Baby Carrier – The Ultimate Guide

During the first few months of your baby’s life, the necessity of keeping them close to you – literally – is a truth universally known. Because of this, one of the early staples in your baby care kit is the baby carrier. In this guide, we’ll be breaking down to you everything you need to know to find yourself the perfect baby carrier for your little one!
At a Glance
  • A baby carrier is a piece of contraption you strap to your body to help support your infant. By using this, you are able to hold your child close to you while your hands are free, so you are able to multitask with mobility.
  • There are different types of baby carrier designs to fit a parent’s every need: (1) soft-structured, (2) wrap, (3) sling, and (4) mei dai. Each type has their own advantages and disadvantages, and the key in finding the right carrier choosing one that will fit your preferences.
  • When buying a carrier, consider the following purchase criteria: (1) comfort, (2) ease of use, (3) durability, (4) size, (5) versatility, (6) weather appropriateness, and (7) ease of access for nursing.
  • The ideal carrier allows the baby to be carried in an M Position or frog position, which is an anatomically protect position. The fabric in the crotch area should not be too narrow or too wide that the feet are pressed apart. It should support the whole upper leg and reach from knee to knee.
  • Beware of toxic substances in baby carriers. Make sure that the fabric complies with GOTS standards. Look for health and safety certifications to ensure that the product does not contain any hazardous toxins. 100% organic cotton carriers are recommended by experts.

Newborn babies are very fragile. During the first few months, they lack the strength to support themselves. For one, they are unable to hold their necks properly, and it will take some time for them to develop muscles to hold their heads up. Also, babies have a natural need to be close to their parents all the time during their first few weeks. So how will you be able to get on with your day to day tasks with you having to carry your newborn around? This is where a baby carrier comes in.

What is a Baby Carrier?

A baby carrier is a piece of contraption you strap to your body to help support your infant. By using this, you are able to hold your child close to you while your hands are free, so you are able to multitask with mobility.

Parents typically use them in the first few months from a baby’s birth as most parents find them uncomfortable once their babies reach 15 to 20 pounds. Carriers usually have padding to support the head, back, and bottom, and come with adjustable straps and plastic buckles to accommodate your growing baby. Some can be worn with the baby placed in front of you while others let you carry your child on your back. These contraptions are also able to distribute your baby’s weight evenly so you don’t strain yourself. Like the goal of most baby care products, baby carriers are designed to help make things easier for you. There are different types of baby carrier designs to fit a parent’s every need. The key is in finding which one will fit your preferences.

Young father walking with baby carrier on the street

What are the Types of Baby Carriers?

Baby carriers have been around since time immemorial, but with the recent technology and advancements, choices of baby carriers available to you are as wide as ever. The modern-day carriers are a nod to the old classic ones of our past, but they come in more technical designs and are aesthetically pleasing.

There are 4 main types of baby carriers – soft-structured, mei dai, wrap, and sling. With these many choices around, deciding on which one to get can be an overwhelming task, especially because they also come in different sorts of styles and sizes.

To spare you from the trouble, here is a quick comparison overview of each type of baby carrier and their pros and cons.

1. Soft-Structured 

Soft-structured or SSC carriers are the most popular type of baby carriers. They work essentially like a backpack but is usually worn on the front. They have padded straps and thick waistbands connected to the carrier’s whole upper body. It is very appealing to a lot of caregivers as it offers accessibility, convenience, and comfort, all-in-one.

  • Best for:  older newborns, depending on size
  • Material: soft, breathable mesh, additional padding on supporting areas

  • Easy and quick to put on
  • Offers stability
  • Best weight distribution
  • Problem- free use and very rare product errors
  • Very secure

  • Does not offer optimal flexibility
  • Less suitable for newborn babies.
  • Provides more space between baby and carrier

2. Wrap 

This style is basically a long piece of fabric that wraps around the carrier and baby. It looks like a pouch that holds the baby in front. They usually come with adjustable rings to secure them in place.

  • Best for: newborns and toddlers of any age
  • Material: Knit jersey (ideal for newborns), Gauze (ideal for warm weather), cotton, linen, wool, etc

  • Infinitely adjustable
  • Ideal for snuggling newborns close without much barriers
  • Very flexible and offers wide range of mobilit
  • versatile

  • Hard to learn to use at first and may take some time and practice to master
  • Time consuming to put on
  • Not advisable for bigger babies due to lack of padding and support

3. Sling 

The same as a wrap, they come as a piece of fabric. The loose ends are tied securely to hold the newborn in place. A pair of metal or nylon rings are usually attached to the end with the other threaded through them.

  • Best for: newborns
  • Material: available in a variety of fabrics from cotton to silk.

  • Versatile
  • The long tail can be used in a number of ways such as a nursing cover, sun shade or a blanket for your baby
  • Best for newborns and toddlers who want to be quickly but up and down

  • The long fabric may be tricky and bothersome to navigate in
  • The weight can be uncomfortably distributed because it is only carried from one shoulder

4. Mei Dai  

An alternative to slings, these hybrid baby carriers have uncomplicated shoulder and hip straps, making them extremely easy to put on. Babies can be carried on the hip, front, and back.

  • Best for: older babies and toddlers
  • Material: attractive fabrics

  • Easy to use and very versatile
  • Stowed easily
  • Suitable for both newborns and toddlers

  • Does not really cater to the needs of the wearer

What to Consider when buying a Baby Carrier

When it comes to choosing the best baby carrier, it all boils down to the following:

  • Comfort: It’s simple: If a baby carrier is uncomfortable, you won’t use it. Look for wide straps with padding and sturdy fabric. If you are not the only one using the carrier, make sure it is adjustable. For your baby, look for leg holes that are padded and loose so as not to constrict your baby but not too lose that they will slip. A comfortable headrest is also best as your baby will probably sleep on the carrier.
  • Ease of use: Ask yourself, how much effort should it take? If you want to save some time and effort in securing a baby carrier to your body, something easy to use and pick up will be the best for you. Find something that you can put on and take off without using any help from anyone else. Structured carriers, for example, come with buckles exactly for this convenience.
  • Durability: Make sure that the seats and straps of the carrier are built sturdily and securely. There is no price for your baby’s safety.
  • Size: Carriers come in different sizes, both for the wearers and the babies. Find something that fits both you and the baby. Also, consider if your baby can grow into the carrier so you can use it longer.
  • Versatility: Depending if you prefer sling or structured, something that you may use in more than one way is always a good thing. It’s a bonus if the carrier is designed to support your baby as he grows from infancy.
  • Weather Appropriate: Depending on the weather, some carriers may be too warm or too thin for your baby. Choose one that suits your climate.
  • Good for Nursing: If you are nursing your baby, a carrier that provides easy access to the breast might be something you want to consider.
  • How long will you use a carrier? Ask yourself if you will be using a carrier only for the first few months or if you plan to use it until toddlerhood. Buy the kind that suits your needs.

Safety Notes

  • If wearing a sling or a wrap, always check if your baby is properly secured. As these types of carriers are not structured, your baby might not be in a safe position. Make sure his face will not be pressed against the fabric that it’s hard for him to breathe. Prevent him from being in a chin to chest position. Both of these scenarios may lead to suffocation which can happen in a matter of minutes.
  • Your baby’s face and eyes should always be visible. Adjust your baby so you can always see his face and eyes easily.
  • If your baby is less than 4 months old, prematurely born, or underweight for his age, consult your healthcare provider before putting him on a carrier.

Anatomically Correct Position

One of the main things you hear being asked often about a baby carrier is if it allows your baby to be carried in an anatomically correct position. Also called M-position or frog position, it means that a baby’s knees are higher than their bottoms, with their legs spread apart. You will notice that babies automatically assume this position when you pick them up.

A good carrier allows the baby to be carried in an M Position. If the fabric in the crotch area is too narrow or too wide that the feet are pressed apart, then the carrier is NOT good. It should support the whole upper leg and reach from knee to knee. When buying a carrier, take a look at how the baby sits on it.

Don’ts in Buying a Baby Carrier

  • Don’t buy a baby carrier that is meant for babies who weigh lighter than yours.
  • One mistake most people make is getting a carrier that is too big for their baby or the carrier is adjusted too loosely.
  • Don’t cheapen out. Being practical is a good thing, but there is no price for your baby’s health and safety. If possible, buy a carrier from a trusted brand. You will not regret it.
  • Thinking of just buying the next thing you see? Please don’t. Buying baby carriers is not like buying a t-shirt. Doing proper research and being aware of the things you need to know is essential to ensuring your baby’s safety and yours.
  • Avoid carriers with loose fabric. Contrary to what you might think, loose fabric is not sturdy enough to hold your little one in a proper position. They make your baby slide down which can prevent them from breathing properly.
Tip: Make sure that the fabric complies with GOTS standards. Look for health and safety certifications from Standard 100, Oeko-Tex, and Class 1 to ensure that the product does not contain any hazardous toxins.  Organic cotton carriers come with high recommendations from experts.

Care and Cleaning Tips

The work doesn’t just end at finding the right baby carrier. Its cleaning and maintenance are also one of the things you need to familiarize yourself with. If it is going to be in contact with you and your baby constantly, then it needs to be clean. Properly washing them from time to time is only reasonable. What are the proper care and basic cleaning tips for the average baby carrier?

  1. Spot clean. Before jumping in and loading your carrier into the washer, the first level of action is to spot clean it. If there is a small bit of dirty stain, try cleaning it with a damp cloth and let it air dry.
  2. Observe proper machine habits. Some carriers are not just made solely of washable fabrics. Most of them have metal or plastic buckles. Make sure you protect buckles inside a pillowcase before loading it into your washing machine. For ring slings, wrap a piece of clothing around the ring.
  3. Do a quick hand wash first. A quick and effortless rinse may sometimes be enough to do the job. Try to hold back and not go all out. Sometimes a dirty looking carrier only needs a little water and a few scrubs.
  4. For a total clean, loosen all parts before putting it inside a pillowcase and give it a spin on your machine. If you feel the need for a total cleaning, go ahead and do this. Use about a spoonful of detergent.
  5. It doesn’t hurt to do an extra rinse. Sometimes you will need a bit more effort to remove things like lint and dust. An extra rinse will do the trick.
  6. For drying, use airdry. Machine-drying your carrier might not be the best option. Weather-permitting, air-drying will prolong your carrier’s life.

Other Useful Products

  • Pookie Poncho. This product by 7am Enfant is an amazing baby carrier cover. The best part is that it fits over any baby carrier, giving you additional cover from any harsh weather conditions. It is so versatile that you can even use it over a car seat or baby stroller.
  • Chew Pads. Babies drool, no use arguing on that. A chew pad prevents your baby from drooling all over your baby carrier, and it is also very easy to clean. If possible, choose ones made of absorbent organic cotton.
  • Reach Straps. Carriers need reach straps so you can easily reach the hood when it is hanging in the back. Aside from making your carrier easier to use, these cute little straps can even spruce up the contraption to make your baby look even more adorable.

Best Baby Carrier Brands

 These brands have proven time and time again that they offer the best quality products for you and your baby’s use. If you are looking for some brand considerations, the perfect carrier might just be from one of these.

Manduca Ergobaby Cybex Marsupi Baby Bjorn Chicco

Let’s Answer Your Questions

Here we answer your most common questions that have everything to do with baby carriers.

Should I go for a carrier or a sling?

This is totally dependent on your personal preference. Both products have advantages and disadvantages. Carriers with structure are easy to handle but don’t really offer flexibility. Sling carriers, on the other hand, allow for a wide range of motion but take a little more time to put on.

How long can I carry my child?

It depends on how long you want to. It can be until they are more capable of supporting themselves or well into adulthood. But keep in mind that carriers can only come in the largest size; therefore, your child can wear one only up to a certain point.

How much does a baby carrier cost?

Different types of carriers have varying price ranges.

  • Structured: $30 t0 $300
  • Wraps and Slings: $25 to $200
  • Mei Tais: $20 to $100

Do I really need a baby carrier?

For your ease and your baby’s –  Yes. For the first few months, a baby carrier is proven invaluable in comfortable childcare. They are not only good for bonding with your newborn but also allow you to move freely while doing your normal everyday routine.

How old does my baby have to be to use a baby carrier?

There is no strict guideline when it comes to how soon you can put your baby in a carrier. However, we recommend that you wait for a short period until your baby is capable of holding his own head before you carry him in a carrier position. But if you really want to, simply choose one that gives full support.

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