While most buckle carriers are aimed at supporting babies from a couple of months old all the way through to toddlerhood, there are relatively few that genuinely fit a newborn well. For this reason many parents start with a stretchy wrap or a Close Caboo for the early days and then move on. But if you're looking for a buckle carrier that you can use right from day 1 then the three to consider are the:
All three of these are designed with carrying a newborn in mind, so are made from soft, light materials and sized to fit a smaller form snuggly, and prioritise the head and neck support that they need.
So how do these 3 compare? Which one should you go for?
Lets start by taking a look at their basic stats...
|Ergo Embrace||Izmi Baby||Baby Bjorn Mini|
|Recommended Weight Range||3.2 - 11 kg (7 - 25 lb)||3.2 - 15 kg (7 - 33 lb)||3.2 - 11 kg (7 - 25 lb)|
|Realistically works for||From birth as soon as can open legs at least a little, generally fits from 2.75kg/6lb. Lasts to about 9 months ish.||Right from birth, no need to spread legs at all. I've even had success with babies weighing as little as 1.75kg (just below 4lb), grows with baby to at least 1 year.||From birth as soon as can open legs at least a little, generally fits from 2.75kg/6lb. Lasts only to about 4 months ish.|
|Number of Carrying positions||2 (3)||4||2|
(79% Polyester, 17% Rayon, 4% Spandex)
|Cotton or Cotton with a mesh panel|
(Cotton is 100% Cotton)
|Cotton, Jersey, or Jersey Mesh|
(Cotton is 100% cotton, Jersey is 80% Polyester, 16% Cotton, 4% Spandex, while the Jersery Mesh is 100% Polyester)
As you can see of the 3 the Izmi baby fits the earliest and lasts the longest. While none of them are weight tested below 3.2 kg (or rather insured to print any lower than this on the label), the Izmi actually can work for even the tinest babies. It comes with a booster cushion and it's adjustable width and height means that it can fit smaller babies earlier than the other too. It's the one I have seen work over and over again on babies born prematurely because it's so flexible in terms of how it can be used and so working with parents I can usually help them find a way that baby can sit comfortably in this carrier even if baby isn't yet ready to spread their legs, or has low tone or is currently on oxygen and we need to accomodate for this. By contrast the other two will work once baby is able to spread their legs at least a little and will work right from birth for most babies born at term.
Then at the other end of the spectrum, the Bjorn Mini is the smallest of the 3 or rather has the least capacity to get wider and so this is the one that babies grow out of the fastest. Usually by 4 months or so baby is starting to outgrow this carrier on width and the lack of waist support means this carrier quickly becomes less comfortable for the wearer too. The Embrace lasts a bit longer and will often work to around 9 months give or take. The panel does become a little wider and longer but by 9 months baby will be starting to out grow it and also the stretchy fabric will start feeling less supportive and there will be more pull on parents back. Again the Izmi can out perform the other two - the panel goes much wider than the other two so it can continue fitting babies to around a year and often beyond. However, how long the wearer can continue wearing it comfortably depends alot on fit! If it fits you well and the unpadded lightweight straps sit nicely and flush on your body you'll be happy wearing this to a year or beyond... if the straps don't sit well on you and they ride or rouche then very likely this carrier will start getting heavy from 6 to 9 months ish too.
In terms of what you can do with it - again the Izmi offers the most options! Offering 4 carrying positions - front inwards, front outwards, hip and back carry. While the Ergo Embrace offers 3 of these. Officially 2 - only the front inwards and front outwards are shown in the manual, but it works just as well in a hip carry as well. The Bjorn offers just the front inwards and front outwards and can not be used on the hip or back. For the parent, the Izmi offers both crossed straps and ruck sack straps (you can read more about these here), while the Bjorn Mini and Ergo Embrace offers just the crossed configuration. It is worth stating that the Izmi works much better in the crossed than the ruck sack but it does offer both.
Ease of Use
When it comes to ease of use - the Ergo Embrace and the Izmi baby are similar in terms of how you use them. You pop the waistband on, pop baby in and then bring the panel up over them and fasten the straps around both of you. Its very simple. The Bjorn Mini is a little different... instead you fasten the carrier to you first and then pop baby in and all the clips to secure baby are on the front where you can easily see them. It is fab for anyone who is really nervous, or has difficulty doing up buckles at their sides. I hestitate to say the Bjorn Mini is easier though, I hestitate because experience has taught me that some parents definitely find it easier, while others find it more faffy and much harder. The clips are quite different and they are a bit marmite... some people find them really inutitive and others can't fathom them!! So it can be easier but also it can be harder... it really depends on how your hands work, what feels easier to you personally. I very much recommend trying and seeing! I have to say I have had a good number of parents who have been worried about how to fasten the straps on the Embrace or the Izmi and assumed the Bjorn will be easier and thought they should just go for that and then when they've tried found that actually the Embrace and Izmi are way easier than they were anticipating and preferred the more flexible and comfortable fit they offered. So it is defintely worth trying each on if you are unsure.
Here the Bjorn Mini offers the most choice. It comes in 3 different fabrics - a super soft polyester jersey, a mesh jersery fabric (also polyester) and a cotton. The cotton does feel a bit robust compared to the other two, but the other two are strokably soft and the mesh really breathable too. The Ergo Embrace comes in a polyester jersery that feels quite similar to the Bjorn Mini jersery fabric. It is very soft and molds around baby beautifully. The Izmi comes in a light weight cotton - it is a much softer, less robust cotton than the Bjorn Mini cotton finish, it definitely moulds nicely around baby. It isn't quite a soft as the jersey fabric of the other two, but it also doesn't have the give of the other two either so can feel a little more secure. The Izmi is also availible in a mesh where the central portion of the panel has been replaced with mesh. Again not quite as soft as the Bjorn mesh but this is both a plus and a minus as it has less give too.
When it comes to price they are all much of a muchness between £80-100. However, when you factor in how long they will last and options offered, it is hard to see the Bjorn Mini as good value compared to the other two. Consequently I choose to sell both the Izmi Baby carrier and the Ergobaby Embrace, as I know parents will get good value for money with either of these (and anyone purchasing a carrier through the Sheen Slings webshop is offered a free 20 minute online video fitting appointment, so I know you'll feel confident using whichever you chose).
It is worth noting that whichever you opt for, most parents do ultimately end up moving onto a bigger more robust buckle carrier around 4 -6 months or so anyway. So, really none of them offer quite as good value compared to something like the Close Parent Caboo or a Stretchy wrap that costs between £40-60 and last for the same period. Or the Calin bleu stretchy wrap that costs just £25! Another option can be simply to rent for the period you need it. I offer 3 month long term hires, so you could hire an Izmi Baby Carrier, an Ergo Embrace or a Baby Bjorn Mini for the whole 4th trimester period for just £40 and save yourself needing to purchase your own and save the rest of the money for the next step purchase that should hopefully last baby from a few months all the way into toddlerhood.