Baby carrier sizes can be confusing, but our babywearing consultants are here to help you! In this article we provide you with a sort of baby carrier's sizing guide. You will also find here our recommendations on how to choose the right carrier size. Keep reading to find out:
- Why choosing the right size of baby carrier is important?
- How should a perfect fit look like?
- What baby carriers sizes exist?
- What is the most important difference between baby carrier sizes?
- How to figure out what size carrier to buy without trying one on in person?
Why choosing the right size of baby carrier is important?
It is essential to choose the right size carrier not only for the comfort of your baby but also your child safety. Using too big carrier may compromise your little baby’s airways. If you use too small carrier on the other hand your child may fall down the carrier with too short back panel. When choosing a baby carrier make sure it is suitable for your child size, weight and age. The carrier design should also meet your child development capabilities. For example Onbuhimo carriers can be used only with children that are able to seat unassisted.
How should a perfect fit look like?
Take a closer look at the picture below. The back panel reach the child neck, which means the baby’s back are well supported. The baby is supported by the thigh, the panel goes from one knee pit to the other which mean the panel is wide enough. The baby’s knees are completely visible outside the sides of the panel and the panel is smooth so we know the panel is not too wide.
Check-list for a perfect fit
- Panel reaches child neck
- Fabric goes from knee to knee
- Back panel is smooth
What baby carriers sizes exist?
There are very different carrier sizes but we can distance the following categories:
- newborn / baby size carriers (suitable from birth),
- standard size carriers (form 4 to 24 months),
- toddler size carrier (from 18 to 36 month),
- child carriers : preschool and big kid carriers (up to 7 years old),
- adjustable carriers (may belong to more them one category mentioned above)
Designed for the smallest babies, the newborn carrier and baby carriers are suitable from birth. They are newborn ready which means need no attentional infant insert. Often have two ways of attaching the buckles to round the back panel to C-shape (Example : Love & Carry ONE+ Newborn Baby Carrier). If you want to find out what are the best newborn carriers we recommend you to read this article: What is the best newborn baby carrier ?
Suitable for bigger babies, usually from 18 to 36 month, but there are some toddler carrier that are suitable from 9 months old (Example: Fidella Fusion 2.0 Toddler Full Buckle Carrier)
The child carriers : preschool and big kid carriers goes even up to 6 and 7 years old ! To learn which child carrier we recommend read the following article: What is the best child carrier for larger children ?
The adjustable carriers grow with your child and often can be included in more then one size category (example: LennyLamb LennyPreschool Adjustable Preschool Carrier) which can be used with 1 - 6 year old child).
What is the most important difference between baby carrier sizes?
The main difference between different carrier sizes is the size of the panel: it’s hight and width (also called seat width).
A carrier back panel is a part of a carrier that support your baby’s back.
Back panel hight
Short panels support shorter, small torso babies. The higher the panel is, the taller child can be correctly supported in the carrier. To make the baby carrier safe and comfortable, the panel should reach up to the child's neck, and minimum to the height of his armpits, as shown in the pictures below.
A carrier’s panel should be high enough to support most of the child’s back and short enough to allow the child’s face to be seen from outside the carrier.
Back panel width / Seat width
The panel width which is also known as a seat width, determine the length of the material that support a child thighs. Narrow panels support small babies. The wider the panel is, the taller and longer-legged children can be correctly supported by the carrier. The correct seat width is when the panel width supports your baby from one knee pit to the other knee pit while still allowing the child freedom to swing legs freely.
Certain carriers are adjustable this means that the panel hight and/or width can be adjusted.
Never buy a bigger carrier hoping your child will grow into it as wearing your child in a carrier that is too big can be uncomfortable and unsafe. But keep in mind that the little ones are growing very quickly, especially during the first years of life. When choosing a carrier you should therefore not only take into account the actual size of your baby but also think how long the carrier can serve you. I you plan to practice babywearing for a long time we recommend you to buy a adjustable carrier that will serve you for years.
How to figure out what size carrier to buy without trying one on in person?
It is not obvious to know which seat width and panel hight will be a perfect fit for your child especially if you baby is much tall or shorten then the average.
To know which carrier to choose you need to know what panel size you need. One way to get a better approximation of what carrier will fit your child is to measure what panel size you need.
What you will need: you child and a soft tape measure (a piece of string or a ribbon plus a ruler also will do). We recommend you to have an assistant.
How to measure the recommended back panel hight
Pick up your child and place on your body as if your child were seated in a carrier. Ask someone to measure the distance from your body to the base of the child's neck. This is the maximal panel size for you child. As your baby grows, the upper part of the panel will reach lower and lower to the height of the armpits. We recommend you to buy a size which panel height reaches the base of your child's neck so you could use the carrier for long time.
If you wish you can also take the distance from your body to the height of the child's arms. This is a minimum size of the panel. If the panel of the carrier you plan to buy is close to this distance it means it will not serve you for much time as small children grows very quickly.
Adjustable baby carriers have adjustable height of the panel. If you buy a size which lowest height corresponds to the measured (distance from our body to the base of the child's neck), then as you little one grows, the carrier can grow as well by adjusting the panel. Adjustable carrier can serve you for many years.
How to measure the recommended back panel width / seat width ?
To determine what seat width you need, put your child on your waist as if your child were seated in a carrier and measure the distance from one knee to the other. You should hold one end of the measuring tape against your body where the inside of one of your child’s knee comes closest to it. Then you or your assistant should trace the distance across your stomach with the tape (straight but not tight) until you reach where the inside of the child’s other knee comes close to your body.
Compare that distance to the stated width of the panel for the carrier you’re interested in buying. Choose a carrier with a panel width that is equal to or smaller than your child’s knee to knee distance. Please note that carrier panels often have slight curves and darts and vary from brand to brand, so this is just an estimate.
We hope this will help you to choose the right size carrier for your child. If you have any question please do not hesitate to ask! Our babywearing consultants are at you disposal.