Saturday, 1 June 2013

Soft Structured Carriers- Which One To Choose?

by Tami Grosset

SSC should probably stand for 'So many Superb Carriers'! We are so fortunate that we have so many options with SSCs these days but many options can be overwhelming.

To make direct comparisons between the main SSCs available here in Canada Onya have created this clever little chart and Portable Baby have put an awful lot of work into making this very detailed comparison chart. The Happy Hippie Homemaker has written a very informative blog comparing the Ergobaby, Boba and Tula carriers. Our very own Veronique Bergeron has written this awesome blog comparing the Boba 3G and the Manduca carriers!

Here are some helpful YouTube links where you can see various SSCs in action by, both demonstrating back carries and nursing in a carrier.

Beco Butterfly II     

The Beco Butterfly II has now been discontinued but for a long time it was a top seller in stores. You will still be able to find them brand new as shops sell off their end of stock, and they will be found preloved in consignment stores and in online FSOT forums for a while yet. The BBII allows for newborn to toddler (45lbs) carrying and offers front and back positions. It has an inner panel which many newbie babywearers love as it lends a feeling of confidence, especially when back carrying.

Here's what some of our members had to say about this carrier;

We have a BB2 and we loved it! We got it when LO was 4 months, and used it daily until around a year...mind you, my baby was on the chunky & tall side, so other babies might get longer use. It does have a newborn insert, and it's supposed to be great. It has an internal layer that makes it easy to get baby on your back, and you can change wearers if you need to. Can be handy if you need to accomplish something minus baby, if you have a willing babywearer! The straps are soft and squishy, although you can't cross them, I could still get comfy, but it takes adjusting. Hubs like using it more than the rs, and the grandparents even used it! Its very user friendly. I could nurse in it after a bit of rearranging, not the easiest thing, but do-able!

Love the inner panel. Disliked not having pockets and no hood attached.

I liked that it had the inner panel and that made it easier for a newbie to put it on my back. I found it the hardest to adjust but once I got it set up I was good. But if I bought one and was sharing it with my hubby I would likely find it to be a pain.

**Please be aware that there are some counterfeit BBIIs available in preused online forums and in consignment stores. If a deal seems too good to be true it probably is!**

The ErgoBaby      

ErgoBaby have designed and marketed many different styles over the years so to keep things easy we're focusing on the most common and popular Ergo carrier; the original, also available in organic fabrics. The ErgoBaby can carry a baby from newborn up to toddler (40lbs) and offers front, hip and back positions. In my experience the ErgoBaby tends to fit fluffier mama's better than those with more slender frames. ErgoBaby recommend the use of an infant insert (sold separately) for use with newborns however many babywearers manage well without this. Instead a parent can use a rolled up receiving blanket under the baby's bum.

Here's what some of our members say about the ErgoBaby;

I loved the ergo, (preferred it over the manduca) I used it from about 3-10 months, big fan! Seat isn't wide enough for older kids (for me) so we stopped using it.

Love the adjustments, love the attached hood, love the pocket with zipper. Dislike that you need the infant insert but I never had it when mine was little.  

I didn't like how short the body was on it and the waist strap was small on me and if I were to buy one, I would need the extender.

I used the ErgoBaby with my first child almost all the time and use it a lot with my daughter. It is often the first carrier I reach for. I find it incredibly comfortable as it fits my frame very nicely. I didn't find the hip carry position very comfortable but was good in a pinch. Sadly I find the back and seat too low and narrow for my toddler as she gets older and bigger. It would be awesome if Ergo made an ErgoToddler carrier!

**Sadly ErgoBaby carriers have been very convincingly faked but this does not mean that they are safe to use! Please check a cheap used Ergo before purchasing and only buy new from registered and reputable retailers**

The Boba 3G

The Boba 3G is the most recent SSC in the Boba family. It offers a carry for newborns up to toddlers (45lbs) and both front and back positions. The Boba is unique with the addition of stirrups which can be used by older children. They rest their feet in the stirrups and this keeps their knees and hips bent into a nice comfortable M shape.

Here are our member reviews;

I have a boba 3g and have been using it with my daughter since she was 2 weeks old. I love the fact that I don't need an insert for using with a newborn like the ergo. She's 8 weeks now and it's very supportive. She naps there wonderfully and I can nurse too. It's easy to strap on. I'm a newbie here and chose the boba because I don't know if wraps are easy to wear.

I love it. I find it very comfortable with my 33 month old. I find it easy to adjust but I don't like that you need the foot straps and that if my daughter doesn't want to put her feet in them then she isn't properly supported and ends up with big red lines on her legs because there is no padding.

I tried it on and found the shoulder padding too bulky (under the arms) in a front carry. My arms couldn't rest nicely at my sides.

The Beco Gemini     

The Beco Gemini has been a very popular carrier since it first hit the market. It offers a FFO position, as well as front facing in, hip and back. The BG does not require an infant insert and can carry a child from newborn to toddler (35lbs).

Here's what our members say;

It's very comfortable. I love that you can cross the straps if you want to. I like the adjustable seat however I wish it wasn't just 2 different sizes. It has very thick padding which can be warmer for baby and also does not form to baby's shape very well. I love the high extended back for when they sleep or lean far. I love that you can breastfeed in it, as well as hiding what others sometimes don't wish to see. I love that the buckles are child proof and that it takes some mad skills to get it off with one hand. I love all the different prints that are available. Overall this is a fantastic carrier. Very minor improvements needed, as with most carriers. I also love that you can be skin to skin with your newborn in it (no inbetween bulkyness) and that the straps roll up!

We have the Beco Gemini. I love it. It is comfy for both myself (5'3" small) and my husband (6'4" tall). We have had it since our guy was 4 months. Honestly I just read a lot of reviews and ordered it. I didn't try any others. I love that it is versatile in terms of front or back carries. I love how easy it is to nurse in it!
I know everyone is anti-FF caries but I used to do FF with it when he was much smaller. He went through a phase where he just had to be looking out but I wasn't comfortable with putting him on my back yet. So I would let him face out for a while and then switch him inwards and let him snuggle in for a nap. Now there is no way I could carry him FF. He is 23 lbs and I can pretty much only carry him on my back. I think that has to do with me just not being strong enough though.
One uncomfortable thing is that when I have the waist strap across my pelvic bones instead of higher up I get bruising, weird!
Another thing I LOVE about the beco is how they are so unique and pretty. I have never seen anyone else with my pattern (helicopters). Oh, but I wish it had a pocket somewhere. I think I will add one.

So comfy and awesome for newborns, I loved it for the first 3 months!

I am currently borrowing a beco gemini, and have only used it once-yesterday. First impressions mean the most though right? So, super easy to get on. As a plus size mama it fit comfortably, and still lots of room to adjust with. We have a tiny baby (5lbs at birth, 3 m old now) and it did take a few adjustments to get it right but with the base set to narrow we got a comfortable position. I like how it added warmth but didn't make him sweaty. It was easy to sit down with (we were at the ball field) next up is for DH to try it since he gets super frustrated with carriers that are complicated.

Been using my Becco Gemini since 3 weeks, we are at almost 15 months now. I love how it is easy to use, enough that I have had Uncle's and grandparents using it with her. The straps roll up nicely and it helped me carry when I wasn't confident enough with my sling. Still my hubbuddy's favourite carrier. My cousin was still using hers until she hit weight limit with her nearly 2 year old, along with her dad taking him on long hikes with it.

The Manduca         

The Manduca is a SSC from Germany that has proved to be very popular since its arrival on our shores! It offers a carry for newborns to toddlers (45lbs) and allows for front, back and hip positions. The carrier is made in organic fabric and has a rather practical look. 'Pimping' has become a popular way to individualise this carrier. Some of our crafty members offer this service!

This is what our members have to say;

Manduca - great carrier! I really love mine! To start, for those with a smaller frame or narrow shoulders, the fact that the straps can cross in the back is super important for comfort. I can wear the manduca for hours without back/shoulder/neck pain. I have only used mine for a back carry a couple of times, but it's super easy to get your baby on your back, even for an inexperienced baby wearer. The carrier is also really adjustable - 3 points for adjustment on the shoulder straps. This means a great fit for both myself and my partner (and that's saying something because I'm 5'2" and he's 6'). Our little girl is currently 18lbs at 6 months old and has fit comfortably in the carrier since she was 12lbs. It should fit for ages because it has an extension built into the body of the carrier. The only thing I can complain about is that there is no pocket/pouch on the carrier for things like keys which bugs me sometimes.

I didn't find the waist comfortable at all. I like the way it fits newborns, and it has a great seat. Straps crossing is a bonus!

We've really only used a Manduca and with an older infant/young toddler. Both DH (6'1", average build) and myself (5'7", slim) find it comfortable and easy to use for substantial amounts of time. We mostly back carry, but it's easy to flip around and use for front carries, and I find it easy to quickly and accurately adjust both ways. I like that you can adjust the shoulder straps in 3 different places. It's also light - we've been using it in South Florida for the past week or so and yeah, it's warm, but about the same as a 100% cotton wrap in a multi-layered carry. My brother (6'4", average) and my MIL (5'7", average) have used it as well without any complaints. I haven't used it for a newborn, but I recommended one for a friend who just had a baby and she's been finding it easy to use and comfortable.

I love our Manduca. I wear my 25 lb. baby on the front, with the straps crossed or, for longer wears, on the back. I haven't tried any other SSCs, so I can't compare. My favourite features are the adjustability, the panel at the base of the waist for added support/coverage and that it has a built-in newborn insert. The only change I would make is to have the ability to lower the chest strap more. It's also DH's carrier of choice.

Fits well with a 33 month old and a big pregnant belly. I like the leg padding for my girl. Its very comfy for me and her but I found it a bit hard to adjust at first.

Manduca - LOVE IT...but I'm sure others will write lots! one thing I love about it is that we've had 2 friends come over to take care of DD while we are moving and it was EASY to show/teach them how to carry her on their fronts to take her to the park. They were both super comfy carrying her for the first time in the Manduca. Both friends ended up going on longer walks because they were so comfy.

Moby Go

The Moby Go is a pretty new addition to the SSC ranks. It offers a carry for a baby from 15-45lbs. It is designed for just at front carry which limits its versatility somewhat however you will find some babywearers using their MGs for back carries, on YouTube.    

Here is what one of our members had to say about this carrier;

I got the Moby Go because the backpack straps of the other carriers just weren't comfy in a front carry for me. The Moby Go is very comfy and easy to use. but you can only use bigger babies and can't do a back carry. The wider straps that cross in the back are way more supportive for me. My 20lb guy is getting too heavy for me as a front carry but my husband can take him for a long time. We bought it when we flew to the US and for that trip alone it was worth the purchase. It was a great transitional carrier for me. Did the moby wrap, then moby go, and now I'm starting to use a woven wrap for versatility (but only from home). Will probably have to get another ssc to do quick back carries when he's older.  


The Scootababy is designed for a baby from 5 months (approximately 15lbs) to toddler (37lbs). Although it offers a front, hip and back carry the Scootababy's hip carry is supreme amongst all SSCs. The Scootababy is a cross between a SSC and a ring sling with it having just the one easily adjusted shoulder strap. The waist belt is beautifully supportive also. 

Here is what our members have said;

We... loved it because people not familiar with carriers found it extremely easy to use when looking after our little one.There isn't too much to adjust. My 65 year old dad loved it and always offered to babysit because he could get DS to nap in it. I also liked it before I figured out how to really use a ring sling.

Scootababy is GREAT right now when DH is in the kitchen cooking his breakie - our daughter is 14 months old and 25 pounds and the shoulder spread thing really makes it comfy to have her on your hip. I, Mom, love it for breastfeeding if she's feeling teethy or just needs a good cuddle and feed. I think the Scootababy's seat will eventually be too small for her as it's not as wide as a Toddler Tula for example - but right now it's great for quick ins and outs. I've tried the Scootababy as a back carry - it worked, but I much much prefer the design of the Manduca - Scootababy is only good for short back carries if any. It's best carry is the hip carry for sure. I do sometime scoot her over to my front if both my hands or full (coffee and a bag for example). 

The Onya

The Onya carrier is a carrier that is best suited to older bigger babies. It is safety tested up to 75lbs but marketed to the 15-45lb baby. Although it is not designed for newborns we have it on good authority that Onya are working on creating an infant insert for their future carriers. The Onya carrier offers both front and back carries and an interesting high chair conversion. This review shows all of the Onya carrier's features nicely.

This is what one of our members had to say;

I really liked the Onya, I thought it was very comfortable to wear. It was too big for my 6 month old, so we sold it. I wish the seat was a bit wider for older kiddo's!

The Tula    

Tula provide babywearers with options for both infants and toddlers. The infant Tula carrier allows a carry for babies from 7-20lbs and an infant insert is available (purchased separately) for a newborn carry. The toddler Tula carrier carries chidlren from 25-50lbs and both infant and toddler models offer front and back positions. Tula's are not widely available in Ottawa stores currently and can only be found brand new online or occasionally used in FSOT forums.

This is what one of our members said about the toddler model;

My favourite by far. It fits older kids with a nice comfy seat, the straps have loads of room to expand for larger parents who are wearing. My daughter loves it! The straps don't cross though, which doesn't bother me, but it can be a bit tricky to get on in a front carry alone because of it.

There are other SSCs out there and I'd be happy to add more reviews as time goes by! Please add your thoughts in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting these comparisons! I'm in Toronto and just saw the Moby Go up on BabySteals but am wondering if I should hold out for a Tula toddler. We're hoping for a 3rd kid and I'm researching which would be the best to invest in. We have a Moby Wrap and a Britax carrier.