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Choosing a Baby Carrier

Posted by Sprout Soup on

How are you going to get anything done while caring for your baby? If you’re a planner, you might start thinking about this while you’re still pregnant. Many moms, however, find themselves at home with baby and realize that meeting the needs of an infant is a full time job with no breaks! Sometimes it’s even hard to find an opportunity to use the bathroom!

Baby carriers are an excellent way to keep baby close while you fix lunch for yourself, clean the house or start in on the piles of laundry that baby seems to generate. Baby carriers even let you meet baby’s needs, feeding hands free and discretely while on the go.

When deciding which baby carrier is right for you and your little one, many factors come into play. It is important to take into consideration baby’s age and weight; what positions you would like to carry him in, on your front or back; and any physical restrictions that you as the wearer may have. This page will help you take a look at the different baby carrier types and their uses.

Baby Sling

A versatile and adjustable baby carrier, the baby sling is a length of fabric, usually between 2 and 2.5 yards, with two rings sewn on one end. The fabric is threaded through the rings and then worn like a sash. The rings lock the fabric in place so baby is supported. Padded and unpadded slings are available. Padding can restrict the adjustability of a sling, so be careful to choose the proper size.

Ages and Weights: Newborn through toddler, up to 35 pounds.
Positions: Cradle carry, vertical snuggle hold, facing out, hip carry, back carry.
Popular Brands: Maya Wrap, Over the Shoulder Baby Holder, EllaRoo Lightly Padded Baby Sling, Taylor Made Slings
Advantages: Can adjust to fit multiple users, can carry a newborn in an upright and cradle position, hands-free breastfeeding.
Disadvantages: Learning to adjust the sling can take some time, some people don’t like the look of the extra fabric that hangs out of the rings (sometimes referred to as the “tail” of the sling).

Pouch Sling

Available in adjustable and fixed varieties, the pouch sling is very similar to the baby sling, but it is sewn in a tube shape and doesn’t have rings. The pouch is easy to get baby in and out of because there’s no need to tie or adjust anything. The pouch really shines as a hip carrier for older infants and toddlers, it’s great for running errands and situations where baby will be in and out of the carrier a lot.

Ages and Weights: Newborn through toddler, up to 35 pounds.
Positions: Cradle carry, facing out, hip carry.
Popular Brands: Hotslings, Kangaroo Korner, New Native
Advantages: Easy to learn and use, streamlined, folds up small.
Disadvantages: Must be sized to fit the wearer so sharing with others is often not possible, positions are limited, breastfeeding in the pouch may not be possible for some users.

Mei Tai (Asian Style Baby Carrier)

With it’s roots in Asia, the Mei Tai carrier has become a very popular baby carrier in recent years. It is simply a rectangle of fabric with four long straps. The straps tie around the wearer while the fabric rectangle supports the baby. The Mei Tai is best used with older infants, and is also useful and comfortable with heavier children.

Ages and Weights: Newborn through toddler, up to 45 pounds.
Positions: Front facing in or out, back carry.
Popular Brands: Kozy Carrier, Freehand, EllaRoo
Advantages: Fits a range of users, easy back carries, dad-friendly,
distributes weight to both shoulders hips.
Disadvantages: Can only carry baby upright, is not as useful for smaller infants, long straps can be overwhelming.

Structured Carriers

A “structured” carrier is what is commonly referred to as a baby backpack carrier. It is also called “structured” because it holds its shape when the baby is not in it. Some structured carriers also have a frame, although they are usually heavier than non-framed carriers, and can also change the wearer’s center of gravity, so framed carriers are not recommended. Sturctured carriers are usually a big hit with fathers who prefer the clips and buckles to tying.

Ages and Weights: Newborn (on some- with insert) through preschooler, up to 45 pounds.
Positions: Cradle carry (with insert), upright front carry (some can face out as well), back carry.
Popular Brands: Ergo, Patapum, Sutemi
Advantages: Very good at weight distribution making it possible to carry heavier children. Quick on and off with buckles or clips. Dad-friendly.
Disadvantages: A separate insert may be necessary to carry infants. Fit is not as customizable because the carrier relies on buckles or clips. Can be bulky.

Wrap

Simply a long piece of fabric, the wrap can be tied in many different configurations making it useful for carrying baby many different ways. Wraps come in a variety of fabric types, some have more “give” to them (called stretchy wraps) and are good for infants, others are more supportive (woven wraps) and work well for heavier children. Learning to tie a wrap is an art and takes time and practice.

Ages and Weights: Newborn through preschooler, up to 45 pounds.
Positions: Cradle carry, upright snuggle carry, facing out, hip carry, back carry.
Popular Brands: Moby Wrap (stretchy), Didymos (woven), EllaRoo (woven)
Advantages: Can carry newborns through preschoolers with many different positions, can be shared by different size users.
Disadvantages: Learning to do the different ties can be time consuming, the length of fabric can be overwhelming.


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