Baby carriers are a great way to keep your little one close to you. In my opinion, the closeness of carrying your baby is about as near as you can get to the feeling of having your baby inside the womb. There’s something about the closeness of baby wearing that I just love. I’ve always enjoyed “wearing” my babies, especially as a welcome part of the “Fourth Trimester”.
If you’re interested in wearing your baby, then you might feel confused by all the options for baby carriers. Not a problem! It can get overwhelming. Keep reading and we’ll sort it all out.
When choosing a baby carrier, make sure to choose one that supports your babies spine. In order to figure out which baby carrier will do this, look at the picture on the box or advertisement. The baby should be in a seated position or a “C” position where her legs are higher than her hips. Never, ever choose a baby carrier where your baby is hanging from the crotch with her legs dangling down. This could be very hard on her spine, even causing long term damage to the hips or back. Additionally, the carriers that don’t support your baby’s spine very well, usually won’t support yours either.
Another important thing to note is that although many baby carriers are advertised with the ability to wear the baby front facing, very few are actually safe for the baby to be worn facing out. To my knowledge, these are the only baby carriers that could safely support a forward facing baby. Do your research before purchasing and if you choose to wear your baby front facing, be very sure that the carrier you’re using is safe to do so.
It’s also important to note that you should be cautious when carrying your baby on your back. Never carrier a young baby who doesn’t have good neck strength or head coordination on your back. If you do choose to back carry, the recommended age is 12 months. Be sure to monitor your baby closely, paying attention to her breathing.
Additionally, you’ll need to beware of what the baby is able to reach when your carrying her. Be extra cautious if you should choose to cook while baby wearing. Your baby’s hands can get grabby, resulting in an accident for both of you.
Baby Wearing is Very Popular
When I first discovered the art of baby wearing, I had no idea that it was it’s own sub-culture! Many baby wearers are serious about the options available, even forming Facebook groups around the topic of baby wearing. Because of this, you should be able to find an answer to any questions about baby wearing that you may have. Don’t purchase until you know exactly what you want, and then be willing to work with the learning curve each baby carrier poses.
There are So Many Options for Baby Carriers
With that being said, let’s talk about the options. There are many! My aim is to help keep you from getting overwhelmed and guide you into the option that will be best and easiest for you and your baby. If you’re going to be serious about baby wearing, it does take a little time to understand how each option works.
I’ll list them in order of easiest to use to most complicated, although difficulty should not deter you from choosing a carrier. It just means you might have to learn a little bit before you can use your carrier.
1. Soft Structured Carrier
The soft structured baby carrier has the smallest learning curve. In fact, I would even venture to say that the soft structured carrier is easy to use. Once you find the style you want, it’s just a matter of adjusting the size to fit you comfortably. This can be done by adjusting the straps that go over the arm, as well as across the waste and back. The baby sits down inside the “seat” in the carrier and wraps her legs around you.
They work best for babies that are not newborn, although many companies do make newborn inserts to help you accommodate a smaller baby. The soft structured carrier has the ability to grow with your baby, eventually allowing you to carrier an older baby (toddler) on your back. See the above guidelines for how to safely do so. The soft structured carrier can be used from newborn (with an insert) into toddlerhood.
2. Backpack Carrier
The backpack carrier is just as easy as the soft structured carrier, but is not suitable for newborns. Your baby must be able to sit unattended. Backpack carriers have a frame that the baby sits in. It’s used just like a backpack. Only, unlike books, the cargo is precious! I typically think of a backpack carrier as suitable for a hiking or camping trip or a day out at an event.
That’s not to say that you couldn’t put your baby in a backpack carrier around the house and cook or do the dishes. However, I’ve found backpack carriers to be a bit more heavy and cumbersome. Backpacks are only suitable for older babies who can support themselves in a seated position.
3. Mei Tai
The Mei Tai wrap is similar to the soft structured carrier, but with less frills, if you will. When laid out flat, it looks like a square piece of fabric with long sashes or tails. There are no buckles. Only fabric. Essentially, you wrap the baby closely to you and tie her on. It’s pretty neat!
The advantages to the Mei Tai carrier are that it’s typically inexpensive, readily available at most box stores, and takes up very little space. It’s a good carrier to keep on hand to stash in the car for a handy carrier when you need it! It’s not as effective with larger or older babies as it seems to loosen as time goes on.
I’ve found my babies tend to “sag” after they’ve been in the Mei Tai carrier. There is a bit of a learning curve in wearing the Mei Tai. You’ll need to learn how to tie it tightly and securely and get the positioning of your baby right. It’s not hard, but it’s also can be a little difficult if you’ve never used it before. The Mei Tai wrap can be used from as early on as a newborn and up into young toddlerhood. Beyond that, they don’t seem to support the weight of the baby as well.
4. The Wrap
To me, the learning curve between the ring sling carrier and the wrap is a tossup. Both require time to master the techniques of wrapping and carrying your baby. Since the Ring Sling is a variation of the wrap, I’ll talk about basic wraps first.
The wrap is a beautiful way to carry your baby. Wraps vary in colors and styles as far as your imagination can carry you. In fact, if you choose to use a wrap baby carrier, you might find that choosing from all the options is almost harder than learning to use it! Having said that, the wrap is the most traditional and basic of all carriers. It is made up of a long piece of fabric.
The variations in fabric choices will result in wraps that hold babies of various weights, as well as the closeness and flexibility of using the different carries. If you choose to purchase a wrap (and I think you should really consider it) you’ll want to check out YouTube for various tutorials to help you learn how to safely and comfortably carry your baby. It took me a long time to learn how to wear my baby with a wrap, but once I did, I felt a major accomplishment! To me, it was the most natural way to carry my little one, resulting in a very content and comfortable baby. Wraps are suitable for newborns up to toddlerhood (and even beyond)
5. Ring Sling Carrier
As I said earlier, the ring sling is a variation of the wrap. In fact, it’s just the wrap with a set of rings used to hold the fabric in place resulting in a comfortable hold for both you and the baby. There are some very creative holds that can be done, but the most common is done by forming a pouch and then threading the fabric through a set of two rings and then letting it come to rest at your shoulder. It’s also a steep learning curve to wear a Ring Sling, but it works very well once you get the hang of it. Ring Slings can be used from newborn to toddler and beyond.
As you can see, there are many options for good baby carriers. The choice you make will be due in large part to your personality and physical needs. Whatever you choose to carry your baby in, be sure to choose wisely and safely. Then enjoy keeping your baby close to you!
Wanna try your hand at making your own carrier? Check out this post for easy instructions!
What about you? Which of he top 5 styles of carriers for baby wearing are you most interested in? Do you have a favorite?
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