Baby Carrier Reviews: A Guide to Choose the Right One
Wearing a baby carrier encompasses many benefits to the babies as well as to the adults: the close skin contact, and the comfort that babies seek at all times and with that fulfilled and secured feeling newborns love to nap while they are inside a baby carrier and pressed against their mom's or dad's chest.
Before we move on to our baby carrier reviews, let's remember why baby carriers are important for both: the precious load and the care giver.
When babies are kept close to a parent in this manner they tend to be calmer and cry less, and maybe more importantly this type of wearing with physical connection can help in all areas of development, including social and emotional. What is more fun and educational to a baby than following his mom’s every word, gesture, and ways of doing things. We all know how important is talking (and singing) to our babies for their brain development. Well… you can continuously hum while you wear them so close to your body. While it’d be very uplifting for you it will certainly be very beneficial for your baby in countless ways.
Since wearing baby this close can help to increase your bond with your baby in many ways, this is in fact fantastic news for dads who for various reasons may not get the opportunity to connect with their babies throughout the day as moms do.
You can find zillions of baby carrier models and manufacturers are trying to please many tastes (in terms of color and fabric choice) in addition to basic needs expected to be fulfilled by the best baby carrier on the market.
It also provides parents with a great flexibility to have their hands free, even the chance to nurse on the go for precious breastfeeding.
Here are a few activities or things you can do while you have your hands free and your body carries your baby in a carrier:
- Running errands
- Walking or hiking
- Grocery shopping
- Visiting crowded places where it’s a hassle to get a stroller in
- Doing house work or gardening (no matter how small your child is, talk to him explaining what you are doing, step by step including all the details)
- Having a visit with a friend (if you’re engaged in a conversation with someone else, your baby will want your full attention, but if you wear him, he will hear your voice and you can easily reach to hold his hand or feet so that he will know you’re also with him)
- Shooting and calming your baby
Baby carriers have been a must in baby shower lists and choosing the right one is quite important, otherwise your might end up not using it at all. Of course it's hard to know what the baby will cherish and in which position (forward facing or back facing) he will like to be held, but it's fair to say that most babies are super content as long as they are pressed against their favorite adult. Nevertheless it's crucial that you choose the right one so that you can be comfortable, pain free, mobile and flexible enough wearing it very frequently.
There are five main variants when it comes to baby carriers: soft-structured carriers, backpacks with frame, wraps, mei-tai and slings. If you want to narrow it down you can combine wraps, mei-tai carriers and slings in soft carriers category.
Picking the Best Baby Carrier
Historically baby carrying was done by using a "wrap" or a long piece of fabric to secure the child to parent (mostly mother). While this natural act was abandoned sometime in the second half of the 20th Century, thankfully the undeniable benefits of “wearing” your little one on you have been rediscovered by experts and as a result there are many new designs and types of baby wearing trying to improve the traditional wraps.
You will need to pick from 5 main categories based on your needs as well as on the performance and features of the carriers.
What You Should Look For in A Baby Carrier?
Safety Factor – The baby carrier should be above all safety for your baby. In fact after purchasing it when you’re using it for the first time continue holding your baby until you get used to moving around with the carrier and seeing how your baby holds in it. Your baby should have adequate head, neck and back support. Higher and wider carriers do a better job in supporting baby’s body as well as hips.
But above all your baby’s airway should be open at all times. This could be a concern with some wraps and slings when your child is an infant. Read carefully the manual as they usually offer the safest positions for your baby to be held inside the carrier.
Comfort – Yours and His – If your baby is not comfortable in a carrier, believe me he’s not going to like to be in it again, and he’ll be fussy regardless how close he’ll be to you or to your chest. When the carrier offers excellent safety as we outlined above, it also usually offers comfort for your baby. And as a parent you have to be comfortable wearing it too, and not only you, but your partner as well. Shoulders and back are usually impacted by carrying the baby long hours. It’s crucial that the straps are crisscrossed in the back for weight distribution and they are -including the waist strap- well-padded.
Age and height limitations – Not all could be used for newborns; make sure to clearly understand whether you could use a particular carrier since day 1. But also what are the top limits and how long you can use it, what is the maximum weight it could support or you could carry in those?
Changing positions - This feature provides comfort to you and to your baby. As they grow they develop different tastes as to how they’d like to stroll inside these carriers. Some babies never like to face forward but the others like to be more active and interact with the exterior world from an early age. It’s important to have the feature of easy switching from one position to the other. That is also important if you’re breastfeeding on the go.
Easy to Use and One Person Operation – Carriers should be intuitive enough to put on. Who has time and attention to read an extensive manual when you’re so sleep deprived? It’s also important not to need any help from a second person when putting it one, but also being able to make adjustments easily and quickly while the baby is still inside the carrier.
Easy to Clean – Your carrier should be machine washable, period; because they will be used and exposed to a lot of dirt, saliva, food remaining, throw ups, chewing and more. You can’t really spot clean any of that. Consider air drying though even if the manual allows you machine drying.
Accessories- Sleeping or shade hood, pockets for personal belongings, hooks to hand toys are all big pluses to keep your hands free while wearing these carriers.
Since we set our criteria to evaluate, let’s review now what exactly each category offers us when we are on the market to pick the best baby carrier:
Best Baby Wraps
Wrap carriers have no claps or rings and they are essentially long pieces of clothes. A model that is quite close to original historic wraps that have been used for centuries by women in any society worldwide. They offer many different positions to carry the baby from his infant days through toddlerhood.
Due to the nature of wrapping they distribute baby's weight well and there are no pressure points that make mommy uncomfortable. Nevertheless there is a learning curve to tie the wrap securely so that the baby holds well inside the wrap, something that is not a concern in soft-structured carriers. But wraps are cheaper than those and they can hold newborns making them ideal infant carriers. Not every soft-structured carrier can be used for infants. Don't use a soft baby carrier for activity more rigorous than leisurely walking. If you want to pick up the pace, a jogging stroller is your best bet.
Moby Wrap Original
Moby Wrap Modern
Best Baby Sling
Slings are over the shoulder baby holders made out of a big piece of fabric forming a snuggly baby pouch to hold the baby in front of you. They usually have a pair of metal ring on one end where the other end gets secured through. They are usually handmade and come in various colors and different fabrics. Although they are very popular choices these carriers however should not be used for infants due to suffocation hazards and hip dysplasia risk they pose. Once baby is old enough for a hip-carry position (typically after the 4th month), baby slings are safe to use.
Is Mei-Tai Carrier for You?
Mei-Tai style carrier is traditional Chinese carrier with 4 straps coming off of each corner of a sturdy thick square shaped piece of fabric. Mei-Tai allows you to wear your baby in various positions (front, back and hip) by tying the straps in a variety of configurations. It might be more practical for those of you who do not want to deal with many feet of fabric that wraps have.
Mei-Tai carriers are worn “apron style”, meaning that you tie the first two straps on as an apron, hold your baby on against your body, brink the square fabric up to cover the baby, holding the baby with the fabric and after crossing the other two wraps from your back tying them in the front either below or on baby’s back.
They can be used for infants as well as for toddlers. Infants would fold their legs in “frog” position and rest their body on their mom’s chest. It’s quite easy to put it on when you have some practice however as your baby gets heavier, since the straps are usually not padded it could be hard on your shoulders and back.
Having said that there are various types of mei-tai carriers too: un-padded (no padding on the waist), padded (with some padding on the waist) and structured (with buckles like in soft-structured carriers).
Infantino Sash Mei-Tai
Bamberoo, Beanslings, ObiMama (with padded shoulder straps)
Can A Soft Structured Carrier Be Used from Infancy Trough Toddlerhood Years?
Absolutely. The various models are generally worn on your front, back or hip and even though are ideal for older babies and toddlers, many manufacturers developed new models that can either accommodate infants or offer inserts to make them compatible with newborns. They are for the most part easy to put on, adjustable to various sized babies and adults, ergonomic.
How Baby Backpacks Work?
They are basically structured carriers with a built-in frame that enables to wear your baby on your back. Since your child will be sitting in an upright position, he should already be able hold his back, meaning before he’s 6 to 8 months old he cannot use this framed carrier. These carriers are good for hiking and travel. They come
Best Baby Carrier for A New Born
To choose the best infant carrier you have to be aware of a few important factors about why certain baby carriers are not considered the safest for newborns:
- Suffocation hazards: In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of weak neck muscles. And some materials or pieces of carrier can press against an infant's nose and mouth, blocking the baby's breathing. Slings for instance are considered not adequate for newborns for that simple reason. Also you don’t want your infant to be in an uncontrolled curled position in a carrier when his chin will be bent onto his chest again blocking his breathing. For more information refer to CPSC Advisory on Baby Sling Safety.
- Hip dysplasia risk: After birth, babies’ hips begin the process of “unfolding” from all that time spent in the fetal position. Forcing their legs to stretch out straighter early in life could cause hip dysplasia, or dislocation, a condition that could cause painful arthritis during adulthood, according the Hip Dysplasia Institute.
So the best baby carrier for a newborn could be certain wraps, mei-tai style carriers and some soft-structured carriers. Some wraps may hold the baby too close to the adult’s chest that baby’s airway may be obstructed. Make sure that you hold the baby in a safe position at all times inside the wraps. Mei-tai carriers are usually all good for infants, but make sure to learn how to safely place your infant in them. That requires some practice. One concern I have on those is that not all newborns are crazy about being held inside a mei-tai, and I know that from my own experience. There are many soft-structured carriers that are adequate for infants. Some of them could be adjusted easily, but others provide inserts. Be careful when you buy them and