There’s a lot of hype out there about baby carriers. The pull of going “hands-free” while still hanging out with your baby is hard to ignore. In this review, we’ll take a look at the Ergobaby 360, one of the most popular carriers on the market. Does it really deserve all the hype? Will you and your baby be off to run errands, take care of chores around the house, and accomplish all of your daily tasks as easily as if you were on your own?
To find out, we spent 2 months with the Ergobaby 360. Let’s dig in.
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What is an Ergobaby 360? How does it work?
The Ergobaby 360 is a baby carrier that is designed to let your baby sit in one of four different positions. These positions are supposed to make life easier for parents since they can put the baby where it’s most convenient for them. You can carry your baby:
- Facing in toward your chest
- Facing in toward your back
- On your hip
- Facing out away from your chest
To use the Ergobaby 360, you secure the waist strap around your waist, put your baby in position, and then lift up the shoulder straps. Depending on which position you want to wear your baby in, this can be an increasingly complicated gymnastics routine that may require a little bit of help. Once your baby is in, you can wear them without having to keep your hands on them all the time, which means that you’ve got your hands free for holding the dog’s leash, cooking, taking out the trash, or a wide range of other important activities.
Note: it’s recommended that you never wear your baby while performing an activity that you wouldn’t do while carrying your baby, since that keeps both you and the baby safer. A great example? Mowing the lawn. At first, we thought that might be a great use of the Ergobaby, but then thought more about the protective ear and eye gear it would require, along with some sort of body armor in case any projectiles headed toward your baby.
The Ergobaby 360 comes with several features that set it apart from other carriers on the market. It has adjustable padded shoulder straps that are intended to increase comfort for both baby and adult, 4 separate positions that are designed for comfort and ergonomic positioning, and a lumbar support waistband that’s designed to help support your back.
This review was conducted by John and his son Calvin, who was 7 months old during the review.
John and Calvin’s Ergobaby 360 review
If you prefer your reviews in video form, check out this video. If you prefer to read your reviews, keep scrolling.
As usual with our baby gear reviews, we provide some overall thoughts, what’s awesome, what we wish were different, and a verdict.
I’d heard a lot of great things about baby carriers. Being able to enjoy hands-free time with my son? The promise of getting to knock out some stuff around the house and in the yard when Calvin didn’t want to play, but also didn’t want to be put down? Awesome! So, we got an Ergobaby 360 to test with Calvin, who was 7-8 months old during the two months we did the testing.
As you’ll see, I found a lot of the advantages to using a carrier like the Ergobaby 360, but during my review, I found some serious challenges with the act of getting Calvin into the Ergobaby … and getting him out. While I definitely improved with use, we suspect this is a challenge that might be shared by many dads who tend to be less flexible than moms and have broader shoulders. Paul, the other half of Fathercraft, has never successfully put one of his children into an Ergobaby, though granted he only made only a few attempts. Our wives Beth and Jamee, on the other hand, both seem quite adept at getting babies in and taking them out.
The first challenge: getting your baby into the Ergobaby 360
Getting Calvin into the carrier was a challenge. The Ergobaby 360 is hard to get on, even after a lot of practice (at least for dads). The location back buckle that ensures the shoulder straps don’t slide off your shoulders is just hard to reach, especially for dads, who tend to have broader shoulders and be less flexible. I also found that the Ergobaby 360 wasn’t very stable during the time when you’re putting your baby in – you just have the shoulder straps on. It doesn’t take much for the straps to fall off of your shoulders since the buckle isn’t yet buckled, which means that you have to be careful so that your baby doesn’t fall. And, during one attempt to put Calvin in, his leg wound up above the shoulder strap and it made him pretty unhappy! Ergobaby does have a nice set of instructional videos on their website.
The second challenge: getting your baby out of the Ergobaby
Taking Calvin out was basically the opposite of putting him in: seriously awkward at first, but not bad once you get it down. It’s a complicated gymnastics process that all the videos make look incredibly easy, but that turns out to be a lot harder when you’re the one trying to do it!
The third challenge: trapped body heat
It took some trial and error, but I did manage to get Calvin settled firmly in the carrier, and get him out of it with relative ease. Once I did, he seemed pretty comfortable in it. It didn’t take long, however, for both of us to start getting hot. That thick carrier fabric traps a lot of body heat! You can also definitely feel that your baby is in there and that you’re carrying him around. In the St. Louis summer, this made going for long walks or doing too much stuff outside became impractical, fast. It’s worth noting that Ergobaby does make a “cool air mesh” version of their carrier that does look like it’d be at least somewhat cooler.
That’s not to say that carriers aren’t a very useful thing for new dads. We definitely enjoyed being able to get out and around with a minimal amount of effort, and Calvin really seemed to like being snuggled close to dad.
Calvin seems super comfortable. He’s fallen asleep in the Ergobaby several times now, and he likes hanging out with me when he’s in it. Even if I’m not doing it right (as mentioned below, Calvin’s face perenially seems too low in the carrier), it still seems to work for him, so it’s pretty dummy-proof in that manner.
The Ergobaby 360 creates healthy hip positioning. If you’ve visited a pediatrician with your child, you’ve likely seen him or her check your child’s hips by moving her legs around. This is to check for healthy hip joint development, which can be a real problem in babies. Because of the way your child is held in the Ergobaby 360, or any Ergobaby carrier for that matter, the carrier is considered ‘hip healthy’, and has a seal of approval from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
It opens up a world of possibilities. The things I tried to do while wearing Calvin in the Ergobaby were relatively easy. That’s the awesome thing about the Ergobaby (or really any baby carrier): it opens up a world of possibilities for what you can do with your baby. Cleaning the kitchen, doing the dishes or the laundry, gardening, are all completely possible. You do have to be mindful of squatting down and make sure that baby is pretty still, not wiggling around too much, depending on what you’re doing. I even thought about mowing the yard with Calvin in the Ergobaby carrier, but decided that I’d want him to have protective gear on if I was going to be mowing.
The wish It were different
Breathability: Summer in St. Louis is hot and humid. The Ergobaby doesn’t leave a lot of room for airflow. It’s not a major advertised feature of this model (again, the Ergobaby Cool Air Mesh might be better), but there definitely wasn’t much airflow or breathability in the Ergobaby.
Putting it on for the first time requires seeing someone do it: Ergobaby provides several instructional videos on their site on how to set up the 360 and put your baby in the carrier, which is good because it seems to require seeing someone do it to figure out some of the tricks. Before watching the videos, I tried to put Calvin in after reading the instruction manual that came with the 360, but found myself pretty lost. The written instructions gloss over several of the steps from the process, which makes it hard to figure out what to do.
Still not quite sure I’m doing it right: Buttons, sort of like shirt buttons, make it possible to adjust the width of the seat, but there’s no explanation of when you should do this. It’s hard to figure out when you ideally should make those adjustments. Also, I’m pretty sure Calvin’s face is supposed to be up above the barrier, but I still haven’t completely figured out how to get it there.
Lack of explanation of key terms: “Having your baby in a frog-legged position” is a new concept. It’s a useful one if you want to be able to put your baby in a carrier, but some more explanation of this before I got started would have been great.
Once you get your baby into the Ergobaby 360, it’s great. Unless it’s hot and humid. And until you need to take him out. Obviously, getting your kid into and out of a carrier isn’t the only measure of how well it works, but it’s an important one. And again, both of the women in our lives struggled with the in/out stuff much less than we did, so that’s worth noting.
There’s a lot we did love about the Ergobaby 360 too – the concept of getting stuff done while spending some close time with your kid was real, and we appreciated the feelings of safety we got from the 360 – both that Calvin was secure when he was in it, and that his hips were safe. The 360 was also John’s wife’s favorite carrier out of the carriers we’ve tested, due to feelings of safety and comfort it gave her.
The in/out challenge is for dads is real here, and we found carriers like the Colugo (our review here) to be easier to get kids in and out of.
Pricing, notes, & where to buy
The Ergobaby 360 retails for $160, but looking at the Ergobaby site, you can sometimes find models/colors on sale if you’re not picky about colors.
It’s important to note that out of the box, the 360 doesn’t work for babies under 12 lbs – you’ll need a separate infant insert, sold for $35.
The 360 is available on the Ergobaby website, or on Amazon, which also sells the Cool Air Mesh and the infant insert. Ergobaby products are also sold at Nordstrom and some botique baby stores, but aren’t available at the typical big-box baby and kids stores.
So there you have it – our review of the Ergobaby 360. Have questions we didn’t answer? We’d love to hear from you – paul[at]fathercraft.com.
Looking for more baby product reviews? Check out all of our reviews here, or visit our baby essentials list for babies 0-6 months old here.
Editor’s note: this review was originally published in June, 2018, but was updated in January 2020 with new information.