Why is this baby carrier designed for dad stirring controversy on Facebook?

The Mission Critical Baby Carrier is the first to be designed from top to bottom with dad in mind, its manufacturer said.
The Mission Critical Baby Carrier is the first to be designed from top to bottom with dad in mind, its manufacturer said. Mission Critical

What’s not to love about a baby carrier just for dads?

That’s what California-based Mission Critical is offering: a product designed from the ground up for the baby-carrying man.

The baby carrier keeps dad’s anatomy in mind, meaning the load bearing is in the shoulders, unlike carriers for women, which focus on bearing the load around the hips, according to the company.

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And as Fatherly, a website aimed at millennial dads, put it: “the thing absolutely looks like something the SWAT team would wear on ‘Take Your Daughter To Work’ day.”

But some Facebook users have taken issue precisely with the company’s effort to make the baby carrier more “manly,” especially in this promotional YouTube video:

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The tongue-in-cheek commercial shows a man carrying a baby in the Mission Critical Baby Carrier turning heads as he strolls through a playground populated with what look like young, attractive moms.

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Some members of the popular Facebook group “So you want to raise a feminist” were not amused.

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Sharing a Fatherly video review that draws heavily from Mission Critical’s ad, one user wrote: “Why does this make me roll my eyes?”

“I’m so frustrated by the way the women look at him. But that kind of ‘our product will make you hetero sexy’ is all too common,” wrote another.

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“I think that all this does is stereotypes men in the same way women have always been stereotyped. I had no problem carrying a baby in whatever carrier we bought. I think it is going back to girls like dolls and boys like guns. A complete lack of progress,” chipped in yet another commenter, presumably a dad.

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The Facebook tizzy shows that “brands active on social media are always going to experience some degree of controversy,” said Kate Engineer, director of communications at Toronto-based Fervid Communications, a marketing and social media company.

“The moment you post anything on social media, you open yourself up to different points of view,” she added.

But Engineer was far from critical of the company’s efforts to target millennials with dad-centric gear.

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“From a consumer-targeting perspective, they’re totally spot on,” she told Global News.

The youngest generation of moms and dads is shifting the paradigm about whose shoulders baby duties should fall on — figuratively and literally.

And as dads take on more of the diaper-changing, bottle-feeding and baby-carrying work, it only makes sense that they would want products specifically designed for them, said Engineer.

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Several consumer reviews of the Mission Critical Baby Carrier note that it makes for a much more comfortable fit for dads, compared to traditional baby carriers.

And even if dad can use mom’s carrier, that generally requires adjusting straps and settings all the time, said Engineer, a mother of one who’s expecting her second child.

The Mission Critical baby carrier comes in grey, black and “coyote” and with a host of add-ons like insulated bottle holders that hang from the sides as in a tool belt.

The baby carrier is also compatible with an optional backpack, a handy innovation that many regular baby carriers do not feature.

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It’s clearly an effort to appeal to men who are “into tactical gear and ‘gadgety’ things,” said Engineer.

And despite some chastising on Facebook, the MacGyver take on the baby carrier appears to be resonating with consumers.

Fatherly‘s video on it has received more than 35 million views and half a million Facebook shares since January.

The product also received a spontaneous celebrity endorsement from Dancing with the Stars icon Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who bought it and posted himself using it while dancing with his son in an Instagram video that got over 310,000 views.

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Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is a fan, too, apparently:

The carrier isn’t for sale north of the border yet, but Mission Critical said it’s “very close” to making it available in Canada as well.

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