Review OverviewMariaOctober 18, 2012
Before I had Quinn, I used to see other parents walking through Target or some other public place carrying their babies in stylish black packs, and I’d think “Now there’s a parent who looks like they’ve got this shit handled.”
When I got pregnant, a baby carrier was one of the first things I put on my baby registry. I thought it would be good for parties or running errands — times when I wanted to be out but didn’t want to deal with the hassle of the baby seat. I liked the Bjorn. It was stylish with tailored lines and flattering colors. But I balked at the $75 price tag. Who needed to spend that when I could get the off brand for half that price?
I registered for an Infantino flip carrier and was ecstatic when it arrived as a gift from an out-of-town friend.
Cue endless crying. Cue crying that doesn’t end unless baby is being held constantly. Cue crying that sometimes goes on for hours even if baby is being held constantly. Cue crying that isn’t soothed by the panacea of all baby problems: Nursing.
Cue the Infantino flip carrier.
At first, I thought it was amazing. When I put Quinn in it, she calmed right down because she was close, and the silence bought me back my sanity for the moment. I even got to walk around the house. Go outside if I wanted to. Do the dishes even!
But I soon realized the limitations of the carrier. I couldn’t nurse in it, and Quinn needed to nurse near constantly in the first few weeks. It was a pain getting her in the carrier and taking her out every time she needed to eat or have her diaper changed. Also, when she fell asleep in it, her head would cock to the side (or backwards) in a way that just didn’t seem like it could be right.
I rushed out to Buy Buy Baby to look for a ring sling. At the time, I didn’t know that’s what I was looking for, and so I just wandered the aisles in search of one of those “sling thingies” that went around the shoulder. A friend had lent us a carrier that was a black circular wrap, but I couldn’t figure out how it worked (and still can’t). We ended up buying the Baby K’Tan, which is similar to a ring sling or a woven wrap carrier, but it uses two loops of fabric that can be crossed to make similar carries instead of a singular long piece of fabric that you have to learn to tie.
The K’Tan costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $50, and I balked again. But I was desperate for a good carrier, and I figured I’d only need the one.
The K’Tan was great. After I figured out how to use it, I put Quinn in it all the time. Even though I bought it for the cradle hold to nurse, I never actually used it for that purpose. Quinn hated to be wrapped up that way, and she always preferred to be facing out.
We used the K’Tan for several months, and it was a lifesaver. It was soft and flexible, so it was comfortable for both Quinn and I to wear. It was also easy to use. Unlike a traditional woven wrap carrier, I didn’t have to mess with a long and unwieldy tail of fabric, so carries were much easier to accomplish. Also, the loops made for an easy “seat” for Quinn while I was adjusting the carrier, whereas with a traditional woven wrap carrier, you have to balance baby on your back while you get the hang of the tie. When you’re just learning how to tie these, it can be really awkward to hold your baby and tie it at the same time, and it can be easy to jostle baby around or even drop baby. (Ask me how I know…)
I wore the K’Tan all the time, even if I was just sitting on the couch and writing. When Quinn was in it, she was calmer, more alert, more interested in observing her environment. There were days when I sat her on my lap and she would cry and fuss, but as soon as I put her in the carrier — even if I was still sitting in the same position — she would calm right down.
Eventually, Quinn got too heavy for the K’Tan. The guidelines say she could have stayed in it much longer, but she started to stretch the fabric, making is less secure and less comfortable to wear.
I switched to a Bjorn that I borrowed from a friend, and we put that carrier to good use for awhile. But it wasn’t long before the Bjorn started to be very uncomfortable to wear. I could only wear Quinn in the front, and wearing her for longer than 15 minutes or so started to put a strain on my back. Plus, I looked down at her little legs dangling over nothingness and her head bent forward with her mouth constantly gumming the edge of the carrier, and I thought “That just can’t be comfortable.” But she wasn’t talking…
I finally decided to get off my wallet and spend the money I needed on a real carrier. One that was well-made, would be comfortable for both Quinn and I, and would last us through the toddler years. I was ready to spend whatever I needed to spend.
On the recommendation of a friend, I ended up buying the Pikkolo by Catbird Baby. I loved it right away! It is ergonomically designed, so baby is held in more of a seated position, with legs wrapped around mom’s (or dad’s) body. When I put it on, it immediately felt right. Quinn was snug against my body, and she felt comfortable and secure. I set about doing everything I would have normally done around the house: Sweep the floor, do the laundry, pull weeds. She always felt comfortable and secure. I could bend all the way over, turn quickly, and reach for things in the cabinet with no problems. I never worried that she was going to fall or be pushed into a contorted position.
I also never felt uncomfortable wearing it. I can wear Quinn in the Pikkolo all day, and my back and shoulders never start to tire. If anything, I only start to get sweaty from having her so close (which kind of works in my favor since the warmth lulls her to sleep).
The Pikkolo cost about $130, and it was worth. every. penny. I would buy another one in a second if it needed to be replaced (which it probably won’t since it’s so well-made), and I recommend it to everyone I know who has a small baby or toddler.
Forget about baby swings or walkers or play pens or any other devices designed to entertain your baby while you work. Just get a baby carrier and keep your baby close (and happy) and go about your business. You may have to experiment with a number of carriers like I did at first, but I’d recommend starting with the Pikkolo. It is by far the best carrier I’ve tried, and it’s an investment I’m glad I made.