I’m genuinely excited any time I see a mom or dad wearing their child properly. Besides being easier than lugging around a car seat, it also gives the child the safety and comfort of being close to mom and dad.Every year it seems like we have more and more choices for baby carriers and I’m often asked which one is best. Because moms, dads and babies all come in different shapes and sizes, there isn’t one carrier that is best for everyone. But there are a few rules that should be followed regardless of which carrier you decide to use.
1. Baby should be visible and kissable (when in front of the parent).
2. Baby should be upright, facing parent and not facing away.
3. Base of carrier should go knee-to-knee, keeping the knees above
With that said, here is an explanation of some of the most common types of baby carriers.
These are typically woven, non-stretchy fabric that is long, with two rings on the end. The free end gets passed through and back through the rings to create a lock that allows baby to sit comfortably, upright, facing the parent. These can be used from birth through as long as the kid will let you wear them. It’s fast, convenient, but does take practice to get baby in the best position. It’s also like a messenger bag so it puts more pressure on one shoulder than the other.
These are a stretchy fabric used from birth through just about 15 lbs. Once the baby is 15 lbs., the fabric tends to stretch too much and they are no longer in a safe position. The Moby is one long piece so it can be a little intimidating to use and warm depending on climate. The K’tan is preset sizes so it may not work well for different parents to share. These are cheap and therefore offer easy start to baby wearing.
This is a Japanese carrier which provides the structure of a buckle carrier, but the fabric of a woven wrap. It’s easy to use, comfortable for both mom and baby, and relatively inexpensive compared to some of the buckle carriers. It’s my personal favorite. There are options with adjustable bases to accommodate smaller babies (Fidella Fly-Tai, Hop-Tye) because it needs to be cinched to the width of the knees.
Soft Structured (Buckle) Carriers
These are the most common carriers, and my personal favorite, but there are also a lot of bad ones (cough! Baby Bjorn cough!). These carriers should NOT be used until child is able to sit up on their own because it doesn’t offer the lateral stability available in the other carriers. I recommend you try these on before you buy because they all fit a little differently. Always wear baby in the parent-facing position because forward-facing causes extension of the spine before it’s ready and creates lateral forces on the hips that can lead to dysplasia. Common (good) brands are Ergo, Tula, Lillebaby, Boba and Kinderpack.
Similar to the Moby wraps these are the most versatile but also the most complicated to use. For moms who really want to practice and learn different wraps these are awesome. They are also available in unique styles and patterns.
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