By: Amber Strocel
There’s nowhere that a baby likes to be as much as your arms. But any mama can tell you that sometimes you need to do things with your hands. Like, say, eat lunch. Or fold laundry. Or walk the dog. Luckily, the solution is easy – get a baby carrier. The right carrier will keep your little one close while giving you freedom to get things done. But which carrier is the right carrier? Here’s how to choose.
Baby Carrier Safety
First things first – you want your baby to be safe in whatever baby carrier you choose. Health Canada recommends that when using a carrier you ensure your baby’s face is always in view, your baby is in an upright position, your baby is secure in the carrier, their face is not pressed into your body or any fabric, and your baby’s chin is not pressed into their chest. Keep these guidelines in mind when you’re choosing a baby carrier.
Types of Baby Carriers
Once you start learning about baby carriers you discover there’s a wide variety of options available, each with pros and cons. Here are some of the most common types of baby carriers to consider.
These carriers are the most common ones you will find in stores. Examples include the Baby Bjorn, the Ergobaby, the Beco and the LILLEbaby. They vary in terms of the size of baby you can carry, and the positions you can carry in. For maximum versatility look for a carrier that works with toddlers as well as babies, and that allows you to carry your baby on your back.
Pros – These carriers are easy to find, easy to use and most brands will work for babies from newborn to toddlerhood.
Cons – These carriers can be expensive, and if more than one adult will be using them there may be a lot of adjusting required.
These metal-framed baby carriers allow you to wear an older baby or toddler on your back. The baby is positioned up high so they can see what’s going on. They can be quite comfortable and often have compartments to carry other things as well.
Pros – Baby backpacks can carry a lot of weight and are easy to use.
Cons – Backpacks will not work for babies who cannot support their own heads and they can be very bulky.
Wraps are long strips of fabric that can be used to secure your little one to you. There are stretchy wraps, which are easier to use but have fewer carrying options, and woven wraps which have a longer learning curve but are very versatile. They can be used for babies from newborn to toddler.
Pros – When you learn how to tie your wrap you can wear your baby in a wide variety of positions.
Cons – Learning to tie a wrap can take time and practice. Woven wraps are quite expensive and not usually available in stores.
These baby carriers go over one shoulder. Pouch slings are simple tubes of fabric. Ring slings allow you to adjust the size and shape of the sling. Slings can be used for babies from newborn to toddler, but most people find them less comfortable as little ones grow.
Pros – Lightweight and relatively inexpensive. Pouch slings are particularly easy to use.
Cons – Ring slings can have a bit of a learning curve, and pouch slings are sized based on the adult so you may need more than one for yourself and your partner.
Mei Tai Baby Carriers
These are like a mix between a wrap and a buckle carrier, with a square of fabric the baby sits in and straps you tie. They work for babies from newborn to toddler, and allow you to carry your baby on your front or your back.
Pros – These carriers are versatile, fit most adults and are easier to use than wraps.
Cons – These carriers are usually only available online and can be quite expensive.
Baby Carrier Buying Tips
Once you’ve decided what type of baby carrier to buy, it’s time to make the big decision. Here are our top tips for making the right purchase:
· If possible, try before you buy. Ask yourself if you can see putting a squirmy baby into it when you are by yourself.
· If you and your partner or other caregiver will be using the same carrier, make sure it will fit you both.
· Consider how you will be using the carrier. Your needs will be different if you’re taking your baby hiking in the backcountry than if you just need free hands to wash a few dishes.
· If you’re really in love with a baby carrier that’s outside of your price range, sleep on it and really think about whether it’s worth the expense. Sometimes a better quality carrier is worth the investment…sometimes it isn’t.
· Ask where you will be in a year or two. Carrying a busy toddler when you’re out and about may not be on your mind now, but it will come in handy before you know it.