Our Guide on How to Choose the Best Baby Carrier
Holding your baby close while still getting things accomplished? It may sound like wishful thinking, but it can be done! You don’t have to choose between snuggling your little one and keeping your hands free if you’ve got the right baby carrier. Deciding to invest in a baby carrier is a simple decision; choosing the right one for your needs may take a bit of research.
Why Use a Baby Carrier
Babywearing – a practice in which a baby is held close to the parent in a sling or pouch — has been a traditional way to transport infants around the world for thousands of years. From the cradleboards of indigenous North Americans and the onbuhimo of Japan to the amauti of the Inuit and the kangas and capulanas of Africa, humans throughout history have relied on baby carriers to free up the hands of busy caregivers while keeping their babies close.
Babywearing has dramatically taken off in the West since the early 2000s, leaving strollers in the dust. That’s because carriers offer tons of benefits:
- You can accomplish other tasks while keeping your little one nearby.
- Your arms and hands are freed up from doing all the baby-holding.
- You can forego lugging around a heavy stroller or car seat in public settings.
- It’s far simpler and easier to maneuver through a crowd.
- Research indicates babywearing may help decrease the occurrence and severity of postpartum depression while increasing the maternal-infant bond.
- Studies show that babies who are carried three hours a day cry 43% less overall and 54% less during the evening.
- Babywearing is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics not just as a response to crying, but to prevent crying and promote parent-infant attachment and the baby’s development.
Types of Baby Carriers
Baby carriers are available in a variety of styles so it’s best to find one that integrates well with your lifestyle, the age of your baby, and the comfort and ease-of-use for the parents. Ideally, you’ll want to try on your carrier and familiarize yourself with how to put it on and adjust it before trying to juggle putting a baby inside. (You can even use a stuffed animal for practice!)
Regardless of which type of baby carrier you choose, it’s important to make sure that it holds your baby securely against your body. The carrier should be made of sturdy fabric. Every time you use it, make sure all straps and fastenings are snug and that your little one can’t fall out. Your baby should be positioned in a way that doesn’t put stress or strain on your own body. Here are your basic options when it comes to baby carrier types:
Soft-structured baby carriers
These carriers have a more precise design and lots of straps. They tend to redistribute the baby's weight to your hip areas while providing an abundance of support, creating a secure, comfy fit. Soft-structured baby carriers often have flexible carrying positions so that they’re able to “grow with your baby” into the toddler years.
The Ergobaby all-in-one, newborn-ready Omni 360 Cool Air Mesh has all the carry positions plus ultimate ventilation to keep you and your baby cooler. Omni 360 grows with baby from week 1 through toddlerhood (0-48 months/7-45 lbs) and offers a perfect fit for all parents.
Backpack baby carriers
If you’re an outdoorsy parent who loves to hike, the weightier backpack-style carriers may be perfect for you. These baby carriers offer extra padding and structure to keep your baby in place while out adventuring. They also are generally only for back-carrying, so you typically have to wait until your little one is old enough to sit up on their own.
Fully featured and ergonomically designed, the Phil & Teds V2 Escape™ Carrier delivers so much freedom for super adventurous parents to explore the great outdoors with their kids in tow. Designed to be comfy for both the adult and kid, there are more bells and whistles than you can shake a stick at, but all completely relevant to ensure you go out fully prepared for any changes that may happen on your many journeys ahead.
How to Select a Baby Carrier
As you evaluate a baby carrier, ensure it will support your baby’s back and that the leg holes are small enough that it would be impossible for your little one to slip through. Also, keep in mind that some babies go through a bit of an adjustment period getting used to the carrier. Make sure your little one isn’t overly tired, hungry, or wet and is in generally good spirits before a trial run in the carrier. Here are a few other features you’ll want to shop for:
- Lots of support. Soft-structured and backpack-style baby carriers should offer sturdy, padded straps and robust buckles that snap securely in place.
- Snug, secure seat placement. With a front-facing carrier, you should be able to easily kiss the top of your baby’s head.
- A wide seat for baby. Legs should be appropriately separated to prevent hip dysplasia. If you’re purchasing a baby carrier backpack, ensure the frame is well padded to prevent any injuries if your baby bumps against it.
- An open, relaxing space for baby. Ensure no fabric is obstructing their breathing and that buckles or snaps aren’t poking them. Inspect their nose and mouth often to be sure that airflow is unrestricted.
- Easy-to-clean fabric. Poop happens. So does spit up. And you might drip a little iced tea from above (hey, it happens). As with anything that will be on or around your baby, make sure your carrier is washable.
- A supportive, comfy base strap. This helps relieve the stress put on your back and disperses the weight in a balanced way around your hips area while carrying your baby.
There are lots of baby carrier options to choose from – that means there’s something that works for everyone! The choices can be a bit overwhelming, but by going through this list, you may have a general idea about which type of carrier you’re leaning toward. Begin your search there, and be comforted knowing that all carriers deliver exactly what your baby wants: being extra close to you.
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