KiBi – that’s a real thing in the Czech lands – in the babywearing groups on Facebook, the questions like “Is it better to buy Manduca or KiBi?” are asked on daily basis. If ˈManducaˈ is a synonym for ergonomic carrier for less-experienced wearers or beginners, thenˈKiBiˈ has a similar function in the Czech Republic.

We already wrote about the KiBi company in our review about Lenire wraps. And precisely those Lenire wraps have been used as the material for back panel of the new KiBi wrap conversions. Hereby we would like to thank to KiBi for giving us the opportunity to test the carrier!

Lenka’s View:

This particular testing was quite unusual. We often have just a few days, sometimes even one single day, to test a carrier or a wrap. And sometimes, you know, bad weather comes suddenly or your child gets sick … then, proper testing is threatened. However, not in case of KiBi which was lent to us for the whole 6 months. Thus, there was more than enough time to test it properly, to compare how it fits both Emilka and Helenka in the course of time. Moreover, we were able to send the carrier for testing in our local babywearing group – that way we were able to find out how resistant and durable the carrier actually is.

Let me start with several technical parameters. The carrier is intended for children from 4-5 months of age (and 60 cm of height) to 3 years of age, on the grounds that smaller kids are to be worn only in emergency and, on the other hand, when wearing a preschooler, one should not cling to classical rules like “from knee to knee” (although, with the width of the back panel ranging from 31 to 51 cm, and the height from 32 to 52 cm, the usability is really long even so). These are very sensible recommendations – they took the words right out of my mouth. I applaud and secretly hope that the other manufacturers of carriers would inspire here.

KiBi is a product proven by years of use by hundreds of wearers. There is no doubt that the quality of sewing and materials used is very high. There is no doubt about that even now after 3 months of intensive testing in our local babywearing group. The carrier is intact, nothing fell or tore off or went missing – it is simply in good condition, including even the back panel. The wrap itself has a dense weave which is an ideal choice for a wrap conversion!

Adjusting… KiBi is very specific in this aspect; I did not see this kind of adjusting system (and to be honest, such a complicated adjusting system) in any other carrier; maybe only the system of adjusting of the back panel width with studs is similar to the Indian hotchpotch of a carrier, AnoonA. Anyway, in KiBi, every part of the adjusting system is wonderfully functional. As I already mentioned, the width of the back panel is adjusted by studs and moreover, it is possible to narrow it even more with a cord for the purpose of carrying little babies. On the other hand, you can widen the back panel into admirable dimensions as I could see several times with my own eyes. Even very big toddlers have legs in a perfect ˈMˈ position, because not only that you can widen the back panel adequately, but you can also lift the knees by additional straps on the sides of the back panel.
Regarding the adjusting of the height of the back panel, KiBi is also original in the babywearing universe. This system uses snap-hooks and again, the range of adjusting is astounding. In little babies, it is recommended not to hook the snaps at all and if needed, just to pull the back panel up, for example when the little one falls asleep and you need to fix his/her head. On the other hand, in case of nosy toddlers who like to stick their arms out of the carrier, it is very easy to fold the back panel down so that it does not press on the wearie’s armpits. Yes, it sounds complicated – and it really IS complicated, but as I said earlier – it is nothing to reproach; everything has its function and it all works very well. Of course, it is better and highly recommendable to get some help from an individual with some previous experience with KiBi when trying it for the first time. And yes, there are a lot of ˈthingiesˈ on the carrier and, therefore, the risk of something getting torn or lost is greater (yes, this specific property of adjustable carriers is something I nag about repeatedly). BUT – in KiBi, most of these ˈthingiesˈ are hidden, which a) lowers this risk and b) does not look that unaesthetic as if all the components were ˈout in the openˈ.

Finally, I am getting to the babywearing itself. We tested the carrier repeatedly with Emilka, in her 16 and 18 months. But Emilka did not gain a single pound in the meantime, so my impression is more or less the same. I like tough waistbelts – I really liked this one, again specific for KiBi, made of several tough plates. Thanks to its construction, it is possible to adjust the size of the back panel without the risk of the waistbelt bending. The only things that would make me feel happier would be a bidirectional waistbelt buckle and a bit wider waist belt.
The shoulder straps are padded just enough for me; however, I believe those sensitive flowers (such as Linda) who say that they are not comfortable with a heavier baby and that they should be padded more. I wore the straps both crossed and not-crossed and it was quite comfortable for me – of course, with an agile toddler who loves to walk on her own, the 2-hour-long walks are no longer something we would do on daily basis and we always took breaks while wearing KiBi. It is not possible to pull the back buckle low enough, i.e. in the level that is comfortable for me; however, at the same time, it is possible to shorten it quite a lot. The only thing I have to reproach is the little buckle to which the carrier’s hood is fixed in case your little one falls asleep. It is an integral part of the back buckle – it was quite difficult for me to reach it when the back buckle was in the lowest position possible.
The main problem I have with the KiBi carrier is wearing it with the shoulder straps crossed. The buckles on the shoulder straps are, in my opinion, too big, suitable for waist belts, with a safety lock. And of course – they are not bidirectional. Oh boy, why do you do this to me, dear KiBi? Simply said, the tightening of the shoulder straps backwards bothers me that much that I completely gave up on crossing the shoulder straps and I wore the carrier with the straps straight despite it is much less comfortable for me. Moreover, for some reason, the carrier we tested had the straps a bit narrower than the buckles and they did not hold tight – in certain positions, they even had a tendency to slide. Well, and as I mention in case of most carriers, the back buckle is not detachable… The life of us, the stubborn crosshead wearers, would be much easier (and it is not difficult at all to make it detachable – all it takes is just one little component that would have to be exchanged).

Wearing on the back is a problem of, to be honest, the majority of all the carriers – mainly, it is difficult to position the wearie high enough so that s/he sees over the wearer’s shoulder. KiBi, sadly, belongs to this majority. Emilka, measuring about 74 cm at the time we tested it, was very low in the carrier, and neither she nor I was particularly happy about it. The shoulder straps are to blame, in my opinion – they are too long and it is not possible to shorten them enough.
I also want to comment on the carrier being a wrap conversion. This is discussed quite often in the babywearing world – are wrap conversions better than classical carriers made of ordinary fabric? Is there a difference between carriers sewn completely from a wrap (i.e. the waist belt and the shoulder straps are made of a wrap, too) and carriers in which only the back panel is made of a wrap? I can answer the first question quite easily – there is a big and obvious difference which is definitely worth the money. The back panel made of a wrap embraces the wearie much better which is a property most of the fabric carriers do not have; the difference is the most evident mainly when speaking about adjustable carriers. On the other hand, I do not see much difference between the complete and partial wrap conversions. I must confess that it does not feel different or more/less comfortable for me as a wearer and, therefore, it is only a matter of aesthetics in my opinion (which is, however, not a problem of KiBi because it is quite easy to match black fabric to a partially black wrap 😉 ).
Bottom line – KiBi is a very well-designed, very well-functional and truly ˈgrowingˈ adjustable carrier; one of the best I have come across so far. And with my conscience clear, I can say it is NOT a compromise which is what I think about most adjustable carriers. The position of both small and bigger wearies is great in KiBi; comfort when wearing a heavier child being a very individual matter. Of course, there are some details that could be changed to make me 100 per cent content, but I believe that most of the ˈnormalˈ babywearers would not really care about them. And considering that the price of even a new KiBi is affordable while it is easy to find a lot of second-hand pieces in mint condition and that it is basically indestructable (as we had the opportunity to see with our own eyes), I will happily recommend KiBi to the beginners, even as one of the first choices!

Linda’s View:

KiBi, KiBi… the oldest and most famous adjustable carrier in our country. My relationship towards this particular carrier changed in the course of time and, in fact, I still do not have any strong opinion yet. It is fair to say that KiBi (the classical model, made of fabric) was the very first carrier I bought (in fact, it was my very first thing connected to babywearing ever). I purchased it in a shop where they also helped me to somehow ˈadjustˈ it.

Nowadays, I know very well that it is really hard work to adjust a carrier on a person, moreover quickly and with a restless child – from time to time, I am truly struggling myself. Nevertheless, let’s just say that the first adjusting at the shop was not ideal and my babywearing career began ingloriously, with no real passion.

From the babywearing group on Facebook called Nosíme děti (i.e. We Wear Our Babies), I got the idea how a baby should look like in a carrier. Only that my baby did not look like that at all – her legs were not in the M-position, her bum was not bent, the back panel was all weird, and I was freaked out and uncertain. I wrote in many discussions, took numerous pictures, kept asking for advice – but I really did not understand anything the girls wrote. I was getting more and more desperate. A strap below my arms? Which is that? What is the back panel? Put the waist belt to the waist? I randomly pulled whatever I could get my hands on. And – surprise – it wasn’t better. Later, I found a video on YouTube. However, the child in the video was much bigger than my little one and… it did not help either.

Usoudila jsem nakonec, že dítě je ještě asi moc malé a Kibi skončilo v koutě. Zaznamenala jsem rovněž, že ve skupinách je často na prodej. “No to se vůbec nedivím, říkala jsem si”. Nošení jsem tedy o nějaký ten měsíc odsunula, když mi Helenka onemocněla, pořídila jsem šátek (konečně!). Nabyla aspoň nějaké to sebevědomí a dala Kibi ještě jednu šanci.

Všechno zlé je pro něco dobré a moje touha nosit dítě v nosítku (hlavně kvůli manželovi) mě přivedla do místní nosící komunity, kde jsem oslovila Marťu, že potřebuju někoho, kdo mi ten “krám” nastaví. Ta mě zase odkázala na Any, která Kibíčko v té době měla, používala a navíc její Klárka byla jen o pár dní mladší než moje Helenka! Heuréka!

Po zásahu Any jsem pak vesele v nosítku nosila a byla jsem spokojená. Užší bederní pás mi vyhovoval, držel mi hezky tam, kde má držet. Líbila se a líbí se mi masivní spona na bederním pásu s pojistkou, stejně tak velké spony u ramenních popruhů, které umožňují jejich křížení. Působí to na mě velmi důvěryhodně a nikdy jsem nezaznamenala problém s tím, že by mě tlačily.

Finally, I concluded that my child is probably too small for this type of carrier and I tossed it into a corner. I also noticed that it is often offered for sale. “It is no wonder”, I thought. I put off the project of babywearing for some time. When Helenka became ill, I bought a wrap (finally!). I gained at least some confidence and gave KiBi another chance.

Every cloud has a silver lining – my desire to babywear (for the sake of my husband, mainly) brought me to the local babywearing community. When I came to the meeting, I addressed Martina and told her that I needed someone who would be able to help me to adjust the ˈdamn thingˈ. Martina referred me to Any, who was currently using KiBi with her daughter who was just a few days younger than my Helenka! Eureka! After Any’s intervention, I was happy as a clam, wearing my kid comfortably at last.

I was satisfied with the narrow waist belt – it held where it should. I also liked the solid buckle with safety lock on the waist belt as well as big buckles on the shoulder straps, which could be crossed. I find it very trustworthy. I never noticed any unpleasant pressure or anything like that.

After some time, my cervical spine began to ache, which I thought to be weird. A very clever person told me to pull the chest buckle lower on my back and to tighten it more. What a relief! Just among us – this is one of the most common causes of backache when babywearing. It works on the same principle as tying the Front Wrap Cross Carry – if the cross is too high on your back, it will hurt like hell after some time with a heavier kid.

I tried wearing the shoulder straps both crossed and in the classical way – sometimes I preferred the first, sometimes the second.

I must say that people close to me wondered – among experienced wearers, KiBi as well as Manduca were considered ˈinferiorˈ: “You really use KiBi?” “And it is comfortable for you?” Well, I am no gonna lie to you about that. I have tried numerous carriers (mainly wrap conversions) and some were fine, some were less fine … However, when I compared those to my KiBi, I always missed something or there was something extra I did not like. Months went by, I became an experienced wearer and I still could not abandon my blue KiBi.

Until the day has come – Helenka weighed about 10 kg and I found out that I could not take it anymore … that my shoulders simply hurt too much. In fact, it marked the end of my babywearing career. I am not able to guess the extent to which it is the mistake of the carrier and, on the other hand, of my extra-sensitive shoulders (as you could have already noticed in more than one of our reviews). I simply found out that the shoulders straps and the waist belt do not support me enough to wear for longer periods. Thus I sold my KiBi with a tear in my eye.

Since that time, KiBi slightly modified the waist belt – the filling is thicker. Also, the manufacturer introduced their wrap conversions to the market. I have to say that I hardly noticed any difference between the two versions (made of fabric vs. made of wrap) when wearing a heavy kid. I also cannot evaluate whether the waist belt modification has a significant impact or not. The wearing felt the same as I remember, maybe slightly better – just because of the fact that my own carrier was worn much longer and the shoulder straps as well as the waist belt were a bit ˈdeflatedˈ.

Lenka already described the construction of the carrier – I have nothing to add. The only thing I have to mention is that I never experienced the problem with attaching the hood.

All in all, KiBi is a cheap, Czech carrier of good quality, which enables to wear a really wide age range. The back panel is high and wide enough even for big toddlers. It is an ideal carrier for those who need it for trips or as an alternative for a stroller. When made of fabric, it is truly easy to maintain.