Today’s baby carrier comes in a wide variety of styles to suit every budget and style. Choosing the best baby carrier can be an overwhelming task since they are so many options in a bewildering range of sizes, colors, and styles.
To choose the best baby carrier for your child, you have to take into consideration a few things about what is important, and also know the product features that really matter.
There are many advantages of using a baby carrier. However, the glut of options makes it hard for an inexperienced baby wearer to know which brand or style is best for her and her child.
To help such people, we have come up with a buying guide that will help you choose the right and high-quality baby carrier.
Why Buy a Baby Carrier?
Baby wearing is an awesome and recommended practice for keeping a baby happy and healthy. It also helps in building a stronger bond between you and your baby. Babies love being carried on the back, and the infants often love to be carried on the chest. Baby carriers let you keep you baby close while leaving your hands free as you perform other chores.
Types of Baby Carriers
1. Soft structured carriers.
These type of carrier have a supportive waist belt and two buckled, padded shoulder straps. The carrier’s configuration transfers the baby’s weight down to the hips. Some of the soft structured carriers have snaps of zippers that adjusts its size, whereas others need an infant insert to fit a baby properly.
All types of these carriers allow a baby to face on the caretaker’s chest while some allow those with an established head and neck control to face outwards when being carried on the caretaker’s front. Many of these models have a feature that lets caregivers cross the straps while wearing them. This tends to be useful for the petite wearers.
Slings are in two types; pouches and ring slings. Rings slings have a length of fabric that has two rings on one end. The thread is professionally threaded across the rings at the shoulder and then tightened to create a hammock-type seat. The seat holds the baby firmly against the caretaker’s body in what looks like an upright seated position.
On the other hand, the pouches can be either a simple tube of fabric which is purchased to fit the correct size or can be an adjustable pouch with buckle or snaps attachments. Pouches fold up very quickly, thus making them a better option for quick errands.
Wraps consist of a long length of fabric wrapped and tied around the caretaker and the baby. This is among the oldest traditional type of baby carriers. Clothes of various fabric length are used in many cultures. Nevertheless, there are also modern wraps that are either woven wraps or stretch wraps.
Hybrid baby carriers are a combination or a pouch sling and a wrap. They must be bought in the right size and are ready-to-wear. Hybrids can be a good choice for the caretakers who are new to carrying a toddler. These baby carriers should be sized correctly to give an adequate support for a baby. Moreover, they cannot be shared between different-sized caretakers.
5. Mei Tai
Mei Tai is a sort of hybrid between a soft-structured carrier and a wrap. This type of baby carrier has four straps that are firmly attached to the caregiver’s body. The carriers can be tied in different ways to secure your toddler.
6. Baby Backpack
This baby carrier has a metal frame made for wearing your older toddler or baby on your back for long periods of time.
Most baby carriers offer a few different carry positions. Versatility in the carry positions is a vital factor when choosing a baby carrier because, as the baby grows, the position to hold your young one changes. The most common positions are carrying on the front of the caregiver, facing either in or out and those carrying on the caregiver’s back.
(i) Front baby carriers
- You can use it from birth
- You can see the toddler clearly
- A caregiver can body with the baby
- A mother can breastfeed discreetly using a front baby carrier
- Not suitable for very small newborns such as those who do not meet the minimum weight requirement.
- They have a limited lifespan
- Older toddlers often dislike being carried on the front
(ii) Back baby carriers
- It is the easiest way to carry your toddler.
- This type of carriers lasts longest
- Not suitable for newborns as you can only use them when the baby is able to sight in an upright position.
How comfortable is using a baby carrier
Choosing a baby carrier with a good lumbar supports helps in reducing lower back pain. This enables you to carry a baby for longer. Carriers without lumber support can give you some aches and pains in the shoulder, lower back and lower neck.
What features to look for when purchasing a baby carrier?
To start, the baby has to be safe. To determine the carrier’s safety lever, you have to consider factors such as
- Security – How secure is the toddler in the baby carrier
- Health – Material availability and quality of the baby carrier in organic fabrics
- Ergonomics – You should make sure that the baby is supported in an ergonomically correct way for spine and hips.
- Support – The baby carrier should provide a proper neck and head support, especially for small infants.
Nevertheless, the toddler’s safety is not just about the carrier its self, but also the way you use it. If you use it improperly, there are risks such as dropping the baby, hip dysplasia, or suffocation. A baby carrier should also be able to contain a baby in a well-supported and close manner. The carriers with wide, strong front panels and seats are highly recommended. In addition, you should make sure you refer to the manual for important safety information concerning the baby’s safety.
Wearing your toddler should keep him/her happy and also make your life easier. However, if the child is not comfortable, neither of the above things happens. Babies should feel insecure in order to feel safe and comfortable.
The baby’s back and head should be properly supporte. A wider seat is comfortable is more comfortable especially for a growing baby. Wider seats distribute weight so that the baby is not just dangling by the crotch.
Moreover, you should also look for a baby carrier whose material is ultra-soft. This is because the baby’s skin is often exposed to some parts of the carrier. You should also look for the breathability of the carrier’s material. Some are a little hotter and confining. So, you should make sure that you the material is breathable and can easily keep your toddler cooler.
The parent’s comfort should also be considered. A carrier can handle the baby well but the same carrier can be a little stress to the parent. When your toddler hits 15 pounds, the caretaker can start feeling the strain of a baby carrier. The strains are commonly felt on your back, neck, and shoulders. The shoulder strain is the biggest complaint of the baby carriers.
A baby wearer with wide and well-padded straps is typically the best. You should also make sure the carrier has a good waistband that can easily support your baby’s weight easily. When it comes to shoulder padding ‘the more the better.’ Versatility of carrier’s position is as vital for the caretaker as it is for the child
Baby carriers should be made of 100 percent cotton, moisture-resistance poly-blends, or a cotton-spandex blend. There are a lot of fashionable colors in the market, some have popular patterns or blends that are suitable for a hot weather.
Many wraps or slings are also available in a wide range of fabrics such as nylon-spandex blend, wool blend, hemp, organic cotton, linen, and Jersey knit. The carriers should also be machine washable.
4. Structure and support
You should a baby wearer that both fits you and your toddler securely and comfortably. Avoid those with narrow straps and look for carriers with a strong supportive padding in waist and shoulder straps. In the unstructured baby carriers, or wraps or slings, spreading a wide fabric can help distribute the baby’s weight comfortably.
Furthermore, your baby should not be swaying from the caregiver’s body. And remember to keep the baby’s air clear and the face clear of fabric.
5. Size adjusters and inserts
Some carriers can be too big for a newborn. Some carrier’s manufacturers provide and infant insert option to boost the baby up and also to ensure that he is properly and safely supported. The inserts wrap around the toddler safely and then rest at the base of the carrier.
Other baby wearers have zippers or toggles, cinching buckles and elastic adjusters that let you change the width or the height of the carrier ensuring that the toddler is at the best-fitting seat. Keep in mind that a too-large baby carrier allows your baby to slide or slip to the side of the carrier leaving the airway compromised or his faced covered. Make sure that the baby is supported properly in the baby carrier, and his face is visible at all times.
Buckles at the shoulder and the weight straps should be strong with minimal slippage when being used. The fasteners should be tight enough such that the baby fingers cannot undo them. Some manufacturers have wearers that need two hands to undo them. The slings should be smooth strong and smooth enough to not break or bend.
7. Hoods, covers, and storage pockets
Some baby carriers come with detachable hoods to keep the sun off the toddler’s face. The hood should be of an appropriate length to avoid the suffocation hazard. If you purchase aftermarket accessories such as teething pads, hood straps, and the like. However, you should not that such carriers are not covered by the same safety standards as the soft carriers are.
Many baby carriers have a pocket or a small pouch that is big enough for a cell phone, keys, or even an extra diaper. Some have a small backpack or attachable bags if you need to carry more gear.
8. Ease of Use
With all kinds of zippers, pouches, snaps, buckles and straps, some of these carriers can be a little complicated to use. Often, once you have used a carrier a couple of times it becomes more fluid, however, you have to counter a challenging learning curve to overcome.
From getting out of the box to adjusting the positions should not be a hard task. You should also consider how easy it is to use interchangeably between parents.
9. Ease of cleaning
Expect these carriers to get thrown in the diaper bags, get drooled on and much more, so they should be easy to clean. Being able to them using washer and dryer is recommended. You can also consider spot cleaning. Some baby carriers come with removable ‘bibs’ to keep them clean.
You should also consider whether you will want to breastfeed while carrying your child, Wraps and slings make this easier that the structured front carriers.
Some baby carriers can be too warm for the hot days of summer. So if you will be carrying baby in summer, choose those that are made of lighter fabric.
- If your child has a cold or a respiratory problem, was born prematurely, born at low birth weight, consult a doctor before using the baby carrier.
- When carrying your baby using a carrier, check on her often. Make sure she is not in a chin-to-chest, curled position and that her face is not pressed against the fabric. These positions can cause suffocation, which can occur within a short period.
- In case you nurse your toddler while wearing him, make sure you reposition him afterward so that his face is above or at the rim of the wrap or the sling. Moreover, the face should be away from you and the fabric.
- Also, make sure that you can see the toddler’s eyes or face in the sling. Unless you are nursing him, the face should be visible.
- Never take hot liquids, such as tea or coffee, when wearing your toddler
- Never ride a bicycle or drive a car while wearing a baby.
- With infants in the soft-structured carriers, use only the forward carry with the baby facing in position and make sure that the neck and the head are fully supported with the two finger widths between your chest and the baby’s chin.
- Make sure that the carrier can allow frequent breaks so that the baby can move her knees and hips freely. This helps in preventing the hip condition called hip dysplasia which is common among toddlers.
- If you need to pick something from the ground, bend at your knee, not at the hip, so that the toddler stays upright.
- Make sure that the fabric supports the baby’s entire back to ensure that the baby is securely supported in the carrier.
Tips to consider when choosing a baby carrier
Before purchasing a baby carrier, ask yourself the questions below.
1. Do you have a bad back issue?
Caregivers with a bad back may be worried about baby wearing because of the extra weight. Such moms should consider soft-structured and wraps carriers since they let you support your toddler on different types of your body so that there’s minimal stress on the back.
Moreover, if you have a back problem, you should look for a carrier that allows you to wear your baby close and in a high position. This keeps the baby’s center of gravity above yours thus reducing the back pain. For those wearing wraps and slings carriers, they should make sure that the fabric is well-spread.
2. Do you plan to use the carrier for a long time?
If you are planning on using the baby carrier for a long term then you should choose a carrier that will be convenient for a long haul. One of the carrier types that can be used for a long time is the Mei Tai. This is because it has the ability to distribute weight across the caregiver’s waist and shoulders.
3. Is the baby heavy?
For big and heavy babies, the caregiver should look for a carrier that has the ability to accommodate more weight. The carrier should also be able to distribute the baby’s weight and also offer more support.
Wraps are more recommended for the heavy babies since they can distribute with more evenly and much better. The soft-structured carriers can also be used for heavy babies since the help reduce strain on the upper back. The strap padding and support for the soft-structured carriers are also great.
4. Do you want to breastfeed hands-free?
Being able to breastfeed while wearing a baby is also considered as a necessity. The sling can be a great carrier for the breastfeeding moms. This is because the baby easily fits in and feels secured in a sling carrier. The sling also has the capability of adjusting according to the actual size of the toddler by pulling on the end of your carrier’s fabric.
5. What is your purpose for the baby carrier?
Before you decide on what baby carrier you should purchase ask yourself what you intend to use it for. Is it for bringing along your baby for a vacation overseas? Or is for bringing your baby along for hiking? More so, you can prefer a baby carrier that can carry your toddler during shipping trips or trips to the zoo. You have to keep the purpose for the carrier in mind when buying one. This is because the carrier is as good as the intended purpose. There is no point of spending highly on the super-featured carriers only to find it is not suitable for the original purpose.
Before buying a carrier you should consider the shopping tips below:
Check the carriers weigh limit
Check the age and weight limits for each baby wearer you should consider purchasing. A backpack baby carrier can be convenient for frequent outings and day hikes.
1. Buy new
Do not accept a used baby carrier from a relative, or purchase one that is secondhand. This is because the carriers are made of fabric, which is subject to wear and tear. Buy from authorized retailers in your online or purchase online.
2. Check the recalls
Check the Consumer Product Safety site for any complaints. You can also give the registration card or the email to the manufacturer so that you can be notified if there are any recalls or safety concerns.
3. Check the return policy
Some toddlers need enough time to adjust to a carrier. Others never come around. So make sure you keep the package the baby carrier came in and the receipt in case you need to return it.
4. Try before you purchase
Baby carriers fit differently on different body types and builds, so it is advisable you try it before you purchase, if possible. There are baby carriers out there to fit everyone, so do not worry about not find the right style for you and your infant. When purchasing a baby carrier, make sure you don’t feel strained or pinched.
5. What a carrier is going to cost you
The structured baby carriers range from $30 to $180; slings from $25 to $250; The Mei Tai from $25 to $120: and the baby backpacks from $150 to $300. The price of the baby backpacks and structured carriers tend to vary according to the features, such as weight limits, slings, higher-priced wraps, fabric and the carrying styles.
On the other hand, the Mei Tais are quite similar to the lower-price model’s functionality, but they are models of a higher-quality fabric.
In conclusion, we advise you to go for a simple, supportive and a versatile baby carriers.