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ERGObaby Baby Carrier & Accessories Review by Camilla Anderson

The ERGObaby Baby Carrier is an infant/toddler carrier designed to carry babies from newborn through age 5 (up to 50 pounds) on your front, back, or side. The carrier is ergonomically designed to support the baby's weight in a way that is kind to your body and allows you the freedom of natural movement while you are wearing the carrier. The carrier is fabricated of 100% cotton canvas. The accessories I received for review include a matching backpack which can be used by itself or attached to the baby carrier, and a front pouch (similar to a fanny pack), which can be attached to the waistband of the baby carrier to hold your wallet/necessities while wearing the baby on your back. The baby carrier comes in a variety of colors, and the back pack and front pouch can be bought to match. Other matching accessories are available, which include a changing pad, an infant insert, and sucking pads. I will describe the carrier further and explain some of the features as I describe my experience using this product.

I received the baby carrier, backpack, and front pouch as review items when my newborn was 9 weeks old, and my toddler son had just turned three years old. I watched the enclosed training DVD. The promotional video did not appeal to me. While it was apparent the ERGObaby Carrier was a helpful product, the promotion had a New Age tilt and promoted child-rearing philosophies that I felt were unbiblical. They say they are part of the attachment parenting movement, which seemed similar to the once popular family bed movement. But, I will not digress, as that has nothing to do with the actual product and how it works. The training section of the video was extremely helpful, and also very necessary. You would not be able to use this carrier very easily unless you watched the video or unless someone showed you how to do it.

Immediately after watching the video, I put on the carrier and had my 42-pound toddler hop in. I was instantly amazed. First, I was impressed at how comfortable the carrier is. The super-thick padding on the waist band and shoulder straps is very comfortable. And the carrier lives up to its ergonomic claim. I set about my regular chores with my 42-pound toddler on my back, and I was very much at ease and able to move naturally. Nothing pulled, nothing ached, and nothing cut into me. The carrier held my son on my back in a very natural piggy-back position, the padded waist band sat securely on my hips, and a harness strap that connected the shoulder straps across my chest seemed to keep my shoulders and spine in place.

Over the course of two months, I tried toting my toddler in the carrier several times, and was always amazed at how this carrier made it comfortable. This ERGObaby Carrier didn't give me a backache with my 42-pound toddler no matter how long I carried him!

I gave the carrier the ultimate test at the zoo recently, when I carried my toddler comfortably for up to a half hour at a time on my front and/or my back with no back or shoulder pain and my hands completely free. The only problem I found when carrying my toddler is that the waistband of the carrier and bottom of the carrying pouch would cut into his legs as they hung down. I would put my hands behind me to pad in between his legs and the part that was hurting him. I tried several times to reposition him and check that he was in the carrier properly. He was. This was a minor discomfort but did not cause much of a problem on our zoo outing.

Now, my next question: Why would you want to carry a toddler around much? At the zoo, it would have been more feasible to have my toddler in a stroller or wagon. I chose to carry him because I wanted the exercise, and frankly, I miss being able to hold him sometimes, now that he is so big. I really enjoyed being able to hold him again. Would it be worth the $105.00 this carrier costs, just to carry a heavy toddler? It was certainly very nice to be able to carry him. If I didn't have the carrier, we would have been just as happy using a stroller or wagon. But, I was also very pleased at the extra exercise and the chance to strengthen my back and muscles without hurting or straining them. My call: It's just about worth the money to carry a toddler around sometimes.

Now I will tell you about my experience carrying my newborn in this same carrier. To carry a newborn from birth through the ages of 4 to 6 months, you must purchase the infant insert accessory that goes with this carrier. The insert allows you to wrap your infant in extra padding and place the infant securely in the carrier in a cradled position, almost the exact same position as if you had the infant cradled in your arms. I did not receive the infant insert to review, however I was able to fold up a quilted blanket in a similar shape and place my 10-week-old infant in the carrier according to the instructions on the DVD. Again, the carrier proved to be very ergonomical and comfortable, and I noticed an instant difference in comfort from the Snugli I had been using, which always hurts my back before long, and always seems to slip off my shoulders. Problem: my baby wasn't comfortable and just didn't fit. It seemed my 9-week-old baby was too long. As with my toddler, I had to use my hand to pad between the baby's legs and the edge of the carrier, which was cutting into him. When he wasn't sleeping, he was mad about being smashed so closely to my chest. I tried to position him in the carrier for nursing, which is one product claims you can do and I absolutely could not arrange it at all to the comfort of me or my infant. I was not able to use this as an infant carrier for my infant, which disappointed me, because my Snugli hurt my back, yet the ERGObaby Carrier did not.

Fast forward over two months later, and my baby, at the time of the writing of this review, is five months old. I tried several times in the past month, without success, to place him in the carrier. Why? Because my baby is not one of those babies who can straddle my waist comfortably. It's not how he's built. He cannot wrap his legs around me or even sit comfortably on my side. When I hold him, he more or less sits on my forearm and his legs fall between my arm and my side or stomach. To use this carrier, your baby must be able to straddle your front, side, or back. Can your baby put his toes in his mouth or pull both feet up beside his ears? Many babies can. If yours can, then you can use this carrier. I figure as my baby gets older, he will become big enough to wrap his legs around me and fit more comfortably in the carrier, but then I'm posed with the same question: why would I want to be carrying a toddler around so much?

But then I discovered something nice. After nearly three months of test-driving this product, I learned that this carrier is flexible. You can squish, twist, fold, and/or adjust the straps in just about any way you want. By doing this, at the zoo yesterday, I was able to get my infant comfortably in the carrier for a time, on my front. I was able to pull his knees up and squeeze the seat of the carrier down smaller, then get it buckled up around him. It was not easy, and at first I was nervous that I was hurting his legs and pulling them in a way that they weren't meant to go. But when I saw he was actually comfortable enough, we gave it a go for a while. On the video, it showed a mother comfortably nursing her baby in this position. My baby's head was nowhere near my breast, and I couldn't even remotely see how I would be able to comfortably get it there.

While in the carrier, my baby was hugged so tightly against my body, he didn't have much freedom of movement. This would have been great and snuggly for a sleeping baby, but my awake baby was a little frustrated. I noticed that in the video and in the photographs of this product, that almost in all cases except when carrying a larger toddler (ages 18 months and up, perhaps), that the baby's head is held quite close to your body, verging on being pinned there. They can turn it to the left and to the right, but little else. However, the baby is fully supported and snug! Also, since my baby was awake, he was frustrated that he was not able to see much. That is one thing I liked about my other baby carrier, which allowed me to wear my baby on my front, facing out. My baby enjoys being able to see all that I see. However, the ERGObaby Carrier does not hurt my body, and my other carrier does. Also, the ERGObaby Carrier is comfortable and has a worry-free fit. I don't worry about the straps slipping or cutting into me. For a sleeping baby, the ERGObaby Carrier would be my choice by far.

Now, all that said, I did choose to get rid of my Snugli and keep this ERGObaby Carrier instead. Why? Because of the comfort. I have arthritis and I'm not so young of a mother (near 40). Exercise is important to me and I want to stay healthy. Taking walks and hikes with my family is a great way to stay in shape. Carrying the baby is a great way to get a little extra exercise and burn more calories. I'm always concerned about maintaining my posture as I get older, and keeping my back strong and healthy. I absolutely could not carry my baby in my Snugli carrier for long without getting a horrible backache. In addition, the Snugli straps would cut into me and/or slip off my shoulders if I twisted, turned, or even bent over slightly. The ERGObaby Carrier is comfortable and does not hurt my back, no matter how long I wear it. The straps say in place, my hands are free, and I have complete freedom of movement, even stooping and bending, without any worry or discomfort. For this reason, I will make it work. I may not be able to nurse as I'm walking through the grocery store or up a mountain trail, but my back will not hurt! My baby may not be able to see as well, but he will be comfortable enough, and my back will not hurt.

I think the design and construction of this carrier is excellent. The fabric is soft and strong, the sewing and construction is solid it is a very high quality. The padded straps, the buckle, the shape and fit all quite ingenious. It is a definite success as an ergonomic product that is healthy for your posture and your back. I also like the attached hood which allows you to cover your sleeping baby's head to keep it from lolling back and to protect it from the sun. The hood also works as a nursing cover if you can actually arrange nursing in the carrier. I saw it done on the video. I could not do it!

It is quite a luxury that the carrier is available in six beautiful colors with your choice of lining color. I like all the colors, and the accessories match. It is a functional product and a lovely product as well. I have never liked baby products that are designed to look like silly, frilly, baby clothes. You'll never catch me carrying a powder pink or blue diaper bag with duckies or teddies on it. I'm the one carrying the bag, not my baby. I prefer much more stylish and simple designs. If you like Eddie Bauer baby products, you will love the colors and design of these products. Very stylish, practical, simple, and pretty.

The accessories are very nicely constructed and designed, and come in the same fabric as the baby carrier to make a matching set. You may or may not feel they are necessary or useful. The backpack is a nice size, with a bottle holder, size zipper pocket, and two front pockets. It can snap around the straps of the baby carrier in case you need to carry more than just your baby. I have it, but have not yet had the need to use it. I would probably not purchase it. The front pouch is a small (5x8) pouch with three pockets and a key chain hook that can be worn on the waist belt of the baby carrier. I tried it on, but have not yet had the need to use it. I would probably not purchase it. The infant insert is a quilted pad that wraps around your newborn to cradle him in the carrier, which I'm sure would have worked better than the folded blanket I tried to use. The sucking pads are a nice afterthought, which are washable cotton fabric pads that can be placed around the shoulder straps near the baby's head to keep a teething baby from chewing the actual shoulder straps. These pads are removable and washable. Great idea!

Also available for this product is a waist extension. The baby carrier's waist belt fits up to 41 inches. I'm currently a women's size 14 and feel close to needing this extension! The carrier goes around my waist (lower waist towards my hips) with not much room to spare maybe two inches left on the pull tab. My husband wears a size 34 to 36 waist, and this fits him about the same. If you are much larger than this, you can buy the waist extension for an additional 8 inches. Replacement straps are also available for the chest strap.

Overall, I think this product is a smashing success. I have had four children, and over the course of the years have tried just about every style of baby carrier and baby back pack. Most of them are much less expensive than the ERGObaby Carrier and will do, but I have never worn one that equals the comfort and mobility that the ERGObaby carrier offers. The ERGObaby Carrier is the only one that absolutely does not hurt or strain my back in any way, even when carrying a 42-pound toddler, on my front or my back, for over a mile (which I did!). My decision was that the ergonomic comfort of this ERGObaby Carrier more than makes up for any of its shortcomings, and I did ultimately decide to keep it and make it work for that very reason. My back is most grateful. You would have to try it for yourself to believe it! At $105.00 retail, after this test drive, I would buy the carrier, but skip the accessories. If you're richer than me, you might enjoy owning all the matching accessories: backpack ($37), front pouch ($21), infant insert ($25), sucking pads ($14). If I have another baby down the road, I will probably purchase the infant insert. If my five month old starts chewing the straps of this one, I may buy the sucking pads. I say kudos to Karin Frost, the inventor. And I give her my thanks for saving my back. She did an amazing job and created a very helpful product. Not only helpful, but beautifully styled, too.  

Product review by: Camilla Anderson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2008.