It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Baby Carriers

I used to have a baby sling. When maternity leaves were extended from 24 weeks to a full year, the sling fell into disuse, and I eventually gave it away.

A decision I now regret. Year-old babies require a lot of carrying the few few weeks, says the woman currently snuggling an 11-month-old. I have a fridge magnet that says, “If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms.” Indeed. (And eyes in the back of our heads. And the ability to turn our ears off at will. Oh, and squeeze 8 hours of sleep into 20 minutes… Anyone else got a wish for that list?)

Evolution has failed me, however, and I have only two arms. Two arms and five kids. One of whom can’t walk yet. Now, she’s having a good transition, as it happens, but even so, my job would be soooooo much easier if I didn’t have to set her down whenever I needed to help another child.

I am thinking I could use a baby carrier. Not a sling, though, because my incoming babies are not tiny infants. A few can walk, most can cruise along the furniture and/or crawl, and all of them can sit on their own. Besides, much as I liked the sling, I didn’t find it as secure as I’d have preferred. I generally felt I had to keep one hand available to catch an unexpected outward swoop of a baby. Maybe I had a poorly-designed sling, or maybe I was just paranoid.

At any rate, I don’t want these big babies strapped to my chest. I want them on my back, where they can see what’s going on, have the comfort of being carried, but where I can also use both hands to deal with the other children. I do NOT want a backpack style carrier with an enormous metal frame. Unless I were planning a 30-km hike over rugged terrain, those things are pretty much overkill. Pretentious, even. “Look at me! I’m such a total outdoorsy, macho mommy!!!” … as I wander into Starbucks for my grande extra-hot decaf skinny latte. Yeah. Kind of like a four-wheel drive mondo SUV in suburbia. Yeesh, already.

A parent once lent me one, and I felt like some sort of cyborg when I wore the damned thing… to be perfectly frank, it made me feel just a tad ridiculous. I’m going to be wearing this thing indoors almost exclusively. I don’t need it to convert to a stroller, I don’t need it to get me on and off airplanes. I want something as small and light as possible. I need it to get me through my day with a somewhat mollified baby and both hands free.

A simple enough goal, I think.

I’ve been checking online, and the one I’m leaning to is the Ergo.

This Canadian site carries it, and it has the black and camel one, which is the one I like. (Well, really, I prefer the green ones, but I don’t prefer them $30 more…)

I like the look of it, a lot. It’s small, it’s light, there’s no big frame, it can be worn front or back. It seems to be just what I’m after. Before I plonk down a decent chunk of money on one, though, I’m looking for feedback.

Do any of you use one? Do you have comments? It is easy to get on and off, particularly if you’re wearing it with the baby on your back? Does it wash well? It it durable? Any other input?


April 20, 2011 - Posted by | daycare | , , ,


  1. I know several people who have used the Ergo’s and loved them. I was a sling Mom (and daycare provider). A sling that does not have padding along the sides is easiest to use. I use the sling to put the kids on my hip, just like I carry them in my arm. If you have the sling up high enough behind their back and snug enough under their bottom, you can take your hand off them. I used it in that position for my daughter until she was about 3 (abviously not as often as when she was small, but for those occasions when it was easier to have her up.) I also have a mei tai carrier from Ellaroo that I love for the bigger kids. It has a square panel with long straps to tie around your waist and to wrap around and tie to secure the child. There are videos online showing how to do it. Once I got the hang of it, I can get the kids on my front or back just as easy. I find most carriers to be really expensive, so have gotten mine from Craig’s List. I think if you search for mei tai carrier you’ll also find instructions for making your own. Good luck!

    Comment by Patti | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  2. Everyone I know who has used an Ergo LOVES it. It is the holy grail of baby carriers. If you can afford one, get one!

    I would love one, but it’s way out of my price range. Even used on craigslist they’re 80-100 bucks.

    My mother’s making me a rebozo, which is basically just a big shawl. Not as ergonomic, but cheaper.

    Comment by IfByYes | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  3. As I was reading the first bit of your post I was thinking, “she needs an ergo!”. Best bit of baby kit I ever bought – as a mum and a daycare provider. Our village is now infected with them: pretty much every mum with a child under 3 has one. They’re very good for taking on walks when you know that the littlest one might not quite make it all the way… I used one for emergency piggy-backs with my daughter til she was about 3.
    HTH, Kath

    Comment by Kath B | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  4. The Ergo is a great sling. Easily my favorite among those I’ve used. At 19 months old my best friend’s little girl still uses it often, even more than a stroller when we are out and about walking long distances or at quicker than toddler speed. It’s comfortable to wear and definitely helps with the “I need my arms for other things” problem.

    Comment by A | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  5. I loved my Ergo with both kids. It can be a bit tricky to get the hang of getting it on with a kid inside (I never got past the “put the kid in it on the couch, kneel down and strap on from there” phase) but having the ease of maneuvering with a kid on your back is great. It is completely comfortable, like a good quality camping backpack, and it washes/wears extremely well. Mine went in the wash numerous times without fading or getting lumpy. My only problem with the Ergo was with my son, who really only wanted to be carried *in* my arms – anything else was cheating as far as he was concerned!

    Comment by Kiera | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  6. Another vote for the Ergo (was thinking that even before I got to the second half of your post). I used mine with my son until he was 2.5 (we took a long haul international trip and it was a lifesaver for keeping him close, making it through layovers, etc.) I never had a problem using it myself to get my son on my back (though you might want to try it over a bed or sofa the first few times just to get the hang of it).

    Comment by Jac | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  7. The babyhawk meitai ( seems minimalist and looks comfortable, and it’s a bit cheaper too. I don’t know anyone who’s used one, though.

    Comment by Carly | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  8. I love love love my ergo. Have 2 of them, in fact. One stays home, one lives in the car.

    I’d call an ergo the second most essential bit of baby gear after diapers.

    Comment by Trish Cross | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  9. Whoops hit publish too soon.

    They wash well, though the tan tends to stain a bit. I can easily sling a child on and off my back as soon as they have good head/neck control. I didn’t usually bother taking it off when I put the kid down, just left it dangling from the waist strap like a tail so it was always with me.

    I’ve been using mine for nearly 4 years now and it has nearly no wear on it at all, just a few stains. It’s outlasting the kids for sure, my two year old is getting too independent to put up with it anymore and my 4 year old is too heavy for me to carry anymore b

    Comment by Trish Cross | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  10. Another enthusiastic vote for the Ergo!

    I still use it with my (ah hum) 5 year old and 3 year old when camping.

    Sometimes we walk a little longer then one of them can handle and I do the Ergo thing. I think it’s less comfortable for 5 year old because after 5 minutes or so, he’s ready to walk himself again- which means the Ergo served it’s purpose.

    The just 3 year old will still hang out on my back for about 20 to 30 min.

    I have the sport version which is lighter and less hot.

    Comment by MB | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  11. I’m a nanny in the city and it is one of the most essential baby items next to diapers as someone else had said. It is the most versitile baby carrier I’ve ever found, because with an insert you can use it with newborns to up to 5 depending on size. Someone else recomended the sport because it is more breathable, I have never tried it but with the normal ergo my only complaint is that I get very hot very fast but that’s also when I’m walking long distances outdoors with coat and all. I have also never mastered the back carry on my own but I know many (more fearless) people who have and swear by it! There is also a side hip carry that I like because it’s as if I’m holding the child on my hip but I still have the use my hands, you can have little hands grabbing at your things though. But all in all this is essential!!! I was with everyone else when I started reading I just knew you needed an ergo! Goodluck and enjoy!!

    Comment by erin | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  12. I have a Hip Baby from Walking Rock Farm ( Loved, loved, loved it. I still have it, in fact, even though my kiddos are unfortunately too big for it.

    Comment by Theresa | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  13. Yes, Ergo. Ergo! ERGO!!! I LOVE mine. (LOVE.) (The sling was great for the infant phase, the the Ergo is a superstar for travelling, shopping, around the home, wherever…)

    Comment by Hi, I'm Natalie. | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  14. Another enthusiastic supporter of the Ergo! I used it with both my boys and love it. My almost 4 year old can ride on my back in a pinch still, and my 18 mo old lived in it for the first year. One of my top baby gear purchases.

    Comment by Kirsten | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  15. Yes! I loved my ergo. My son is almost three and I still don’t want to get rid of it just yet.

    It takes a short while to get the hang of putting a child on your back, but is fine. Online, the “ergo lady”‘s videos on how to use it were more helpful to me than the DVD that came with it.

    Even though both are adjustable, taller/larger (than me) people seem to prefer the Beco brand carrier. Just to give you some idea of what that might mean, I am 5’7”, 145 lbs, fairly large-framed, and the Ergo is very comfortable for me.

    There are washable strap-protectors you can get (or make I suppose!), which I recommend because children love chewing on the shoulder straps while they’re in there, and I learned too late that the saliva discoloured my black ergo.

    Comment by lisa | April 21, 2011 | Reply

  16. Yes! I use an ERGO with the boys I nanny and I love it. I still use it daily with a 23 month old who is about 35 pounds. With the ERGO I can carry him comfortably for long stretches of time. There is a bit or a learning curve to get your little ones in and out efficiently, but once you master it (which will happen very quickly with daily use) it’s no problem. My favorite way to get a child into a back carry is to fasten the waist strap, put the child on me piggyback and then, leaning forward to keep baby in place, reach down the front to the straps hanging at my thighs and flip them up like a regular back pack. Hmmm, that doesn’t really work without a visual, but I’m going to leave it since I’ve seen more than one person struggle with this. Anyway, a few bounces to settle baby and you can have a steady stream of babble right into your ear for a few comfy hours.

    Comment by Samantha | April 21, 2011 | Reply

  17. I was another one who was reading your post and thinking you needed an Ergo. It’s perfect for what you want, and if you happen to get a younger baby (for those self-employed parents who don’t get parental leave, or adoptive parents who don’t get the full allotment not-that-I’m-bitter)…you can use it for a younger one.

    But I recommend a lighter colour than black. Those things are made of heavy cotton, almost a denim, and they’re hot in the summer sun. The black will make you and the child very warm. Go for a lighter colour.

    Comment by mamadragon | April 21, 2011 | Reply

  18. If evolution were true, we’d be marsupials. Dang, I want a pouch. (And babies who are born immature and tiny who just stay in the pouch and drink milk…)

    I’ve always heard great things about the Ergo, but it’s way out of my price-range. I opted for the Snuggli, the one with the waist-belt (the one without the waist-belt hurts my shoulders, but this one is super comfy). I think I paid $30 for it 6 years ago… I also have a Moby, which I LOVELOVELOVE (and you could easily make one if you can get 5 yards of the jersey knit). It’s very comfortable and versatile. Can be used front, back, and hip, in various positions. I have been carrying my 9 month old in the hip-carry and it’s great for us both.

    Comment by rosie_kate | April 21, 2011 | Reply

  19. I had to chime in. I love my ergo. In fact, I just lent mine to a client for the weekend to test drive and she came back sporting her own! I often end up with the side carry. I love the option of grabbing with 2 hands and not worrying about them falling off.

    Comment by Pam F | April 21, 2011 | Reply

  20. I’m late to this, but YES, the Ergo is fantastic. I use it constantly, both on my back and my front with the kidlet.

    Comment by Lex | April 25, 2011 | Reply

  21. The Ergo is without a doubt the single best item of baby equipment I have ever purchased. Very durable, relatively easy to use with a bit of practice. I absolutely recommend it.

    Comment by Mare | April 25, 2011 | Reply

  22. Not that you need another vote for the Ergo, but … here’s another vote for the Ergo! Both of my kids have loved the back carry and it does indeed help when you need your hands free to tend to chores or other children. I also have the Babyhawk mei tai, which someone else mentioned. It is also good, but the straps are less padded, and because it has long, dangling straps that you have to tie on (rather than buckle) it takes a little more fiddling. I think the Ergo would suit your needs nicely.

    Comment by Jaimie | April 26, 2011 | Reply

  23. Yet another vote for the Ergo. I use it at least twice a week to carry my 2 yr old to preschool about a mile away. The back carry is pretty easy once you practice a bit.

    Comment by Kelly | April 26, 2011 | Reply

  24. I have lurked on your blog for years, but I don’t think I have ever commented. When I saw the Ergo on babysteals dot com today, though, I knew I’d have to come out of lurkdom.

    Hope you are feeling better soon!

    Comment by Hannelore | April 28, 2011 | Reply

  25. The ergo is the best baby item I’ve ever purchased. When my son was 9 months old I was using a Mei Tei with him to join a babywearing hiking group. The leader of the group was an Ergo distributor and it was a genius marketing plan because I saw how comfortable everyone was and bought one 3 hikes later. It got daily use from 9 months till 3 years old. The woman I bought the Ergo from no longer sells or recommends them and prefers Beco brand, but I still bought another Ergo because I found one on the babysteal site. I doubt shipping would be cost effective from her site for you, but she has a lot of great comparisons.

    Comment by Ariel | April 29, 2011 | Reply

  26. […] recall that post I wrote a few days back, in which I was craving an Ergo? Since writing that I had decided I would have to wait a few months on the Ergo. Too many other […]

    Pingback by Ergo, an Ergo! « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | May 19, 2011 | Reply

  27. […] so I say again, Ergo, how I love thee. I’m still sweaty, but I can move. I can interact with the others. And my home? Is […]

    Pingback by Oh, Ergo, how I love thee « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | July 14, 2011 | Reply

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