How to Choose the Best Baby Carrier

Today a lot of new parents consider buying a baby carrier. It is indeed very convenient. It can free up your hands, give you snuggle time with your baby even on-the-go and seems like a perfect solution for a fussy baby. But choosing baby carrier today for a new parent can be a challenge. Even experienced parents get lost in all the choices that are available today! So BabyCarriersReviews.com decided to take on this quest and sift through loads of information that is available and hopefully help you settle on a carrier you will really enjoy.

Today there are five different major types of baby carriers on the market (with some in-between options):

  1. Sling
  2. Soft Structured Carrier (or SSC)
  3. Wrap
  4. Mei Tai
  5. Backpack Carrier

Baby Carriers Types

First let us tell you a little bit about each type.

Sling

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Sling is usually a piece of fabric, also can be with two rings (ring sling), that is worn over one shoulder. It forms a pouch where you put your baby. You can carry an older child on your hip wearing a sling. Today you can find a wide variety of slings of different colors and made from different materials. However, there are some safety concerns regarding slings. BabyGearLab.com does not even review them:

We did not include any slings in our baby carrier review due to concerns about the risks of suffocation and hip dysplasia, particularly for newborns

There are also ‘like-slings’ carriers available, for example Nesting Days Carrier which is designed specifically as a sling/carrier for newborns or preemies. You can find all in-depth reviews and descriptions for all baby carriers on our website.

Nesting Days carrier for preemies and newborn

Soft Structured Carriers (SSC) or Buckle Carrier

Julia Roberts with Ergobaby carrier

Soft Structured Carriers are probably the most popular, safe and versatile among all carriers. Some can be used to wear a child till 3 years old, they distribute baby’s weight onto your hips (they have a wide adjustable belt), can comfortably fit both parents and are completely safe for the baby (unlike slings).

The main concern regarding soft-structured carrier when is hip dysplasia. It is always good to check whether the carrier is ergonomic or not (baby’s knees sould be a little above the baby’s bottom). For example most models of Bjorn baby carriers are known for ‘dangling’ the baby, which can cause dysplasia issues.

Furthermore these days SSCs can be carried in multiple positions, for example Beco Gemini can be carried in 4 different carrying positions (front carry facing out OR facing in, hip carry and back carry). However SSCs may take up a lot of space due to multiple buckles and belt unlike a sling. Read more about different soft structured carriers on on BabyCarriersReviews.com.

Wrap

Sheryl Crow with 1-month old son Wyatt on a hike with Moby D baby wrap

Wrap is just a long single piece of material that you can tie and wrap in many different ways to carry your baby. Wrap is probably the simplest and the oldest form of baby carriers. However simple only means that they are simple to make. Some moms out there thave never become comfortable using it, not for the lack of trying. But those who manage to get good at it absolutely love the wraps. The wrap ‘grows on you’ with time. They come in many colors and made from all kinds of materials. If you manage to master the wrapping part then you can carry your baby in many different positions from newborn to toddlerhood.

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They are generally safe and comfortable to use, light, can be taken with you anywhere as they do not take up that much space. However they can get too hot in summer because of all the extra material.

Mei Tai

Sash Mei Tai carrier

Mei Tai has the body of a soft structured baby carrier but instead of buckles it has four long strings attached to each corner of its body and can be tied in many different ways like the wrap. So it is sort of SSC but without the buckles. You can adjust it however you like it so after some practice (any carriers that need tying take some practice) it will fit you as if it was made just for you. Plus it won’t take up as much space as SSC as it does not have all those thick belts and buckles.

Baby Hiking Backpack

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Baby backpack is usually used for hiking or anywhere where it is not very convenient to take a stroller. It has a metal lightweight frame and is usually meant for older babies who have perfect head control and can sit up unassisted or toddlers. It is very convenient as the baby does not get hot in it (as there is almost no body contact), can look around, hold toys, take a nap. It is basically a smaller stroller that you carry on your back. So if you are going away on a trip or like to hang out offroad then you will definitely need one of those. Although we find that they are little too heavy, although if you are used to camping trips it is lighter than a three-day camping backpack (plus minus depending on how much your baby weighs).

Choosing the Best Baby Carrier

So as you can see there are so many choices of different types of carriers that it is almost impossible to choose. So where do we begin? After reading copious amounts of information about baby carriers we feel that there are factors that would influence your choice: safety, how easy it is to use the carrier, carry positions, age range, how comfortable is it for baby and parent and of course the price.

Baby Carrier Safety

We believe that first and foremost the carrier should be safe for a baby. Safety tips may be more applicable to certain age ranges than others however if you are choosing your first baby carrier these safety precautions should always be considered.

Ergonomic Design

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Safe for Newborn

Firstly, the carrier should always have an ergonomic structure, meaning that baby’s legs should always be in a frog position. The carriers that force babies keep their legs straight or together are not healthy and may cause hip dysplasia. Which is why slings and certain carrier like Bjorn Original may be a cause for concern especially for younger infants. Read up more tips about healthy baby carrying tips on International Hip Dysplasia Institute website.

If you are plannning to use a carrier for a baby younger than 4 months then you must make sure that the carrier offers proper support for head and neck. Certain carriers like Ergobaby 360 need a special insert to accommodate infants while some like Beco Gemini can be used as is.

Ergobaby carrier and newborn insert

Secure in the Carrier

The carrier whether it is a sling, wrap or SSC should always securely hold the baby. The buckles and material should be of good quality, the wrap and mei tai should be used correctly to prevent any unpleasant accidents. So make sure to check that you are purchasing a quality carrier and learn how to use it correctly.

Is it Easy to Use the Carrier?

Certain carriers are surely easier to use than others. But it is all relative. For some using a wrap is way easier than buckling up a soft-structured carrier, to some the combination of perect fit that mei tai and wrap gives outwheighs the discomfort of putting in a little effort of learning how to wrap. While other people prefer the intuitive carriers like Tula Ergonomic Baby and don’t get the hang of using wraps even as simple as K’Tan which is already pretty much ‘wrapped’. So I guess in this case each to his own and every parent will have to decide what is best for them when combined with other factors for choosing the best baby carrier.

Carry positions

Modern carriers offer different carry positions. The most common carry positions are facing out and facing in when carried in front of the parent, meaning that the baby is carried with her face or back of the head towards you. Other common position is back carry when the baby is carried on your back. This position is more suitable for older babies or toddlers. Hip carry position is when the baby is sitting on your hip which is also suitable for babies with very good head control. Also there are positions that are available only for wraps or wrap baby carriers like K’Tan. For example, Kangaroo position and Explore Position.

Explore position

Kangaroo position

So if you are leaning towards a wrap, then you do not need to be concerned with position it offers: it all depends on how many positions you master to wrap your baby into, but SSCs are limited to certain positions. For example Ergobaby 360 and Beco Gemini offer all four carrying positions but Baby Bjorn Original can only be used in two carrying positions. So make sure to do your research: as the babies grow, they tend to prefer different things, so if your baby only wants to face today tomorrow he might want to piggy back ride.

Comfort of the Carrier for you and your Baby

Another very important factor when choosing a baby carrier is how comfortable it is for the baby and for the wearer. If you want to go for a soft-structured carrier make sure that it adjusts well to fit your body, has wide belt so that the weight is on your hips rather than your shoulders (much like those massive camping backpacks), that both belt and straps have the appropriate padding. If you decide to go for a wrap or a mei tai try it out somewhere. We have seen plenty of people saying they bought it and used it onceor twice as they are simply not comfortable using it.

When it comes to baby’s comfort it much depends on where you live, your baby’s age, how comfortable is it to nap in a carrier. If you live in a very hot climate you would want to go for something more breathable so that you and your baby do not get too hot. For example K’Tan Breeze is a good choice in this situation rather than long miles of wrapping material or with SSC, the material should be breathable and preferably natural and baby-safe. There are also some complaints of certain carriers rubbing on baby’s legs so make sure to do your research and read the reviews (which is what BabyCarrierReviews.com is here for).

If you plan on long hikes make sure that the carrier is comfortable for you and your baby even if you wear it long hours.

Age Range of the Carrier

Nowadays there are carriers that can take your baby all the way from newborn stage to toddlerhood. But there are carriers that are better for certain age group than other. For example, Baby K’Tan is very fancied by prents of newborns. But for older kids parents prefer something a little more firm like Ergobaby 360. Although Ergobaby 360 and many other carriers offer infant insert, it has issues of baby getting way too hot in it. Also there are slings that are made specifically for preemies and newborn like Nesting Days. Backpack baby carriers will only fit older babies or toddlers. But if you want something a little more versatile that does not require an insert then Beco Gemini will do a fantastic job.

Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that each babywearer will have to do his research before choosing the baby carrier that is suitable for them. Something that is perfect for someone may not be suitable for someone else. If you have a chance to test a carrier out before buying it (for example borrow from a friend or family member) even if it is for only an hour that would be the best option. You would not want to spend $100 or more only to find out that you are not comfortable at all, considering that baby carriers are sometimes non-refundable. If you do not have that option, BabyCarriersReviews.com has a wide variety or reviews and other resources that will help you settle on the best baby carrier to suit your needs.

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