Although babywearing has been culturally around for several decades, the popularity has increased several folds with Instagrammers and celebrity moms and dads sporting the amazing accessory. Not only does babywearing make for gorgeous pictures but also an awesome relationship with the child.
Baby carriers are a very important parenting tool for modern parents. It is ideal to leave carriers off the baby registry and buy only based on baby size and preference. However, with a plethora of options in the market, it is very difficult to choose the right carrier. Here we make it easier for you to choose the option ideal for you and your baby.
It is wise to look at the pros and cons of different baby carriers first and then decide based on suitability for your family. Below are the broad categories of baby carriers and their pros and cons.
- Easy to wear and remove
- Soft and breathable fabrics
- Easy to nurse on the go
- Different choices of pattern and fabric
- Easy to fold and store for carrying around
- Ideal only for newborns and young babies
- Positioning and baby safety can be troublesome because they are unstructured
- Curling up the baby in C position for a long time may cause breathing problems
- Parents may face neck or back pains due to one shoulder style
What to look for in a ring sling:
- Ring slings come with varying tail sizes. A longer length is ideal for plus sized parents
- Check if the sling is washable or dryable in a machine
- The ring should be of good quality and made with sturdy material
- Opt for fabric based on season
- Different positions and tying styles are possible
- More versatility for multiple caregivers
- Different colour and fabric choices available
- Easy to fold and pack
- An extra stretchy option is available for newborns
- There is a learning curve to mastering the wrapping styles
- Some parents or children may feel overheated with the layers of fabric
What to look for in a baby wrap:
- Look for a soft and breathable fabric
- Stretchy fabric is ideal for newborns and smaller babies
Soft Structured Carriers
- Easy to wear and remove
- Ergonomic support
- Higher weight limit as compared to ring sling and wrap
- Secure fastening with buckles
- Fully adjustable
- Can be worn on front or back
- Some carriers also allow front facing position for the child
- Not as snug as ring slings and wraps
- Not many fabrics and colour choices as ring slings and wraps
- Need to be carried separately and do not typically fit in a diaper bag
What to look for when buying a soft structured carrier:
- Soft and breathable fabric
- Carry options
- Additional features such as hoods, pockets, etc
How to choose the best carrier based on your budget:
If you need to buy a carrier within your budget, remember that ring slings and wraps usually cost slightly lesser than soft-structured carriers.
Here are some points to consider:
Age and weight of baby: Different carriers suit different babies. It is important to keep the age and weight considerations of the baby in mind. Soft structured carriers are better used once the baby is 6 months old as the baby can hold neck upright. Some soft-structured carriers also come with newborn inserts for better support. It is ideal to use ring slings and wraps for newborns but caregivers should follow the wrapping instructions properly and stay careful of the fabric near the nose and mouth to avoid suffocation hazards. Guidelines must also be checked based on baby’s conditions such as premature birth or low birth weight.
Washability of carrier: We also know that babies can be quite messy. A carrier will face it all from spilt milk to spit ups to poop accidents. It is very important to see how easy it is to wash a carrier before investing in it. Ring slings and wraps are very easy to wash and dry using a washing machine and dryer. Most soft structured carriers are also washing machine ready. However, framed carriers may only be washable by hand.
Simplicity: may not always have another person to help with wearing the carrier. It is important to have a carrier that is easy and safe to use alone. When you try out a carrier, gauge it based on the ease of wearing by a single person.
Fit: How a carrier fits will depend on the wearer’s physical build and also the size of the baby. Choose a carrier based on the primary caregiver’s statistics. Trying before buying is the key here.
Adjustability: Pay attention to the straps and clips/fasteners. Are they easy to adjust? Do they stay in place or slip with movement? Where are the clips and ties located? Do they prick the wearer or baby?
Wide seat for the baby: A ergonomic carrier must offer knee to knee support to the baby and facilitate the “M position”. A carrier in which the baby’s legs keep dangling may be uncomfortable for the baby. Such carriers have also been associated with the risk of hip dysplasia. A baby carrier with a wide seat for baby’s hip allows for the most natural position for the baby and eliminates any chance of discomfort or improper growth.
Support for the wearer: Although a baby carrier distributes the weight of the baby across the body, it can cause stress to back and shoulders. Look for a good amount of padding in shoulder straps and waist belt to stay comfortable. Some ring slings also come with a shoulder pad.
Wide shoulder and waist straps: Additionally, to padding, the width of the shoulder and waist pads must also to more or they tend to roll and cause discomfort.
Manufacturer approved add-on accessories: You may need some accessories with your carrier. These include drool pads, teething pads, sun cover, waterproof hood for rain protection and winter cover. Look for accessories that you may need based on your location.