Baby Carrier Comparison: Ergo, Beco & Líllébaby
I’m no stranger to babywearing. I have written about my love for my old Beco carrier before and how it was a lifesaver for myself and my husband when our oldest was a baby and well into his toddler years. I didn’t stop wearing him until he was almost four! Baby Carrier Comparison: Ergo, Beco & Líllébaby
I have since added many carriers to my arsenal (and had my second baby) and I have been thrilled to get opportunities to try out a variety of different ones. I recently reviewed one of my current favorites, my Líllébaby Complete Organic carrier, and that carrier is still one of the first ones I grab when heading out the door.
This year, Líllébaby is launching redesigned carriers that include a few new features, including a pocket (woo hoo!) and straps that are easier to adjust in either a front or back carry. I received one of their redesigned carriers, an AirFlow, and have been loving it.
I also received an Ergo360, as these two are often compared since they both have the option to let your baby be worn facing out. To make my review more thorough, I borrowed a Beco Gemini from a friend of mine so I could compare all three carriers.
The main selling point with all three of these carriers is they are all ergonomic carriers and have the ability for your baby to face forward. I have written my thoughts with all three carriers and then I added a chart comparing the main features, pros and cons of all three.
For reference, I’m 5’9″ and a size 12. My son is nine months old and twenty pounds.
Ergo is a popular name when it comes to soft-structured baby carriers. I’ve worn my son in an older Ergo Organic carrier and an Ergo Sport a few times and both were pretty comfy. I mean, there’s a reason they are one of the most popular brands, right?! The Ergo360 is a newer, redesigned model with a lot of different features, including the ability to wear your baby in four ergonomic positions.
Upon first impression, the fabric seems really sturdy and durable. It’s not nearly as soft as some of my other carriers, but it looks like it can handle some wear.
The flap can pivot up to give an infant more head support or a toddler higher back support. I really like this feature on baby carriers. The hood is stashed inside this flap. I like that it can be hidden out of sight, but I wish the hood was removable. I’m someone who doesn’t use hoods very often and it would be nice to be able to remove the hood completely and use the zipper pouch for my wallet and phone on occasion.
At first I scoffed at the buttons that hold the flap, but they were surprisingly easy to use. I can unbutton them with just one hand. Buttoning with one hand is a little harder, but not impossible.
Adjusting the seat to allow a baby to ride front-facing is really simple and uses the same big buttons as the flap. You can even make this adjustment without taking the carrier completely off.
This carrier requires an infant insert if you want to wear a baby smaller than about fifteen pounds. It’s sold separately and runs between $25 and $38.
The overall size of this carrier is on the small side too, hence the smaller weight limit of 35 pounds. I can see this being a benefit for petite mamas and/or petite babies. But the overall length of time you will be able to wear your baby is less because they will outgrow it sooner. To me, this makes the higher price tag kind of a bummer.
The biggest and most noticeable stray from the common carrier design is the waistband. Instead of a padded waistband and buckle, it’s all Velcro with a small buckle for added security. This seemed like an interesting concept and it was surprisingly comfortable. But, ultimately, I feel this is where Ergo totally missed the mark with the 360.
Cons of Velcro:
- Velcro is loud. Babies typically like to sleep in carriers. Loud Velcro and sleeping babies usually don’t mix.
- You have to make sure the Velcro is perfectly aligned. It’s most secure this way and if you have it even slightly askew, it will snag on any fuzzy or delicate fabric that brushes against it… like your favorite sweater.
- This is the biggest deal breaker for me: You can’t make small adjustments to the waistband while wearing it. You have to undo the whole thing to tighten or loosen it. Because of this, I cannot do a comfortable back carry in the 360 without help. I usually do the hip scoot with a somewhat-loose waistband so it doesn’t drag my shirt around too. Then I tighten it once my clothes are straightened and my son is situated. I can’t do that with the waistband on the 360. I have to take the carrier off completely to adjust the snugness of the waistband. The only way I can do a back carry is if I put the carrier on my back and then my husband puts my son in the carrier. When I’m alone with my kids, I’m limited there.
The waistband alone would prevent me from buying the Ergo360, or recommending it to friends.
EDIT Sept 2016: Ergo has changed the waistband on the newer 360 models that have mesh to not be mostly made of Velcro. My ears than you, Ergo!
Beco has been around for a while and was my favorite soft-structured carrier with my oldest baby. I had a Beco Butterfly 2 (a discontinued model) and I adored it. I was thrilled to get to try one of their newer carriers, the Gemini. The model I borrowed from my friend is a couple of years old, but the main features of the Gemini are still used on their new models, along with some really gorgeous patterns and colors.
First impressions are that it’s feels really secure and is decently comfortable. I do wish that the padding on the waistband and shoulder straps would extend further than it does. The padding on the waistband only extends to the front half of the waistband, so the strap kind of digs into my side, accentuating my love handles. Same goes for the shoulder straps. I wish they extended under my arm pit more. You can see this illustrated in the photo by my attractive back bulges and how the waistband is digging into my waist. The bulges are a lot less pronounced when I wear the Ergo360 and Líllébaby Complete.
The construction and location of the buckles and straps makes it really easy to wear the carrier with criss-cross straps; an alternative of the traditional backpack style. Which is great for babywearing for long lengths of time and I’ve been told that it’s typically more comfortable for petite mamas.
Adjusting the seat to allow for a forward facing carry is really, really easy: just unsnap the two flaps and fold them over to the two snaps in the front. You can do this without taking the carrier off.
I’m also not a fan of the tri-lock buckles that Beco uses. They have an added security feature that means you need two hands to undo each buckle. I like the security, but wish I could open them with one hand… especially when my son is impatient, wiggly and hungry. If I had shorter arms, it could really be a struggle to undo the buckles on the sides.
No infant insert is needed with the Gemini.
The biggest thing I notice with this carrier is that it’s a lot smaller than what I’m used to. The seat is only 13 inches wide vs 15 inches on the Líllébaby. I can see this being great for a mama who’s really petite and/or has a petite baby. But for an average-to-large-sized mama, I can see the lifespan of this carrier being much shorter than I want, and my child out-growing it quickly. I’m someone who wants to wear my baby well into his toddler years. With the Gemini, I don’t see that happening.
Líllébaby is a relatively new brand to me and I was immediately impressed with their Organic carrier last year.
I love the flap that gives head support for my sleeping baby or higher back support for an older toddler. The flap is a bit taller than the one on the Ergo360 and the Beco Gemini, and it attaches to the shoulder straps with little buckles and elastic straps. I use the flap when my baby is asleep to secure his head. I imagine the elastic is more comfortable for him and allows his head a little wiggle room.
Adjusting the seat to accommodate a front facing baby is more complicated than the Ergo360 and Beco Gemini, but not ridiculous by any means. You do have to take the carrier off first though. I’ll admit, I don’t wear my son facing out very often, so this has never been an issue for me.
Líllébaby’s redesigned carriers have two pockets in the front. The zippered pocket is fantastic for holding my wallet and phone. The outside pocket is great for stashing the hood. Or, if you don’t need the hood anymore, you can remove it and just use the pocket for your phone.
The AirFlow model has solved my hot weather woes completely. It’s made out of a breathable mesh that has been wonderful in warmer weather. Do we still sweat when it’s over 90°F outside? Sure. But it’s noticeably cooler with the AirFlow than with my Líllébaby Organic carrier.
It comes with a detachable thingie that goes on the waistband to give you added lumbar support when you’re wearing your baby in front. I don’t use it often, but I have for some long babywearing days. I used it when wearing my son at MommyCon last November and it was so, so nice.
Lastly, the shoulder straps have two spots to adjust the snugness of the carrier. So it’s easy to tug on either strap whether you’re wearing your baby in front or on your back. In this photo, you can also see how the padding on the shoulder straps extends pretty far down. So there’s a lot less digging into the bulges on my back.
The Líllébaby has the highest weight limit between all three carriers at 45 pounds and it has a noticeably wider seat. Parents will be able to wear their babies for a lot longer into toddlerhood than the Ergo360 and the Beco Gemini.
At the end of the day, the Líllébaby is the winner for me over the Ergo360 or Beco Gemini. Whether I’d opt for the AirFlow, All Seasons or Organic would depend on where I live, the climate and the colors and patterns available. I know that Líllébaby has a variety of colors and styles coming out within the next couple of months. Many of them are already in stock on various babywearing retail shops.
Any Mama Say What?! readers own either of these three carriers? Please share your thoughts.