When it comes to baby carriers, requirements of every baby are unique. Purchasing a wrong product can end up being worthless investment and waste of your money. So, we have provided a proper buying guide that helps you choose the right baby carrier for your little one.
1. Types of Baby Carriers
Before purchasing baby gear, remember that requirements of newborn and toddlers are completely different. Newborns usually wish to hug you while older babies prefer to see the world. For a newborn stage, wraps are the perfect option. While for toddlers and older babies, soft structured carrier is preferable.
If you don’t want to purchase two types of baby carriers, then you can go for a model that adjusts according to baby’s age. So, there are three different baby carriers. A clear description of each baby carrier is mentioned below.
A long piece of wide and strong fabric that is worn around the body over both shoulders. This eventually forms a pouch on your hip or front, making the loose fitting comfortable to breastfeed. It wraps around you and your baby and can be worn in a number of different ways.
It distributes the baby weight across the shoulders and hips, so you will not feel the burden of baby weight. Wraps don’t have any clasps, buckles, and rings which may hurt you or your child.
Cotton jersey, knit jersey, cotton and linen are some of the common materials used for baby carriers. Stretchy wraps like cotton jersey and knit jersey are suitable for newborns as they are soft. Woven materials like cotton or linen are suitable for toddler wraps as they are sturdy.
Wraps are perfect for babies up to 18 months old. While it makes it easy for breastfeeding moms to feed their babies, this type of baby carrier takes time to wear and uncomfortable for slightly older babies due to lack of adequate cushioning and support.
- Easy to clean, comfortable
- Machine washable
- Can hold weight up to 16kgs
- Easy to adjust so can be worn in any position based on comfortability
- Breastfeeding is very easy
- Often hot to wear for long periods
- Time consuming
- Suitable for only newborns
- If not wrapped correctly, it can cause discomfort to baby
b. Structured Carriers
Quite similar to a backpack, with additional buckles and padded straps attached to the main body of the carrier. It is worn close to the chest with the baby facing inwards or outwards.
These baby carriers have defined seat for baby and straps for shoulder and waist for provided for parents. Some structured carries come with adjustable straps and clip enclosures. If it is for smaller babies within specified weight restrictions, then their legs can be tucked inside. When the child outgrows, legs can be put through leg holes. Though they are not as snugly as wraps, they are easy and quicker to put on.
- Can hold babies up to 18kgs
- Ergonomic to both baby and parent
- Baby’s weight is distributed evenly
- Ideal for lengthy walks
- Holds baby position securely for long time
- Versatile design offers multiple positioning
- Not recommended for newborns
- Doesn’t fit into small or medium sized diaper bags
- Doesn’t come with neck support
Note: While choosing a baby carrier, make sure to look for a model that baby is positioned high enough so that you can kiss the top of the head. This is the safest position to hold the baby. Also make sure carrier comes with adjustable seat. it distributes the weight and doesn’t suffocate the baby carrier as they grow.
c. Ring Slings
A single piece of wide fabric worn over one shoulder across the torso. This eventually forms a pouch on your hip or front, making the loose fitting comfortable to breastfeed. You will have to pull the loose end of the fabric through the rings to fit into it. As these slings are unstructured, it may be troublesome to position baby safely.
Sling length differs from style and brand. Short length slings are problematic for plus-sized parents. They should consider buying sling with generous length. Ring material should also be considered. Wood, plastic or metal is used for making these rings. When it comes to fabric, consider breathable fabrics for summer season and warmer fabric for winter months.
- Perfect for hot climates and they are not breathable
- Easy to wear and take off
- Perfect for newborns and small babies
- Can hold up to 16 Kg
- Light in weight, stretchy and washable
- Available in different colors, sizes and designs
- Doesn’t distribute weight properly
- Most of the pressure is on the shoulder
- Cannot be machine washed
2. Carry Position And Holds
Carriers are of different types and styles but most of the carriers offer several types of holding position and carrying position. Versatility in carrying option is an important factor to consider because the most suitable way to carry a child changes as the baby grows.
They support both front and back carrying options with head faced inward or outward. The slightly higher end ones also offer to grow with the baby flexibly allowing you to use the same carrier and vary its adjustments from your baby’s infancy to his or her toddler years. These are pretty cost-effective and useful.
The most popular 2 ways of holding are front carry and back carry. Another very common option is side carry though it restricts the use of the hand depending on the person and the carrier. While using a carrier makes sure the baby’s chin is off your chest but close enough to kiss your baby’s forehead. Most of the baby carriers in India provide 1 to 5 carry positions.
Note: Every manufacturer provides an instruction manual which helps parents to learn how to use the baby carrier in different positions. You can also check out the videos offered by manufacturer on their website or Youtube.
3. Fabric Type
Choose a baby carrier with soft, breathable and non-toxic dyes. And also the fabric has to be sturdy enough to hold the baby weight for long hours. make sure that no chemicals are used for treating the fabric as they harm the delicate baby’s skin. It is better to go for model with children friendly dyed fabric. Some of the common fabrics used in baby carriers are…
- 100% Cotton – light, breathable and soft fabric to keep the baby cool and comfortable
- Cotton and Spandex – Breathable, light, and slightly stretchable. It maintains cool and comfortable space for the baby
- Polyester – light and breathable. However, not as comfortable as cotton
- Polyester and Nylon – Their vented meshy material provides more breathability
- Hemp – organic fabric that is breathable and comfortable
4. Age and Weight Considerations
For baby safety, we recommend to consider age and weight considerations while purchasing a baby carrier. Most of the baby carriers recommend the baby should be at least 6 months old so that they can support their neck muscle stability. Some structured carriers come with option of additional inserts that help a newborn to support themselves. Slings and wraps are perfect for newborns however; parents have to make sure to purchase a proper fit or else the fabric may suffocate the child.
If baby curls forming a C shape which may lead to breathing issues. it is even more harmful for premature babies. Make sure to check out the guidelines before purchasing so that you can keep your babies safe and healthy.
Determining how long you will carry the child will help you in choosing the right one. Warp is the perfect for newborns but they are useless once the baby can sit on its own. Because the stretchy material and lack of structure will be difficult for baby to feel comfortable. They can be used only until babies of age up 12 to 15 months.
Toddlers and older babies weigh more than 10 Kg. So, they can be uncomfortable to carry them on chest. Go for soft structured carrier for this option as they can handle babies from 6 months to 3 years old.
5. Safety and Comfort
All types of carriers are provided with head and neck support. If you are wearing a wrap or sling, make sure the baby’s head rests on your chest. If your child hasn’t developed a proper neck control, consider a structured carrier that comes with a flap to support the neck and head. Before using structured carries make sure that the seat, buckles and strap will keep the baby in place.
While a newborn likes the snugly feeling inside a carrier facing towards you a toddler enjoys a front good view with his hands and legs free for movement. For front carriers search for padded leg holes that are soft and doesn’t constrict the infant’s thigh.
- Parent or User
Most parents prefer the Soft Structured Carriers when they are out and about and some swears by the comfort of a wrap while some others feel uncomfortable wearing a wrap as they often get too hot to wear.
Some like the sling carrier as give a snugly cuddly feeling to the baby and the mother but it can restrict the use of one hand and it is worn on one shoulder so it can feel too much pressure in one side.
If you are prone to backaches or shoulder pain, look for carriers with wide and well-padded straps or choose a sturdy fabric to put the weight off the shoulders into the hip areas.
As already mentioned wraps are for newborns and structured carriers are suitable for older babies. However, some parents don’t like to purchase two baby carriers. Some models of baby carriers are specially designed to grow with your child right from infancy to a kid. So, instead of purchasing a one-size carrier, consider buying an adjustable one.
Decide whether you will breastfeed your child while wearing him. A wrap or sling are the best options for breastfeeding as they keep you and the baby wrapped and give you privacy for nursing. Structured carrier with a lot of buckles straps makes it quite difficult to nurse the baby.
Some carriers can be too hot to wear during hot summer days. Darker colors easily heat up. If you plan to use the carrier in hot weather make sure it is made of lighter fabric. Slings are preferable in summers but if you are outdoors in cold weather structured carriers are good. The soft padding keeps the baby warm.
9. Other Features
- Sturdiness – Before purchasing a baby carrier make sure the straps, seat, belt, snaps, and buckle are strong enough to support the baby.
- Security – Make sure the model you choose has buckles and straps of high quality so that your baby can be secure.
- Easy to Use – It is better to choose a baby carrier that is easy to wear and remove. Some carriers are designed to be very easy to unbuckle so that your sleeping baby doesn’t get disturbed.
- Easy to Clean – As it is for your delicate little one, hygiene is very important. Choose a model that comes with machine washable option.
- Wide Straps – For safety and comfort of your child and proper support, then go for a model with wide straps.
10. Additional Accessories
Some baby carriers come with several accessories that help make a baby carrier more than just carrying your baby. Some of them are:
- Drool Dib
- Teething Pad
- Sun Shade
- Rain Hood
- Winter Weather Cover
Baby carriers widely vary in the price section too. The cheapest ones are the wrappers and slings starting from 700-800 bucks while structured carriers and backpacks are on the pricy side with heavy padding and caissons support.
A cheaper may not be very comfortable also the expensive ones may not always be the correct choice for you if they don’t serve your purpose.
Safety Notes to Consider While Using a Baby Carrier
- Consult your pediatrician before using a sling if your baby is less than 4 months old, born prematurely, has a cold or respiratory issues.
- If you are using sling or wrap, check on your baby often. Make sure he/she is not curled into a half circles. And check if the face its pressed against the fabric. Because these two position can make the baby suffocate within minutes.
- Make sure the baby in the carrier can see and you can see your baby’s face as well. Except while breastfeeding, your face should be visible to your baby.
- If you are nursing the baby while wearing it, make sure to re position him afterwards. So, that the baby can see you. Make sure no fabric is present on his/her face.
If your baby is a young infant (below 4 months), then their weight is below 5 Kg. In these months, front carry position is the ideal one. Baby has to face towards the parent with enough neck support.
Advantages of Baby Carrier
Holding babies, especially newborns can increase both with them. Apart from that, there are several other benefits as well. We have mentioned them below.
- Mobility – A baby carrier takes off the weight burden and eases movement for parents while strolling through market, grocery store or a mall. Carriers are much easy to maneuver through crowds than strollers.
- Hands-Free – For most the parts, carries are hands-free. Some people may prefer placing a hand on their baby. Otherwise you can work, shop, prepare meals, or complete household chores.
- Breastfeeding – Baby carriers make breastfeeding flexible and easy. With newborns, it can be a bit difficult with fabric models as it depends on baby’s size, coordination and willingness as well. It’s easy to nurse older babies.
- Neuroscience – According to Pediatrics Academy in America, some people worry about spoiling kids by holding them too much. But that not true. Babies who get picked up often feel much safer, cry less or only shorter periods.
Drawbacks of Baby Carrier
Regardless of so many benefits, baby carriers come with some disadvantages as well. Some of them are mentioned below.
- Deep Learning Curve
Among the different types of baby carriers, ring slings and wraps are not easy to wear. Learning to wear them perfectly requires practice and you may have to go through online tutorials several times for mastering it. As they are a bit time consuming, slings may not be a perfect option for people who are in a hurry.
- Extra Weight
If you are shopping along, then baby carriers may not be a better option. Weight of the baby and shopping bags can add more pressure to your back. In that situations, you need another person to carry bags for you.
- Twins of Multiples
Some manufacturers provide baby carriers for twins but they are not currently available in India. Few models available are ridiculously costly. And moreover, if you carry both the babies, then you will develop back and neck pain. So, baby carriers are not feasible for parents with twins.
Baby carriers are not as safe as a stroller. If you accidentally slip while wearing carrier, then your baby may get badly hurt. So make sure to wear shoes or flat for better grip. You should take extra care while bending to pick something.
Frequently Asked Questions?
Well, a baby’s needs are ever-changing and they also need a lot of support. Baby carriers are primarily designed with this only thing in mind, and they’re indeed safe to use as long as you use it correctly and follow manufacturer instructions carefully.
Baby slings are ideal if you have a very young baby or a newborn. But if you have a baby who is 5 months or older, it is advised to go for a baby carrier. This is because as your baby grows older, he or she will get heavier and you will need something which will evenly distribute the weight across the shoulders and hips. It is much more comfortable and proficient that way.
Hip joint misalignment is a common concern for any parent who uses baby carriers. Modern carriers are carefully designed so that you can hold the baby naturally and position them according to your own convenience.
Yes! You should choose a baby carrier according to the weather or season. For a typical summer in India, you should go for something like a sling that is light in color and not dark. Also, go for a lighter fabric material which is comfortable to carry.