Sue and I have known from way back that we want to have as much skin-to-skin time with our daughter as possible. In fact, we haven't even purchased a stroller because we want to carry Devina to achieve this goal.
Originally, we were using a Britax carrier which was given to us by some friends, and I loved. But we started reading blogs which warned of issues that could arise with carriers that leave a baby's legs dangling, which the Britax (as well as a Baby Bjorn carrier we had) did. Specifically, articles like this:
"The most unhealthy position for the hips during infancy is when the legs are held in extension with the hips and knees straight and the legs brought together, which is the opposite of the fetal position. The risk to the hips is greater when this unhealthy position is maintained for a long time. Healthy hip positioning avoids positions that may cause or contribute to development of hip dysplasia or dislocation. The healthiest position for the hips is for the hips to fall or spread (naturally) apart to the side, with the thighs supported and the hips and knees bent. This position has been called the jockey position, straddle position, frog position, spread-squat position or human position. Free movement of the hips without forcing them together promotes natural hip development."
Here it is illustrated:
Now, not everyone agrees with this. You go to the Baby Bjorn website, and they have a number of medical 'experts' testifying that the dangling legs method is fine. They write:
"No, that is not correct. Your child cannot develop hip dysplasia or hip luxation by being carried in a baby carrier. Hip dysplasia, or hip luxation, is a congenital condition diagnosed through a medical examination. The notion that baby carriers can cause hip dysplasia is a misunderstanding and has no scientific foundation. This is confirmed by leading child orthopedists."
So I'm not necessarily sure what to believe, except to say that I haven't read anyone saying that the 'jockey position' (pictured at right, above) is problematic, while plenty of others are saying that the 'dangling legs position' is. So we decided it's better to play it safe and upgrade our carriers, even though there were things we loved about the Britax and Baby Bjorn, namely the ability to carry Devina in a front-facing position (can't do that with the Jockey carriers except for one, which I describe below) and the fact that the Baby Bjorn is so elegantly engineered. I talk a bit more about our motivations in this video:
So, we bought eight carriers and I wore most of them on long walks of at least an hour each. Sue and I then tallied up what we loved (and didn't love) about each of them. Here are our results:
*** UPDATE!!! There is a new Baby Bjorn on the market that's BETTER than the Ergo! Here is my update comment with details.
The Winner: ERGObaby Performance Collection Baby Carrier
This carrier wins it hands-down for me. Early on in our testing I realized that having a hood is a must. Baby Devina will often fall asleep on our long walks, and having a hood that I can pull out of a pocket helps keep her head from bobbing, and helps keep her asleep. It's also great for keeping her warm when it's cold outside, or keeping the sun out of her eyes. The Ergo's hood works great -- here's a picture of me snapping the hood on one side while keeping the other side unsnapped -- great for keeping the sun away:
The Ergo also has a large pocket, which I was able to put an emergency diaper and wipes in -- you know, for those unexpected moments when you absolutely have to change her diaper right now. Those of you who are already parents know what I mean; for the rest of you, trust me, time can be of the essence. The Ergo is the only carrier that had a pocket large enough to easily store these emergency supplies.
Add to that that the Ergo has the best padding, which made it the most comfortable on long walks, and that Devina can see out of it without the straps mauling her in the face, and it was far and above the winner. A nice touch is the fact that the Ergo has clips for stirrups, for when a child gets older, which I point out in this video
There's one thing I really don't like about the Ergo, and honestly it drives me crazy. The shoulder straps are adjusted in the back. Why the back? Well, so you absolutely cannot reach them when you need to, of course. If I had to adjust these on a regular basis, it would've been enough to knock the Ergo out of first place for me. Luckily it's more of a "set it once and forget it" type thing. But why the back? Why not have them adjusted on the sides, like the Beco Gemini below? The rest of the carrier is so elegantly engineered, I just don't understand it. Here's a picture of what I mean:
This carrier, which costs $128 on Amazon.com, had a lot going for it. For one thing, it's the only carrier that can handle a front-facing position and still has the better Jockey position. That's thanks to two snaps which allow the leg position to be changed.
And in contrast to the Ergos, the shoulder strap length can be modified where you can actually reach it -- on the side (right below Devina's arm in the pictures) instead of the back:
It even has infant head padding, which the Ergo doesn't -- on the Ergo you have to buy a separate infant carrier insert.
But as I wore it on a long walk, I realized that two things would bump it to second place: First, it isn't nearly as comfortable as the Ergo. But secondly, it doesn't have a hood, and a hood is an absolute must. However, if those things aren't as important to you, it's a solid contender. Here's a video where I describe the carrier in more detail:
This carrier wins the value award, coming in at just $65 on Amazon. And there's a lot to like, especially if you want a compact secondary carrier -- it easily packs down to 30% of the size of the other carriers and is the only one you could realistically carry in a purse or a backpack when not in use. Also, it seems to do well in the water due to its synthetic construction; although I didn't try it myself there is talk on the forums about people using it in pools and it holding up well. However, Sue didn't like the fact that the synthetic material doesn't have any 'give,' that the zipper has the potential to scratch the baby's face (although it didn't, but seemed possible) and that the straps hit the baby's face while being carried. And for me it just wasn't padded enough (well, at all, really) for long walks. But as a backup that you keep handy, it might be just the ticket. Here's a video with more detail:
There are also some carriers I generally would not recommend, including:
Not Recommended: Infantino Union Ergonomic Carrier, Gray
This carrier is $23.99 on Amazon, and you really get what you pay for, which is not much. I describe a bit more in this video:
Not Recommended: BOBA Classic Baby Carrier 3G
This carrier, which runs $108 on Amazon, just doesn't have the build quality, the comfort, or the ease of use as the Ergos and the Beco.
It uses cheaper quality fasteners and an inferior system for the neck strap. Also, the hood is almost impossible to access when the baby is in the carrier with out really jostling the baby's neck. More detail in this video:
We also ordered a Mei Tai carrier, the Infantino Sash Mei Tai Carrier, $24.99 on Amazon, which was similar to some wrap carriers we used when Devina was an infant, including the Moby Wrap Original 100% Cotton Solid Baby Carrier, $45 on Amazon, and the Infantino Sync Comfort Wrap Carrier Black/Red, $29 on Amazon. But these all suffer from the same issues, at least for me as a dad -- they're hard to put on and take off, and they're hot because of the amount of fabric you end up wrapping around yourself. Some people seem to love them, but they just didn't work for me.
We also reviewed two accessories, one which I highly recommend and the other I do not:
Not Recommended: Boba Pack Baby Bag
This bag, $35 on Amazon, just doesn't work on the front of a carrier; it's too bulky. Here's a video where I describe the issue in more detail:
Hope you find this review helpful!