eM and I went to Tirupati this weekend to meet her great-grandparents and extended family. We just got back, to a huge backlog of freelance work. Both when we're in new places, as well as when she senses deadlines looming, eM insists on being carried. Nonstop. Thank god for babywearing - it preserves my sanity, and my back.
My first baby carrier was from Mee Mee. Let me tell you since Mee Mee won't - it isn't stringently tested, and it's not at all ergonomic. I know a lot of non-parents read this blog, so feel free to skip this post, after this one important takeaway: most commercially sold Indian carriers aren't good for your baby's hips, and aren't as safe as they should be. A couple of mompreneurs recently launched soft structure carriers (SSC's) which are the first Indian-made, internationally tested, ergonomic carriers in the market. Both are similarly priced, completely reliable, and utterly beautiful. I couldn't pick between them, so I just bought one of each. And since I've been getting questions about which one I prefer, I thought I'd do a quick comparison. This is just based on about a week's usage, it's very much just first impressions. I'm still learning about the features.
Anmol sells SSC's via a closed Facebook group. Sales happen on a first-come first-served basis, and it's a feeding frenzy. Each of their releases contains several designs (10-15), but very few pieces are made of each type. This is because they're semi, or completely, hand-woven. Cookiie only releases 4-6 designs in each sale, but they seem to have more pieces of each type available. They also accept pre-bookings through their website. I'm not sure which brand has the most SSC's per release overall, but I've definitely observed that it's easier to land a Cookiie than an Anmol so far. Anmol's launching a website soon, so that may very well change.
Cookiie delivers via DTDC, and helpfully sent over a tracking ID. The package from Mumbai arrived in Hyderabad in four days, and attractively highlighted the benefits of babywearing. Less reflux, less fussing; and my favourite, which is also their tagline: you get to 'wear a hug'. Cookiie SSC's come with a clearly illustrated instruction booklet, and a one-year warranty against manufacturing defects.
Anmol sends their SSC's through Mirakle Couriers, an agency employing low-income deaf adults. It also arrived in four days, and my favourite thing about the packaging was that it required no scissors or knives to open up. The SSC was very neatly packed, with a simple photo-guide of instructions, and a handwritten note. The box has a great diagram of the SSC's parts, which I confess I missed seeing because I was too excited about the SSC itself!
The specs indicate Cookiie is less than a centimeter taller than Anmol, and about 3 cm wider. When I place them one on top of the other, you can see there's practically no difference. In fact, I'd have suspected Anmol was wider because of the way it's cut - the thick paneling on the sides goes a bit higher and wider than Cookiie's. eM seems to have a bit more space in the Anmol, though she doesn't really need it at the moment. On the other hand, Cookiie's waist band is a bit wider, which is great for hiding post-baby belly bulges (or cheese paunches, as in my case). Cookiie's SSC also comes with a handy minifier that can cinch the seat by up to 5 inches, making it convenient for smaller or thinner babies.
Both carriers have easily adjustable straps. They may be the exact same straps for all I know, but I find Anmol's easier to adjust on the go. Cookiie's are a bit more rigid. This may also be because Anmol is more generous with extra strap material, so there's more material available to loosen/tighten. My husband will vehemently deny it, but we have pretty similar body frames. But if I were sharing my SSC with someone with a very different body type, especially a bulkier one, Anmol may make it more easy.
The Cookiie fits babies from 5-22kgs, while Anmol seats 7-22kgs. While Cookiie's brochure emphasizes it's not to be used for babies below this threshold, Anmol provides a rolled blanket/pillow hack that allows their SSC to be used by even newborns. Both brands have toddler variations that can be used by bigger babies.
Apart from being in a cool colour, Cookiie's hood has drawstrings on the sides making it easier to tighten and tie + look great with ruffled edges when not in use. It's also stowed with snaps while Anmol's is secured with velcro. Coming to the chest strap, Anmol's is placed at bra-hook level, while Cookiie's is a bit higher, and adjustable.
And finally the pocket - Cookiie's is placed at the middle of the waist strap, and is wide enough to accommodate a mobile phone, credit card, and keys. Anmol's is placed at the left of the waist strap, and won't fit a phone. This is probably a good thing, as it keeps phones away from the baby, but it's less convenient. Being a right-hander, I also find the placement slightly awkward, especially since it's near/partly under the baby's leg. That said, I only do front carries at the moment. When I do a back carry, Anmol's pocket will likely be the more convenient one.
The Cookiie comes in super cool graphic prints - stars, chevrons, block prints, ikats. The waist band has a different pattern, and the hood is usually a sharp contrasting colour, which makes the whole thing look stunning when used. Most Anmols are semi or completely hand woven by local weavers, and the wefts of cotton skilfully showcase several colours. The material's OKO tex certified, and is yarn dyed, AZO free. What this basically means is it's completely baby friendly and won't bleed into their skin. It also looks gorgeous, especially in natural light. Each brand definitely has a distinctive style, but I think both look fantastic.
There you have it, the differences I've spotted after a few days' use of each. This isn't a review of either, because I haven't used them long enough. I genuinely don't have a preference yet, and I also want to emphasize that what eventually works for me given mine & my baby's body types + how we use it won't necessarily be the right choice for you. This is also only applicable for the carriers that were sold in the latest release. Both brands are constantly modifying and improving their products.
I highly recommend trying out any babywearing gear before you buy it. If you're in Hyderabad, check out our sling library, where you can easily try on and rent carriers. (Full disclosure: I'm a co-founder of the library, but I don't make any money from it, or from any of these vendors).