by Beth Warrell Leistensnider
So, major blow on Wednesday of this week. Sanrio tells us that they’re not sure what we’ve all been smoking for years, but Hello Kitty isn’t a cat. “Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature.” Sanrio, the creator of Hello Kitty, made this correction to the curator of an upcoming exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum who had submitted her notes for review.
Whoa. Hello Kitty is not a cat? I’m going to take this opportunity to blow your mind twice in one blog post with another revelation: the pikkolo carrier is NOT an SSC.
Really. SSC, or soft structured carriers, are a genre of carrier typically characterized by, let’s be honest, their similarity to the ErgoBaby carrier with a permanently attached, firm foam-padded hip belt. This type of carrier is meant to be worn NON-apron style, with the firm foam padding resting against the lower abdomen and the carrier body pouching out in a J-shape, forming a seat for your baby.
The pikkolo, on the other hand, is something else. Yes, it has buckles. But it is really more of a mei tai. The pikkolo, like the traditional mei tai, is worn apron-style. This means that you put it on with the front of the body panel against your stomach, and before you put the baby in it, it is hanging down in front of you like an apron. When you put the baby against you (tummy to tummy) and the carrier comes up behind baby’s back, your body and the carrier form a U-shape.
So, maybe you are wondering: isn’t this not as good as an SSC with a foam-padded hip belt? Isn’t more padding better? Well, not always. It’s not bad, it’s different. It holds the weight of your baby differently. It works differently with your body. There are reasons some people love a thicker padded hip belt; but there is definitely a reason why I prefer the unpadded waist of a carrier like the pikkolo or a mei tai. For one, it’s way more compact. Less carrier means less to fold up when I want to stash it in the diaper bag, and less fabric surrounding me. I want to feel like I’m wearing the carrier–not the other way around. And I don’t want my carrier to push my pants down. New moms are liable to end up walking around the grocery store with two wet circles on their shirt, so wouldn’t pushing down your pants just be adding insult to injury?
The reason that these two different designs can both be comfortable is because they are worn in different ways. Mei tais (and some carries in a woven wrap) are meant to be worn higher and closer to the body. For the most part, an SSC with a firm-padded attached hip belt is meant to be worn around the top of the hips with the baby sitting in the carrier and effectively on top of the hip belt, with a little bit of sway, or space between your body and baby’s body. Both ways can feel comfortable. Which way you will prefer will depend on your body type and how you feel about other aspects of the carrier (such as the level of bulk, features, style, materials, etc). Often it’s really hard to know which one will work for you until you try one on (which is why we highly recommend shopping for carriers at an independent local store that has staff well-trained in babywearing and fitting baby carriers).
So now you know: a pikkolo is a mei tai with buckles. But I’m still not buying that Hello Kitty is not a cat.