Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

If Babywearing Was Like Car Shopping…A Comparison Post

Over the past 4.5 years I’ve logged a lot of mileage with tiny people on my back, front, and shoulders (and in my belly for that matter, but that’s a different post entirely!)  I’ve worn a baby everywhere from weddings to pools to mountaintops (but never while climbing…which is what so many insane misinformed people tend to assume…)  Babywearing has been something near and dear to my heart for so many reasons.  Along with a laundry list of physical/emotional benefits, it’s arguably one of the best ways to bond with baby…and hands down the easiest way to get things done around the house, especially when you’ve got more than one kiddo!

However, over the past 4.5 years I’ve also come to realize that babywearing can be quite addictive!  As in, you can NEVER have to many carriers, especially when there are just so many options available for moms (and dads) today!  So with that said, I thought it would be fun to list our favorites and when/how we use them most…in a way that most everyone will be able to understand!

This is what it would be like if babywearing was like car shopping…

A happy girl w/her daddy in the Boba 4G

A happy girl w/her daddy in the Boba 4G

Boba 4G (reviewed here and here):   This is the luxury sedan of the bunch, as the Boba is built with user comforts in mind with lots of bells and whistles – everything you need from birth to 40 pounds later is included in the $125 price tag.  During my second pregnancy I comfortably carried my 35 pound 3 year old on rugged approach trails…then just a few months later snuggled my sweet little 5 lb bundle to sleep while sweeping the kitchen.This carrier is dependable and will go anywhere.  No hike is too long and no toddler is too big – the only limiting factor is YOU.  The downside is that it’s a bit bulky, can be unbearably hot in the summer, and is not as convenient to store for spontaneous use.  It also doesn’t have much room for anything other than people…

Ergo: I liken this one to a base model sedan.  It’s very similar to the Boba, but the lack of bells and whistles makes it not as versatile. Although you can purchase all-inclusive models, the “Original” version requires an extra (and rather pricey) insert to use with infants. We used this religiously for both day hikes and everyday wear with Big C when he was in the 6 -18 month range, and even longer for rugged climbing approaches.  We loved it, but once we got the Boba we never used it again, as the Boba is far more older-tyke friendly because of the foot straps as well as a longer back panel.  Hubby also reports that the Ergo is not as adjustable for larger folks.

Big C riding along in the Ergo at the Red River Gorge

Big C on a Red River Gorge ride-a-long courtesy of the Ergo

Ring Slings:  These are inexpensive and as functional as they are fun, like a VW bug (a stick shift one, because there is a bit of a learning curve to using it correctly!)  They are flashy, colorful, and available in about a million different patterns and fabrics.  A beautiful sling has a very classic look and is easy to coordinate with what you are wearing.  Definitely the way to babywear at a wedding or other special occasion.  Our favorite is the water sling from Beachfront Baby (reviewed here.) It was a must-have at both the pool and the beach this year.  Because a sling is nothing more than fabric and a couple of rings, they are easy to stuff into a diaper bag in your car to ensure you have something on hand for running errands.  The only drawback is that they aren’t quite supportive enough for rugged terrain.

Slingin around at the NC Aquarium

Slingin around w/my SIL and niece at the NC Aquarium. Z was 5 months, and her cousin is just a couple weeks younger

A not-so-big C enjoying the Moby Wrap on his first climbing trip at 6 weeks old.

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5 month old Baby Z snoozing Bitybean-style on a hike along Wilburn Ridge at Grayson Highlands State Park.

Wraps: There are a ton of companies that make wraps (including a lot of the companies featured here), but it’s also the easiest carrier to make yourself, since it is literally just a giant piece of fabric.  The Moby Wrap was my first experience with babywearing, and for that I am grateful, because it not only calmed my fussy newborn during those first bleary-eyed weeks of parenting, but it also got me hooked!  But while I know folks that swear by a wrap, I always found that other options were far easier for me to use consistently.  The benefits are similar to that of a sling, but a wrap involves more fabric on your body, so it’s a more cool-weather friendly option.  If I had to choose a car I’d choose something compact and reliable, like a Honda Civic (and again, definitely a stick shift, as getting it on can be complicated at first!)

Bitybean (reviewed here) – This is hands down our family’s new favorite – we’ll call it the Mini-Cooper of the babywearing world! It’s reliable, affordable, and comes in a very compact package (not to mention it’s cute!)  Believe it or not, it packs down even smaller than a sling/wrap!  It has all of the advantages of the bigger soft-structured carriers listed above, but in a sleek, stream-lined design that is more supportive and durable than any sling/wrap.

Kelty Kidcarrier (reviewed here)- Once our kids are big enough for this one (6 months or so), this is the only way we roll on climbing trips, as a backpack carrier is the most efficient way to get all of our baby/climbing gear from point A to point B.  Our Kelty is the big pick-up truck of babywearing – it’ll haul everything but the kitchen sink, but the trade off is that it is much heavier and more cumbersome than the others, so the “ride” is not as smooth.  The kiddos love the higher vantage point on your back, but their movements can easily throw the wearer’s center of gravity off a bit.

Hiking amongst "The Needles" in Custer State Park, SD when Big C was 2.

Crag-daddy toting 2 year old C and gear through “The Needles” of Custer State Park, SD in our Kelty pack.

3 year old C and the Crag-Daddy walking to dinner on a Friday night.

3 year old C and the Crag-Daddy walking to dinner on a Friday night via Piggyback Rider

Piggyback Rider (reviewed here): This little ditty is basically a barebones way to provide a safe, comfortable alternative to a traditional piggy back ride.  It’s designed for toddlers in the “I can walk for a while but then I get tired and whiny and need to be picked up” phase, which for some families lasts longer than others.  It doesn’t have a waist strap, so it tends to make my shoulders ache after a while, but it’s a great option to break out at parades and festivals, where the “riding the bar” will give your child an awesome bird’s eye view of everything that’s going on.  This one would probably be more like a motorcycle than a car…

And there you have it folks – all of the babywearing paraphernalia that’s gotten us this far.  But with everything that’s available to parents these days, we’ve really only hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to baby carriers.  So I’d love to hear from you all as well – what carriers you love, what carriers you hate, and if you have more than one, what you use each of them for.  Yay for babywearing!

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6 Responses to “If Babywearing Was Like Car Shopping…A Comparison Post”

  1. Bethc

    Great review! We’ve also used many different babywearing devices…no matter how big the tires, strollers just don’t work on the trail! 🙂

    Stretchy & Woven Wraps

    Pro: Very supportive (wovens), can be used with any size child and worn in many ways.
    Cons: Learning curve, multi-layer carries can be hot, fabric will drag on ground if wrapping is done outside.

    Moby Stretchy Wrap: OK for a tiny baby in the winter, but so so hot. Used this some with my first (February baby) and once with my second baby (July baby). Not supportive past 2-3 months.

    Woven Wraps: I have tried out 5 woven wraps, and currently have 3. I started using them when I was pregnant with #2 and the waist strap on the Ergo started to bother my pregnant belly. It was immediate love, and this is still my favorite way to wear a baby. I can use the same wrap with my 13 lb 2 month old or my 35 lb 2.5 year old. The downsides are: there’s a learning curve, it’s tough not to drag the tails on the ground outside…and it’s addictive because there are so many pretty wraps!

    SSCs (Soft Structured Carriers)

    Pros: Super quick and easy to use. Great for air travel!
    Cons: One-size fits all means that these won’t be perfect for the child you’re wearing. Buckles/straps can dig in or rub.

    Ergo Sport: This is a thinner version of the classic Ergo, and we have loved this one. This was our primary carrier from about 3 months to 18 months with my first kiddo. We used it on hikes, outings and 10+ flights!

    Kinderpack: We just bought a toddler size for my older kiddo. The padding on the waist and shoulder straps is VERY comfortable. It also comes in toddler/preschool sizes for wearing older kiddos. I have an infant size en route since I like the toddler version so much.

    Ring Slings

    Pros: Quick to put on, easy to nurse in
    Cons: One-shoulder carry is not always comfortable. Relies on getting a good deep seat and tightening well so there’s a learning curve. Also doesn’t stay put as well if you’re bending/moving a lot in my experience.

    I bought a Sakura Bloom linen sling right after baby #2 was born. It’s handy for short walks and when I know she’ll be in/out often. It’s also easy to nurse in. But it’s my least favorite option. I never feel like I tighten it perfectly so I’m always fussing with the seat and the top rail and..and…

    Frame Backpack

    Pros: Kid is high up, has a pocket for other gear.
    Cons: So so heavy! And the seats are pretty narrow as a rule.

    My kiddo LOVED the Dueter Kid Comfort II from about 6 months to 20 months. She likes that she is up high and can see well. The seat was wide enough when she was little but it was way too narrow by the time we retired it for her. This is a nice option when you need to carry additional stuff with you (longer hikes, etc.) It’s really heavy though, with the weight of the backpack plus the kid. I could not get it on by myself and stopped using it around the time kiddo #1 turned 1. Husband was able to wear it for longer.

    Reply

    • Erica

      Beth! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences with babywearing carriers as well!!! I was hoping some folks would chime in, esp with different carriers than what i listed. Thank you so much! And yes, wherls just dont cut it!! 😉

    • Bethc

      I didn’t realize it was so long, but it was fun to look back on our babywearing journey thus far! BTW, I got the infant kinderpack in the mail yesterday. Only used it for a little while (~45 min) but it was just as nice as the toddler version!

  2. Great post, Erica! Definitely a great refresher course as we gear up for baby #2 & I love all your car analogies!

    Reply

  3. Great reviews! We need more babywearing in our culture and having so many options makes it easy. We’ve kept it to two for these first 4.5 months with the Boba 4G, Baby K’tan (similar to a Moby but with no tying!!! Honda Civic – automatic). But now we’re in the market for a ring sling for daddy since the K’tan doesn’t fit him.

    Reply

  4. SUS

    Great review with so many usefull facts and examples. Love it! Wondered if you have any experience with the “manduca carrier” and how it compares to the other carriers you have listed? Seen from a climbing mom’s perspective:-)

    Reply

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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN