Baby carriers are the best hands-free ways to carry a baby while staying mobile and juggling bags, groceries or even hold a toddler’s hand.
Baby carriers provide a way for parents or caregivers to hold their baby close to their body. They also promote bonding while making it convenient for parents to still go about their days and chores, and maintain their mobility.
Baby carriers come in various styles and designs. However, the common feature among all baby carriers is the ability to securely hold and distribute the baby’s weight across the caregiver’s body.
If you are new to baby carriers, or a new parent who is trying to decide what type to buy, we have put together a guide on baby carriers and their variations as well as the type to purchase – whether it’s for your infant, toddler or preschooler.
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Guide To Choosing a Baby Carrier
There are different types of baby carriers – structured carriers, wraps, slings. Depending on your child’s age and your personal preference, you might opt for the varied options.
Structured Baby Carriers
Structured carriers typically consist of a buckled, padded waistband, buckled padded shoulder straps and a back panel with a sleep hood.
The weight of the child usually sits at the waist and hips. Structured carriers are quick to put on and ideal for babywearing as they provide support, easing the back from the stress.
A baby wrap is a long piece of cloth used to carry an infant or child. It is worn by being wrapped around the caregiver’s body.
With baby snugly secured inside the wrap, the caregiver can carry baby hands-free. The weight of the baby usually is supported by the back of the caregiver. Wraps come in various materials, designs and lengths and can be tied in different ways.
Baby slings are similar to wraps, they are also made of fabric worn over one shoulder across the caregiver’s torso. They are easily adjustable using a ring or an adjustable buckle.
Backpack carriers are designed for sporty parents who don’t want to compromise on their outdoor and sporty lifestyle. These have a rigid frame and adjustable straps. They look similar to a hiking backpack but have a harness and seat to hold baby securely.
These type of backpack carriers are only suitable for toddlers who are able to support their up on their own and sit up independently.
How to Choose a Baby Carrier, Sling or Wrap
Some factors would determine whether to choose a structured baby carrier, sling or wrap.
1. Age and size of baby: Wraps are more suitable for parents and caregivers of newborns and younger ones. Full body support is provided and wraps can be easily adjusted to fit the baby snugly.
2. Comfort: Try on the carrier of choice if possible. You will likely be using it for extended periods. The weight of the baby should be distributed evely across your body, with good support for back, neck, hips, shoulders.
3. Ease and Accessibility: Structured carriers and slings might be easier to use compared to wraps. There are fewer steps and adjustments needed. You might want to try putting on the carriers independently before purchasing – this would also indicate the ease of babywearing using various carriers.
4. Climate: Some materials could be too warm or too cold for different climates. If it is hot and humid for example, choose a carrier that offers better ventilation.
5. Lifestyle and activities: If you are always on the go and have an active lifestyle, choose a carrier that can provide good back support and even a waist belt. Also, breastfeeding mums might find a sling or wrap a better option for privacy.
6. Possibility of trying before purchase: This is a critical factor; one should always try the different carriers before committing to a purchase. Parents and caregivers should check the fit, weight distribution and all factors mentioned above.
What every baby carrier that you decide to get, be sure to familiarise yourself with its safety features and to follow the manufacturer’s instruction on how to properly use it and keep baby safe.
Read more about some of the best baby carriers on the market.