Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Ergo Baby Carrier

I have been waiting awhile to write my review on the Ergo, because I wanted to really make sure that I adequately explain just how amazing it is. I cannot imagine a better carrier because there isn't anything about the Ergo that I don't like. I do like my sling, but to me that's a different product and it serves a different purpose. The Ergo is a structured carrier, but it's soft... no inner metal skeleton like those massive hiking backpacks.

Let's start with the basic construction features. It has a wide, adjustable waist belt that clips (around the parent) and offers an elastic back-up around the clip for added safety (waist extenders are available but sold separately). The opposite side of the waist belt, that baby rests on, is firm and padded... very supportive, especially in the back carry position. The genius in the design of this carrier is that the weight of the baby or child isn't digging into your shoulders; it's all in the waist, and the straps are really just there to anchor the baby to your body. Starting from the waistband, a wide, flat piece of canvas holds the baby against you (and also has a small zippered pocket for wallet, keys, etc). What I love about this carrier, as compared to something like the Baby Bjorn, is that the baby is supported by their full bum and thighs, not just suspended by the crotch (yeah, cause that's comfortable!). It seems more companies are starting to realize this is a better way to carry, with the child's weight distributed more evenly. At the top of the canvas piece is an adjustable sleeping hood (love it) that can be tucked away into the pocket when not in use, and two large padded straps that go over the parent's shoulders. The shoulder straps have a small clip strap between them (that does up on your chest or back, depending on which carry you're doing) so that they don't slide off and you're completely hands-free. The strap adjustments are easily reached by each hand individually (just pull on the hanging small straps to tighten). All of the small adjuster straps feature little velcro tabs for tucking extra lengths of strap up and out of the way. Little details like that really show me this company is thinking and considerate of what the parents want and need.

Your baby can be worn on your front, back or side. I've never tried the side carry because I've been completely happy with the back and front options, and you do have to undo and rearrange some of the straps. I'm too lazy for something like that. The one complaint some people have about the Ergo is that you can't wear the baby facing out. The doctor who helped design the Ergo has this to say: "Infants in outward-facing orientations can’t turn away from surrounding stimuli. They can't turn inward toward a parent's body if stimuli become overwhelming. In this position the baby cannot make eye contact with his or her parent to evaluate facial expressions, social cues, and so forth to make assessment of the situation. Only choose a baby carrier that allows your child to face you ... never out. There are too many events going on around your baby. A baby has no way to exclude himself from the environment by turning his head away and towards you. Healthy sleep is difficult for a baby who is facing outward. I am not a supporter of the outward facing method of carrying a child." I think this makes a lot of sense. As far as getting the baby into and out of the carrier by yourself, the front carry is definitely easier than the back, but I've done both successfully. When you buy an Ergo it comes with an instructional DVD that shows you all of these things.

Some other features: The weight recommendation is 40lbs but it has been tested for up to 90lbs. Several accessories are available, including a weather shield, infant insert (for babies younger than 3 months), attachable pouch or backpack, and sucking pads (hilarious but really useful, because anyone who has worn a baby in an Ergo knows that the straps get lots of sucking action!). The carrier itself is available in several different colour combinations, and a fully organic cotton carrier is also available. The current cost is about $120, which makes it a pricier option, but I really believe it's worth every penny. I've used mine so much that I never question whether or not it has paid off.

If I had to come up with a complaint, the only thing I don't like is how the waist strap smooshes into my post-pregnancy belly flab when I'm carrying a baby on my back. But really, that's not the company's fault now is it?

Purchased from milkface. Available at many specialty baby boutiques. Official Website.