Either it is a happy coincidence that my daughter suddenly likes to be worn, or the Chimparoo Trek is the magical soft-structured carrier I’ve been waiting for. In the four months of her existence, we’ve explored just about every category of babywearing (structured, semi-structured/soft, wraps and slings). She will not tolerate any of them! I can’t say I blame her … I feel extremely claustrophobic and uncomfortable in wraps and slings.
Before getting the Chimparoo Trek, I was pretty convinced it would be another failed attempt at babywearing and I would just have to give up on the idea. I am happy to say that I was wrong! The first time we tried it, Ava (at 3 months) lasted about five minutes. The next day we reached 10 minutes and since then she’s happy in it for over an hour!
So far I have only worn her in the front carry position because of her size. She sits snugly in the built-in stretchy fabric infant seat. There is also a head support (made from the same stretchy fabric) that is supposed to reach over the baby’s head and attach to the snap-on shoulder strap. Maybe my child has a giant head, but it is far too tight even after stretching it all the way out. This is probably a great feature for smaller babies, but no dice with a 4-month-old.
While she’s still small, I have several carrying options—although this seems to be the norm with carriers these days. The front carry (tummy-to-tummy) method is what I have used the most, but Ava’s almost big enough to try some other options. In the front carry, the shoulder straps can be worn like a backpack or can be crossed (which I prefer, as it seems to distribute the weight better). The straps are very well padded—they don’t dig into my shoulders, so I can comfortably wear her longer.
My husband and I can both wear the Trek, with quick adjustments when we switch back and forth. It’s a good fit for basically any adult, big or small, and the clever design keeps it useful from birth until early childhood (around 7–14 pounds). When a child gets so big that her knees are not supported by the fabric (somewhere between 12-18 months), you can simply attach accessory stirrups to the carrier, which keep her in the best ergonomic position.
The best part: I can finally be hands-free around the house! Now when I do laundry, it doesn’t take me a week to fold it and put it away … I can actually do it in one or two days. I tried to do housework with a fabric wrap in the past, but never felt like it was secure enough to be completely hands-free. The Trek isn’t too bulky to wear around the house, but also feels substantial enough for outdoor activities. Perhaps someday I’ll be fit again and can try it on a hike, ha! For now, I just enjoy not having to lug around a bulky stroller, and use the carrier for quick errands. It can be folded up to fit in compact spaces, but it definitely can’t fit in a typical diaper bag along with every other baby item you need when you leave the house.
The entire babywearing line at Chimparoo is designed to keep baby in a safe, comfortable and ergonomic position. The owner’s career history includes occupational therapy and textiles—a perfect combo for creating solid babywearing products.
The Trek is made with organic cotton and is available in 16 different color schemes. It is also certified free of toxic heavy metals and chemicals, which is handy since my little one likes to chew on it during every ride. I believe the straps and buckles are also non-toxic, but haven’t been able to verify that. After chewing, slobber, spit-up and diaper messes while babywearing, the Trek should be hand-washed, or put in a delicates bag (if washing in a front-opening washing machine).
Compared to other carriers, the Trek is not at all complicated to use. However, I personally find them all difficult and confusing. Getting it set up is definitely harder for me than they make it look in the videos, but I got the hang of it after a few uses.
The instruction manual is pretty straightforward, but it could use some better step-by-step detail. I’m slow to figure these things out and need solid hand-holding to get it right. The accompanying DVD and videos on the Chimparoo website are not especially helpful. Happy women and perfectly cooperative babies show you how quickly they can put the carrier on and change positions, while I’m pressing pause and rewinding 80 times to figure out what just connected to what. Luckily, I found this YouTube video (published by the founder of the company), which is much more detailed and offers step-by-step narration and demonstrations.
Priced around $149, the Trek is a tremendous buy! It is about the same price point as other semi-structured carriers, but does not require the additional purchase of an infant insert. Having the built-in stretchy infant piece that tucks away is brilliant!
Where to buy: chimparoo.ca