All About Soft Structured Carriers

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alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
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All About Soft Structured Carriers

This is going to be the first of several "All About" posts about a particular type of commonly used baby carriers. I WANT HELP with pictures, comments and tricks to each brand you have experience with, how to use it properly, different carry options, and more! So please offer input to help supplement my information. Smile

First up, soft structured carriers (SSCs)! SSCs are the baby carriers you see with buckles. There are easily a hundred different SSCs available on the market today and they're not all the same at all. Each brand has differences in body size, strap and waist length, padding, materials, hoods, webbing, structure, and more. If one SSC doesn't feel comfortable to you, there may very well be another SSC that's different that solves your problem. People loves SSCs because they're easy to use the first time with little knowledge and it's easy to find certain brands in stores. On the flip side, a SSC that works well with a newborn does not work well with a toddler and vise versa. There aren't many different ways to carry with most SSC either (pretty much limited to a basic front carry, back carry, and for some a hip carry). Also keep in mind that not all SSCs will work for very petite mamas and plus size mamas (though there are SSCs available for each). My favorite part about SSCs though? How easy they are to use with back carries!

SSC Brands: (if you reply below with info about a certain SSC I'll add it to the list and link to your post!)
Ergo - more info 1, more info 2, more info 3, more info 4 (pics from newborn on up in different positions!)
Bjorn and Infantino (see this post and this post for more information about choosing one from these brands that work better than others)
Bamberoo
Angel Pack
Olives & Applesauce
Beco
KinderPack (part of KinderCarry)
Action Baby Carrier
Connecta
Dream Carrier
Kanga
Oh Snap (by BabyHawk)
Patapum
Pikkolo

SSC Help:
SSC Brand Comparison - google docs, not complete but still very useful
Back carry with a 2 year old ("superman toss" method)
Back carry with an older baby (hip scoot method)
Back carry using a SSC with an internal harness
"Circus flip" for a back carry (forgive how scattered I look. :lol:)
Older baby on back - hip scoot WITH the carrier

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
Posts: 14483
Bamberoo

Oh, how I love my Bamberoo. It's even my husband's top choice of carriers that have come through this house.

Edit's site: http://bamberoobaby.com/

She makes several different sizes (from smallest to biggest) baby, transitional, standard, and toddler. Do know that they are generously sized and even her baby sized SSCs are not meant for babies smaller than 4 months (at 14 months DS still uses her baby size!). However, they're great for older baby through preschool wearing.

Things that I love: much cuter with better fabric choices than others (she even makes customs!), more of the waist is padded than the Ergo (so less webbing used across my middle which means less of my fat is noticeable lol), some of her carriers are REVERSIBLE (that's right, turn it around and wear with a different fabric facing out!), extremely comfortable for DH and I both, some have a solarveil fabric panel (more on that later), we have never had an issue getting DS seated properly in it, and you can find them used easily for cheaper than new (they should last through several kids each!)

Thing that I don't like: it's pricy (if you follow her on Facebook, she occasionally posts deals on there), they're not available in stores, and sometimes you have to wait to buy a carrier because she's out of stock.

Pictures!

So up first is one with a solarveil panel. Solarveil is a material that is very cool to the baby and it helps block sun's rays better than regular cotton making it a good choice for HOT climates.

(do y'all like how I've posted this picture here twice now and that isn't even my husband?! :lol:)

In the above picture you can see how despite being a baby sized carrier, it's still a big carrier. DS was about 5 months. He was enjoying a great nap while DH did some dishes. Wink

Note that the lower you wear a carrier (any mei tai or SSC), the more the baby will sink into it. So when I wore DS at 5 months, his head easily popped out of the carrier since I wear him higher than DH did in the above photo.

This is a baby sized B'roo SSC. I just took these pictures, so DS is just shy of 14 months in them.


Kayla1981's picture
Joined: 01/04/07
Posts: 1529

Great info! Happily reading and learning. Dirol

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
Posts: 14483
Angel Pack (APLX)

APLXs are great light weight carriers!

Website: http://www.angelpack.com/

Angle Packs are a "one size" SSC. Website claims that it works great for 10-40 pounds.

Things I like about them: Very lightweight at about 1-2lbs!, not hot for baby, fits petite women well and regular sized men can use it too usually without issues, works well with babies less than 6 months since it has a narrow body, it does have a taller body than the Ergo so it good for kids who like to lean, the hood is detachable and can slip into an inner pocket when not using it, easy to find online (at at great deals at times!), and I REALLY like how when used for a front carry you can cross the straps across your back which is way more comfortable for a lot of people than wearing it "backpack" style on the front. Smile

What I didn't like: Very narrow body so there's no way it could support a toddler knee to knee like I get out of other carriers, not a great fit for plus sized parents (I've heard that it's not comfortable even if it does technically fit for larger parents).

We had one stay here for a few months. We bought it to use mainly for back carries, so I don't have any front carry photos.

DS at 4 months on DH's back:

DS at 5.5 months on my back:

tink9702's picture
Joined: 09/28/08
Posts: 2977

We have an Olives&Applesauce SSC. Website is here: http://www.olivesandapplesauce.com/ I wear my DD (12 months) in this all the time in a front carry (she's ~18lbs) When DS was ~20lbs I switched to a back carry mostly because he was tall enough to enjoy being on my back more. DD is so short and petite, not sure when I'll switch her to a back carry on a regular basis.

here is a pic of DS when he was 9 months:

I like:
For a front carry that the straps cross on your back (LOVE THIS)
The infant insert is sewn in but never gets in the way once you stop using it
the hood is adjustable by pulling on the pully things (no idea what to call these!)
it says to spot clean, but mine has been in the washing machine and came out just fine
there are beautiful patterns to choose from
The shoulder straps are comfy and I can wear this carrier for hours without discomfort

I wish was different/don't like:
the "hood" does not detach, and can sometimes annoy me
I'm a larger woman (XL currently) and I think if you were wearing 1x you might be okay but this carrier would be uncomfortable for a 2x size woman
very pricey!!

Came across a pic of DD in it that I forgot I had on photobucket! She's 9 months here and managed to get her arm above which is a big no-no, but wanted to share anyway!

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
Posts: 14483

I've heard such great things about O&As! Thanks so much for sharing! Smile

cactuswren's picture
Joined: 10/19/09
Posts: 4658

I have a love and a hate to share.

Love: Ergo. I have to admit, I was kind of resistant to the idea of them, mainly because everyone kept raving and I am stubborn/suspicious of the "must have" thing (and I didn't think they were very cute)--plus SSCs are expensive, and I was all about the DIY wraps and slings. But then my SIL gave me her old hand me down Ergo and...man. It was so easy to put on and take off--a major plus for me since my DD was always pretty whiny about being held parent-facing for long--and it was super comfortable. I still use it on occasion, even though DD is around 28 pounds and my back is not strong. Plus, their customer service is very good. One of the buckles snapped (it had been through 3 kids at this point) and they sent me a new one for free, no problem.

Here we are at a pumpkin-picking thing a couple of months ago. DD is about 15 months, I think. Sorry she's giving you the stink eye Smile

Hate: Beco. It's really too bad, because they are very cute...but I hated it. I registered for and received an organic Beco Butterfly 2. It was crazy expensive and I was very excited about it...we wore it twice, I think. It had insanely complicated straps that required two hands to open/close, and forget about adjusting it...plus it wasn't very comfortable. The fabric was hot and scratchy, the straps were on the thin side, so they cut uncomfortably after a very short time...all in all, I was extremely disappointed and ended up selling it on Craigslist after I got the Ergo and realized how much better a SSC could be!

Here's just about the only time we ever REALLY wore it (DD is about 4 months old):

P.S. I love your Bamberoo green elephant carrier!!

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
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"cactuswren" wrote:

P.S. I love your Bamberoo green elephant carrier!!

Thanks for the info about Beco. Smile

And I love the elephants. DH is also more than happy to wear it too, a big plus! Lol

cactuswren's picture
Joined: 10/19/09
Posts: 4658

Added some pics Smile After I found this pic of us in the Beco and read my comments from the time, I realized that maybe my comment here about the straps being thin wasn't really fair...that part was OK. The Ergo was just SO much more comfortable in comparison, across the board.

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
Posts: 14483

Awesome! And yes, Ergos are ugly. People dye them and do all kinds of stuff to them all the time to pretty them up. Lol

I personally never had a desire for a SSC with an internal harness. I felt it would make carries more complicated for me. Of course I was already doing front and back carries in a mei tai before I got my first SSC, so I was already used to not having one. Until recently I didn't realize how dang complicated those straps are for opening and closing. Two hands?! Once adjusted to my "sweet spot" I rarely ever open and close my SSC strap buckles, but when necessary at least I can do it with one hand! And it's such a strange placement to me since the majority of raved about SSCs have them in a different place. My favorite SSCs have it where you can adjust the straps TWO ways, not just one too. Interesting differences. Smile

cactuswren's picture
Joined: 10/19/09
Posts: 4658

"tink9702" wrote:

Came across a pic of DD in it that I forgot I had on photobucket! She's 9 months here and managed to get her arm above which is a big no-no, but wanted to share anyway!

It is? For all ages/sizes? DD won't even ride in a carrier at all unless she can get her arms out (now that she is big)...she still doesn't like to be carried in anything parent-facing unless she has enough space and freedom. I honestly think that's why she self-weaned with a vengeance at 13 months--nursing was too constrictive for her. Even when she was tiny, she'd wrestle around and look up a LOT. It was kind of like trying to nurse a wild animal most of the time. But anyway--is there reason to be concerned about an 18 month old having her arms out??

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
Posts: 14483

Being arm's out isn't a no-no at all. I wouldn't wrap a baby arm's out, but if the baby pulls his/her own arms out they're fine. Just make sure they're properly supported since there is such a thing as a too short of a carrier which can lead to them falling back and out. I make sure Aiden is supported to at least his arm pits. He won't ride in a ring sling very long unless his arms are out and he often pulls one arm out in mei tais and SSCs. Smile In my current avi pic Aiden has one arm out. Lol

tink9702's picture
Joined: 09/28/08
Posts: 2977

interesting! I always thought they were supposed to have their arms below! Good to know when she does that it's not an issue! thanks ladies! Love that this board is active again - so much to learn!

emansmom's picture
Joined: 03/24/09
Posts: 752

The only SSC I have used is the Ergo and I LOVE it! It is so comfortable and easy to put on. I am dying to get one of the new patterned ergos that are now out. They are so pricey thoug!
I have a million pics of me and my babe in our ergo but of course they are on my computer and not in photobucket. I am on my phone so this is the best pic I could find. I think she is about 6 months in the pic.

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
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Aw. I love how she's buried into you! Biggrin

cactuswren's picture
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"tink9702" wrote:

Love that this board is active again - so much to learn!

Ditto! Biggrin

Marcia--that is a cute Ergo you have already!

Mine is hideous but functional...DH even took DD for a walk yesterday afternoon while I was out and put her in a back carry all by himself (he was very proud). Apparently she actually fell asleep back there for a while, even though she NEVER takes two naps anymore. Gotta love the soothing effects of BW Smile

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
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I love BWing naps! I like knowing that I can be out of the house during nap time and he'll still sleep. :mrgreen:

TiggersMommy's picture
Joined: 02/14/10
Posts: 6043

I completely ditto Leigh's first post. I was highly suspicious of the claims people made about Ergos. I was all about buying WAHM knockoffs. Then my monster child started giving me back spasms. I was about to give up on BWing completely when I borrowed Leigh's Ergo for an hour. I bought one like 2 days later. DH was none too pleased with my purchase (seeing as we already had 4 carriers) but he was soon won over by the Ergo. He has a pretty severe herniated disc and even he can carry Teagan in it for quite some time. I LOVE how easy it is to get her into a back carry. I LOVE how comfy it is for her to nap in it. I'm not a huge fan of the color but I really don't care. I just posted a few BWing pics so I'll leave them out here.

The only carrier I've ever hated was the first one I ever bought. I got DH a cheap Kelty carrier and it sucks giant monkey balls. Its not the hiking variety (which I have and love). I can't even find a pic of it on-line. I think they stopped making them as they're pretty much just torture devices. It had waay too many buckles and gadgets, no proper support and didn't feel safe at all.

lizzib45's picture
Joined: 12/06/08
Posts: 957

YAY got my Kinder carrier this week! We havent used it a ton- we werent BW at all so we are trying to work it in. We took it with us today to look at some new boots. I opted for the Navy/Green standard carrier with standard straps. Its not too girly for DH and DS. lol! Its super comfy and fits both me and DH. we are both on the smaller side and we didnt need to completely cinch the straps down, he has a few more inches and I think I probably have 1-2 inches on the shoulder straps so thats nice. It fits the waist nicely and doesnt feel too stiff. Now since DS hasnt been in a carrier in over a year, he isnt hip to this idea just yet. I think DH wore him for about 15 mins and Tommy wanted out. Not sure if we need to readjust him or since he is on the smaller side its still a little too tall in the shell for him. but it did work out as he was leaning (like wth why am I back here kinda lean) he isnt sure what to do with his arms. When we first got it, his arms were out but today I kept them in. The carrier went to his knees for the optimum support. the shoulder straps are nicely padded but not too much where its bulky. Overall we are very happy with it. DH was especially happy to wear Tommy instead of carrying him on our hips. I think a front carry might be better for him the next time, which might be tomorrow- as we didnt buy any boots today. here is a picture or two of our new carrier. you can tell Tommy is not too thrilled just yet.

Also DH just turned 18 months yesterday. he is 31inches and 21 1/2 lbs. - little man

TiggersMommy's picture
Joined: 02/14/10
Posts: 6043

Looks like a comfy carrier. Tommy will soon learn to love it! You'll get a lot of use out of that carrier having such a little peanut.

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
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That KP looks like a GREAT fit for your little boy with room to grow. That's actually how tall I prefer carriers to be on DS (the Ergo actually is fairly short bodied compared to most SSCs). If DS falls asleep, his head won't go banging around but yet he can still see out. You can fold down the headrest part if need be. Your son has his arms where DS's arms hang out when arm's in. And if you want to shorten the body some, put the waist higher up on you (or whoever is wearing).
I'm sure a lot is he's just not used to being worn back there, but 15 minutes is a great start. It's a bit different having to learn how to look around when in a carrier as opposed to being held on a hip.

lizzib45's picture
Joined: 12/06/08
Posts: 957

Perfect! I was going to ask about wearing him higher so he can see more and be comfy with his arms out instead in. He had them out the top when we first tried it on at home but seemed a bit uncomfy for him. The headrest idea is a great idea! We didnt carry him today we shall see what tomorrow holds.
Also, you think maybe some cotton pants instead of his jeans would be more comfy? I mean its common sense but we mainly put him in jeans these days. I may need to plan ahead with some different pants. hmm... more shopping?

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
Posts: 14483

A lot of baby wearers like cotton pants because it's more snuggly and conforms more with the carry. DS wears jeans all the time (they were given to us for free, so why would I buy others ya know). While I'm bouncing him down in a carrier making sure he has a good seat I sometimes tug on the cuff of each pant leg to bring the jeans down. DS never complains, but I know in the winter his legs stay warmer if non jeans when in a carrier. I only "worry" when we're going to be outside really though.

My son LOVES arms out and even with the carrier as high as it was on your DS, he manages to be at least one arm out before we're done wearing. Lol He usually pokes the arm up. Last night I had him in my elephant Bamberoo at Target and he managed to tug on my necklace and pony tail both. Although I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have started tugging had I been moving more. DH and I were debating trash cans for 20 minutes in one aisle, so can't really blame DS. Wink

cactuswren's picture
Joined: 10/19/09
Posts: 4658

Yeah--I always end up bouncing and tugging pant legs out right when I first put it on, too. Just the nature of the beast. Doesn't ever seem to bother DD, I just can't imagine it's too comfy to have bunched up denim under your knees for a long period of time.

TiggersMommy's picture
Joined: 02/14/10
Posts: 6043

Yep, bounce and tug. I put Baby Legs under Teagan's pants while we were back east over Christmas. It helped a lot to keep her calves warm.

lizzib45's picture
Joined: 12/06/08
Posts: 957

PS- I totally bought another SSC today. I got the baby steal of today, I got an Ergo- with different patterns you can switch out- for 50% off. I know I know Tommy isnt a fan yet but thought might be handy to have another one on hand ... I am a dork!

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
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ROFL
It's so easy to become addicted. You should post your comparisons between the two (KP and Ergo) after you've had some time with them both. Would be good info to have! Biggrin

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
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:bump:

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
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BUMP!

Nell4Him's picture
Joined: 10/25/06
Posts: 2455

I will have DH take video of how I get Evie on my back in our Ergo Sport. I have a different way of doing it, but it gets her there and she loves it.

Here's a few pics of her in it:

When she was 5 weeks old, in the newborn Heart2Heart insert

6 months old, it was cold

(sorry so big)

And on Easter '12 in the hip carry position

and last... in back carry on a trail at the top of Glacier National Park 3 days before her 1st birthday

Front carry same place and time

again.. sorry those are so huge. I was taking them from FB and can't figure out how to make them smaller without downloading them from FB and uploading them to PB.. too much work for me. Wink

I will get a vid up today of getting Evie to back carry. DH thinks it's funny and Evie thinks it's fun. Lol

Nell4Him's picture
Joined: 10/25/06
Posts: 2455

Thought it would be good to have a pic of what the heart2heart ergo insert looks like before/after you put it in the carrier to wear the baby.

Sorry, soooo big.

Nell4Him's picture
Joined: 10/25/06
Posts: 2455

Here's a VERY AMATEUR video of me putting Evie on my back in our Ergo Sport.

alwayssmile's picture
Joined: 08/26/07
Posts: 14483

Added your info to the first post. Hip scoot with the carrier is definitely not something I can video myself because that would trip me up! Glad you found a way that works well for you. Smile

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