The absolute number one, most frequent question we hear from customers is this: what size should I buy? I originally developed this sizing system in order to deliver versatility and a personalized fit. But, it can be overwhelming to select from all the options when planning your conversion. Sizing is, without a doubt, the biggest question mark in the custom carrier planning process. In response we have compiled the following information and suggestions. Please keep in mind, these are guidelines and not rules, and this post only talks about fixed-size body panels, not the little kid or big kid cinchy. That needs a post all on its own....
Short Stage 1 (aka SS1)
Short stage 1 is the smallest ObiMama size and one of the most commonly ordered ones. The body panel measures 16 inches x 16 inches (not including the seat darts which give a deeper seat). On average, this will comfortably fit a 6 month old baby with no adjustments.
What about smaller babies? Well, this is a good size for them too. ObiMama carriers are great for babies as small as 12 lbs! You can accommodate a smaller infant by rolling the waist to shorten the height or scrunching the body panel slightly so that any wrinkles will be in the center of the panel rather than under baby's knees. Because of the curved sides, rolling the waist will also narrow the width of the seat for your child. How long can you wear your child in the SS1? Well, that’s where the beauty of the wide wrap straps come into play! It is possible to have this as your one and only, get-you-through-to-toddlerhood carrier. When your 2 year old child isn’t getting knee to knee coverage from the body panel anymore, you can definitely use the wrap straps to get that extra support. But… if your toddler doesn’t have to share their carrier with a younger sibling, you might want to look into the next size up!
Short Stage 2 (aka SS2)
Short Stage 2 is the other most commonly ordered size. The body panel measures 16 inch height x 18 inch seat (again, not including the seat darts which give a deeper seat). This is the same height as the SS1, but it's two inches wider. If your toddler’s legs are outgrowing the SS1, there is a good chance they are also at the age where they want their arms out (purely to pull your hair and point out all the ice cream stores they see, right?) If you have an arms-out kind of kid, this is for you. That being said, even a 2 year old can comfortably ride arms in, if they so desire! Is this the best size for ALL ages? Yes and no, and it may well come down to personal preference. It would take significant modifications to make the SS2 fit an average 3 month old, so much so that we did not demo it for that age. If you are looking for ease of use (meaning not rolling the seat) then this will start to fit around the average 12 month mark.
Tall Stage 2 (aka TS2)
Tall Stage 2 is a step up from the SS2. It has the same size seat at 18 inches, but it is two inches taller. If your toddler likes arms in, this one is for you! If your toddler is extra blessed in torso length, this one is for you! Fitting any age younger than 12 months would likely require significant modifications, so this size is definitely geared towards older toddlers.
Tall Stage 3 (aka TS3)
This is a big carrier for your big kid! The TS3 measures 18 inches tall x 20 inch seat (not including the darts which make a deeper seat). This is a preschooler carrier, possibly even a drop-your-child-at-their-first-day-of-kindergarten carrier! We jest, sorta. This carrier will hold your child close and comfortable when they need you most. Or when their legs get tired on a long day. Or when you have a day filled with appointments. Or simply any time when your big kid needs a snuggle. If you are currently wearing your older toddler in the typical toddler sized carrier, the extra support this carrier has should give you some relief. The extra 2 inches of seat width will spread the child’s weight more evenly than a typical toddler sized carrier, and if your kiddo is comfortable in their ObiMama, they are more likely to stay up there for a while...which will make it worth all the effort.
SO, that's a ton of great info. But there are always buts....
"But what if my sizing needs fall into some sort of murky gray area?" I'd advise you to go with the smaller choice over the larger, in almost every case. You can always wear a larger kid in a smaller carrier, but rarely is the opposite true.
"What if I have two kids that are not the same age?" Try to determine which kid is going to get the most time in the carrier, and get the carrier to fit that kid. Remember, these carriers are tough, supportive, and comfortable. They're built for heavy loads and long wearing sessions.
"Does the different waist style change the body size or the way it fits?" Not really. Think interchangeable parts! There are some who will tell you that a buckle waist works better for a heavier kid, but seriously folks, for every rule there is an exception to that rule.
"If I am small and my spouse is large, what body size should be we get?" The size of the wearer won't change the body panel size your child needs. Remember the shoulder and waist tie size applies to the wearer, the body panel size applies to the child.
"Do you make a tall stage 1 or a short stage 3?" I could, I've just never needed to. Most babies aren't proportioned that way.
"I've heard adjustments might harm the integrity of the carrier?" This does not apply to a meh dai, but more to soft structured carriers (including the ObiMama half buckle carrier). Yes, you can roll the waist and bunch fabric without worrying about affecting the longevity or safety of your carrier.
We hope that this will answer some questions with explanations and visuals. If you have any further questions, please drop them below and we will do our best to answer. Remember that knee to knee support is important for young babes, but less important for the average toddler because they have more strength and tone. So if you are buying a carrier to fit multiple ages then it is best to make sure the carrier fits the youngest child first and foremost.
Thank you to the lovely mamas and their children who helped with these pictures, taken by Prairie Rebel/Marley Felicia Photography