Baby carrier review – Kiddy Heart Beat vs Ergo Baby Carrier
I love baby wearing. A baby carrier is one of my and Sarah from Dear Baby G included hers in her guest post for my series. I wore Curly Girl on my front and back until she was two and a half years old and I physically couldn’t manage the weight any more. If she’d been lighter I’d probably still be carrying her this way now! Interestingly she was happy to be in our last baby carrier – the Ergo – long after she’d rejected the pram as something that only babies use.
|Curly Girl plays ‘peekaboo’ on my back in the Ergo Baby Carrier|
When Little Man arrived I almost immediately started carrying him in a fabric sling so that I could get on with jobs around the house, make Curly Girl’s tea or just go for a walk around the garden. The warmth of my body, the closeness of my heartbeat and the swaying of my movements would calm him and send him off to sleep in no time.
|Little Man in the Kiddy Heart Beat Carrier|
Now that he’s a bit older at seven and a half months we’ve progressed from a sling to the Ergo again – in fact I used it at the Brit Mums Live conference just last weekend. It’s looking a bit tired and well worn so I was pleased to have the chance to review a brand new carrier design from Kiddy, the car seat makers, who have just launched their 2-in-1 Heartbeat carrier in the UK.
The Heartbeat carrier comes in three colours and unlike any other carrier I’ve seen it also comes in two sizes. Kiddy believe that ergonomic design and safety are the two fundamental criteria in the design of their carrier and it is in fact certified and recommended by the ‘Aktion Gesunder Rücken eV’ (Campaign for Healthier Backs) in Germany.
|Kiddy Heart Beat Infant Carrier in Denim|
I’ve been using both the Heartbeat and Ergo carriers side-by-side for a few weeks and it’s been really interesting to compare and contrast their fit, comfort, practicality, looks and cost.
The Heartbeat straps are made of very strong webbing and hold the carrier in place very well when you front carry. However, I found that they are quite hard to adjust to fit as you can’t change the baby straps easily without removing the carrier. My 7 month old wouldn’t put up with being taken in and out to get it to fit perfectly. The straps around your waist are an exception as these can be tightened or loosened on the go. The Ergo on the other hand can be adjusted quite easily once baby is situated meaning that fine tuning is a breeze.
COMFORT – front carry
When I first put the carrier on it felt a bit strange as it’s quite light and puffy and felt a bit like a life vest. This feeling was exacerbated by the inner layer that baby sits in, separating him from me. The Kiddy Heartbeat carrier has been designed ergonomically to be kind your back and I did find the back support firm and comfortable, promoting good posture which is essential as baby gets heavier. I folded down the zip-up head support as he is tall enough not to need it and he was very happy sitting in it while we were out and about. A real bonus is that the carrier comes with an newborn insert included so that you can carry a small baby with the correct support for their flexible hips (newborns should not be carried with their legs splayed). A similar insert is available for the Ergo but it needs to be purchased separately.
|The Kiddy Heart Beat carrier connected – the inner layer where baby sits – the back support|
COMFORT – back carry
Back carrying is sooo useful. It keeps your hands free and you can see what you’re doing without reaching around baby. I loved back carrying Curly Girl in our Ergo so I was intrigued to see how the Heartbeat would fair in this regard. It was quick tricky to sit Little Man in the Heartbeat to start off with as you can’t slide it round from front to back as you can with the Ergo. My Mother helped me to sit him correctly and we adjusted the straps together as unfortunately I couldn’t do it myself once baby was sitting in it. Unlike the front carry position Little Man didn’t feel quite as stable and I felt like he was falling backwards in it which was a bit disconcerting. Also I found that Little Man’s weight (c. 16lb) pulled the carrier down so that the waist band started to ride up my stomach – not matter how much I tightened it. All in all it just wasn’t as comfortable to wear on my back.
In the Rain
The Kiddy Heartbeat Carrier comes with rain cover which fits completely over baby to keep him dry if you get stuck in a downpour. It sits in it’s own little bag integrated into the waist belt so it’s always to hand. This is a great feature and I’m impressed that it comes as standard whereas this is an optional extra for the Ergo.
If I’m running out for one or two things from the shops or picking Curly Girl up from nursery I don’t always want to take the pram – or a bag. So it’s handy to have somewhere on a baby carrier to put my phone and a small purse. The Kiddy Heartbeat Carrier’s rain hood pocket works quite well for this although it only does up with velcro (so it isn’t that secure) and you’d need to remove the rain hood to use it. The Ergo has a small zip-up pocket (big enough for a phone and some change or a small purse) integrated into the carrier and there is an optional pouch which fits around the waist band if you need a bit more space.
When taking baby out of the Heartbeat carrier the straps need to be released at the shoulder. There is a safety button which needs to be depressed before you can undo the clips that release the straps. I understand why this feature was added (I’m ALL about the safety angle with baby carriers) but it does mean that the clips can’t be released with one hand and reaching the other arm up means bashing baby on the head or putting your arm around his head – neither of which Little Man was particularly impressed with!
|Little Man asleep in the Ergo
When we’re out and about there’s a good chance that I’ll want Little Man to sleep in his carrier. Unfortunately he’s gotten used to sleeping in his cot in the dark so it’s harder for him to fall asleep on the move now. The Ergo comes with an integral hood that you can pull up and over baby’s head and snap to the shoulder strap of the carrier. This is a big plus for me as Little Man will often sleep quite happily once some of the light has been cut out and the hood also stops his head from rolling backwards. We used this feature lots while we were at the Britmums Live conference last weekend. Unfortunately there is no sleep hood on the Kiddy carrier, which would make me question using it if I knew we’d be out at nap time.
Closeness to baby
The design of the Kiddy Heartbeat means that baby doesn’t sit directly next to your skin but within a second inner layer. As well as meaning baby isn’t as close to you with all the warmth and comfort that provides, it also means that if you take baby out of the carrier but want to keep the carrier on, for example at weigh-in time at the clinic or to change his nappy, it’s a bit uncomfortable, like wearing a life vest. With the Ergo, baby sits next to your skin and when you take him out you can let the carrier flap down with just the waist belt still around you, so it doesn’t get in the way.
Putting it on
On a similar note the Kiddy Heartbeat has to be put on over your head, not a problem in itself, but it means that it’s more difficult to wear it over a coat, particularly as that would mean adjusting the straps which as I’ve mentioned above is quite difficult to do.
I like the look of the Kiddy Heartbeat. I chose the denim blue and it’s a great colour. It is easy to sponge clean unlike the Ergo carrier which, partly because it’s a very light beige I expect, shows every mark and is looking pretty grubby these days (it can be washed in the washing machine apparently but I haven’t tried it).
Both the Kiddy Heartbeat and The Ergo Baby Carrier retail for around £100 so they are at the higher end of the baby carrier market, but I firmly believe that you get what you pay for with carriers and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend paying that little bit more for a product that will look after your back and last as long as you want to be baby-carrying for.
Overall the Kiddy Heartbeat Carrier is comfortable (for front carrying), safe and stylish. The included accessories – infant inset and rain cover – are great additions. But for me it isn’t as practical as the Ergo as it lacks a sleep hood, is difficult to adjust without help and I couldn’t undo the straps with one hand. I also personally found it unsuitable for back carrying which would limit its use for me. So did I like the Heartbeat? Yes, but I’ll be sticking with my rather battered Ergo for now.
Disclosure: We were sent a small Kiddy Heartbeat Infant Carrier in Denim blue to review. I received no other compensation. We already owned an Ergo Baby Carrier which we purchased ourselves. All the opinions expressed in this review are my own.