Ergo Baby Carriers for Travel
“You don’t need to buy any other baby carrier, the Ergo is the best,” spoke our midwife upon the birth of my daughter Petra last year. So I sent a letter to the Ergo company asking them if they stood by these words. Of course they did, and they sent me an Ergo carrier to review on VagabondJourney.com.
Design of Ergo Baby Carriers
There are many different baby carrier designs available: from sling bags, to built into a shirt joey-pouches, to full-on external frame backpacks there are tons of options for carrying a baby. The design of the Ergo follows the backpack model, and is, more or less, meant to hold the baby in close to the body with a sturdy flap of fabric which is attached to the shoulder waist with straps. There is no fabric, padding, anything between the child and the person carrying him.
This design is similar to how I have observed babies being carried all over the world — where a strip of fabric is all that is used to keep the child connected and close to their care giver. Ergo has also made this observation, and claims on their website that, “Hundreds of thousands of happy babies around the world are riding close to their parent’s heart in The ERGO baby Carrier, in much the same way that indigenous cultures have for thousands of years.”
Like many indigenous cloth style baby carriers that are in use all over the world, the Ergo can be used to carry a baby on the chest or on the back, though the Ergo is designed to have the child always facing in towards the body of the carrier.
The first thing that I noticed about the Ergo baby carrier was that they are built along the same lines as a solid hiking backpack. There are two well padded shoulder straps which are fully adjustable, a cinch strap which connects the shoulder straps together, and, most importantly, there is a well padded and adequately designed waist belt that distributes the bulk of the baby’s weight upon the hips and away from the shoulders. This is exactly how a load should be carried in a backpack system: the shoulder straps should primarily serve the function of holding the load in close to the body and most of the load should have its weight distribution by the waist belt to the hips and legs.
I gave the Ergo my usually run down when inspecting a prospective piece of travel gear, and I claim that it checked out more than adequately. Most of the fabric panels are double stitched together, and the stitching is even, tight, and runs flush with surface of the fabric. The shoulder and waist straps are all “rectangle and X stitched” to the body of the carrier for added security. The zipper on the front pocket is stitched in well and neatly, and is made of good quality metal. The fabric that the Ergo is made of is thick duct cloth similar to Carhartt pants and jackets. In point, this is not a baby carrier that is going to fall apart easily.
How to use an Ergo Baby Carrier
There is a slight learning curve to using an Ergo baby carrier properly. As it is essentially a flap that goes around the baby and holds it close to the wearer’s body, loading the child in and out of it could be hazardous if not done correctly. The Ergo is not a simply top-loading, idiot proof type of carrier — no, you need to follow a short list of step by step directions to move a child in and out of it.
Don’t be scared off though, it is not too difficult.
The Ergo can be used to carry a child on your front or on your back. The directions for use are just about the same for both options. I will go through the steps for putting a baby on your front below, but keep in mind that it is just about the same for wearing a child on your back.
How to put on an Ergo
The first step to using an Ergo is to snap the belt around your waist, then adjust the strap so that it fits snugly and securely just over your hips. Then you pick up your child and hold it up against your body so that you are facing each other. Make sure the kid is positioned roughly where you want him to ride on your body. Then you hold the child with one arm while the other arm loops through its respective shoulder strap, so that the carrier is half way on. After this you need to switch arms, putting the one that just looped through the shoulder strap on the baby, and then put your other arm through the other strap. Now the carrier is completely over the child and you are ready to secure the device. To do this just reach behind your back with one hand — make sure the other one is still holding the baby — and snap the cinch strap that spans between the shoulder straps. Then adjust the shoulder straps and you are ready to go.
How to remove an Ergo
To remove an Ergo that is loaded with a baby just follow the above steps in reverse order. First, you unsnap the cinch strap that connects the shoulder straps that is located behind your back just under you neck. Then you release one arm from its shoulder strap while holding onto the baby with the other, and then do the reverse with the other arm. Now you can remove the baby and place it somewhere else while you undo the waist belt.
Ergo warning: Never unbuckle the waist belt while the child is in the carrier, as this could lead to it slipping out upon the ground. The waist belt should be the first thing fastened BEFORE the child gets into the carrier, and the last thing unbuckled AFTER the child is fully removed from the Ergo.
Video of how to use an Ergo baby carrier properly
Video of Chaya walking with Petra in an Ergo on Cabarete beach in the Dominican Republic
Breast feeding with an Ergo
When on walks my wife can seamlessly breast feed our daughter without breaking stride when she is being transported in the Ergo. One of the added benefits of this baby carrier is that, as the child is positioned directly against the body of the carrier with nothing in between, a mother can easily breast feed with it on. All the mother needs to do is whip out a tit and the baby can easily latch on from her front row seat position in front of the mother’s breasts.
There is also a snap down hood that is attached to the top of the Ergo that can be easily pulled over the baby’s head for added privacy. In fact, with the hood up, it is almost impossible for a casual passerby to even tell that my daughter Petra is breast feeding in the Ergo. This breast feeding feature of the Ergo has come in handy for my family as we travel. It is very common for men in many countries to try to look at my wife’s big white boobs when she feeds Petra, but behind the Ergo hood they can’t see anything. There is now need to cower when breast feeding with an Ergo.
My wife has the added benefit of full mobility when breast feeding with the Ergo on — which is a pretty rare option.
How to clean an Ergo baby carrier
Being able to keep you travel equipment clean is absolutely pertinent when traveling long term. Cleaning an Ergo is simple, just hand wash it and let it air out to dry, or, if you are fortunate enough to have one at your disposal, put it in a washing machine.
These are the official Ergo washing instructions:
“Gentle detergent in cold water, non-chlorine bleach, hang to dry or dry on low heat, and remove from dryer before seams are completely dry.”
Ergo baby carrier conclusion
I have gone on long hikes and almost full day walks with my daughter strapped to me in the Ergo, and she has yet to put an uncomfortable strain on my body. I must conclude that the ergonomics of the Ergo have been mastered, the weight distribution of my daughter is placed on my hips, and I have yet to feel over burden of her bulk when she is in this carrier.
My wife and I have now been traveling with our daughter for nearly a year, through six countries. We began our travels with Petra when she was 2 months old, and we have been using the Ergo since she was five months and big enough to ride in it. She is now over a year old, and still happily sits in the Ergo, watching the world go by, napping, and hanging out while my wife and I are checking out new places and strolling as we continue our travels with a baby.
My wife and I have used many different styles and brands of baby carriers with our daughter, but I must say that our midwife was correct when she told us to stuff all of the others in the trash and just get an Ergo.
Photos of my daughter in the Ergo traveling through Latin America
Buy an Ergo baby carrier here
Go to Chaya’s baby travel supply store for more essential baby travel gear.
Visit the Ergo homepage