Introduction

Having a baby is life changing event. The new parents are anxious to do everything they can to keep their little one safe at all times. Even though most people have at least nine months to prepare for their baby’s arrival, most of them never feel as if they are truly ready. One of the things that must be in place when you take your newborn home from the hospital is a car seat. The next quest is finding the best baby carriers that work for you and your family.

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Baby carriers have been around in from the beginning of time. It wasn’t until 1969 when Ann Mooore created a carrier that she could use to safely transport her children while serving as a volunteer in the Peace Corps. The first carriers were simple in design but Moore patented her creation and it became the pattern for the Snugli, one of the first of the baby carriers. She went on to file additional patents for a variety of baby carriers into the late 1980s. The Snugli is still being sold today and is recognized as one of the best baby carriers on the market.

Why do we use baby carriers?

As the popularity of baby carriers grew, the term babywearing was coined. Babywearing grew out of the need for parents to keep their children as physically close to them as they could. “Attachment parenting” united parents who were ready to invest their time and efforts in placing their babies into a carrier so they could take their child with them in as convenient and safe way possible. Using baby carriers resulted in children who were calmer and more secure than those pushed around in a stroller. The child enjoyed the rhythm of the parent while the parent knew their baby was save and sound.

Types of baby carriers

From their humble beginnings to the vast array of baby carriers on the market today, it can be overwhelming to decide which type of carrier is best for you and your family. Here is an overview of the different styles to choose from:

1. Wraps : these are basically made out of a piece of material that is long enough to comfortably wrap your baby to the front of your body. You can purchase them in patterns of your choice or check out the Internet to find a pattern to make your own.

2. Slings : this type of carrier is similar to a wrap in that it is worn across the front of the parent leaving them hands-free. The parent is able to shop or carry on other activities while the baby is content and may even take a nap.

3. Back packs : just as their name implies, back pack carriers are a little more structured and are worn on the back. These are best for older children. Infants still need more attention but toddlers can still enjoy being in a baby carrier,

4. Pouch slings : these are usually positioned on the parent’s hip still allowing for a hands-free range of motion. They are also good for cradling the infant so they can sleep or nursing your baby with little fanfare.

5. Structured carrier : while this type of carrier does have some structure to it it is usually soft and more flexible than a back pack but not as much as a wrap or a sling

6. Mei Tai : while this type of baby carrier usually includes a head rest as support for the child, it is a little more complicated to put on.

Pros and Cons of each type of carrier

When it comes to baby carriers, one size does not fit all. There are some carriers that can last from infants to toddlers and others that fit children by weight as they grow. Here are some things to consider when choosing your baby carrier:

Wraps

Pros

  • Fairly inexpensive
  • Can adjust from infant to young toddler
  • Available in colors and designs to complement anyone’s style
  • Convenient size to carry around or tuck inside your diaper bag
  • Keeps the baby snugly against parent
  • You can find patterns online to make your own

Cons

  • Not comfortable for older children
  • Takes time to figure out how to put it on properly
  • If you are putting it on outside part of the wrap drags on the ground
  • Make sure you get material that fits the season
  • You cannot use this wrap to carry your baby on your back
  • More convenient than pushing baby around in carriage or stroller

Slings

Pros

  • Easy to use while breast feeding
  • Provides hands free action
  • Don’t have to look around for an elevator as with a carriage
  • They work with multiple births

Cons

  • Some parents worry if the child could feel smothered
  • Make sure baby doesn’t slip down and is not well supported
  • Not convenient for doing a good deal of grocery shopping or any other activity that requires more room to transport things
  • Not a good choice if the weather makes it hard to get around or changes while you are out shopping

Back packs

Pros

  • Usually have room to store necessities for short period of time
  • The position of the back packs helps to evenly distribute baby’s weight helping to alleviate any back pain
  • You can carry baby on your back
  • Works better with older and heavier children
  • Some models come with straps to cushion the shoulder
  • Some models offer lumbar support for those with back problems
  • Can accommodate small children up through toddlers
  • Available as a soft structured carrier
  • Some models are more structured and can easily move between car seat or stroller and back carrier

Cons

  • Have to keep an eye on what’s going on behind your back so your baby is safe at all times
  • More expensive than other baby carriers

Pouch slings

Pros

  • Can be worn on the hip
  • Less expensive than other carriers
  • Easier to use than ring slings while still providing baby with a comfortable transport

Cons

  • Don’t provide enough support to keep larger babies comfortable
  • Many have more fixed sizes and are not able to keep up with baby as he or she grows

Structured carrier

Pros

  • Easier to use than some of the wraps
  • Some versions have a waist belt that is padded and helps to evenly distribute the weight of the baby
  • Easier to compensate for older and larger babies
  • Sturdy and will last through several children
  • Can be worn in the front or back

Cons

  • Heavier carrier
  • Not as convenient to carry around
  • Not conducive for breast feeding
  • Child always has to face parent; not good for child to look around
  • Not good for infants and smaller babies

Mei Tai

Pros

  • Adjustable span for infants to toddlers
  • Can carry babies on your back
  • Able to evenly distribute the weight of the baby
  • Available in fabrics and colors that even Dads can use comfortably

Cons

  • Not as comfortable for breastfeeding
  • Can’t easily adapt to quick weather changes

Reviews of our top 5 favorite baby carriers

With so many choices available for parents to choose from we decided to go through the most popular models that are currently available. We broke it down into categories that would help you in making your decision a little easier. Instead of having to search the Internet to find the best baby carrier for infants, toddlers, or twins you can check out our top 5 picks and make a decision that fits your needs. Here are the models that represent a variety of styles and the best buy for the money:

Ergobaby Original 3 Position Baby Carrier Black Camel

The Ergobaby is a favorite among parents as it evenly distributes the weight of the child so there is not pressure on the shoulders or back.

Baby can be worn on the front, back or hip. Seat is shaped for the comfort of the baby and the carrier is washable. Best for babies from 7 to 12 pounds. Must use the infant insert if the baby still has no control over their heads and necks. 

BABYBJORN Baby Carrier Miracle - Black/Silver, Cotton Mix

Can accommodate babies from 8 pounds to 26 pounds. This model has a waist belt and cushioned straps to keep the babies weight evenly distributed. Provides support for baby’s head and has an ergonomic seating position that has been approved by pediatricians. Even with all the bells and whistles this model is easy to get on and off quickly.

Chicco Smart Support Backpack, Graphite

This structured back pack is sturdy and yet only weighs less than 7 pounds. It can accommodate children from around 6 to 36 months of age. Includes shoulder padding and lumbar support. The height of the seat adjusts as the child grows meaning you won’t have to get another baby carrier for a long time. 

Moby Wrap Moderns 100% Cotton Baby Carrier, Slate

This is a very nurturing baby carrier. Baby is held close to mom or dad in this soft and cozy carrier. Accommodates preemies up to 35 pounds. The cotton material comes in a number of patterns and colors. 

Boba Baby Wrap, Grey

This cozy and flexible baby carrier is made of 95% cotton and 5% Spandex. It is machine washable and accommodate babies from infancy up to 35 pounds. There are no buckles or straps to worry about, just you and your little one conquering what the day may bring.

Comparison of the leading baby carriers

Ergobaby Original 3 Position Baby Carrier Black Camel

BABYBJORN. Baby Carrier Miracle Black /Silver/Cotton Mix

Chicco Smart Support Backpack Graphite

Moby Wrap Moderns 100% Cotton Baby Carrier, Slate

Boba Baby Wrap, Gray

Babies from 7 to 12 pounds

Babies from 8 to 26 pounds

Babies from 6 months to 36 months

From preemies to 35 pounds

From infants to 35 pounds

Shoulder and back support provided – high density padding

Waist belt and cushioned shoulder straps

Shoulder and lumbar support

No support provided

No support provided

Comfortable for baby and parent -can be worn front, back or hip

Adjustable head support; adapts as child grows

3 positions with head and seat support for baby

Comfortable for baby; cuddles baby but no support

Swaddles baby but no other support provided

Colors available – black/camel; Camel/natural

Colors available – 4 colors; 3 styles

Colors available – graphite gray

Colors available – variety of 33

Colors available – 10 colors; 2 styles

Support – baby is cradled in natural sitting position

Adjusts and supports baby’s head

Free standing; full support for baby

Material is wrapped – no structure

Material is wrapped – no structure

Ease of use - Easy

Ease of use – Adjusts in front; easy to use

Ease of use - Easy

Ease of use – Instructions included; video online

Ease of use – Instructions included – takes practice

Machine washable - Yes

Machine washable - Yes

Machine washable – Spot clean

Machine washable - Yes

Machine washable - yes

Weight – 1.5

Weight – 1.8

Weight 6.5

1 pound

5.5 yds material

Points to consider when choosing the best baby carrier:

When you are ready to purchase your baby carrier, keep these points in mind:

  • Will it last for one child or accommodate them as they grow?
  • Try it out in the store first to make sure it is comfortable for you and the baby.
  • Purchase the carrier that works best for your lifestyle – if you are an outdoors person you can get away with wraps and slings.
  • Check out the patterns and colors to make sure that Dads are not left out. Opt for solid darker colors rather than flowery patterns.
  • Look for baby carriers that are washable.
  • Whether you do or do not have back problems, look for carriers that have lumbar support or cushioned shoulder straps.
  • Check to see if there is a visor to protect baby from the sun, snow and wind.
  • Try to find a carrier that is light enough to move easily inside and out of your vehicle.
  • Check the warranty and the return policy of the place you are buying the carrier from.
  • Some of these carriers can last from when your child is an infant all the way to 36 months.

Wrapping it up

There’s no end to the number of items you will need to properly take care of your baby. Just when you get new outfits to wear they will have grown out of them within a month or so. Some things you just don’t have any control over.

But you can decide how you want to transport your little bundle of joy. Take the time to find a baby carrier that will work best for your child. Always read the customer reviews. These are comments from people who have already purchased the product you are thinking about buying. They will be honest and could possibly save you some money in the long run.

Talk with other moms and see what they think and find out what worked for them. There is a bond that begins with a mother or father and child as they are nestled against your chest. You are showing them the world while providing them with a sense of security that will shape their future.

Take the time now to invest in this babywearing experience. They don’t stay little forever so make sure you are doing the best that you can for you and your baby.

Nancy D. Richardson

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