My newborn son was a stage 5 clinger. Intent on forcing bodily contact between us for every nap as well as all night long, he went from deep sleep to squalling every time I attempted to place him in his bed. He was also committed to only falling asleep mid-breastfeed, which put all the pressure of bedtime solely on me, the parent with the lactating boobs. I was exhausted and often trapped under a sleeping baby. One night, beside myself with lack of sleep and overwhelm, I asked my husband to attempt to quiet him in the carrier. One return trip down the stairs in our apartment building was all it took – the motion and closeness had soothed him into slumber. That was when we knew it. Carrier is king.
Before I had a baby, I had a list: Important Things To Buy. The result of months worth of research, it detailed the obvious (bassinet, car seat, pram), the mundane (butt cream, nappies) and the gratuitous (impractical outfits meant only for photo ops and cute decor the baby would barely be able to see let alone appreciate). I wasn’t sure about everything on the list. Was buying a portable changing mat over a changing table a grave mistake? (Nope. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made.) Should I invest in a ‘proper’ pram over a travel one? (Again, no. I’ve never regretted choosing the car boot-friendly Babyzen Yoyo.) One thing I was sure about was that I wanted a baby carrier. Since becoming pregnant, I was suddenly hyperaware of sleep-deprived parents pacing our neighbourhood, squirming infants strapped to their fronts. As someone with the core strength of a wet noodle and also a slipped disc, choosing the correct one felt very high stakes.
And so, my (thoroughly non-scientific) experiment began. Daily trips to my local cafe became opportunities for observation and data collection. I looked extensively at how baby carriers functioned in their natural environments: the shopping centre and the playground. While there was always an assortment of brands, the most comfortable-looking parents seemed to be repping Ergobaby. After examining hundreds of glowing customer reviews, I came to a firm conclusion: the Ergo Omni 360 was the carrier for us. So I bought one.
It may not be the prettiest baby carrier out there, but what it lacks in aesthetic appeal it more than makes up for in ease. It’s been ergonomically designed for the comfort of the wearer as well as their tiny passenger. Everything that can be padded, is. The cotton and airflow mesh construction means it’s soft and not sweaty. And when worn firmly – as it’s meant to be – the waist belt is reassuringly snug and supportive. It has no right to feel so lightweight and yet it does, even with a baby on board. Plus, unlike other carriers, it doesn’t take an engineering degree to figure out how to put it on. (If I could offer one piece of advice to brands creating carriers it’s this: if someone who hasn’t slept a full night in three months and is surviving on the smell of Moccona can’t figure it out, pls go back to the drawing board.)
When I think back on my time as a new parent, a lot of it, I have my children strapped to me in the Ergo. It has helped us calm tantrums, made nap time possible outside of the house, meant I could have freedom of movement while my babies we’re comfortable and happy, and even took us around Europe when my son was six months old. We love it so much that in our household, it’s become a proprietary eponym. (For non-word nerds, that’s when a brand of something is so favoured that it becomes a noun used to refer to the thing itself, like Glad Wrap for cling film or Kleenex for tissues.) For us, there literally is no other more important parenting tool.
As I type this, my husband has left for a walk with our second child (another clinger) in the Ergo. It’s hot out, so she’s safely ensconced under the protective baby hood. After four years, the carrier is battered and falling apart in places (solely due to my lack of laundry skills, not the durability of the carrier), but we still use it on a daily basis. Thanks to its ability to be converted into four different carry positions, my son used it until he was three (it’s adaptable for newborns all the way up to 20kg toddlers). As he grew out of it, my daughter came along. When she was diagnosed with developmental dysplasia of the hip at a few months old and placed in a brace, I wasn’t sure if we could continue using it. But at our first appointment, the orthopedic surgeon told me it was his preferred carrier for all babies because it holds them in the optimal position for healthy hip development.
Of my initial list, the Ergobaby carrier is the one thing I continue to recommend to anybody entering parenthood. So, if you haven’t found the carrier of your dreams yet, take this love letter as a sign of its brilliance. My husband – the guy who’s been wearing it for four years – wants you to know, the cost per wear can’t be beat.