Want to see a magic trick? A carrier that gives a great fit to both a 6 month old and a 4.5 year old? I mean that must involve magic right??
Longevity is the holy grail of anything baby related, and 'how long will this last?' must be a question I am asked a few dozen times a month! KiBi have responded to this very natural desire among parents by making a carrier with the most adaptable panel that I have ever seen. Smoothly transitioning from a size that fits my almost 6 month old all the way to a size where my 4.5 year old still almost appears to have growing space!
To do this the KiBi panel can be adjusted in 3 ways.
- The width is dictated by a combination of 4 poppers to give gross adjustment and a central drawstring to give fine tuning allowing an exact knee to knee fit at every point between the jumps between popper positions. Broadly speaking 1 popper fits a 6 month old, 2 poppers a 1 yr old, 3 poppers a 2 year old and finally 4 poppers attached equates to 3 years and up.
- The leg openings and depth of the seat is adjusted with a pair of ladder lock buckles on either side of the panel. Often in adjustable carriers the height of the panel is altered at just one point and this can leave the leg openings gaping or make it hard to get a nice spread squat position with knees above bum on a smaller child. By adding a separate pair of buckles controlling the leg openings the KiBi have nicely solved this problem and, as you can see on Rachel, makes it possible to get a great 'M position' with knees nicely above her bum.
- Finally the overall height of the panel is altered by a soft part that simply squashes down or pulls up sliding over the shoulder straps. This part then anchors at the desired height on the straps with little key ring style clips. These clips do look pretty flimsy and I have heard of them snapping. Which is something that would normally put me off. However, I have to confess that I personally don't bother to use them. What I quite like about this squashy part is that if you don't anchor using the clips you can easily adjust the height of the panel while the child is in there. This means when your little one is awake you can squash the panel down so they can see more, or so they can have their arms out. Then as they get tired you can simply pull the panel up to give them more support.
A big part of how this all works is that the material KiBi have used is soft and light, which means it can easily be squashed down without too much bulk. Completely squashed down it is still a little bulky (as can be see by all the rolls behind Rachel's shoulders!) but for me its no more bulky than some of the bigger more padded carriers on the market like the Ergo 360 and the Lillebaby so I really didn't mind the bulk at all and for me it is worth it for how the carrier will grow with the child.
Most standard sized baby carriers on the market work well from around 5-6 months of age until around 2-3 years. In order to be safe and comfortable, a buckle carrier needs to support a child to at least mid thigh on the legs and reach up their back to least directly below their arm pits as a bare minimum. As can be seen, the KiBi is still supporting Tom right up to the top of his shoulders and while not quiet knee to knee on both sides, certainly well beyond mid thigh with a great deep squat position. Tom is just above the 50th percentile for both height and weight ... so I am pretty confident in saying that the KiBi would continue to fit most children until almost 5! In fact I think Tom may grow out on weight before size ... the weight maximum for this carrier is 20kg and Tom currently weighs 18.
At the other end of the spectrum, the weight minimum for this carrier is 3.5kg. While it was safety tested for this weight, its worth noting that this carrier is not suitable for a newborn as there is no newborn adaption or insert etc. The manufacturers suggest it can be used from 4-6 months, and I think from 6 months is realistic. In the photos Rachel is just about to turn 6 months old. While the carrier could have gone a little smaller for her, and fitted around 5 months... its worth noting Rachel is on the taller side (91st percentile for height, and 50th for weight) and so can fit things a little before the 'average' baby. But all in all 6 months to almost 5 years is pretty impressive,... the KiBi will certainly last you until you no longer need a baby carrier! In fact on its biggest setting the KiBi is bigger than any of the toddler/size up carriers I have in the library collection.
As well as adapting as the child grows, the KiBi fits a wide range of parent sizes. The straps have two points of adjustment allowing them to easily fit bigger frames as well as syncing all the way down to fit petite frames too. This carrier is one that works well for families where parents are very different sizes but both would like to carry. The straps can be worn both ruck sack style or crossed across the back as per personal preference. And the carrier can be used carry on the front, hip and back. Forward facing carries are not recommended with this carrier.
I also like that KiBi have thought about when your little one might want to walk. Carriers like this rarely fit in bags, and can be a bit flappy or look a bit ugly worn 'empty'. KiBi have added little elastics to the waist allowing you to roll the carrier up neatly so you can wear it around your waist as a neat little package with no worries about catching on anything. Another interesting little feature is the 'lockable' buckles. Each buckle has a sliding switch to lock it. I like this verses 3 point safety buckles as you can still open them with 1 hand but you can't do it absentmindedly or accidentally, which is a nice safety feature.
All in all the KiBi is a fab carrier, with all of its sizing systems and clever little extras its not the simplest carrier on the market but its still very easy and well worth taking a little time learning to use for its sheer adaptability. I can see this carrier working really well for anyone who wants a carrier that will last them as long as possible, but in particular I think this carrier really shines for families with more than 1 child. Particularly families with a relatively small age gap who are looking to avoid the double buggy ... this carrier would make a great choice in combination with a single buggy; if the baby is asleep in the buggy the toddler can be carried, while instead if the toddler wants to go in the buggy the baby can be carried - no need for different carriers for each child and when not in use it easily folds down to fit under the buggy or around your waist.