The Pikkolo is made by CatBird Baby, headquartered just down the interstate in Chicago. Founder, Beth Warrell Leistensnider, was one of the original VBEs with BWI of Chicagoland. The Pikkolo is an SSC that can be worn facing in, facing out, on the hip, and on the back. Additionally, the straps can cross or be worn backpack style. It features a cinchable body, which means you don’t need an infant insert and can wear babies legs-out from a much earlier age. The Pikkolo also has a very unusual waist. Instead of the typical stiff, padded waist band, the Pikkolo has no padding at all. It is designed like a mei tai and as such is worn “apron style.” I tested the Pikkolo with an average-to-slight sized 8-month-old. I’ve given the Pikkolo a good trial. We’ve gone to the zoo. We’ve gone to the grocery store. It held my daughter through naps. Below I’ll lay out my pros and cons. As always, keep in mind that SSCs are each so different and fit each wearer/wear-ee pair differently. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you.
The cinchable body. This is the only SSC that I’ve encountered with this cinching feature. It’s very easy to adjust and is a great solution to trying to make a carrier that will last past infancy, but isn’t too big for younger babies. I’ve found that many babies get frustrated having their legs tucked inside the body of an SSC and it’s great to be able to wear them legs-out from the beginning. Additionally, the cinching means that you can get a perfect fit across baby’s bottom as opposed to just having one or two width settings. And best of all - it’s EASY. Changing the width is simple and while you do have to remove baby from the carrier to do so, you don’t have to remove the carrier from your body. So changing from facing out to in is just a quick switch.
The waist. I didn’t miss the structured waist at all. In fact, the only real different I noticed in the waist was it didn’t push my pants down when I had it on in the back carry. That’s right - an SSC that does not push down your pants! With the way that the waist functions, you’re able to slightly shorten or lengthen the height of the body of the carrier by clipping higher or lower on your own body. Also, this style of waist allows high back carriers more easily and comfortably than SSCs with typical structured waists. Catbird Baby does sell an add on Support Belt that you can thread on to the Pikkolo that transforms the carrier into a more traditional SSC waist. They recommend it for 20lbs and up. I haven’t tried it so I can’t comment on how it changes the feel. By using the support belt, I think you’d eek out a bit more height on the body panel, so I can see it being a nice way to extend the life of the Pikkolo a bit longer.
Straps. I LOVE being able to cross straps in a front carry. A big plus for me. The Pikkolo straps are fairly wide and not terribly thick. I like the slim profile and the weight is distributed nicely. The straps attach to the body of the carrier further down than other brands. This has really helped the dreaded under-arm rub for me. With the dual-adjust straps you can make sure that the buckles actually stay on the body panel so they won’t rub or poke at all.
Waistbelt material. The Pikkolo waistbelt is made of slippery, seatbelt-type material. It feels pretty weird in hand, but seems to function just fine. My complaint about it is that the slippery material folds over itself easily and can get twisted on the belt threading. This is annoying and I could see it potentially becoming an issue if the buckle winds up flipping around entirely. Fixable, certainly, but a pain.
Hood storage. The Pikkolo hood is permanently attached and has a little pocket that it can be stuffed into. I can see this acting as a headrest for a small baby. However, the pocket doesn’t fasten and in my trials the hood always worked itself out.
No pockets. Lastly, this seems to be the biggest complaint I hear about SSCs - no pockets! This design keeps the carrier nice and trim, but it’s definitely a request I encounter a lot.
Overall, this has become one of my favorite SSCs. True confession - I bought a Pikkolo after this trial run. The combination of crossable straps, forward facing option, and waist belt that doesn’t push down my pants was too good to pass up. Try it out for yourself by checking it out of the BWI - Madison carrier library.