The Ergobaby 360 carrier has arrived.
We couldn’t be more excited about this new addition to our selection of carriers. At Room for 2, we have long been avid Ergo supporters, having dabbled with most other carriers on the market. So far, nothing has really stood up to the Ergo in terms of durability, comfort and ergonomic support for baby.
One of the biggest drawbacks with the original Ergo has always been that it doesn’t offer an outward facing position for baby. Ergo’s response has consistently been that they would never put their name on a product that did not offer proper, ergonomic support for baby (it IS in their name after all). So after about 10 years in development, they’ve finally done it.
Now, the very first question I was asked when a customer saw the new Ergobaby 360, was “Is it better than the Beco Gemini?” *Update: Now people add “But what about the Lillebaby?”
I truly believe that there is not one carrier out there that is perfect for every person. If that were the case, we’d have one carrier in store, instead of about 12. What I CAN do, is offer up a side by side comparison of the forward facing carriers, to help you decide which is best suited to your lifestyle and body type.
All three carriers are capable of the same 4 positions: forward/inward face, forward/outward face, hip/inward face and back/inward face. Lillebaby lists inward fetal and toddler inward as separate positions, calling it 6 positions, but they are both still forward/inward face.
Here are some delightful photos of both carriers and our weighted doll, Jimmy. All of our regulars will be acquainted with Jimmy; in fact, he probably helped most of them choose a carrier!
Please note that were Jimmy a real baby, he would NOT be tall enough to be facing outward! Please excuse his completely covered face.
I wore these two carriers with Jimmy throughout my day at work, much to the surprise of MANY customers, and found that each carrier had their pros, and their cons. I have not tried the back/inward carry or hip carry as of yet with the Ergobaby 360, because most of our customers who come in are wearing their babies on their front.
Here are the same positions in the Lillebaby, although obviously they’re not me!
Ergobaby 360: The Pros
I found that it was a bit easier on my back in both the forward/inward and forward/outward positions than the Beco Gemini. I could tell that my hips were taking more weight than my shoulders, which is great for me as I have almost zero upper body strength. It was especially noticeable for the inward facing position. Ergobaby has done a great job of maintaining the unparalleled comfort of their original carrier for this position.
I really like the way the Ergo 360 adjustment straps work. They’re very easy to pull to tighten. I could see some people having trouble reaching the back adjustment strap, but it does move up and down the shoulder pads, so it may just take an adjustment before putting on the carrier to make sure it’s within reach.
The sleeping and sun hood is a big plus. It can really cradle a sleepy head, for inward facing positions only, of course. It also allows for a certain amount of privacy for nursing, or cutting down on stimulation from the outside world.
Jimmy’s legs were definitely well supported in the outward facing position. It was a very natural, seated position with his legs out in front of him, as opposed to out the side with the Beco Gemini. It does make the legs stick out a bit, but that’s the trade off for excellent hip and thigh support.
The width of the seat adjusts with heavy duty buttons when switching between outward and inward facing. The buttons are colour coded, so I could tell at a glance that I had both sides on the same setting, which is a nice touch. The seat adjusted more easily than the Lillebaby, which needed to be taken off to switch from small seat to large seat.
The Ergobaby 360 has a very wide, velcro waist band, which I really appreciated when Jimmy was outward facing. This position pulls the baby’s weight forward and puts more stress on the back of the waist band than when inward facing. The wide waist band handled this beautifully, without cutting into my chubby sides (I’ll pause while you go back and look at my chubby sides in the comparison photos).
Ergobaby 360: The Cons
This is a fairly short list, and some are only cons when compared to the Beco Gemini.
The velcro waist belt is a bit weird. It cannot be tightened like the original Ergo, the Lillebaby and the Beco Gemini, so it took a few tries before I could get it tight enough to hold weight comfortably. Once I realized this issue, I found it much easier to put the carrier on backwards, so that I could do up the velcro band in front of me rather than trying to do it behind my back. Then I spun the whole thing around my hips so the carrier was in front again. Ta-Da! It definitely took a bit of extra shirt straightening. I’d also be wary about the velcro when wearing knit fabrics, as I imagine it would get snagged on the velco if not careful. The feedback has also been that the velcro is LOUD and can wake a sleeping baby. Personally, I think that’s an easy enough fix; just leave the room before taking off the waistband. The Ergo 360 Cool Air model has a buckle instead of the velcro.
That being said, the pro of the waistband being so big and padded FAR outweighed the con of figuring out how to use it, for me. However! Small waisted people can end up with padding all the way around their back in the Gemini; for these tiny people, the velcro would be a straightforward con.
The Ergo 360 technically has a pocket, but it also holds the hood, and can only be zipped up when the hood is away. I’d basically call this not-a-pocket because in reality, you’re not going to put your wallet and phone in there, with the hood.
Switching the seat width for outward facing is a bit cumbersome. It’s a button system, but you have to fold the leg panels the right way in order to get the buttons to meet. This is one of those skills that improves over time.
The Ergobaby 360 recommends the outward facing position for 5 – 12 months, or an upper limit of 22 lbs. Basically, there’s a point where baby is too heavy for the forward facing seat, and you’re back to inward facing for the next 2 years. While I was disappointed about this, a quick internet search showed me that a lower weight limit for forward facing is quite normal with other brands of carriers (which we do not carry). Ergobaby recommends switching to a back/inward carry once the baby is that heavy, for the comfort of the adult and baby. I considered this a con only because I hadn’t read the full instruction manual before putting it on, so thought the 7-33 lbs was for the outward facing position. My uninformed disappointment is not really Ergobaby’s fault, but I could see other people being disappointed by this too.
The last con for me is, again, only a relative con. The original Ergo can carry a child up to 45lbs, while the 360 tops out at 33lbs. I understand that in order to do two very different positions, the carrier has to be built differently, and most people are not carrying beyond 33 lbs, but I’m still a fan of the ridiculously impressive weight limit on the original Ergo.
Beco Gemini: The Pros
The Gemini is a great carrier. It offers far more leg and hip support than other dangley-leg forward facing carriers out there (you know who you are…).
The Gemini switches back and forth between inward and outward face easily. The seat has a little fold down triangle that snaps to the waistband or to itself. It takes 2 seconds. This leads us to the best pro…
The narrowed down seat used for outward facing is also the newborn seat. The Ergobaby 360 requires the infant insert for under 12 lbs (minimum – it’s usually more like 15 lbs). You get a true 7-35 lbs with the Gemini, without any accessories or weight limits for positions. I really like the Gemini with young babies as it’s very user friendly. I highly suggest having one shoulder strap done up across your back before putting baby in, then doing up the second strap. It’s very stable.
The Gemini offers two options for your shoulder straps; crossed over your back (as in my photo) or straight with a buckle across, just like the Ergo. I personally like the crossed strap option, especially for heavier babies, as it takes a bit of the forward leaning weight. It does mean my back is doing a bit more work, but when you’re splitting up 25 lbs, a bit of distribution is a good thing.
The Beco Gemini is more stylish than the Ergobaby 360. It comes in cute and modern patterns, as well as plain solid black or grey. It has a more streamlined look and seems to just generally have a narrower frame. This narrow frame is a pro or con, depending on your frame.
The Beco Gemini comes in at a lower price point than the Ergobaby 360. Here in Canada, the Gemini is $185 and the Ergobaby 360 is $210 (infant insert sold separately).
Beco Gemini: The Cons
The Beco Gemini has “Tri-Lock Buckles”. They are very secure. They are also very finicky to open. It’s a two handed buckle, so you need to push a small button while also squeezing both sides of the buckle. I found myself having to squeeze my arm between the baby and my chest to reach the buckles on my sides, as my arms weren’t long enough to go around the baby and across my body. It is very possible I have short arms, so this might not be a con for everyone. Regardless of arm length, I still found the buckles hard to open, and I have no clue how someone with long nails would manage to push that little button.
I struggle with the adjustment straps on the Gemini. While they’re easy to reach as they’re up front on the baby’s back, to tighten, you have to pull backwards, which is a bit awkward. They are easier to loosen than the Ergo 360, however. I have the same issue with the waist belt. To tighten, you pull in an awkward direction. Like the Ergo 360, I find it easier to adjust in front of me, then swing the carrier around. Both of these carriers need to work on this! The original Ergo has this part down pat.
The Gemini does not have a hood or a pocket. If baby falls asleep, you can extend the back flap for a bit of head support. I do really wish it had a small pocket though!
The seat in the Beco Gemini has always seems a little straight to me. The baby’s legs go sideways, which Beco assures me is fine. They’re definitely not hanging by the pelvis, and there is seat under the baby’s legs nearly to the knee, but I prefer the thighs forward position of the Ergo 360 to the thighs sideways position, as it seems like baby’s weight is on the bum rather than the thighs.
Lillebaby Complete: The Pros
Lillebaby has really excelled at making adjustments to the tried and true styles, like the Ergo. It’s full of little things, like padding underneath each buckle so they’re never directly against you, that make it a very thoughtful carrier. Another little thing is the straps adjust both at the body (like the Gemini) AND at the back (like the Ergo), so whichever way you prefer to pull to adjust the length, you can.
The best pro for the Lillebaby, is that the upper weight limit exceeds both the Ergo 360 and the Beco Gemini by a good 10 lbs. It has the same weight limit as the original Ergo, because it has a wider seat in it’s inward position than the Ergo 360 or the Beco Gemini, allowing better support for taller, heavier kids. It also has a higher body than the Ergo, which keeps bigger kids happier for longer. It’s adjustable so you can change the back height accordingly as your baby becomes a toddler.
The Lillebaby has nearly all the pros of both the Gemini and the Ergo 360: backpack or crossed straps, sun/sleep hood, nice big zippered pocket plus a hood pocket, easy open buckle AND no velcro, cupped seat for great ergonomic positioning in all positions and no infant insert required! It also comes in a ton of patterns, so there’s something for everyone.
I’ve also only been talking about the Lillebaby Original, as the most comparable model to the Ergo 360. However, it also comes in an Airflow mesh version, for hot climates and active parents, as well as an All Seasons version, which is mostly cotton, but has a panel in the middle that can be zipped down, revealing 3D mesh for ventilation. They really do have so many options. The Original comes in at $185 at the time of writing, up to $210 for the All Seasons, but there’s no extra insert to buy, so I still consider that cheaper than the Ergo 360.
Another big pro for the Lillebaby is the lumbar support pad. Maybe you noticed that triangle of padding in the back view? That’s a removable pad that distributes weight, reduces lower back strain, and prevents the back strap from digging in to your soft bits. I love this thing. I know you’re not supposed to leave it on if you’re wearing the carrier on your back, but I’m more concerned about comfort than looks! I liked how it kept the strap out of my belly!
Overall, I find the Lillebaby very comfortable. It’s very well constructed and has lots of little adjustments that can be used to make it perfect for you and your babe.
Lillebaby Complete: The Cons
The other side of the coin of versatility is complexity when it comes to the Lillebaby. All those little adjustments I mentioned? Well, they can add up to confusion sometimes. There are a lot of straps and buckles and snaps that can make you scratch your head and think “Do I even have this on right?” It’s a bit like when you’re done making an Ikea shelf and realize you still have 2 screws. You wonder if you missed something. So the learning curve is definitely steeper than the other two carriers and it’s important to be honest with yourself about whether you’re willing to learn all of it’s secrets. If you’re not, stick with the Gemini as the simplest and most streamlined option.
The Lillebaby is a bulkier than the Gemini, but similar to the Ergo. It is definitely not designed with tiny people in mind. It can feel overwhelming for small framed people, especially when the back panel is fully up for bigger kids. In reality, a tiny adult is not going to be carrying a 45 lb, 4 year old kid, so it can be too much carrier for very slim and very short people.
As an extension of that theme, you can only use the lumbar support pad if you’re wearing the belt at 36 inches or bigger. If you’re smaller than that, you’ll have to take out the lumbar pad in order to tighten the waist belt any further, and then you lose the pro of the extra support.
The biggest con of the Lillebaby is how it converts from wide seat to narrow seat (for infants or facing out). It cannot be done while wearing the carrier like the other two. Here’s a quick video:
So you can see, it’s definitely slower than the button or snap system of the Ergo or Gemini. You also have to remove the lumbar pad first. However, without this system, we would lose that 45 lb weight limit. This belt loop design is much more stable and structured than the single snap/button, so later on, it’s able to hold more weight. It is also worth mentioning that you won’t use the wide seat setting for at least the first 6 months, as the narrow seat is both the infant setting and face out setting. This becomes a con if you have an older child (9-18 months or so, depending on size) who needs the wider seat when inward facing, but who sometimes wants to be facing out. Switching back and forth a lot in a day will annoy you. I personally find that a good trade off as I like the wider seat with bigger kids; it offers them better support and keeps them more comfortable than a narrow seat that may dig into their thighs.
All Things Considered
The only sure way to know which is going to work for you is to try on the carriers. A lot of the differences won’t show themselves on every frame. For the record, I’m 5’7 and a relatively proportionate size 14. I have a wide frame and broad shoulders, so for me, I preferred the Lillebaby, especially because of the wide waist belt and lumbar support. However, I could easily see how small framed people could prefer the Beco because soft parts just don’t factor in. One of our staff completely disappeared in the Lillebaby! It covered her whole torso and half of her face. She prefers the Beco, but also wouldn’t be able to carry beyond about 28-30 lbs, realistically, so the extra structure and features of the Ergo and Lillebaby don’t end up being useful for her.
All three of these carriers are well designed, well built outward facing carriers. A few things to keep in mind for any outward facing carrier:
- keep an eye on baby for over-stimulation when outward facing; sudden fussiness, inability to focus on you, rapid breathing, “spacing out” can all be signs. If this happens, switch back to inward facing and have a cuddle.
- outward facing babies are harder to carry than inward facing. The weight distributes differently, pulling forward, and you will likely only use this position for short periods at a time, due to your own comfort. Lots of people get really focused on the outward facing position, and end up spending more time inward facing anyways.
- pay attention to the shape of baby’s spine. Depending on your body type and the baby’s height, outward facing can cause the baby to have to arch backwards. This isn’t ideal. You may have to wait longer than suggested to face outward, and alternately, may have to face inward at an earlier age, depending on how you and baby fit together.
Most importantly, let your own baby be your guide. Pay attention to which positions they prefer and how they react to each one. Babies can get fussy if they’re in any position too long, so just be open to changing it up. Having the option to switch back and forth is amazing, so make sure you take advantage of it.
*This article in no way is meant to replace manufacturer instructions or guidelines. In case of a discrepancy, please listen to the manufacturer. We were in no way compensated for this comparison.