The following review was published in part in a baby magazine. Not in full as Ergo didn’t want my criticism going public. Far enough I guess but it does make me take an Ergo carrier review with a grain of salt now! Ideally a review would be just that! The good stuff and the stuff that the reviewer found not so ideal – then the reader can decide for themselves which parts are important to them. Let’s face it no carrier is perfect for everyone. Parents know what they like and what they don’t. They know their size and what might work for them. So without further ado here is my honest review of the Ergo 360 Soft Structured Carrier.
Ergo 360 Review
I’ll be up front about the fact that I didn’t hold high hopes for this carrier. I thought it would be a case of trying to be all things to everyone and ending up being no good for anyone. Well I was very wrong.
I was particularly interested in the instructions that came with the carrier. I was keen to see whether there were any recommended guidelines for the amount of time baby spent in the forward facing position. On the box a ‘limited duration’ is recommended. The advice is to turn baby inwards if he shows signs of sleepiness or overstimulation. The end of the video instructions on the website recommend 10-15 minutes in the forward facing position. That was good to see.
The Shoulder Straps:
My friend Gina found the 360 comfortable with many good features such as the simple webbing and sliding buckle attaching the chest clip to the shoulder straps. I found the shoulder straps uncomfortable, as the padding felt too fat under my arms in the back carry position. My friend Erin didn’t find the shoulder straps as comfortable as her older Ergo carrier. I am small at 160cm and slight so the back carrying position didn’t work for me for other reasons too. With the shoulder straps tightened as far as I could manage the 6 and 8 month old babies I borrowed still felt like they were hanging out too far on my back. When I reached back and lifted the shoulder straps up and forward it felt better but I could not secure the carrier in that position. Although outside of the recommended age I took my 4 year old on my back for a quick stroll to Gina’s. I found it really comfortable with him because he filled the carrier, though I still had the shoulder straps fully cinched. If you were small and slight I would definitely recommend testing the 360 well before you buy one. If you’re set on having one I’d recommend that you inquire as to whether you can get a smaller size.
The Waist Belt:
I’d seen pictures of another small person with the long ends of the waist belt hanging down as it went twice around them however I found that it was easy to overlap and trap the Velcro ends. Along with three other mothers who tried the 360 I found the waist belt really comfortable. You can’t cinch the waist band tighter once you have it on which was an issue for Gina and another friend. The trick is to put it on for a back carry in the correct position twist it onto your hip, add baby and twist it back. This returns your clothes to a comfortable position though if you have the waist band firm it’s not easy to twist around. Gina pointed out that you would need to take care of delicate clothing with the Velcro.
Front carrying and the chest belt:
I found front carrying comfortable. I’ve always struggled with doing up the chest clip behind my back. The 360 is no exception. With a small baby I can manage to pre-clip the chest strap and pass it over my head, though it is awkward. Clipping up the chest strap behind you requires two hands and the shoulder straps to be really loose in order to reach the strap when it is positioned to sit between your shoulder blades. Due to the looseness of the straps I definitely needed to lean back to stop baby from hanging out from me while I did the strap up. I didn’t like how insecure baby was at this point.
The Forward Facing Position:
The buttons for adjusting the seat and for extending the hood are a bit fiddly but as you don’t use them that much it’s not really an issue. In the forward facing position the baby’s hips and spine were in a much better position than any other forward facing carrier I’ve seen. The seat shape definitely scoops their thighs up and rounds their back. As their legs still have nothing to brace against, the baby throws them around more than in the inward facing position. Gina walked through the bush with her 8 month old in the forward facing position for 10 minutes. He enjoyed being walked up close to a tree and being able to see and feel it from this position. Gina was happy with the position of her son, but she found the position harder on her back. She definitely wouldn’t use this position in a busy place and wouldn’t buy it for this function. She would buy it for the comfort she experienced though. She would like a pocket in the front like other Ergo carriers.
The Sleep Hood:
The back extender and sleep hood allows for a longer body. So long as you remember to get the sleep hood out the pocket before putting your baby on your back, it is easy to reach and pull up even with the back extender down. There is a bit of a knack to doing this and Gina couldn’t get it until I taught her the method. It would have been good to have some instructions on doing this. This is true of many soft structured carriers.
The General Verdict:
Baby’s position in the 360 is good in all four wearing positions. Baby has a slight C shape curve to their spine, his legs are supported all the way to the knee and lifted to hip height, until at least 18 months. After 18 months, size dependent, baby’s knees would start to droop a little. At this stage it’s not so much of an issue in terms of hip health.
Like any baby carrier I recommend that you try before you buy. I definitely wouldn’t buy this for myself as the fit wasn’t right for me, but Gina definitely would. It is a well-made, comfortable, simple to use baby carrier supportive of both caregiver and baby. I would recommend it so long as you’ve tried it first and know it will work for you.
Co-director Wearing Your Baby
Founder and coordinator of Ōtepoti Dunedin Babywearing