Baby Carriers – Not One Sized Fits All
You have decided to purchase a baby carrier, now the question you are asking is “Which baby carrier is the BEST?”
Once you start asking around you will notice that you get inundated with recommendations.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. However, the only person who can answer this question is you. There are many factors to consider when choosing a baby carrier. I have narrowed it down to my top 5 factors to consider when choosing your baby carrier.
Top 5 factors to consider when choosing a baby carrier
- Age and weight of the baby
- Ergonomic design
- Carrying positions
- Hot or Cold Climate
Age and Weight of Baby
The age and weight of your baby and whether you want to use it with children of multiple ages will determine which carrier will best suit you. The age and WEIGHT of your baby will be the starting point to rule out certain carriers.
- Minimum and maximum weight recommendations - Most structured carriers on the market have a minimum weight of 3.5kgs and a maximum weight between 15-20kgs depending on the brand.
- Premature and Low Muscle Tone Babies – Premature babies and babies with low muscle tone require more support than a traditional soft structured carrier can offer. Babies with low muscle tone have a higher risk of asphyxiation (suffocating) while in a baby carrier since bub does not have the same level of strength that a full-term baby has to hold themselves up which puts them at a higher risk of slumping into a dangerous position. It is important to follow the "TICKS" guidelines for safe babywearing. The only safe option for a premmie baby is a woven wrap or a ring sling made from woven wrap material, with a ring sling being my top recommendation. It is important to check with a trusted medical health professional to determine whether a baby carrier is a safe option for your baby.
- Newborn Babies – There are many structured carriers on the market now that are adjustable to use from newborn without the use of an infant insert. Where possible I highly recommend steering clear of a carrier that requires an infant insert. It is very difficult to get a good comfortable fit for bub and wearer with an insert. Inserts also make the carrier very hot for both wearer and baby. A carrier that does not require an insert will contain adjusters for both the width of the seat and the height of the body panel. These styles will grow with your baby and also enable you to use with children of different ages (within the min and max weight limits)
- 4 months + - Usually by 4-6 months babies will fit into a wider range of soft structured carriers without needing an insert or additional adjusters. This differs greatly between brands but also the height and leg span of your baby. Taller babies tend to fit into this category sooner than petite babies.
- Toddlers and Preschoolers – Many brands produce carriers with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. These carriers or not as adjustable like the carriers designed for newborns but are made wider and taller to accommodate for taller and heavier children.
Below is an example of a baby carrier with an adjustable seat width. The Velcro adjuster enables this carrier to be cinched down quite narrow to accommodate for a smaller baby (min 3.5kgs), widening as baby grows to a man of 15kgs. You would normally expect a carrier like this to last 12-18 months, longer if your child is petite.
An ergonomic carrier features a wide seat base that supports the baby’s legs from ‘knee to knee’ with baby’s knees positioned higher than their bottom (around the height of their belly button). This is often referred to as the ‘M’ position Baby should be able to swing their legs freely. If the baby’s leg movement is restricted the seat is too wide and needs to be adjusted or used at a later date one bub fits into the carrier properly. Adequate support and correct positioning promote healthy spinal and hip development.
Different styles of carriers may give you the option to carry a baby is a range of positions. For example:
- Inward facing (baby facing wearer)
- Outward facing (baby facing away from wearer)
- Hip Carry
- Back carry (baby’s tummy against wearers back)
- Cradle Carry – this position is generally not recommended but it can be done safely. I’d recommend speaking to a babywearing consultant for advice
Not all carriers can facilitate each position, so if there is a certain position that you wish to carry your baby in it is important to read the instructions and watch tutorials to see which brand and style of carrier best suits your needs.
Hot or Cold Climate
If living in a hot climate single layer carriers will be the “coolest” option, my top recommendation would be a single layer linen ring sling or a buckle carrier with a mesh panel in the body panel to allow for better airflow. In a hot climate it is best to AVOID stretchy wraps which require 3 layers of support and carriers that require an infant insert.
The budget tends to be the biggest driving factor when choosing a baby carrier. While the price is important to consider there are many other factors that should be taken into consideration before making a decision. A baby carrier is an investment. You wouldn’t choose a car seat, cot or pram based on budget alone.
For further advice on which carrier might best suit your needs do not hesitate to contact me. Happy (and safe) babywearing!