Though many of you reading this may be new to Olives & Applesauce Soft Structured Carriers – these carriers are actually old-timers in this category. They have been collected and coveted as early as 2008… years before my daughter was even born. In June of 2013 Olives & Applesauce came under new ownership, and lots of exciting things have happened since then.
My experience with O&A was pretty limited before I received this carrier to review. The Babywearing International near me had a very old model in the Learning Library, and I honestly never paid it much mind. When this Standard Black carrier arrived at my house, I was really excited to see how it held up to my 31 lb 3 ½ year old. Their Standard carrier has an advertised weight limit of 50 lbs, though in testing it withstood standing and dynamic weights up to 95 lbs! That means even when you are maxing it out at its 50 lb weight limit – you can do so with confidence.
Being that this is a Standard sized carrier, concerns over whether the
panel height and width would offer adequate support for my wearee were definitely primary in my mind. The height of this Standard body panel is 19” tall – which is taller than the Toddler Tula (18”), the Toddler Lenny Lamb (18.9”), the Toddler Kinderpack (18”) and just shy of the Toddler Beco (19.5”). This meant that my daughter had more than adequate back support in this carrier, with the ability to tuck her arms in if she wanted. With such a tall panel, many of you may be wondering if this carrier would be appropriate for a smaller baby. One of the features of this O&A is a built in infant harness to allow for you to use this carrier for a baby as small as 8 lbs. Although I personally am not a fan of putting infants into Soft Structured Carriers – if that is something you are into… this carrier can do it.
The panel height does not seem to affect my daughter’s comfort much – it is the width of the seat that she is usually more concerned over. The O&A measures 15” wide. This is wider than the Ergo (14”) and the Standard Tula (14.5”), and the Toddler Lenny Lamb (14.96”), while not quite reaching the width of the Standard Kinderpack (17”). The thing that really made this comfortable for her, was the deep seat created by the darts sewn into the panel. Although she was nowhere close to knee-to-knee in the seat, she sat in it comfortably with her bottom deep in the carrier. It also had really nice, thick padding in the leg openings, providing her with sufficient comfort for her dangling pony legs.
The waist on the carrier is wide and structured, with the padding measuring 23” – just shy of an Ergo at 23.5”. This was actually ideal for me as a petite wearer, because I was able to get the waistband very, very tight which I cannot do with some other SSC’s on the market.
The straps were reminiscent of the Kinderpack to me. They were soft and
wide and flat, padded but without much structure. I found them to be comfortable and to reduce any points of pressure on my body… but they bunched up a little where the chest clip wrapped around them, something I also dislike about most of the Wrap Conversion Full Buckles I have tried. It did not affect the comfort, but aesthetically it bothered me a little bit. This carrier has the ability to wear the straps both backpack style, or crossed on the back – I am a fan of this versatility. The O&A straps do not have Personal Fit Adjusters (PFA’s), but I did not miss them at all. The straps were dual adjusting, and I was able to get a very tight fit.
The fit was really what set this carrier apart for me. Though I love a lot of the other SSC’s on the market – many of them are difficult for me to fit properly on my body type. I tend to end up tightening the straps all the way, and my toddler can still lean away from me quite a bit. I usually counter this by either crossing the straps in a front carry, or wearing the waistband lower and lower on my hips in a back carry until I get a good fit… sometimes taking my pants along for the ride. This carrier is awesome for a petite wearer! The dual adjust on both the waist and the shoulder straps gave me a closer fit in a back carry than any other Soft Structured Carrier I have tried to date. This meant that long excursions to the grocery store, the mall, the park, any number of places I wore it… I felt comfortable and supported. It is no secret that I usually prefer wraps because of the more customized fit I can get… so I was surprised to find myself reaching for this O&A so often.
These carriers are designed for that family who is looking to buy “one carrier” to get them through their wearing years. With the built in infant insert, one of the highest weight limits on a Standard carrier in the industry, and such a tall panel height – they may actually have accomplished this goal. Their carriers retail for $150 for a base model, fitting comfortably into the mid-range category of carriers.
I am not the only one singing the praises of O&A. Jennifer, the owner of the brand, was an avid babywearer herself – wearing her sons until they were 4 years old. The decision to begin this journey started as a boutique owner in Vermont. They sold O&A carriers – which she described as her “favorite SSC line”. When she heard that the brand was for sale, she decided to buy it to make sure that these carriers stayed around. They have long since closed their retail store, and have devoted their efforts to building this brand. Olives & Applesauce is proud to manufacture this line of carriers in the USA, they are made by a small Mom run shop in Bellevue, Ohio. They maintain wonderful relationships with their sew house and retailers, and aim to create a sustainable and supportive business model with all of their decisions.
Olives & Applesauce has had an exciting year. They released a new Geek Line that has been very popular, and have a few new prints slated for release very soon. Jennifer also mentioned the upcoming release of an Olives & Applesauce LITE line, which will be a version of their Standard line with the infant insert and hood sold separately. It will be released in limited colors, produced overseas, and retail for around $99. A quality carrier at that price point is something to get really excited about – and excited I am.
A big Thank You to Olives & Applesauce for sending this carrier my way. This one is going to be hard to let go of, I have really enjoyed having it here. O&A has generously agreed to donate this carrier to our local BWI group… so at least I can visit with it still.