I have owned every conceivable type of baby carrier. Let’s start there.
Slings, wraps (of both the three-part variety and the nine-feet-of-material variety), facer-inners, facer-outters. I love love babywearing, and the right carrier makes all the difference.
I don’t believe that you’re going to find one carrier that works right from birth all the way through to the 30-pound stage. I also don’t think there’s a one-kind-fits-all baby carrier because – as we all know (actually, if you’re pregnant, you don’t know this yet) – babies are crazy. Even at a few days old, they have their own idiosyncrasies and preferences.
So when it comes to buying a carrier, I usually urge new moms to proceed with caution before blowing a wad of cash on a carrier. If you can borrow a few different kinds first, or you have access to an amazing store like Evymama (in Toronto, Ontario) where you can actually try before you buy, go this route. But if you’re like me and have a shopping problem dangerously combined with an actual high when it comes to baby carriers, you’ll probably end up owning seven or eight of them like I have.
There’s nothing quite as wonderful as babywearing – especially in the early months. When you look at recent research, it’s clear that our babies need to be as close to us as possible. When your babe is teeny tiny, you really want something that’s quite snug – most of them love to recapture that tight, womb-like feeling.
If you have another child and a new baby, babywearing’s a must. I swear, we would have eaten Swiss Chalet five nights a week if I hadn’t had my wrap – it gave me two free hands with which to cook dinner, and I could even lift The K Man (two-and-a-half at that time) into his high chair with Miss Q all wrapped up on my front. I’ll review the bamboo Monkeywrap another time, but that’s my favourite for the birth to four-month-old stage.
Once they hit four or five months old and have really good head and neck control, you can move to a more structured carrier. They’re so curious at this stage and the confines of a wrap or sling probably won’t be met with approval. Let me assure you – you’ll know if he’s not happy in your current carrier.
Before I knew anything about hip dysplasia, I bought the Lascal M1 Carrier; the quality seemed superior to Baby Bjorn but, more important, the straps loosened enough to accommodate Big B’s 52-inch chest and 38-inch waist – no small feat. It was great for a few months, but The K Man quickly outgrew the safety loops around each leg hole and the design meant that my shoulders carried most of his weight. By the time he hit about 17 pounds, I couldn’t manage more than 30 minutes of babywearing. Just as well, considering I’d never face him outwards again after I read about the harm it can do.
I went on the hunt for THE baby carrier. Between heaps of online research, reading dozens (hundreds?) of reviews and trying out several brands, I settled on the ergobaby. At this point, I should add that I have the ergobaby Original; there are several ergo-branded carriers available now, including organic, but back in the day, this was the only one on the market.
You carry your baby’s weight on your hips – not your shoulders. If you’re currently sporting a 10-pound bundle of joy, you don’t get it. I get that. Fast forward 10 more pounds and we’ll see you back here for the rest of this post. I remember taking The K Man to the One of a Kind Show when he was about 18 pounds (pre-walking) and I carried that kid for FOUR HOURS in the ergo. Comfortably.
The ergobaby carrier is versatile. You can wear your baby facing in, on your hip or back. Until you have an older baby, you can’t appreciate how wonderful it is to have a back-carrying option. They get so heavy that, even with the weight being supported by your sturdy, child-bearing hips, a long walk is much easier with your kid on your back. Part of this versatility is also about the weight limit. You can carry a tot as heavy as 45 pounds with the ergo! Though I’m not sure I’d want to…
Proper hip alignment – so important. The ergobaby keeps your little one in a natural sitting position – not dangling by her crotch.
I love the zippered pocket on the front of the ergo – it’s the perfect size for a set of keys and a pochette. It means you don’t have to carry a purse or wear a goofy hip-pack when you’re out and about.
The sun-flap (or maybe it’s just called a “hood”? I’m going with sun-flap) does quadruple duty: protects baby’s head from the sun; prevents messy foods from falling on baby’s head when you’re eating (think muffin crumbs or dripping ice cream); helps you breastfeed discreetly; and keeps baby’s head from bobbing all over the place when (not if) she falls asleep.
When your baby is facing you, you can nurse him while he’s in the carrier! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in a park/shopping mall/zoo/Home Depot nursing my kids. You just let out some length on one shoulder and whip out a boob. Everybody wins. Depending on where I am – because nursing in public in a big city is a far cry from nursing in a suburb…oh, the stares I get! – or if I think Miss Q’s going to fall asleep nursing, I will also add my nursing cover for extra privacy.
I’m sure they offer SPF protection, but those sun-flaps should have an SPF factor of at least 30 – and 50 would be best. I would often put a sunhat over the flap because I was freaked out about a burning baby head, only to find The K Man or Miss Q sweltering underneath, with hair all matted down in sweat. And, oh gosh, wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a breathable water-resistant layer to this flap so if it started to rain, baby would be protected from the elements, as well?
I also think the sun-flap should be even wider to accommodate older breastfeeding babies. I’m no prude, but my boobs are pretty much on full display now that Miss Q is 15 months old and taking up most of the sun-flap with her huge head alone.
Sometimes I find it pretty challenging to loosen the shoulder straps by myself – it takes some jiggling and I’m sure I have a really screwed-up face on while I’m doing it. Has anyone ever told you to try and bite your own ear? I think I look like that.
I really dislike the hip-carry hold; firstly, because you basically have to take the ergo apart and reconfigure it (it does come with a DVD to show you how, or you can find plenty of how-to videos online). But I just don’t feel like it’s good for my back because I feel slightly twisted myself, trying to balance the weight on one versus two hips.
You can buy an infant insert (the Heart to Heart) in an attempt to make this your one and only baby carrier from birth. I tried this and I didn’t like the system at all. I found it really bulky and awkward. I personally recommend you skip this and just accept the fact that, like strollers, you’re going to own more than one carrier. (That said, once your baby’s four or five months, this is the last carrier you’ll ever need to buy.) If you want to ignore my advice, I’m happy to sell you my organic insert. It was used twice.
4.5/5 (as a four-month-plus carrier only; I would forgive the strap-loosening challenge in favour of an SPF factor on the sun-flap – this would make it a perfect 5/5)
So…where can you buy it?