The i-angel hipseat carrier is new to the UK, but is a Korean made product that has been around for a few years. Four mum friends saw it in action whilst on holiday, were wowed by its innovativeness and decided to bring it to our shores.
The idea behind the carrier is that by using a hipseat to take most of the strain, it can support a much weightier child (up to 20kg), so can be used through the toddler years, when a lot of other carriers become redundant.
I used the product with my 16-month-old boy, who weighs 8.5kg but is long and lean rather than just being petite. An avid baby wearer, I’ve tried many of the popular buckled carriers from friends and sling libraries, but after testing many, I settled on a woven wrap in the end. It has yet to be beaten in terms of comfort, weight distribution and versatility (toddlers can be carried in woven wraps very easily too), but of course it requires tying every time. Could the i-angel sway me back over to the speedier world of buckles and straps?
Check out the new review of the updated Dinky Dragon i-angel Hipseat Carrier here.
When I first opened the box, I was immediately impressed with the navy denim fabric covered with tiny white stars, which looked smart and unisex without being boring. It looked durable enough to spot-clean, and withstand everyday use.
The construction and stitching is really solid and excellent quality. The straps are thick and padded. The sling isn’t too weighty either.
However, the shape of the carrier as a whole didn’t fill me with glee. The sling comes in two parts – a hipseat (which can be used by itself) and an apron with straps that zips on to it, to turn it into a buckled carrier in the vein of the Ergo/Boba/Manduca to be worn on the front or back.
The aforementioned hipseat is incredibly bulbous, so when worn as a carrier, it doesn’t make for the most streamlined profile, and I wasn’t keen on the way it protrudes out. It makes storing it a little more awkward than other carriers as it takes up a lot more room when folded.
What’s it like to put the i-angel carrier on?
It’s ok – I’m no stranger to baby carriers, so despite a set of very vague instructions that were accompanied by really unclear illustrations, I knew how to put it on.
However, if this is the first carrier you’ve ever tried, you might feel a little lost. I’m told the UK distributors are working on the literature though, so I’m assuming this will be improved upon in the future.
There are currently no instructions included on how to use the carrier as a backpack (I’m sure this will change soon), but I tried the same way you put a baby in a Manduca/Ergo carrier on your back by swivelling and shuffling the carrier and baby together from your hip to your back. It wasn’t too difficult, but again, if you didn’t know how to do this already, you’d be stumped!
Here’s how you put it on:
- First you have to attach the hipseat to the apron using a zip.
- Secure it with the velcro straps and loops.
- To put it on, you first wear the seat part by doing up the big strap around your waist with velcro and securing it with a buckle.
- The baby sits on the seat whilst you bring up the apron, and put your arms through the straps.
- You then need to reach around your back and do up the little cross-wise buckle that sits a short way down from your neck.
Tell us about the different seating options.
There are many ways of carrying your baby with the i-angel. You can just use the hipseat with the baby facing in or away from you. This can be useful if you’re going around the house, or are somewhere that your toddler might want to get down and walk around for a bit, but will want to be scooped up at a moment’s notice.
If used in the carrier configuration, you can also wear them on your front, facing either in or out. Finally, they can go on your back.
I’m firmly in the camp that believes traditional forward-facing carriers put babies in a position that isn’t ergonomic or comfortable so I never carry my little guy in that way.
The hipseat on the i-angel does mean that he has his legs in the correct position even when facing forward, but I didn’t feel Evan’s back was properly supported when we tried it out.
Is it comfortable for you?
Not really – whilst the design of the carrier does take pressure off the shoulders, it loaded it on to my lower back and tummy, which I found really uncomfortable from the outset.
Also, the plastic adjustment buckles located on the back straps really bit into the side of my ribcage when my arms were down by my sides and I was carrying heavy shopping bags.
I’ve not found that the case with other carriers such as the Manduca, Boba or woven wraps. My husband, who is 6’4” found it more comfortable, so it may be that the carrier is simply less suitable for shorter people.
Our little one isn’t the chunkiest 16-month-old, but the moment he sat on the hipseat, it immediately sunk down, even with the belt done up as tightly as possible.
This in turn, pulled on the belt and made it dig in. I’m surprised that you can carry a 20kg child in it, as I’m not sure my mid-section would be able to cope.
I’d tried a hipseat before and found it comfortable and easy to use, and this one was exactly the same when used without the carrier. When positioned properly on your hip, it takes a lot of the strain out of carrying an older child, but is only suited for a short time and isn’t a hands-free solution.
The backpack configuration was by far the most comfortable way of carrying him, although again, I really felt that his weight pulling the hipseat down forced the belt into my stomach, which wasn’t ideal.
Is it comfy for your little one?
Sadly no! The hipseat is meant to promote the safer carrying position of flexed hips, which it would do on a smaller baby.
However, as it’s a one size-fits-all, on a bigger child – like my son – his legs dangle down a little when using it in the carrier configuration (as opposed to the hipseat, where their legs wrap around your side), as the seat isn’t wide enough to accommodate the entire length of his thigh bones.
I noticed some red marks on our little boy’s inner thighs after carrying him (on my front, facing in) during a short trip to the shops. I realised that there’s a very hard ridge on the top edge of the seat, which digs in and can’t be comfortable.
Another thing I noticed was that the apron doesn’t hug his back fully because the depth of the hipseat pushes it out near his bottom.
This means he tips forward on to me instead and this doesn’t look entirely cosy. This makes me worry that his spine isn’t being fully supported.
When Evan was in the carrier on my back as I was cooking breakfast, he decided to start reaching up to the ceiling with his arms whilst arching backward and nearly flung himself out of the carrier I had to get my husband to extract him before he did himself some damage!
This doesn’t happen with woven wraps and some of the other backpack carriers I’ve tried such as the fabric hugs the whole length of his torso so he can’t wriggle out.
Saying all of that, there are organic cotton teething pads included, which are lovely and soft. With two new teeth cutting through, Evan gave them a little chew and seemed content.
It’s worth noting that the i-angel is not suitable from birth, and can only be used once your baby is strong enough to hold up her head, so you’d need another carrier for the early days in addition to this should you want to sling them from day one.
What’s the storage on the i-angel Hipseat Carrier like?
Although not a feature unique to the i-angel, there are lots of pockets dotted around the carrier for storing small things like a card holder or a little set of keys, meaning that you don’t always have to take extra bags out – result!
There’s also a detachable cover, which I only found out about when I went on the company website – it’s not alluded to in the instructions.
Once removed, it reveals a good quality mesh panel to make the carrier thinner and more breathable for hotter days, but sadly I couldn’t attest to this as we’re still in a cold weather snap. I’m not sure I’ve seen another carrier with this feature and it’s definitely a good idea as slings can become sweaty in the summer.
What’s in the box?
- The i-angel carrier which comprises of a hipseat, with an attachable apron and straps to turn it into a carrier
- Organic teething pads
- Detachable hood
Any additional extras needed?
Though it is well made and has many carrying options, as a 5’2” mum with an 8.5kg, 16-month-old baby, the i-angel didn’t suit me or my little one.
It hasn’t made me put my beloved woven wrap aside, but that is not to say that someone else mightn’t find it easy to use and comfortable to wear.
Carriers are a really personal thing – different brands work for different people and their children – so the best thing you can do is try lots out at a local sling library to see what the best fit is for you and your little one.