There are a vast amount of baby carriers, slings and wraps on the market. The trick is finding the right one (or set of two or three) for your family. There are a number of things to keep in mind when deciding between them, in this article we listed those to help you to select the right carrier for you.
How to choose the right type of baby carrier
There are 6 types of carriers: baby wraps, ring slings, Meh Dai (Mei Tai) carriers, soft structured carrier (SSC), Onbuhimos, and babywearing aids. for the start, it would be good to know what kind of carrier do you need. You can learn all about each of those kind in the following article: Which Type Of Baby Carrier To Choose ? Choose The Right One For You And Your Baby.
Do you know which type is for you now? Great, let’s continue!
Our advice : Instead of asking your self : How to choose the right baby carrier ? ask yourself : Which baby carrier is best for me? What features are most important to me and my family?
There is no one "right" carrier, just what’s "right for you"!
What to look for when buying a baby carrier?
When choosing a baby carrier it is very important to look for key features that meets your family’s needs. Below you will find a list of features you may need to take into account. The list is not exhaustive, but will definitely help you out if you don't know anything about babywearing.
What features to look for when buying a baby carrier?
- ergonomic design
- baby’s weight and age
- caregiver size
- carry positions
- weight and size
We can not stress enough how important it is to choose a carrier with an ergonomic design that is hip-healthy and that support your baby spine development. If you what to know more we recommend you to read the following article: What is an Ergonomic Baby Carrier ?
Baby’s weight and age
Some carriers are designed for the tiniest babies: newborns and even premature babies. Others are suitable only for bigger children: toddlers and preschoolers. There are as well many adjustable carriers that grow with your child. When choosing a carrier always keep in mind that the little ones are growing up quickly, especially during the first years of life. You should therefore not only take into account the actual size of your baby but also think how long the carrier can serve you. When choosing a baby carrier it is very important to make sure the carrier is suitable for your child’s weight and age. Never use a carrier if your baby weight or age do to meet the manufacturer’s recommendations. Below: Ergobaby Embrace Newborn Carrier (from birth to 11 kg) and Rose and Rebellion Big Kid Carrier - one of the biggest carriers available on the market (suitable for children from 4 to 6 years old from 9 to 30 kg).
When choosing a carrier it is important to know is you will you be sharing your carrier with someone much larger/smaller than you? The carrier should fit all those who will regularly carry your baby. Do not buy a slim carrier designed for a small wearer if you XXL husband will us it as well. If the carrier will be used by multiple caregivers we recommend the carriers that are easy to adjust.
different carriers offers different carry positions. Some of them allow for just one way to carry (eg. Onbuhimo back carrier), others are made for multiple carry positions (eg. Ergobaby 360 All Positions Baby Carrier, Tula Explore Versatile Baby Carrier). Those that offer multiple carry position are called versatile carriers. Do you know how do you want to carry you baby? If not let’s take a closer look on different carry position:
Front facing in carry : Suitable form birth, it is recommended for newborns and small babies. Most of the carrier offer this position except for Onbuhimo carrier that is a back carrier.
Font facing out carry : Carrying in facing out position is one of the most common controversy in the babywearing world. Opinions vary among parents, manufacturers and babywearing consultants. This is a topic for a whole new article but in our expert opinion this font facing out position when practices safely, with en ergonomic carrier deigned for this position, for reasonable period of time, and with an age-appropriate baby (min. 5 month old) that enjoy it, is perfectly fine.
+ Advantages: This position is allowing your baby to discover the world.
- Disadvantages: Suitable only for short time carry, not suitable for napping or sleeping.
Hip carry : Available with most carrier with crossable shoulder straps.
+ Advantages: Ideal for breastfeeding.
- Disadvantages: The asymmetric babywearing is not suitable for long periods of time.
Back carry: Suitable from 6 months, perfect option for hiking, perfect carry position for toddlers as they can see through the cargiver’s shoulder.
+ Advantages: The most comfortable carry with heavier child.
- Disadvantages: Some parents are afraid to install their baby on their back.
Small babies drool a lot and often try to chew the shoulder straps. Drool can leave marks on your shoulder straps and make your carrier smell if not washed regularly. This is why we recommend you to choose a carrier that is machine washable. To protect your baby carrier from drool you may also buy teething pads attach around the shoulder straps or bibs.
Different carrier may seem to be more comfortable for different caregivers depending on their size and morphology. In general wearers appreciate adjustable soft padded shoulder straps and wade waist belts. Unpadded straps tend to cut in, making shoulders, necks, while unpadded, narrow waist bands may lead to backs ache. For those who suffer form a back pain we recommend Ergobaby carrier that are equipped with lumbar support.
Weight and size
This feature is very important if you plan to pack the carrier for travel. There are carriers that are very lightweight, easily fordable and compact then others. One of the smallest carriers are: Boba Air Travel, Kinderkraft Nino Baby Carrier and Infantino Zip Travel Carrier.
It is important to keep your budget in mind when searching for a baby carrier. While certain brands or patterns may be hard to afford, you don’t need to go broke buying a baby carrier. There are brands that offers really good value for money and offer quality ergonomic carrier for a reasonable price (eg. Love & Carry, KinderKraft, Infantino).
Baby carriers that have been tested for safety will include some kind of tag with associated information.
You may run across vintage carriers if you’re looking second-hand. Keep in mind that safety standards are continually changing, so getting a more current carrier may be the safest option. We strongly recommend to buy a new carrier but if you decide to buy a second hand always examine very closely the carrier to make sure everything is in working order and do not buy a second hand baby carrier on-line. If you consider buying home made artisan carrier made by a stay home mum, also be careful. Even if it is very beautiful and unique don't forget that safety of your baby is at stake and those carriers are rarely certified.
What tags to look for when choosing a baby carrier?
The best carrier are made of certified non-toxic fabric with OEKO-TEX certificate and are approved hip-healthy product by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
Here you can find the list of hip-healthy approved carriers.