Best Front Carrier

Best Front Carrier: ERGObaby 360° Review

Best Front Carrier: ERGObaby 360° Review. ERGObaby’s Ergo 360° is our top pick for best front carrier. With the 360°, ERGObaby has finally created a front carrier that allows you to face baby out as well as in, plus piggy back or on the hip.

Carriers 101

If you are a first-time parent who’s never purchased a carrier before, or a veteran parent who needs a quick refresher on what to look for in a baby carrier, click here for our Carriers 101.

How we picked a winner

We evaluate baby carriers with hands-on inspections, reviews by our readers and online feedback. We do not accept free samples from manufacturers—if we purchase a baby carrier to review, we buy it from the same sources we recommend on this site (Amazon, stores, etc). We also meet manufacturers in person at trade events and evaluate product samples and prototypes. We have been researching and writing about baby carriers since 1994. In the 90’s, carriers styles were limited to Baby Bjorn-style front carriers and ring slings. Today the options are endless with Asian style mei tais, hip carriers, backpack carriers and wraps. In this category, we reviewed dozens of front carriers to find the best one.

ERGObaby, the brand

ERGObaby has been making their popular Ergo front carrier since 2002. Designer Karin Frost wasn’t satisfied with carrier options when she had her first child in 2002, so she created the soft structured carrier. This original design worked in three positions: front carry facing inward, back carry and hip carry. The line expanded over the years to include an organic fabric model, a performance fabric model and the newest 360 a four position carrier. The company also makes a hybrid wrap and a swaddled for newborns.

Our Pick: The ERGObaby 360° carrier

Our Pick

ERGObaby 360°

ERGObaby’s Ergo 360° is our top pick for best front carrier. With the 360°, ERGObaby has finally created a front carrier that allows you to face baby out as well as in, plus piggy back or on the hip.

$159.00* at Amazon

* Prices change daily. Shop carefully.

Forward facing carriers have received a lot of bad press lately regarding the “dangling” position potentially causing hip dysplasia. Baby Bjorn is the classic case of the dangling baby and they’ve attempted to address this issue with their One carrier. Ergo Baby’s carriers were not made to allow baby to face forward until now with the debut of the Ergo 360°. Now you can face your child in or out, carry her on your hip or use it as a back pack carrier. Price: $160.

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Why the switch to a carrier that allows for forward facing? Ergo notes that they’ve had many requests for just such an option over the years. Now they claim they’ve found a way to allow baby to face out without worry of hip issues. The new 360° is made with a structured bucket seat that effectively avoids the dangling legs problem. It comes with a wide waist belt which can be worn high when baby is little and adjusted down to carry the weight of older babies and toddlers. The forward facing carry is recommended for babies six months old and older. An infant insert ($25)  is required for newborns. 71OqBXsR+1L._SL1500_

The Ergo 360° allows you to wear your child in four positions like the Baby Bjorn One ($250) but at $160 it is considerably less than the One. Feedback from parents has been mostly positive. They like the fact the 360° is super easy to use. And they’re happy to be able to face baby out, a position unavailable with the original Ergo. Some did complain they didn’t like the hood (too small; doesn’t store away), and the back latch is uncomfortable/hard to buckle. We also wish the infant insert wasn’t an additional charge if you can use the carrier from birth on. But these are minor quibbles–overall, parents are very pleased with this carrier

Also Great

Cat Bird Baby Pikkolo

$129.00* at Amazon

* Prices change daily. Shop carefully.

The Pikkolo is a combination of a mei tai with buckles and a front carrier style. It can be used facing in or out and as a back carrier with older babies. An excellent carrier that is comfortable for both baby and parent.

Catbird Pikkolo

Also recommended

Our runner up is a former top pick, the Pikkolo ($130) from Cat Bird Baby. It’s really a mash-up of a front carrier and a mei tai with buckles instead of long ties. It’s also more flexible than most other front carriers—it can be used in front facing both in and out, on the back and as a hip carrier. Also recommended: Boba 4G Carrier ($125) can be used as a front carrier for infants without a special insert and goes up to 45 lbs. as a back carrier.

Front Carrier competition

ERGObaby’s biggest competition comes from Baby Bjorn. The 800-pound gorilla in this category, Bjorn offers four styles including their new One. The One is supposed to cover all the bases from infant front carry to toddler back carry, but it is pricey ($200 retail, but available for as little as $150 online). Parents appreciate the One’s flexibility but note that it has a steep learning curve. One complaint: you have to adjust the One quite a bit when you are trading it between parents. Other front carriers range from inexpensive options by Infantino and Chicco to high-end versions by Britax, and Beco. Many of the inexpensive versions garner complaints of uncomfortable straps that dig into shoulders, while others can only be used when your baby is very young. The cheapest versions don’t have much of a seat and instead force baby to dangle from their crotch.

A word on safety

One concern with front carriers is hip dysplasia, a condition when the bones of the hip joint are not aligned together. As explained on HipDysplasia.org, this can cause future problems:

Hip Dysplasia prevents the hip joint from functioning properly and the joint wears out much faster than normal, much like a car’s tires will wear out faster when out of alignment. It is also a “silent” condition that means pain is not normally felt until much later stages, making it harder to detect.

Some lower-quality front baby carriers allow baby legs to dangle from the carrier (see below). This can be a risk for hip dysplasia.

 

baby carrier that can cause hip dysplasia

To respond to this concern, most front carrier makers have redesigned their carriers to have baby’s legs positioned in a “froggy” position, with their knees pulled up to the chest. Here’s what that looks like:

 

recommended position for baby carriers to avoid hip hysplasia

Carriers that have a wider seating area allow for this correct positioning, so baby’s legs aren’t dangling. The carriers recommended on this page all have the correct seating position. Weight limits: If you have a premature baby or a low birth weight baby, check the carrier’s minimum weight requirement. Check with your pediatrician if you have are unsure your infant is ready for a carrier.

 To sum it up

Our top pick for front carriers this year is the Ergo 360°. As one reader put it: “finally a front facing ERGO!” The new structured bucket seat makes forward facing more comfortable for baby and avoids those dangling legs. You can wear baby in four different positions like the Baby Bjorn One, but at $160, it’s a lot less expensive. And parents love it!

ERGObaby 360°

ERGObaby’s Ergo 360° is our top pick for best front carrier. With the 360°, ERGObaby has finally created a front carrier that allows you to face baby out as well as in, plus piggy back or on the hip.

$159.00* at Amazon

* Prices change daily. Shop carefully.