Review: Action Baby Carrier

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In Action on the Ocracoke Ferry – Eleanor is not impressed!

I’ve always dabbled in all carrier types (research, right??), but never really found the love for buckles – the fit was never quite perfect and I had a hard time getting the higher back carry I prefer.  But when Eleanor decided to be a leg-straightening banshee leaner…my go-to shorties (which I prefer to use out and about over a long wrap) and much loved ruck carries weren’t really cutting it – so I decided to give buckles a go once again.  On a whim, I picked up an Action Baby Carrier (ABC) for cheap from FSOT…just to see.  Instant love!  I may have been talking rather a lot about them since as the ABC love seems to be spreading throughout my local BWI group as well.

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Rocking our toddler ABC.

In my quest for perfect buckles (for me, as buckle carriers really are so particular to the user in terms of fit), I tried lots, including most of the “boutique” custom brands.  But the ABC really won me over as a “wrapper’s” SSC.  I like streamlined carriers that hug to me and kiddo – and the ABC fits the bill.  Here’s what I love:

  • The waist!!  My biggest problem with soft structured carriers (SSCs or buckles) has been finding the right waist.  There are lots of options out there but in general, SSC waists are designed like the waists on hiking packs – structured (thus the name) and meant to be worn low and on the hips.  This transfers the weight of the pack (or child!) to the wearer’s hips – which many find to be ideal, particularly for bigger kids).  I actually prefer to wear my carriers higher and in fact my favorite carry (ruck tied under the bum) doesn’t have any sort of waist at all.  So the heavy structure of most SSCs doesn’t work well for me.  I also have a fairly small waist in relation to my hips – while many SSCs are designed to fit this “womanly curve,” I still haven’t found one that I love to wear on my hips.  The ABC waist is straight and more padded than structured.  This means that you can choose to wear it lower on the hips or higher at the natural waist as I prefer.  And because it’s padded instead of structured, it conforms more to you – no poking in the ribs or hipbones!  The standard ABC waist has 27.5 inches of padding (fits a 28″ to 53″ waist); they also offer a plus size waist band with 37.5 inches of padding (fits a 38″ to 63″ waist).  I love that the extra padding is available on the plus size waist vs. just a waist extender belt that extends the webbing.
  • The straps!!  One thing I always rather disliked about many SSCs was that the shoulder padding was often too generous in its bulk (for my tastes; your mileage may vary).  The ABC straps have just the right amount – it wears more like a padded strap mei tai does.  The straps mold to your shoulders vs. sitting on your shoulders.  Again, this is a matter of personal preference but I like mold icon wink Review:  Action Baby Carrier  ABC straps cinch down to 17 inches (excluding the buckles which are single direction adjust); if you are super petite you may find them a hair long but I think this length and the carrier design will fit most smaller wearers depending on how high you wear and how long your torso is (since the higher you wear, the shorter the strap you need for a back carry).  The ABC fits so neatly that I rarely bother with the chest clip in a back carry.
  • The straps!!  I just said that, I know.  But…another aspect of the straps I love is that they cross behind you when doing a front carry (although you can wear “reverse backpack” style as well if you prefer for a front carry).  This is another “personal preference” thing but I find SSCs that don’t allow the straps to cross in a front carry feel like they are sliding off my shoulders – and I hate fussing to get the chest clip clipped behind me!  The ability to cross the straps was a huge win for me – again this makes the ABC wear more like a mei tai.
  • The body!!  The ABC is a very lightweight carrier relative to many SSCs – no bulky padding in the body and the design is simple.  This means it’s cooler.  And it means it’s more “moldable” – as in it conforms to you and baby better; hugs baby if you will.  This is really key for smaller babies.  With many SSCs you need an insert or infant harness to keep baby snug enough in the carrier to prevent slumping.  Because the ABC is more lightweight and floppy, it will conform to a smaller baby without those features.  Note that the ABC is weight rated 8-40 pounds (toddler size 15-45 pounds).  A newborn will need to be worn legs in (although I would personally feel comfortable cinching the bottom like you would a mei tai with a baby who wasn’t quite big enough for legs out but had some trunk control).

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    Crafted with sleepy dust

  • The support system!! Another neat aspect of the ABC body is their unique internal support system.  SSCs makers have developed various designs to get kiddo in a “good seat” and provide proper support for baby and wearer.  The shoulder straps on the ABC actually go all the way through the carrier and attach at the waist (they have a cool clear carrier showing this here) creating an internal support that doesn’t add another layer of bulk to the body.  Very nifty I think!
  • Toddler size!!  I was pretty excited when ABC recently announced the addition of a toddler size carrier to their line-up (and I even got to be a tester!).   While I’ve actually worn Callum (who is currently 36 pounds) in my standard ABC and found it comfortable, I do prefer knee-to-knee coverage (or close – once you hit 3 it gets harder to get knee-to-knee and not quite as important since their legs are so much longer.  Even if you are shy a few inches, you still won’t get knee drop if the carrier is wide enough).  My biggest problem was Eleanor’s banshee leaning (which thankfully she seems to be growing out of a bit) – the back on the standard size didn’t come up high enough to prevent leaning once she hit one or so (note that this is really a wearer comfort issue – if you have a kid who really loves to lean, you’ll feel pulling on your shoulders.  It was actually more comfortable to wear Callum who doesn’t lean than Eleanor even though he’s a good 15 pounds heavier!).  The toddler size ABC solved all my problems…so yay!
  • Price!!  With a base price of $98 (plus size waist and toddler body run a bit more), the ABC is one of the more affordable SSCs on the market.  Keep reading and it may get even more affordable icon wink Review:  Action Baby Carrier
  • Availability!!  The ABC is available direct from ABC as well as from various retailers.    I love being able to recommend a readily available carrier!
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In action on a very windy beach.

One final reason that I’m happy to support Action Baby Carriers is that they are a small family owned/operated business making carriers here in the USA (check out their “factory” here).  You should also know that the ABC comes with an attached sleep hood that clips to the shoulder straps when in use and a removable chest clip.  And, of course, it is available in a number of cute prints and solids.

Want to try out an Action Baby Carrier for yourself?  Now is the perfect time to do so – we have a special coupon code good for 20% off regularly priced carriers – just enter “mamas” at checkout icon smile Review:  Action Baby Carrier  Code is good through January 1, 2013.

Have you tried an ABC??  We’d love to hear what you think!


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24 comments to Review: Action Baby Carrier

  • Rhiannon

    I <3 my ABC toddler tester! It has pretty much everything I wanted in a carrier. Crossable straps, not too bulky, padded waist that doesn't dig into me, tall/wide enough for a toddler, lovely print!

  • Amelia

    I’ve been looking for a new carrier for my son. I’ve been using the baby K’tan, which I love, but he’s almost 13 months now and I need something bigger. Thank you for your review as this looks to be exactly what I am lookign for! I just ordered one. Any idea how long they typically take to arrive? (I have emailed them this question, too).

    Thanks for the blog (and the coupon code).

  • Nikki

    Hi, really useful review, just one question can the ABC be worn in reverse, if I bought a pattern that had black on one side can it be worn either colour black or pattern? Not sure my husband will like the pretty pattern I like!!
    Also can the coupon be usedf for a uk order?
    Many thanks.

    • Meredith

      Hmmm…I suppose in theory you could reverse it although the buckles would be backward – I’d say doable although maybe not ideal as far as adjustability. It would also put the waist padding outside the webbing instead of between you and the webbing – again, doable, but might impact comfort a bit. Not sure on the international orders – I wasn’t given any restrictions though!

  • I love this carrier very much because it have lots of features as comfortable and moldable.Thanks for sharing such nice blog. I will surely tell to my friends about this.

  • Yachen Choi

    I just ordered one too, can’t wait to try it out… I think I’m becoming addicted to baby carriers…
    Thank you also for this blog!

  • Jessi

    Am I crazy? You mentioned a discount code, but I cannot for the life of me find an actual store or any ABC carriers for sale on this site. Where do I find this elusive store in order to use said discount code????? TIA

  • Maryam

    Hi Meredith, I think I may get the Action Baby Carrier just based on your review. But, there’s a deal on a Boba and I was wondering if you’ve ever tried it and how do you think it compares to the ABC? I love that you said the ABC is a “wrapper’s SSC” and that’s exactly what I’m looking for:)

    • Meredith

      Hi Maryam – I’ve tried the Boba briefly..while many love it and it’s a great carrier I definitely prefer the ABC. The Boba has a stiffer waist and just feels more structured over all – so less of the “wrapper’s SSC” feel. It also doesn’t allow you to cross the straps in a front carry like the ABC does – many people don’t mind the “reverse backpack” but I find crossed straps much more comfy for a front carry (again maybe because I’m used to wrapping and MTs). HTH!

      • Maryam

        Thanks for the quick reply! I have another question…I’m new to baby wearing and I love my wrap, but I find it difficult to use while I’m out, which is why I’m looking for another option. If you had to choose between an ABC or a Baby Hawk Mei Tai while you were out, which would you choose? I’m getting overwhelmed by all of my options:)

        • Meredith

          How old/big is your baby? I think it’s worth trying both out to see which you like better if you have a babywearing group near you. I think both are “easy” and but the MT will still have straps – some people don’t like having something to drag while tying. On the other hand, if you have a newborn/small baby, the babyhawk might be a better fit for you right now particularly if you baby likes to be legs out.

  • Maryam

    My baby is 2.5 months, but he’s big:) I think you’re right, I need to try them out. It looks like the ABC might be what I need right now though. Thanks for your advice:)

  • Crystal

    Hi, I noticed that you said most SSCs are too low… does this one solve that problem? I have a beco that I use for back carries and I find my curious boy is ok when going for walks, but in the house he is always leaning to try and look over my shoulder because he’s not quite high enough. I haven’t tried wrapping him on the back yet, he’s so wiggly that it scares me a bit!

    • Meredith

      I find that I can comfortably buckle it higher than most SSCs – not quite as high as I wear in a wrap or MT but I also have a very long torso so high in buckles is extra hard ;)

  • michelle

    hello there–

    my 2.5 month old weighs 15pounds. do you think i should get the regular size or the toddler one?

    thanks for the great blog–i’ve been compulsively reading it all :)

  • Meredith

    I just got my abc toddler about a week ago. I was a die hard ergo fan but like you I have a “leaner”and could never quite get her booty down far enough and get the back up high enough in a back carry. Toddler abc certainly solves that problem, however I’m finding a back carry still hurts my lower back. DD is about 26 lbs. I tried the waist lower on my hips like I wear on a front carry and higher on my natural waist and just can’t seen to find a comfy back carry position. I have a pretty short torso. Any advice??

    • Meredith

      Hmm…Does it feel like she is pulling away from you? If you are petite, it may be that the straps aren’t cinching down enough for you. Do you have webbing left on the shoulder straps?

      • Meredith

        I don’t feel like she is pulling away, but I am not able to stand up completely straight. I find myself leaning forward slightly so I think that’s why after a few minutes it hurts. I’m not sure how to not do this. By webbing do you mean the black strap? There is a bunch of that left. I try to cinch it as tightly as I can I just feel for some reason that I’m not able to stand completely upright. Its got to be a positioning thing, right?? (love your name, by the way ;-) )

        • Meredith

          Oops – sorry just saw your reply! Yes, it sounds like you need to tighten up the straps a bit and/or get her bounced down in there better. Try pulling up on the shoulder straps as you lightly bounce to get her well seated in the carrier. You can also stick your hand between her bum and the carrier body to try to slide her all the way down – sometimes, kiddo’s bum will get sort of hung up on the part of the ABC where the webbing crosses in the middle of the body (you can feel it if you run your hand along there). Ditto on the name – don’t run into too many Merediths!

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