Welcome to the first in a series of toddler babywearing reviews. If you’ve read my first ergobaby review or followed any of my ramblings on Facebook or Twitter, you know that I’m a die-hard, fully obsessed babywearer.
And with all of the hoopla about “attachment parenting” these days (cough, cough – TIME magazine – cough), I think the time is right to talk about wearing our toddlers. Don’t get me wrong, babywearing is amazing for wee babies, but there’s oodles of information available out there for those with the teeny tiny babies looking for a great carrier. What I know many of you are interested in, however, is a really robust look at the carrier market for the bigger babies. The ones in the 25- to 45-pound range. The ones who toddle, walk, run and – in some cases – get into the carrier on your back all on their own.
Miss Q is nearly 18 months old as I write this and has only just started taking her first steps. She’s been a late bloomer physically all along, missing at least one of those Nipissing milestones at her well-baby check-ups. Part of it, I think, is that the girl just genuinely loves being carried. And around here, there’s usually someone available to pick her up.
She’s been in just about every kind of carrier, but as soon as she was big and strong enough to handle a soft-structured baby carrier, we put the wraps and slings aside and put her in our trusty, first-generation ergobaby Original Carrier.
In my opinion, soft-structured carriers are the ideal babywearing tool for one to four year olds. (Yes, even some four-year-old kids love to be carried – including The K Man on occasion.) They’re strong, have padding in all the right places, and distribute your child’s weight evenly across your hips.
These carriers keep babies in the position that is ergonomically and physiologically correct for their spinal development and hip alignment. Actually, ergobaby does a great job of explaining the science behind it.
ergobaby (via its Canadian distributor, Fulton Sales) was kind enough to send me the newest colour of the Original model, which is now in its third generation in terms of design. The “Aussie khaki” colour is also the first ergobaby in Canada to feature the company’s funky new logo. Read all the way to the end for your chance to win one!
It’s easy to find loads of positive things to say about an ergobaby carrier. You can refer to my original post for many of these; but here, I will also focus on the improvements and changes that this third-gen carrier sports.
First off, the waist belt. Wow – the strap is soooo much longer than it is on my first ergo. I’ve mentioned before that Big B is, um, big. He’s 6’6″ and nearly 300 pounds. His 52-inch chest and 38-inch waist are rarely conducive to buying anything “off the rack.” This included our first ergo, for which he needed the waist belt extension strap (an add-on product). Not so this time around; ergobaby really nailed it this time. The new carrier’s belt is so long that even my Dad, who’s worked hard for the ultimate beer waist, has oodles of strap left when he put it on. I think I read in the manual that it accommodates a 58-inch waist. Impressive.
The buckles on the new ergobaby are bigger and stronger than our original version. They click into place with gusto. I feel confident that they’re never going to unlatch by mistake.
In addition to the elastic safety strap around the waist belt, which I also have on my original ergobaby carrier, there are now elastic bands on the ends of the shoulder and waist straps so that you can contain the excess. This keeps it all looking neat and tidy, which I really like.
The shoulder straps seem easier to adjust this time around, which is excellent for the inevitable nursing sessions that are demanded of me if I choose to carry Miss Q on my front.
There’s still the great storage space by way of a side zipper on the front of the carrier, along with a pocket that the hood can be tucked into. It’s big enough for an evening bag and a pair of large sunglasses, if that helps you spatially. I have zero issues fitting my pochette and ridiculous number of keys and fobs I carry around (why so many? why?!) into the storage pouch.
The padding on the shoulder straps seems less bulky now, but they still have the right amount of cushioning.
The seat back seems a tad taller than my old model – key for carrying toddlers and preschoolers. Especially ones like Miss Q who like to dive backwards for some under-the-chin tickles.
The new Aussie khaki colour is really nice – it’s definitely more khaki than it appears on my computer screen (where it looks grey-ish), but it’s a great neutral colour that any man or woman would be happy to wear. And I don’t know if the fabric has changed or if mine is just so old it’s lost some of its sheen, but this new ergobaby’s material is SO SOFT! Any baby would be happy to have it against her skin.
The hood is nice and big – great for a bit of breastfeeding discretion.
This is 100 per cent Daddy- and Grandpa-approved. Big B couldn’t get over how comfortable it was to carry each kid. And my Dad, who has two bionic knees, was seriously impressed at the ease of carrying The K Man around on his back. In fact, at my son’s birthday party yesterday, I overheard Big B telling all the other dads about the ergo. He’s officially smitten.
The front of the waist belt has grown in terms of its height (the widest part that, in the front carry, would fall between your tummy and, er, crotch); while this is great for a man with a longer torso, I’m not a fan of this alteration. I found as I walked with Miss Q in the front-carry position, her weight kept pushing the band deeper into my upper thighs. I had to re-tighten the belt several times and move it back up closer to my waist. I prefer the belt around my hips but it just wasn’t comfortable. I don’t have this problem at all with my older model.
Though the shoulder straps are easier to manoeuver, there’s so much excess on them now to make them super-duper adjustable (which is great for burly men like Big B) that I pull them out of their neat little elastics every time I adjust them, which I find slightly annoying.
I’d love the option of a detachable hood. And, on this topic, I find the hood’s snaps provide a bit too much slack now, even for my tall toddler.
The shoulders are quite wide; if you’re a small-framed woman, you might find that they sit too far out on your shoulders to make this a really comfortable option. The key is to go try it out first – borrow a third-generation ergo from a friend or visit a store that will let you do a test walk before you buy. It’s the only way you’ll know if the shoulder width is going to be an issue. Any man, however, will love this feature. Big B absolutely needs the width it offers. I don’t find it a problem but I do notice it.
Even though we’re talking about toddler babywearing, I should point out that you still need the infant insert with this updated model if you want to carry a baby who’s younger than four or five months old. (I’m not a fan of the insert.)
For me? 3.5/5
For Big B? 5/5
So…where can you buy it?
The fabulous Barla Banana Boutique is giving away one ergobaby carrier (any standard cotton one of your choosing!), valued at $124.99, to a lucky winner in Canada. Visit Mommy Gearest’s new contest page to enter before July 9, 2012.
And – equally exciting – ergobaby is launching a separate Canada-wide contest this week. Those who purchase an Original Carrier in Aussie Khaki, Zebra or Black/Camel between June 22 and July 22, 2012, from any authorized ergobaby retailer, will be entered to win one of 30 family passes to their local zoos.
Andrea is the founder of www.mommygearest.com a product and services review site for discerning parents and has been giving unsolicited advice for years. Recently named one of Torontos ultimate mommy bloggers, shes a mom to two little kids (The K Man is four and Miss Q is nearly a year-and-a-half old). Mommy Gearest is an attached parent who refuses to co-sleep (most nights), an extended breastfeeder, a babywearer, baby-led weaner and someone who would be a perfect size six if she would feed herself like she feeds her children.
Mommy Gearest is a self-described crazy person when it comes to the latest baby and kid gear, gadgets, clothes, enviro-friendly stuff, toys, accessories you name it! Shes a shopaholic masquerading as a product reviewer. All too often, parents trial by purchase. Mommy Gearest knows that marketing hype and a big price tag do not a fabulous product make. She always includes the prosand