get the right size. It is important not to bunch up the material. Spread it across the baby's bum and back, wear the appropriate size for you. That way, I never got red welts on my baby's skin. Of course you can never avoid the "bagong-gising" lines that are common when they're cooped up.

 When I wear my baby with the SaYa, am I really hands-free? 
Yes. Especially if you get the right size, the baby is riding high at a kissable height, and you wear it properly, you can literally let go and let your baby be. Except when nursing, you can pretty much let him go. Just take extra precautions with newborns to make sure air passages are clear and they don't curl up. I instinctively still support with my arms.

 Is the SaYa better than the pouches or ring slings? 
It is a matter of preference. There are pros and cons to any product. However, I can say that there is nothing that the pouch/ring sling can do that the SaYa can't. Truth is I switch between a SaYa and a ring sling depending on the weather, where I'm going and how long I'll be wearing the baby.

 What does the package contain? 
Standard package includes the SaYa carrier, Introduction to Saya Pamphlet, Instructional Guide and Eco Bag (only with the VTB?) in a cylindrical recycled paper/carton box. Stabilizer sold separately.

 Is the price for the two slings already? 
Yes. Indicated price is for both the lead and support slings already, as they are inseparable from each other. I would assume any of the sellers would agree.

Why get the SaYa?

I personally like the SaYa Baby Carrier because
1) No hooks, rings, velcros, straps, buckles to complicate things.
2) Material is either semi-stretch or stretch which keeps my baby snug and high-riding on my body
3) The dual sling design gives it more security and stability than usual pouches, even without the stabilizer wrap.
4) The material is soft and comfortable, whether you get SSK or VTB.
5) It can be used from newborn stage and then indefinitely from then on. It grows with your child.
6) It has all the positions that the very versatile ring slings have to offer.
7) I can reach that compromise between "wag mo masyado buhatin si baby at baka masanay" and attachment parenting's "carry your child as often as he needs it, it's for his security and confidence-building" mentalities. I'm not carrying him in the strictest sense of the word anyway!
8) It's comfortable for me too and my back doesn't hurt!
9) It fits in my bags easily or is comfy just hanging around my body when baby's not in it.
10) Go hands-free with confidence.
11) Fashionable. I can wear just spaghetti straps and still look like I'm wearing a shirt. The slings double as sleeves for my upper arms or a shawl-wrap for the evening when I'm wearing my baby.
12) Most importantly, it makes me feel like a good mom.

Where to buy?
I'm an online buyer so I only know the internet stores, they have the catalog pictures and minimal shipping fees so it's really more convenient to order online. Here are some of the sites I frequently visit: - where I bought my SaYa VersaTekk pouch and stabilizer wrap, among other things (Jen is a very accommodating and reliable online seller - thanks Jen!) - where I bought my SaYa Semi-Stretch Knit sling and RJellyBean ring sling - Haven't bought from them kasi I have 3 na. Haha! (Di naman ako die hard no?) - Haven't bought from them kasi I have 3 na.

My SaYa Versatekk Teal was a gift from my Baby Taz's Ninang.

So there. I hope I was able to clear your mind and help you somewhat in your SaYa decision-making. If you have any questions, feel free to leave it in the comments section and I'll do what I can to help.

Happy BabyWearing! Ma-SaYa 'yan!!!

Love, Cats

P.S. I received a request from Jen of Next9 for pictures. I'll try to post some soon. Let me just get over my camera-shyness. Hahaha..Seriously, I'll try to update this with visuals as soon as I can. Stand by...    If there are any more pictures you would like me to post, please leave a note in the comments section. I'll add a few of the pouch soon.


Jenny said...

thanks cats! will link up ;)

Eliza said...

Thank you! Glad you're also Ma-SaYa! :D

Aleah said...

Thanks for this! ;)

Renj C said...

This is so helpful! :) I saw it today just when I needed to make a decision between SSK and VTK. Thanks so much! God bless! :)

Kraze Kitch Bakeshop said...

@Jenny thanks for the additional ad for the bakery on your site. =)

@Eliza, ikaw nagpasimuno nito hehehe

@Aleah/Renj C, welcome, been there done that. I hope your head-scratching days are over!

Unknown said...

ang galing, super complete!!

Richer Mommy said...

This is a very nice review on SaYa. I also have one SSK in Teal, my son smiles everytime he sees it, alam nya we'll go somewhere. He seems much comfortable when I wear him rather than just carrying. Now Im thinking of buying another one, VTK naman :)

Proud to say that I'am also a Ma-SaYa mommy! Now Im following your blog :)

Kraze Kitch Bakeshop said...

@Jenterprise, Aw, thanks for following! however this is just a random "mommy post"... I'm afraid you'll be following cupcake and cake posts after this... Come to the next babywearing meet so we can get to know you!

Yes, my little Taz also lights up when he sees me arranging the SaYa.. I chalk it up to 2 things.. A) he really IS comfy seeing the world in it or B) he's just too darn tamad. Hahaha! Either way, I'm grateful because he's sooooo not iyakin!

Chel Quitoriano said...

hi! just bumped on your blog, great review on Saya! i have a question though, do you know a store where i can buy be giving birth on October and i wanted to try it on before buying....thanks!


Kraze Kitch Bakeshop said...

Hi Chel!

If you can wait, we will have a babywearing meet in the works. Probably in the next month or so. I suggest you wait so you can see all the moms and try all the carriers.

However, if you like, I can meet up with you like I do with other moms so I can show you how to use the slings na, you can try them all. Including the ring slings and the pouches. =)

Twould be fun to meet another new mom. =)

Anonymous said...

Very comprehensive and helpful guide! Thank you for making it easier for me to decide on how to babywear my 5month old baby. :-) Am excited to wear her soon! Once I get my own Says sling. ;-p

Anonymous said...

Very comprehensive and helpful guide! Thank you for making it easier for me to decide on how to babywear my 5month old baby. :-) Am excited to wear her soon! Once I get my own Saya sling. ;-p

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to remove sleeping baby from the carrier without waking her up?

How about putting a sleeping baby on the carrier without waking her up? How-to-photos will help a lot! ;-)

When wearing the baby, is it safe for mommy to go to the toilet when nature calls?

Please pardon the questions, curious first time baby wearer-to-be. :-) Thanks in advance!

Kraze Kitch Bakeshop said...

Hi, As for wearing and removing a sleeping baby, I would answer YES to both based on experience, especially if the baby is from or will be in the front carry. Cradle carry is also very possible but will require more movement, therefore more risk of waking baby up. However, If you're removing the baby, I usually just remove the saya and keep it wrapped around baby to double as a swaddle. =) Again, only from my experience.

As for using the loo. I've done this with extra care, keeping one hand always on my baby and never bending over. Difficult, but doable, and gets easier with experience. Good luck!

You can join the babywearing meets so you can have your live demo and try out other baby carriers.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Cat! Am happy to hear it can also be used even when baby is sleeping, and also when nature calls. Hehe! I've been inquiring for one already, but they seem to run out if Versatekk Cobalt size (indigo & happybabies). Brusselsprouts did not reply to my query while fabnaima is closed. Are there any other suppliers?

By the way, when and where do baby wearing meet ups happen? Are these sessions free or for a fee?

Thanks in advance! ;-)

Mommy Cat (hehe we have the same name)

Anonymous said...

i'm interested with the baby wearing event. i'm also very interested with the SaYa (i'll be giving birth by May), and also intrigued with the ring sling and pouches. I would like to try them all to experience and compare first hand what'll fit my preference :) hope you'll update us regarding that exciting event. many thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your very informative FAQ! One other question: you mentioned, "Truth is I switch between a SaYa and a ring sling depending on the weather, where I'm going and how long I'll be wearing the baby."
Please elaborate. Thanks again!

Kraze Kitch Bakeshop said...

Regarding the latest comment:

It is important to state that the particular ring sling I have is of a netted breathable material purchased from the US. When the weather is warmer I opt to use this ring sling so as to minimize the sweating on my baby's back and bum. Since the SaYa is usually a "cross wrap" style, tendency is he is totally covered at least from bum to shoulders and this can sometimes be uncomfy outdoors during the day. My boy is particularly the pasiwin type.


Babasling said...

Baby carrier are available through several types including ring slings, pouch slings and wraps. I don't think that this carrier can provide a secured feeling to a baby because it may tend to loose anytime or baby can easily get out of the carrier if not tightened properly.

Kraze Kitch Bakeshop said...

Hi Babasling,

I'm sorry that you feel that way, however i must disagree because this was my baby's preferred carrier. And I've tried them all. He slept best in this and lasted longer sitting in it compared to others.

And as for loosening up, it actually doesn't for me. It's more difficult to fall out if it than if you put your baby in a pouch sling. You said it yourself, "if not tightened properly". Therefore, it's not a design flaw, it's a matter of proper usage.

It truly is a matter of preference though so what works for you may be different for what works for me. =)

baby play mats said...

Adding a second sling helps distribute the weight over two shoulders and if you wear the rings on your hips or waist, the two tails can be tied together, effectively allowing some weight to be transferred to your hips as well. Wraparound carriers can be a good choice, as they spread the baby's weight widely over both shoulders as well as to your waist/hips.

Babasling said...

If you are using a sling, make sure the sling is tightly knotted, and if you are carrying an infant in a sling, check often to be sure the baby's head is properly positioned. It is possible for the infant's head to turn into your chest, which could block his or her airway.

grobag said...

The age of the baby plays an important role in the selection of the right baby carrier for your baby. From newborns to around 5 months old, before your baby develop enough strength in their neck to support their head independently, it is important to have a good baby carrier that provides adequate neck support for your baby.

Unknown said...

Hi mommy! I just saw ur SaYa review and am so happy with my Purple Versatek :) it is my first carrier and my 6 week old then when I bought it slept in it for hours- literaly tulo laway asleep and only wakes up when she gets hungry or needs a diaper change. She is 14wks now and I babywear her in Yakap with her feet out already :)

Anonymous said...

Hi! Im interested in buying Saya vtb. Jutodering whatsvthe right size for me since im 5"3' and a half tall. Your reply is very much appreciated! Btw,i really like your blog! :)

Unknown said...

Will the baby's leg development be affected while using this carrier, esp the "yakap"

elson cade said...

Baby Carriers are like having "tummy time" all the time! These baby items are a great way to provide security to your baby (and to you). You can feed your baby, vacuum or work while the baby sleeps, &keep your baby calm. Baby Carriers are a healthy alternative to a stroller.Choosing the right baby carrier is not easy. There are so many factors to consider before making your choice.
1. Choose a model with easy to understand instructions
2. Buy a product that fits you & your baby well (make sure you can see your baby's face)
3. Check with your retailer or the manufacturer to ensure that the sling or baby carrier meets the ASTM-F2907-12 Consumer Safety Specifications for Sling Carriers Standard.

Unknown said...

I am 5" in height and have 33" waistline.thats suppose to fall under size 1.but as what you have said on your blog,you suggested to downsize.thats what i did so i ordered size 0,now i already received it and it's kinda masikip and my son at 8weeks feels like uncomfy.please i have it change to size 1?

Unknown said...

I am 5" in height and have 33" waistline.thats suppose to fall under size 1.but as what you have said on your blog,you suggested to downsize.thats what i did so i ordered size 0,now i already received it and it's kinda masikip and my son at 8weeks feels like uncomfy.please i have it change to size 1?

Unknown said...

I am 5" in height and have 33" waistline.thats suppose to fall under size 1.but as what you have said on your blog,you suggested to downsize.thats what i did so i ordered size 0,now i already received it and it's kinda masikip and my son at 8weeks feels like uncomfy.please i have it change to size 1?

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is something I have never seen before. Ill be adding this to my Baby Carrier Reviews site soon. This is like a boba or a moby wrap but much more!

Thanks for sharing.

Baby Sling Stretchy said...

The SaYa Baby Carrier is a proudly Philippine-made baby sling made of stretch knit fabric. It is meant to have the functionality of any/all other ...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Cats. Bumped into it when looking up if SaYa can be used for back carry. Question though, at what age of baby is it recommended to back carry using SaYa? Can you please provide photos of how to use SaYa with the different carrying positions especially back, front and side carry? Thank you.

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chord Gitar
Bahan Alami
Katalog Uang Kuno

Cj said...

Hi. For ssk, is your soze small or medium? ,ty