An all-singing, all-dancing baby carrier with a variety of carrying options plus a backpack and detachable carry pod. It provides a comfortable seating position for babies, but is fairly expensive and can be tricky to put on
Comfort for baby
4.0 out of 5 rating
Comfort for you
4.5 out of 5 rating
Ease of use
2.0 out of 5 rating
3.0 out of 5 rating
4.5 out of 5 rating
Worth the money
2.0 out of 5 rating
Pros: Supportive ‘M’ seating position for baby, durable fabric, bright colour, harness distributes weight well, comfortable
Cons: Complex to put on, attachable backpack isn’t that useful, expensive
Seattle-based company Diono is dedicated to family travel, creating car seats, strollers and carriers with a focus on simple design and innovation. The Carus Complete 4 in 1 carrier is described as the ultimate carrying system for urban adventures, and is the first of its kind with a detachable pod for carrying your baby and a weatherproof backpack, both of which you position where you choose – on your front or back. Price and design-wise, it sits alongside carrier stalwarts such as Baby Bjorn, Ergobaby and Stokke.
Bethan is a first-time mum to a ten-month-old baby, Annie. She’s a very nosy baby who likes to get out and about and see the world, so she loves to be carried in a baby carrier, although she doesn’t particularly care for being strapped into them!
What were your first impressions of the Carus Complete 4 in 1?
Upon unboxing the carrier, I was keen to get testing. It promised a lot, with its handy attachable backpack (complete with wipe-dispenser pocket) and a variety of seating positions. I liked the bright red colour too as it’s a little bit different to the mostly black/neutral offerings on the market and the fabric felt both sturdy and comfortable. But most importantly of all, I wanted to know if I could put it on by myself.
My baby, Annie, has never been the biggest fan of a pram or buggy, but she loves getting out and about in a carrier. We have previously used and loved our Ergobaby 360 (£117.25 on Amazon) but, while it is generally simple to use and comfy, I can’t do up the back strap on my own, so it’s redundant for nice afternoon walks unless someone else is home.
How can you carry your baby in the carrier?
There’s a parent-facing option for babies from newborns up to 33lbs (and the carrier includes a newborn insert and booster cushion to make things extra comfortable) or they can be world-facing from six months. There’s also the back carry option for babies from eight months.
Is the Carus Complete 4 in 1 ergonomic and supportive?
I was very happy with how the wide bucket seat positioned Annie. In the world-facing position, her legs were in a good, wide ‘M’ shape and she seemed very comfy. There is a stretchy fabric lining on the inside of the carrier that you slot baby’s legs through (whichever way they’re facing), so it’s nice and supportive.
Does is follow the TICKS guidelines?
Yes – although obviously your baby isn’t in view at all times or close enough to kiss when they’re on your back. If you want to find out more, check out the MadeForMums TICKS guide.
How does it compare to other carriers you have tried?
The Carus is both bulkier and more complex than the Ergobaby 360, as the Ergobaby is just one piece whereas the Carus is made up of several items. I generally just chuck the Ergobaby under the pram so I can pull it out if we need it, but it wouldn’t be as simple to do that with the Carus. It doesn’t really fold down and fit into a bag easily either, as the fabric is quite foamy. On the plus side, the Carus has a variety of additional features such as the backpack and a ‘close to me’ pocket that allows you to slip in your hand to stroke the baby, but if I’m honest, I’m not sure how useful either of these are, really.
What is the sizing like on the Carus Complete 4 in 1?
The makers of the carrier say it is suitable from birth to 15kg, although Annie is about 11kg now and I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to squish her legs into the fabric insert. I think she’d only get another six months or so out of it, but she is on the larger end of the baby spectrum.
Is it easy to put on and take off?
In a word, no! In theory, you should be able to, and I can tell that Diono has tried to create something that you can do by yourself. But, firstly, the instructions are really hard to understand. You can’t necessarily tell from the pictures which way round you’re meant to be clipping things – and there are a lot of clips and buckles to master, as the harness and the baby carrying pod are two separate pieces that you have to attach together. Then there’s another piece – a storage pocket – to zip on as well. I resorted to watching a YouTube video of a man using the carrier so I could figure out which way round everything was meant to be.
Secondly, although you should be able to slip the baby in on your own and buckle it all up, it’s actually quite difficult in practice. If other babies are anything like Annie, they’ll hate the process of having their legs poked through the fabric insert and all the buckles done up (of which there are a lot!). The man on the YouTube video fastens everything up with a calm child sitting peacefully, but mine was screaming her head off by the time I was ready to go. And that was with the help of my husband!
Who would the Carus Complete 4-in-1 be most useful for?
Although there is a newborn booster and insert included in the bundle, I wouldn’t choose this as a parent of a young baby. A stretchy wrap seems so much comfier for them – and so much easier to put on all by yourself. Saying that, if you were planning very long walks with a little one, something sturdy like this would come in handy.
It’s once your baby gets slightly bigger that this really comes into its own, in my opinion. The robust back harness makes it a good option for heavier babies, too, though I’m not sold on whether it’s any more appealing than any other carriers on the market.
What are the shoulder straps and buckles like?
Everything is comfy and robust but there are a lot of buckles. Special mention goes to the back harness, which is great, as it spreads the weight across your whole back, rather than just a couple of straps at the top and bottom of the back, which is the case with the Ergobaby 360. Diono claims the harness gives optimal back support no matter what position you’re carrying baby in, and I can verify this.
Is the backpack useful?
If you’re wearing your baby on your back, it might be very handy, as the bag will be on your front and there’s enough space for a good few essentials. But if you’re wearing your baby on your front and the bag is on your back, it’s pretty much redundant as you can’t reach it without taking the carrier off! I also found the wipe dispenser a bit gimmicky. It would be just as easy to have a pack of wipes in the backpack – or a travel pack in your pocket.
Is the Carus Complete 4 in 1 easy to clean?
The carrier is water resistant, which helps if you get caught in the rain or have a baby who likes to chew their baby carriers! I personally didn’t find that it got very dirty so didn’t need to clean it much. I bought a dribble protector for my Ergobaby 360, as it was getting soaked from all of Annie’s chewing, but the fabric of the Diono is a pretty robust match for dribble.
What colours are available and is the carrier stylish?
This red one is the brightest of the six colours available. The other options are fairly neutral (with black, navy and grey etc) and there are no patterned choices in the range, which I would like. The carrier has a sporty look, like an outward-bound backpack, but it’s no more or less attractive than others available on the market.
What’s in the box?
The carrier pod
A storage pod
A newborn insert and booster seat (this is a nice plus, as many brands, including Ergobaby, sell a newborn insert separately)
An instruction manual
Are there any particularly successful design elements?
The sturdy back harness is brilliant.
Do you think the Carus Complete 4 in 1 offers good value for money?
The RRP of this carrier is expensive compared to similar products, but it comes complete with everything you need so you don’t have to buy any additional extras .
Where can I buy the Diono Carus Complete 4 in 1 carrier?
The Carus Complete 4 in 1 is a solid, comfortable baby carrier that I felt very safe wearing and that my baby seemed to be happy with. It has plenty of extra bells and whistles compared to its rivals, but I’m just not sure they’re really adding anything. For me, I really want two things from a carrier. Firstly, it has to be sturdy and comfortable for both the parent and the baby. This definitely is that. And secondly, I need a carrier that I can easily put my baby in by myself. This is not that, and for that reason, I don’t think it’s worth its price tag.
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Child age (approx)
From Birth (with insert) – An infant insert is included for babies weighing 7-12lbs/3.2-5.5kg
Up to 15kg
Back and Front – 3
Parent facing, world facing and back carry option
Includes detachable backpack
Harness designed for optimal back support
Adjustable pod with easy slide fasteners and clips