What is a baby carrier?
A baby carrier is a piece of baby gear which allows you to wear your baby on your front or back, backpack style, so that your baby’s weight is spread across your body and not just your arms, and also you can be hands-free.
Do I need a baby carrier?
Baby carriers are great for busy parents or parent who have other children as you are hands free and can complete other tasks while your baby is not only safe and in view, but also benefiting from close contact with mum or dad which is important for bonding. What’s more, the common alternatives when you’re out and about are pushchairs or prams, which can be big and bulky and can cause a lot of stress if you have to take public transport, open doors and push the pushchair through, and things like grocery shopping where you often need a chariot and hands-free to grab the items on your shopping list. Carriers allow your baby to be more involved in activities because they are with you rather than watching from the side-lines in a buggy, bouncer or swing. This can be particularly good for older siblings as they don’t lose time with mum and dad, you can help them or play with them without constantly going back and forth to your baby. Wearing your baby can help you bond as you are constantly in close contact. It can also soothe and calm babies who need the closeness with a parents that a pushchair lacks. Close contact and touch releases oxytocin, the “love” hormone, which can create a closer bond between you and your baby.
How to choose a baby carrier
Front, back, sling, wrap? There are many different wear to wear your baby! Carrying your newborn on your front is the safest option, and many baby carriers have the option to turn the baby around to face outwards when they get bigger. This allows them to see the world ad everything that happens around them, so they can feel like they’re taking in everything you do. The problem with typical carriers is that they’re not practical for breastfeeding. However, there are also wraps which are large pieces of fabric which you can tie around your shoulders an body to hold you baby. These, as well as slings which go over one shoulder, are great for breastfeeding mums. Slings and wraps are better for infants and small babies as there is less structure and support so carrying a heavier baby is more difficult. A sling is a great alternative to a carrier, they’re long pieces of materials which hold your baby and allow you to carry them close to your body at all times, without impeding your movement.
Your baby needs leg holes that can support him or her without squashing their little legs. A great option is adjustable carriers which allow you to expand or alter the legs holes as your baby grows. As with all baby gear, you need to think about head and neck support, and find something that does the job without you worrying about supporting their heads, it’s supposed to be hands free! What’s more, you’re going to be carrying the baby on your body, so your comfort is paramount. Thick, padded shoulder straps will make it more comfortable for long-term wear, and an added hip belt will distribute your baby’s weight around your body making it easier to carry your baby even when they grow.
You should be able to put your baby I the carrier and attach all the buckles by yourself without difficulty. If there are hundreds of clips then it’s probably going to take a long time to get out of the house, and might be more stressful than it’s worth. A few simple clips are all you need, and a good instruction guide can come in handy. Some carriers allow you to detach the baby from your body without taking them out of the carrier. This is great because you don’t have to wake up your sleeping baby, you can move them directly from your body to the cot. Many babies who suffer from colic or struggle to fall asleep when they’re not being held by mummy or daddy find it easy to fall asleep upright in a baby carrier, so this feature can be especially useful.
Baby carrier comparison table
What parents think
Here are the positive and negative comments from parents who tried the products mentioned above:
+ Reasonable price
+ Baby falls asleep easily inside
+ Lightweight (1.3 lbs)
+ Adjusts well to parents of all sizes and heights
+ Easy to buckle/attach yourself without help
+ Great for newborns with a narrow seat for small babies
– Bib doesn’t stay attached very well
– Padded straps are not very padded or comfortable for wearing during long periods of time
+ Easy to put on with one hand without assistance from another person
+ Breathable mesh material
+ Folds up small
+ Can detach sleeping baby without taking them out of the carrier to put them down without waking them
+ Great head support for newborns
– All weight is carried on shoulders as there’s no waist belt which is hard with an older baby
+ Easy for breastfeeding
+ Very comfortable for parent and baby
+ Ergonomic positioning for baby’s hip comfort and development
– Hard to reach back buckle
– Hood is slightly small for breastfeeding
– Velcro is very loud
+ Front position easy to put on on your own
+ Lightweight and compact so great for travelling
+ Great for short-time use so you can hold your baby hands-free
+/- Soft material regarding stiffness but not soft to touch
– Hard to put on your back without help from another person
– Short wearing time because the soft frame means baby isn’t support if wearing for a long amount of time and lack of lower back support can case back pain if wearing for too long
+ Only takes a couple of minutes to put the wrap on and to put aby inside
+ Feels perfectly tight and secure
+ Very soft material
+ Very easy to wrap once you know how and it’s easy to find instructive videos online
+/- Some parents said it’s not good for long periods of time if you have a bad back, while others love the dispersion of weight over your hips and shoulders
– Not enough fabric to tie around larger men and women
+ Very easy to put on
+ Helpful instruction booklet with different ways to carry your baby
+ Specific newborn carry style
+ Great for nursing
+ Supports baby’s head
+ Additional sash provides extra support in certain carry positions and can be used for storage
– Sizes can be big so sizing down is recommended
– Adjustment of straps isn’t very accurate so weight is all on shoulders
+ No buckles, clips or straps
+ Easy to put on alone with instruction booklet and online video
+ Comfy to wear and easy to breastfeed
+ Great quality fabric with stretchy spandex and very soft cotton
+ Affordable baby carrier
– Baby gets very hot in the sling when the weather’s warm