The Embrace is the newest carrier from Ergo Baby. Unlike their other carriers that work best from 2 or 3 months ish right through to 2.5 years… this carrier is designed to really fit that newborn and younger baby stage. It works really well right from birth and will last you till around 1 year ish give or take.
One of the reasons this carrier works so well for newborns is it’s made from very soft, slightly stretchy jersey material. The whole carrier is very lightweight and is designed to mold around both your and babies body… like a stretchy wrap or Caboo but with buckles. Because it is so lightweight it folds down into a really compact bundle, perfect for popping into a changing bag or under the pram.
The other reason it works so well right from the beginning is that this carrier has 2 height and width settings. This comes from simply rolling the waist band 2 turns towards you (as shown in the video below), which both shortens the carrier height and brings you to a narrower part of the panel. The adjustment isn’t smooth, just these 2 smaller or bigger settings but because the material is so soft this smaller setting does work really well on almost all newborns. Ergo recommend the Embrace can be used from 7lb (3.2kg) and I have certainly got a great fit on several babies who were just a few weeks old even as low as just shy of 6 lb (2.7 kg). Then as baby grows the waistband can be unrolled to the larger setting, typically around 2 months ish.
The Embrace offers 3 carrying positions. On the front facing inwards toward the parent, on the front facing outward toward the world and on the hip. Interestingly Ergo haven’t included the hip position in their manual, but it is actually a position this carrier does really well! The front facing inwards position can be used right from birth, and is really snuggly, a good position for a sleepy baby and comfortable enough for a long nap! The Hip position can be used from when baby has some head and neck control but it needn’t be as reliable as needed for the outwards position, this can be a really great position once baby goes through that big developmental leap around 4 months and transitions from being a baby who is quite sleepy interspersed with periods of ‘quiet alert’ to a full blown ‘nosy’ baby who wants to see anything and tries to resist sleep where possible!! Because it is a position that allows them to see more while still supporting them in a position where they can tuck in a sleep and support their neck as they start to tire! The front facing outwards position can be used once baby has really strong head and neck control. Which is typically anywhere between 4 and 5 months depending on the baby – you can read more about how to tell if your baby is ready for this position here.
While I think the hip and the front facing inward positions are really great, I can’t help feeling the facing out position on this carrier is more of a gimmick/marketing trick than anything else. It does work pretty well with a plastic doll, but I have my reservations about how well it works on live wiggly babies. The reason for my reservations is that facing away is a position that puts more strain on the parents back than any other position because babies centre of gravity is pulling away rather than toward parent… this is true of any carrier but this is likely to be exacerbated in the Embrace because its made from stretchy material… so as baby wiggles and bounces and strains to one side etc this additional strain is going to be magnified by the fact the material will stretch with baby. Personally, I wouldn’t buy this carrier to forward face. I would buy this carrier if I wanted an buckle option for a new newborn. Then as my baby grew I might use the forward facing position to see if baby liked being carried like that, then if they did I could buy a bigger carrier (something like the Ergo Omni or other such forward facing buckle carrier) that would offer me support, and if they didn’t when I came to upgrade to another carrier I could instead look at the huge range of amazing carriers that don’t offer forward facing safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t really use it anyway.
You can see these positions in action here:
The position this carrier doesn’t offer is the back carry. Sadly this carrier isn’t really designed to be used on the back as there isn’t a chest strap. Added to the fact that the weight limit is 11.3 kg (25 lb) and that the stretchy material won’t feel as supportive as the child gets heavier this carrier this is definitely a carrier that most parents will move on from within the first year. However, if you are looking for an buckle option to use right from the beginning this is a pretty good option.
So what are the cons? Firstly, the extra soft jersey material is prone to bobbling. I have two of these in the library and one has gone a little bobbly and slightly worn looking already after only 6 weeks worth of hires. Doesn’t affect use but might bother some people! The other thing worth considering is that because this carrier works best for newborns to the first 6 or so months, it doesn’t actually add a lot more longevity or functionality that a Caboo or a Stretchy wrap but is a bit more expensive than either of these options. At time of writing the Embrace costs £79.90 verses £40-45 for a good quality stretchy wrap or £55 for a Caboo Lite.
How does it compare to other carriers? The two carriers on the market that this is most similar to are the Izmi Baby Carrier and the Mamaruga Zen. The Izmi like the Embrace is really designed to support right from newborn, even the smallest babies. Like the Embrace it offers front inwards, front facing out, hip and it does offer back as well. In fact generally the Izmi will last a little longer than the Ergo Embrace as it offers a bit more flexibility. And with its infant seat pad it can be used earlier with smaller newborns even many babies born prematurely too. But it is made of a slightly sturdier cotton so some parents will prefer the softness of the Embrace and the slightly more padded waist band. The Zen Sling is made from a very similar ultra soft jersey as the Embrace, and has a very similar slightly padded waistband too, so is definitely one to consider if you are looking for a carrier like this. The Zen sling has the benefit that it works really well from a couple of weeks old all the way to 2 years of age! Offers front inwards, hip and back carries and has a brilliant system for adjusting the height and width of this carrier giving an absolutely perfect fit for the child as they grow. Unlike the Embrace however, the Zen doesn’t offer the forward facing position and while it does offer a more flexible fit this comes with more straps to adjust and some parents prefer to have less to adjust.
All in all, the Ergo Baby Embrace is a great option for newborns and little babies. It won’t last as long as many carriers on the market but what it does do well is that first bit. Very few buckle carriers truly do newborn well and so is a good option for those looking for a buckle carrier rather than stretchy wrap or Caboo for this first bit. The Ergo Baby Embrace retails for £79.90.