I recently did a Baby Wearing TV segment offering tips to parents on how to choose a carrier. I was fortunate to be able to work with a baby carrier expert, Laurel of Bella Stella Baby http://www.bellastellababy.com/ who shared her valuable tips on baby wearing. In this post we’ve combined our information to give you a short and sweet summary of what to consider.
Please note that with the recent recall of Infantino sling carriers it’s vital that you understand how to wear your baby properly. Click here to see CPSC warning about slings.
Click here for sling safety tips check out Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association (JPMA).
If you have a baby wearing experience, tip or product you loved when carrying your baby please share it here!
Types of Carriers for Baby Wearing:
- Wraps: Moby Wrap – Good for: newborns preemies, babies up to 20 pounds. Inexpensive, can hold a baby in every position imaginable, not as hard as it looks. The ultimate in comfort. Excellent for transitioning into new-motherhood. Wraps are the best option for someone with back problems. The biggest advantage is that you can fully spread the fabric out to fully distribute the weight of your babe across your entire upper body.
- Pouches: Sprout Pouch – Good For: Babies through toddlers and quick jaunts in and out of stores etc. Lightweight and compact. They easily slip into a diaper bag when baby is not being worn. Dads often prefer the look of a pouch to a ring sling. Can be less expensive & a short learning curve.
- Structured Carrier: Ergo Carrier – Good for: Bigger children (4 months and up) although infant inserts on models like the Ergo and the Beco make them useful (if not ideal) from day one. Long trips, all day carrying and hikes. It is like a backpack that carries the baby either on your front or on your back. It fully supports the baby (not by the crotch as some carriers do – it holds him in a sitting position) so that both your hands are free . The Ergo carrier has a simple design and is easy to put on and put the baby into.
Things to consider When Finding the Best Carrier:
- How old is your baby?
- What position/s do you prefer to use when you carry your baby?
- Do you have any physical problems that could restrict your choice?
- What activities will you use the babycarrier for?
- What type of babycarrier suits your personality?
- What extremes of climate will you need to cope with?
Other things to keep in mind when trying on slings, pouches, and other carriers:
Keep an open mind
I often hear from parents “I don’t want that long thingy that you have to tie- I know I won’t be able to do it.” Just for fun, we have them try it on, and due to the comfort, ease of use (really!), versatility and great price, the “long thingy” almost always goes home.
A good carrier should hold your babe the way you do. Baby’s legs should be supported as if they were in a chair, with support all the way out to the knees. Babies should not be carried by the crotch in a bungee harness with their legs dangling. This is as much for the baby as for the wearer: when the baby’s weight is supported only by the crotch (not distributed throughout the bottom and thighs) a great deal of pressure is put on the still developing pelvic bone.
Those swinging legs are also challenging for your stomach and back muscles to stabilize, leading to prematurely tired (or injured) backs. Slings should fit very snugly, with the lowest part hitting just at the top of your hip; they should be spread out wide across the back and sit on the shoulder, not the neck. Baby should sit snugly against your body, without bouncing or swaying—very important as these motions will KILL your back!
Ring slings, structured carriers like Ergos and Becos, wraps and mei-tai carriers can all be adjusted to fit the wearer snugly.
Pouch slings, on the other hand, must be sized correctly to the wearer when purchased, so make sure you get fit properly.
Try before you buy
Spend some time trying your (well-fed and well-rested) child in a number of carriers. Walk around the block, if possible, to get a feel for how it functions in the real world.
Don’t give up
If your child doesn’t seem to like the carrier, try again later when everyone is in a better mood.
Assess the situation
A one-shoulder sling isn’t going to work for a three-hour excursion. For this kind of job, a two-shouldered carrier with hip support is called for.
Don’t skimp on quality
A carrier will be something you use every day. Get the right one for the job – your baby and your back will thank you!