Which Style of Baby Carrier Is Right For You?
Not sure which type of baby carrier to get to cart around your precious cargo? We’re here to help you understand the basics of baby wearing (yes, that’s a thing). Our list of the best baby carriers help you understand key features carriers should have. After all, a baby carrier is one of several essentials you’ll need as you start parenthood.
What is a Baby Carrier?
A baby carrier is a piece(s) of fabric or pack-style holder caregivers wear to carry their baby and keep them close and have use of their hands. Parents across cultures have used various forms of baby carriers for centuries. In the U.S., babywearing dates to early Native American tribes. Modern advances and innovative designs in carriers have made babywearing even easier.
Parents and other caregivers use baby carriers from the newborn phase to beyond the first year. Experts highly recommend carriers for the early stages of babyhood to promote parental bonding with the infant. Carriers can be either outward-facing, or inward-facing towards the caregiver’s body. Most baby carriers are worn on the front of the body, along the torso. Some carriers can even be worn over the hip as baby grows, or on the back.
Baby Carrier Safety
For safety reasons, it is best to read your specific baby carrier manual carefully, and use only as recommended. When babywearing, it is essential to ensure baby’s head is properly positioned with no airway obstruction or anything that can prevent breathing. As your baby grows and develops better head control, many carriers allow for use with the baby in a forward-facing position. Make sure you use slings safely, especially.
Baby Carrier Benefits
As a caregiver, wearing a baby throughout the day can provide numerous benefits. Highlighted below are some of the top reasons parents choose to invest in a baby carrier.
Babywearing allows mom, dad or other carrier to keep their hands free and multi-task. This is a major benefit for those early days when baby is clingy. A carrier allows you to eat a meal or get things done at home or on the go.
Provides Comfort for Baby
It’s natural for babies to crave closeness with their mothers after months of growing together in the womb. That closeness and familiar sound of your heartbeat can also be the key to soothing a fussy baby when nothing else seems to work. Carriers are also a great way for dads and partners to get some close bonding time, too.
Similar to providing comfort, a baby carrier can reduce tears and colic. A study by the National Institutes of Health found that carrying a baby lowered crying rates in a group by 43%. A welcome added bonus!
Increases Feel-Good Hormones
Carrying a baby closely helps to promote bonding and attachment between caregiver and baby. This is due to oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that is released in the brain, which helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Types of Baby Carriers
Babywearing takes many forms, including wraps, structured carriers, and slings.
The most simple and traditional of baby carriers, the wrap is a newborn-friendly carrier that is very adjustable and allows for maximum comfort. The wrap takes the form of a long fabric that must be wrapped and tied across your body and baby. This method of carrying makes for a snug and secure closeness with your child.
Baby wraps can be difficult to use, especially for new parents. It takes time and patience to learn how to tie each end and secure the fabric in place. Once the tying process is mastered, however, this type of carrier often becomes a favorite babywearing method.
Soft-Structured Baby Carrier
This type of carrier is the ready-to-go method of babywearing, and suitable for babies starting at about four months of age. There are no complicated wrapping techniques to learn, but instead, you secure baby into the lightly padded carrier using the adjustable straps and buckles along your shoulders, back and waist. The soft-structured type is designed to distribute baby’s weight across your hips, and situate baby’s body in the natural frog-like squat position. It’s important to make sure baby’s head and legs are properly supported in this type of carrier.
Similar to the baby wrap, the ring sling consists of wrapping a long piece of fabric across the body to carry baby. There are, however, no intricate ties to master. Instead, you simply loop the ends through two metal rings –as you would with a belt – to secure your baby in place. This creates a pouch for baby, stretching across your shoulder to the hip. Baby’s position in the ring sling also works well for accommodating on-the-go breastfeeding.
While wraps typically consist of stretchy material, slings are made of durable woven cotton to keep baby in place. Ring slings are not ideal for people with back and/or shoulder pain, since the sling strains one shoulder of the wearer. Slings are recommended for babies four months and older, who have mastered head control.
Mei Tai Carrier
Originating in China, the Mei Tai is a cross between the wrap and soft-structured carrier. It’s less bulky and rigid than the soft-structured carrier, but easier to use than the wrap since it doesn’t involve tying. The wearer just clips the carrier at the waist, slips the arms through the straps, and then puts the baby in. The Mei Tai comes in many colors and styles, and works for babies of different ages. The carrier takes a little practice to learn to use, particularly in distributing baby’s weight evenly.
Backpack carriers are constructed on a metal frame, and are more rigid and durable than other carriers. The packs offer plenty of storage pockets for things like diapers and water bottles, and good weight distribution of the baby for the wearer. All this makes backpack carriers ideal for parents who are hikers and adventurers, and who like to go out walking for a long stretch time. Backpack carriers are not meant for newborns; they are typically best for kids 6 months or older, who have greater neck control. The drawback to a backpack carrier is that it tends to be heavier and more bulky, it’s bigger and not as easy to store, and it often runs a bit pricier than other types of carrier.
Infantino Convertible Baby Carrier
Baby K’tan Active Baby Wrap Carrier
Baby Carriers Loved By Parents
Now that we’ve covered the styles of baby carriers, let’s cover a few specific models that parents love.
MOBY Classic Wrap
The classic MOBY Wrap is a family favorite. It offers inward, front-facing and hip carrying positions for your growing baby. This wrap is very versatile, so it can be worn by mom, dad and all other caregivers. It can hold babies from about eight to 30 pounds.
MOBY Ring Sling
Another of the great MOBY carriers is the MOBY Ring Sling. This high-quality, durable carrier is both breathable and stylish. It is made of a woven-cotton fabric that is made to last. Its versatile design allows for front and hip-carrying positions, to keep baby comfortable and close.
Hip Baby Wrap Ring Sling
The Hip Baby Wrap is a superbly made ring sling carrier. Each one is fair trade, 100% cotton and individually handwoven with plant-based dyes in India. The sling is easy to adjust, and the ergonomic design helps the wearer distribute the baby’s weight evenly across the body. This helps ease the strain to neck and shoulders.
The Baby K’Tan is a type of wrap that removes the hassle of learning to actually wrap and tie fabrics across your body. It still provides the benefits of traditional baby wraps, however. The fabrics come stitched together, so all you do is place your head and arms through the openings. Then you fasten the fabric belt to keep baby safe and secure. You can wear the Baby K’Tan in five different positions, including front and back.
One of the original ergonomic baby carrier brands made to support baby’s hips is the Ergobaby. This soft-structured carrier includes a versatile design to accommodate multiple positions and grow with your baby. The Ergobaby 360 is a parent favorite and can be easily adjusted for usage between caregivers of various sizes. The carrier holds babies from 12 to 45 pounds.
The Lilliebaby is a soft-structured carrier that can adjust to carry baby in six positions, from inward-facing to hip and back. Its top-selling features include the ability to distribute a baby’s weight evenly and adjust for maximum comfort as your baby grows. Its air panel lets you keep baby cool on your adventures. The Lillebaby holds babies and toddlers from seven to 45 pounds.
Tula Baby Carrier
Tula is one of the top-rated baby carriers due to its ease of use and comfort. This carrier comes in a variety of styles that can be matched to accommodate baby’s age and the caregiver’s lifestyle. The original Tula carrier features padded, adjustable shoulder straps with a wide supportive panel that can be worn by all sizes. The seat is ergonomically designed for baby’s safety and comfort and provides a natural sitting position to support proper hip and spine development.
Although the Solly Wrap only offers one carry position (inward front position) and has a maximum carry weight of 25 pounds, it is also rated as one of the best baby carriers around due to the fabric’s breathability. The Solly consists of a thin, breathable and super-soft material that can be worn year-long across all seasons. It also can be worn by caregivers of all sizes.
Deuter Kid Comfort
The best of the backpack carriers, the Deuter Kid Comfort is exceedingly comfortable for both wearer and baby. It’s also easy to adjust the straps, and also an easy process to get baby in and out. The carrier has plenty of pockets for storage as well. The drawback to the Deuter is its price tag.
Infantino Sash Wrap & Tie Carrier
This excellent Mei Tai carrier features a wrap-and-tie design without buckles. It allows a more natural fit that adjusts to all body types. The seat can be put in facing-in, hip-hugging and backpack positions. The carrier also comes with a detachable hood for sun protection and nap time.
When looking for a baby carrier, remember to focus on what matters most to you. Keep in mind ease of use, safety and how comfortable the carrier is for both you AND your baby. That way you can find something you can truly love.
As you shop for baby registry essentials – from diaper caddies to pacifiers – be sure to keep the many styles of carriers in mind too. You might want to add several styles to your registry to pick the one you like the most.
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