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What to Look for When Buying a Baby Carrier

What to Look for When Buying a Baby Carrier

Baby carriers are essential for every busy mom and dad who wants to carry the baby and remain 'hands-free' for doing other activities. Don't just fall for the cute looks or claims made by the manufacturer. Instead, while choosing the best carrier, look for important things such as the baby's and your comfort. This AptParenting article provides some simple tips for making the appropriate choice.
Parul Solanki
Last Updated: May 22, 2018
Baby Carrier Tip
In order to carry your baby snug against the body, always remember to adjust the carrier well.
One must-have baby gear that every parent should definitely get is the baby carrier. This 'hands-free' gear enables your baby to move, and yet, remain close to your body, while you go about doing your chores. Even when you are out, the carrier keeps the baby safe as you move around efficiently and quickly. The baby carrier is a convenient way of transporting the child, especially on rough roads where a stroller cannot be used. It can be used for breastfeeding or pacifying a tired, fretful baby.
Most of the popular carriers are made of soft material with adjustable, padded straps that allow the baby to be held in a variety of positions. These carriers are often extremely comfortable for the parent as well as the baby. Here are some simple tips for selecting a baby carrier.
How to Choose a Baby Carrier
Types of Baby Carriers
The type of baby carrier you choose should, ideally, be comfortable for you and the baby. While some carriers resemble a long piece of cloth wrapped around the body, there are others which offer the flexibility of multiple positions. So, you can easily carry the baby in the front, on your back, or sides. Some common baby carrier types include:
Wraps
Wrap Carriers
Wrap Carriers
Wraps or the wraparound baby carrier is made from a long piece of cloth which can be wrapped and tied in various ways. It is one of the most versatile baby carriers as it allows babies of all ages to be carried on the front, back, or hip, depending on the comfort of the mother. They are either made of stretch material or woven fabric, to ensure comfort and good fit.
Some great wrap slings in the market are:

Moby Wrap Baby Carrier
Boba Wrap Classic Baby Carrier
Baby K'tan Natural Organic Baby Wrap
Infantino Sync Comfort Wrap Carrier
Sling Carriers
Pouch Sling Carrier
Pouch Sling Carrier
Sling Carriers
Sling Carriers
Sling carriers consists of a length of fabric that is worn over one shoulder and around the waist. It looks like a small comfortable nest for the baby. There are two types of sling carriers in the market. The ring sling is a one-shoulder carrier with fabric woven through a loop or large ring. This helps to easily adjust the size of the carrier. Like ring slings, pouch slings are one-shouldered carriers with fitted pouches that the baby can nestle into. These carriers are, however, not adjustable.
Some popular sling carriers are:

The Peanut Shell Adjustable Sling
Balboa Baby Dr. Sears Adjustable Sling
Karma Baby Organic Cotton Twill Baby Sling
Front Strap-on Carriers
Front Strap-on Carriers
Front Strap-on Carriers
Made to hold a baby upright either facing in or outwards, front strap-on carriers are padded fabric pouches with adjustable straps and leg holes. Most front strap-on carriers are made of soft material with padding for comfort, and a host of extra features for safety and support. One of the extra features included in most carriers is a mesh fabric that prevents the child from getting too sweaty. Some front carriers have special inserts for newborns. 
Some good front strap-on carriers include:

BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier Original
Ergobaby Original Collection Baby Carrier
Chicco UltraSoft 2-Way Infant Carrier
Backpack Baby Carriers
Backpack Baby Carriers
Backpack Baby Carriers
Taking your child on a hike or a walk on the beach becomes easy with the backpack baby carriers. These carriers are designed for children aged six months and older who can hold their heads upright. Made with lightweight aluminum frames, these backpack-style carriers have loads of storage compartments to house the baby essentials along with features like portable changing pads, rain or sun hoods, and rings to attach the toys.
Some good backpack baby carriers are:

Chicco Coda Carrier
Kelty Tour 1.0 Child Carrier
Osprey Poco Premium Child Carrier
Little Life Freedom
Features
There are many features to watch out for when buying the baby carrier. Check the material and fabric of the carrier. Some common fabric options include 100% cotton, nylon, or moisture-resistant polyester microfiber. You also need to check the buckles and fasteners that keep the carrier in place when it is strapped on. Additional features like removable head support for newborns, lumbar support, storage pockets, and side vents add to the convenience factor of the carriers.
Safety
It is advisable to read the instructions to check the age and size restrictions. Most carriers, especially the soft-structured ones, require the baby to have gained head and neck control. These size and age restrictions are also applicable for sling-style carriers. Since the baby is pressed too close to the parent's body, there is an increased risk of suffocation and heat exhaustion.
In 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued certain safety tips for using sling carriers. If the baby is less than four months of age, is premature, or has cold and respiratory problems, you need to consult a doctor before placing him/her in sling carriers. Make sure you can see the child's eyes and face in the sling. Watch out for curled, chin-to-chest position that can lead to suffocation.
You also need to check if the fabrics are free from chemicals, and whether the carrier allows hip and spine alignment.
Comfort and Ease of Use
Is the carrier comfortable for the baby and you? This is one of the most important questions that you should ask yourself. The ideal carrier should be ergonomic, and distribute the baby's weight equally across the hip and shoulder straps. This provides maximum comfort for the baby. As opposed to front strap-on carriers, wraps and slings are more versatile as they allow the child to sit up, lie down, or ride on your back or hip. The carrier should also be such that it is easy for you to get the baby in and out, without any problems.
Adjustable Vs. One Size
The versatility of the baby carrier is a huge bonus. Rather than one-size carriers, look for adjustable ones that can accommodate growing kids as well. As the baby's weight and size increases, you can adjust the straps to find the perfect fit for the baby.
Price
soft-structured carriers
soft-structured carriers
While some styles are very affordable, like a simple wrap carrier, there are others like the soft-structured carriers or the backpack carriers that can be extremely pricey. The price range of these carriers is between $50 to $250. Do not buy a carrier just because it is cheap. Check the safety, fit, and comfort, while making the right decision.
Care and Washing
If you are a busy mom, then chances are that you would not enjoy washing baby carriers by hand. It is best to look for options that have machine-washable fabrics.
When buying baby carriers, do not opt for secondhand carriers, since they may have some problems or may be subject to recalls. Try the carrier with your baby in it, to ensure the best fit. The first couple of times with a baby carrier might feel awkward, but as you get used to it, using this handy and convenient baby gear becomes easy.