How to (Not) Carry a Two-year Old While Traveling

Downtown (Georgetown) Penang is barely a walkable city for grown adults. It’s definitely not a walkable area for children.

No sidewalks. Scooters that zoom right along the side of the road. Large moat-like water drains (sewage?) all along the roads.

As a result, I need to actually carry the two-year old for good treks through the city in 90-degree plus weather in 80%+ humidity. Ugh.

Well, we had two of the “classic” baby carriers and they both absolutely sucked. I am searching for one that can do the trick (I may have found it, but it might not be the right size).

Why these others fail

  • Poor weight distribution
  • Can’t wear them alone without the child
  • Impossible to install by oneself
  • Look pretty uncomfortable
  • Really hot in material and by pressing the child against my skin

The rant

I don’t get it. Baby carriers are a perfect example of poor design. Many of them remind me of old-school Japanese products with the confounding manuals and complex installation and deployment. The old joke about VCR’s with lights flashing and their accompanying manuals with arcane icons, filled with needless features, is perfectly applicable for baby carriers.

Have you seen some of these instructions?

They have so many straps and wraps with umpteen steps just to get a child strapped in. The big cardinal sin? They pretend it’s easy!

It’s obviously so not easy. But that doesn’t stop them from using photographs and text implying it’s easy.

I have been trying to use the [x] carrier with Dragon Baby on my back. It’s a pretty huge production to get her loaded, adjust the straps, contort myself to actually lock in the straps, adjust her butt from leaking through the side of the crrier, readjust all the straps, hoist her back onto my back, and then start marching off with the straps putting all their weight on two nerves on my shoulder.

Life’s too short for this much pain.

Every single time I put it on, I mutter to myself about how poorly designed it is at so many levels.

  • Not intuitive for putting on the straps
  • Not human centric in any way with the distribution of the weight
  • Horrible for transport when not in use (e.g. I have to roll it up, let all the cords drag themselves on the floor, and it’s about as big as a small pillow when rolled up — how is anyone supposed to carry that?)
  • Uncomfortable for the child (it just doesn’t look comfortable with the nature of the seat support)
  • Did I say it was impossible to use?

Some things that may make this better

I was very close to being pushed over the edge to try and make my own. Find a material designer, talk to people who worked in the backpacking industry, get an actual designer, and put it together. Ugh, that would be a hassle.

I happened upon one IndieGoGo project which looked promising with their final product. Some key things:

  • a bicycle seat to support the baby’s bottom
  • a five-point harness
  • the thing folds up so you can still wear it as a back-pack
  • metal seems to be made from aluminum (hopefully for strength and weight)
  • the carrier curves away from the the adult’s back to let is breathe

We’ll see. I don’t think what they have in stock fits, but I’m hopeful.