Keeping your baby close as you go about your daily tasks is something you can do with ease when you have a baby carrier. Choosing the right baby carrier is the key to getting started with baby wearing, but with so many options available on the market, how do you know what’s best for you?
What is a baby carrier, and do you need one?
A baby carrier can be described as a “pouch-on-a-harness” arrangement that allows you to carry your little one against the front of your body or on your back.
You may find that owing to lifestyle, space constraints, personal preference, or budget that you’d like to use a baby carrier instead of a stroller as the main means of transporting your baby. Or you could simply want that special feeling of having your baby close to you at all times.
Whatever your reason for wanting one, a baby carrier can be a handy item to have. Here are some of the benefits that this baby gear item offers:
- It gives your arms and hands a break from baby-holding
- It leaves your hands free to do other things while keeping your little one close
- Physical contact with your child, which helps to strengthen your bond as well as improve symptoms of anxiety and postpartum depression.
- It’s easier to move around using a baby carrier than pushing a stroller.
What are the different types of baby carriers?
Baby carriers come in a wide variety of styles and designs. Whatever carrier you go for, always follow the safety advice and usage instructions in the manual, and always keep an eye on your little one when in the carrier to ensure that they’re breathing properly. Here are the most common types of baby carriers:1. Baby wrap/sling
This is simply a piece of stretchy or woven fabric that you wrap and tie around your body so your little one is held in place securely. The swaddle-like nature of wraps mimic the feel of the womb, which newborns love. Baby wraps/slings come in a wide range of sizes, carrying positions, and tying methods.
- By wrapping the fabric around the shoulders and waist, you can distribute the baby’s weight, which makes these slings comfortable to wear even over long periods of time.
- These baby carriers can be folded up with ease.
- They are also quite versatile as you can use them as a changing mat or blanket.
- Although wraps are one of the most versatile baby carriers, proper tying takes a lot of practice.
- In addition, they’re not as comfortable as other carrier styles for carrying older babies and toddlers.
2. Ring slings
This is a piece of fabric that is threaded through two rings to form a loop. The sling goes over the shoulder, and then it’s fastened by pulling the fabric through the rings. Ring slings allow you to try out a variety of carrying positions, and is particularly useful for younger babies
- Quick and easy to use as there’s no need for tying
- Ring slings are ideal for breastfeeding in public as you can use the tail of extra material to cover you and your baby
- Many designs come with light shoulder padding to provide comfort for long-term wearing.
- Some designs are heavily padded, which makes them bulky and also makes them harder to adjust.
- Ring slings don’t distribute your little one’s weight between your shoulders, so if you have a bad back, make a point of switching sides regularly.
Soft structured baby carriers, also known as buckle carriers, are one of the most common types of baby carriers. They are made up of buckled, padded shoulder straps, a buckled, padded waistband, and a back panel that often features a baby hood.
- They’re quick and easy to put on, adjust, and take off
- They fit wearers with different body types, so they can be used by more than one caregiver.
- In comparison to other baby carriers, it can be difficult to breastfeed soft structured carriers.
Pouch slings are made from a continuous loop of fabric that curves to hug your body, with a pouch for your little one to nestle in. Some newer designs feature buckles which allow you to adjust the pouch to fit. Pouch slings go over one shoulder and the baby sits in the pouch.
- They’re easy to use
- They’re compact enough to fit in a changing ba
- Pouch slings are not comfortable to use for carrying older babies and toddlers.
- The baby’s weight is mostly concentrated on one shoulder, which can be tiring.
These have a rucksack-style appearance and usually have a light metal frame or rigid backpack-type padding to provide support. They’re secured using padded shoulder straps and a waist belt. With some designs, you can buy extras such as rain and sun covers.
- You can make a wide range of adjustments, and both parents can share the same backpack carrier.
- You can use these carriers to take your little one on outdoor adventures.
- They’re bulky
- Most of them are only for back-carrying, so you’ll usually have to wait until your baby is a bit older and can sit up on his/her own.
Factors to consider when choosing a baby carrier1. Comfort
Both you and your little one should be comfortable. Your baby carrier should allow your baby to be comfortable - not too tight that they can’t move, or too loose that they can squirm their way out of it. For you, back and shoulder support is an important consideration. If you intend to wear your baby for hours at a time, look for a design that has padded shoulder straps, even weight distribution, and lumbar support.
2. Ease of use
Some carriers are effortless to use while others have a small learning curve. Either way, all carriers come with printed instructions, plus you can always rely on instructional guides available online.
Many carriers are one size fits most so you can easily adjust them and share among caregivers. Others - such as ring slings and pouch slings - come in a variety of size ranges.
4. Baby’s age and weight
Most carriers have age and/or size restrictions. Although the ranges are usually pretty generous, it’s important to choose a carrier that is designed to fit your little one’s age and size.
Not all baby carriers are machine washable, so always check labels for washing instructions.
There is no “superior” baby carrier - each family is different and will have different needs. The best baby carrier for you is the one that adequately meets your needs.