The i-Angel baby carrier is marketed as the original baby hipseat carrier, combining a baby carrier, hipseat carrier and toddler backpack.
It is solely distributed in the UK by Dinky Dragon, a company set up by a group of mums who discovered the i-Angel while on holiday in France and saw a gap in the market back home for this unique carrier.
The basic design of the i-Angel is similar to soft-structured carriers such as the Ergobaby and Boba 4G. However, the i-Angel has an added anti-slip hipseat that attaches to the body of the carrier, forming a solid base for the baby or child to sit on.
It is designed to distribute weight between the shoulders and waist, taking unnecessary pressure off the pelvis and back. The two parts can also be detached so the hip-seat can be used on its own.
The carrier can be worn on the front, with the baby forward or inward-facing, or as a backpack from six months. With so many different options, and a weight range from about 3.5-20kg, the i-Angel, which retails from £89.99, is designed to suit a growing family and do away with the need for lots of different carriers.
I was excited to try out the i-Angel as I’ve become a firm convert to baby-wearing since having my second child in August. I’ve tried a variety of slings and carriers, including wraps, ring-slings and soft-structured carriers, but the i-Angel is the only one I’ve come across with the hip-seat feature.
Tell us more about the hipseat
The hipseat is a bulky, moon-shaped bulk of EPP foam that’s about the same size of 15 number 4 nappies stuck together. It’s connected to a waist band and is topped with an anti-slip fabric that babies can sit on.
There’s an option of using the hipseat on its own, but this just didn’t work for me. The seat has clearly been thoughtfully designed – the cushioned, anti-slip seat is generously sized and angled towards the body so it holds the baby or child towards the body.
But whatever position I tried it in it felt awkward for me. It also seemed slightly pointless – the beauty of a baby carrier is it leaves your hands free to get on with chores or deal with other children, but with a hipseat you need to hold the child in place with at least one arm. For me, it was no easier than carrying them around on my hip.
What were the other seating options like?
I mainly used the carrier with my five-month-old daughter, carrying her facing inwards on my front. This worked really well for both of us – it was easy to get her in and out and she could snuggle in and go to sleep or gurgle up at me, leaving my hands free to get on with other things.
From five months babies can also be carried facing outwards. I did try this with my baby and it was fine, but I preferred having her facing inwards and would probably continue using it that way.
From six months babies can be carried on the back as well as the front, and with a weight capacity of 20kg it is recommended for use right up to around 36 months.
This seems rather big and I was sceptical about the idea of getting my toddler into the i-Angel. It took some coaxing to convince him to give it a go, but once in he was perfectly happy and carrying him on my front was actually surprisingly comfortable, if rather heavy.
But on my back I found the waist strap dug in around my middle. I also struggled to get him on my back by myself and needed help from my husband. The instruction manual suggests it can be done alone but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Does the Dinky Dragon i-Angel 2 hipseat carrier follow the TICKS guidelines?
While I didn’t find the hipseat on its own very comfortable, when being used as a baby carrier, it was really comfy for me. The wide waist-band, cushioned shoulder straps and the overall distribution of weight made it very comfortable for me, and my baby seemed happy and secure in it too.
I also found that after using the i-Angel for long periods there seemed to be less strain on my shoulders than with the traditional soft-structured carrier I’m used to, I assume because the seat takes more of the baby’s weight.
However, as the carrier is a one-size-fits-all the waist-strap only just did up for my husband. He is quite broad but not massive so this might cause problems for larger men. Apart from that he found the carrier comfortable, but wasn’t at all interested in using the hipseat on its own.
Was it easy to clean?
Yes, you just take out the hard inner support from the hipseat and chuck the rest in a cold machine wash.
What do you think of the organic teething pads?
These are a great idea – like most babies my little one chews on anything that comes near her mouth so carrier straps soon become sodden.
The teething pads can be easily detached, given a quick wash and dried overnight. This protects the carrier, and because they’re made from 100 per cent organic cotton there are no worries about baby sucking away to her heart’s content.
What about the detachable cover?
This is another nifty feature, as carriers can become quite stuffy for babies. In warm weather the cover around my little one can be detached to leave just a mesh lining, making it cooler for her.
I didn’t have much call for this during a wet and windy January but I can see that it would be handy over the summer months.
Are there any other nice features?
The side pocket is great for storing keys and a phone if you’re just popping out. And the carrier comes up higher behind the baby’s head than the Ergobaby I normally use and is more structured, which provides more neck support, particularly for a sleeping child.
What do you think of the design?
The added hipseat does make the i-Angel more bulky than other types of carriers and the first couple of times I wore it out I felt a little self-conscious that it looked huge.
However, I soon got used to it and only had complimentary comments on how the carrier looked. And I was impressed by the quality of the i-Angel – it all seemed to be very well-made and hard-wearing and I would expect it to last for some time.
Was it compact and easy to store?
The hard foam hipseat means the i-Angel is a bit more cumbersome than most fabric slings and carriers, and you can’t just roll it up and chuck it in your bag as you can with some. But it’s still easy enough to store at home or take out and about – I could fit it into the under-compartment of our buggy.
Would you recommend this carrier to someone with a child of a particular age?
The carrier was ideal for my five-month-old and I can imagine getting a lot of use out of it with her for several months. Although I can also carry my toddler in it I wouldn’t use it with him. So I’d recommend it particularly to anyone with a baby between about three and 18 months.
Made for Mums verdict:
As a baby carrier, I thought the i-Angel was great – well-made and very easy and comfortable to use. The detachable hipseat, which is a key selling point, didn’t add much for me but I would definitely recommend it as a carrier – and others might find the hipseat option more useful than I did.