I was at a neighbourhood kid’s birthday party a few weeks ago, wandering around the backyard with Miss Q in a carrier. She’d been running about and tuckered herself out and just wanted to be carried for a bit. Another mom – who I didn’t know – approached me and asked how old my daughter was.
When I told her she was 20 months, the woman’s eyes widened and words started tumbling out: “And she doesn’t mind being in there? How heavy is she? Does it hurt your back? How long can you keep her in there? What is that thing?”
“Do you want to try it?” I asked. There was lots of nodding.
This mom put her eight-month-old baby into my soft-structured carrier (SSC) and I saw her life change before my eyes.
“I could go grocery shopping!”
“I can be hands-free!”
“I wouldn’t need a stroller!”
“I could have another baby!”
These are loose quotes, but you get the picture. I take it for granted, perhaps, that everyone knows about all of the various baby carriers out there. But I quickly had another mom at the party inquiring and I went home and grabbed a few other soft-structured carriers. Before I knew it, just about every mom at the party was wearing some kind of carrier…I really wish I’d taken a picture, in hindsight.
After all, my favourite carrier may not be your favourite – so I always recommend that you try before you buy; body shape and lifestyle make a difference. Whenever I read reviews, I’m most interested in the collective positives and the collective negatives; there are usually some common threads among the pros and cons.
So, in what is the final part in my toddlerwearing series (unless one coveted carrier I’m itching to test comes through), I bring you the pikkolo carrier by Catbird Baby. I am grateful that the owner sent one for me to try, to help round out what I hope has been a helpful series of carrier reviews for your toddlerwearing pleasure.
It seems fitting that this is posted during International Babywearing Week, which is October 8 to 14, 2012.
The absolute highlight of the pikkolo for me is the memory foam padding on the shoulders. They are really, really comfortable. If this isn’t patented, I don’t know why every carrier company wouldn’t do this (of course, the 100 per cent organic ones would need to use an organic latex because I’m pretty sure standard memory foam is a no-no in the organic world).
Like the Manduca, the straps buckle in to the main body of the carrier, so you can do a criss-cross with the straps (as I show in this video), which I think is the most comfortable way to wear the straps in a front carry.
There are some truly beautiful patterns available (though from what I can tell with a few clicks to online shops, they seem to be highly seasonal, with limited availability – so if you see one you like, snap it up!). That said, Catbird Baby sent me the Cafe Au Lait colour and it’s fairly uninspiring, unless you’re (a) not into pretty patterns, (b) not remotely girlie or (c) a dude. It’s the perfect dude colour – but more on that later.
Nursing is very easy in the pikkolo carrier; the straps adjust with ease and the carrier lowers well. To boot, the hood is nice and big to help nurse with a bit of discretion. (If you’re into that sort of thing.)
Though I didn’t personally test it, it’s worth noting that you can use the pikkolo from eight pounds without an infant insert.
It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a fleece winter carrier cover available that would work with any soft-structured carrier. In case you don’t want to invest in something like The M Coat, this would be a good option for a winter baby- and toddlerwearing.
Although the pikkolo is meant to start out mei tei-style, I didn’t even venture out of the house without the optional waist belt (an extra $25 on top of the $129 cost of the carrier itself); when I first tried it on, it didn’t feel good around my waist – and, trust me, this girl’s got some built-in padding around the waist. Getting the waist belt into the carrier is not something you want to repeat. You have to take the buckle clean off the waist belt and assemble it yourself. Actually, I had to watch a video online to figure out how to put the whole thing back together; it wasn’t intuitive. (And, I swear: I’m pretty smart.)
The waist belt buckle, in comparison to every other SSC I’ve tried, feels cheap. I don’t think it’s unsafe by any stretch, but I’ll put it to you this way: if you got the buckle of, say, the ergobaby caught in the car door, it would probably make it out unscathed; I think the pikkolo’s would crack right in half if a door slammed on it.
I do love those memory-foam padded shoulder straps; I just wish the padding extended farther down because every time I wear Miss Q on my front, I can feel the unpadded section of the straps rubbing on the backs of my arms while front carrying. The result? Chaffing. I can’t wear this carrier for more than 20 or 30 minutes at a time. I don’t know if someone with a more svelte figure would encounter this issue.
There’s an option to place baby facing out – this is the only SSC I’m aware of with this capability, and despite Catbird Baby’s insistence that it’s ergonomic, I’m not sold on its physiological correctness. While I think it’s probably heads and tails better than the Baby Bjorn-style carriers, which dangle baby by his crotch and do all manner of bad things, I’m still very hesitant to recommend a front-facing carry with any carrier. If you really believe your baby would be happier looking out, just put her on your back.
No storage – again! Look…while I cherish the amount of storage the ergobaby offers, I understand that the Manduca, Butterfly 2 and pikkolo people don’t want our sharp keys slicing into the backs of our little ones. But, please, at least do what Boba does with the 3G and provide something. Anything! I’ll take a zippered pocket on the waist belt to hold a single key and a bank card.
Big B – the dude for whom this Cafe Au Lait colour would be ideal – can’t wear the pikkolo carrier at all. The waist belt simply isn’t large enough. So, unfortunately, this carrier isn’t Dad-approved.
For me? 3/5
For Big B? N/A
So…where can you buy it?
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