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Buyer's Guide: Carriers

Buyer's Guide: Carriers

A baby carrier is ideal for providing that reassuring human contact for your baby, helping to sustain the parent-child bond when you’re on the move. Your baby has grown accustomed to love this after 9 months in the womb; no reason to stop now!

The essential role of a baby carrier is to keep your baby near you as you prance about doing your daily duties. They also free up your hands which is perfect for the multi-tasking mom or dad. Babies weigh as much as an average-sized watermelon, so if you’re petite in size, a carrier will help to distribute the weight equally and protect your back.

Carrier designs are as numerous as the types of candy in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. In other words, they come in all shapes, styles, designs, age and weight limits. Each has its unique features, and choosing one may be tough for you. Fret not, with a little help, you’ll be able to refine your selection to the carrier most suited to your needs.

 

what’s available

soft-structured carrier

Soft-structured carriers consist of two shoulder straps that link to a fabric seat, and are designed to hold your baby close to you in a seated position. Newborn babies will seat facing you, and only face outwards after they have developed better head control, at around 6 months. These are the most popular type of carriers since they are easy to put on and off, and designed to maintain balance while you’re on the move.

slings

A sling is a simple carrier made from fabric, and worn over one shoulder with the baby nestled inside. The way a sling is worn, with its looser fit and generous fabric makes it an excellent choice for nursing mothers. They come in several designs – padded and unpadded slings, and those that incorporate rings or straps for adjustment.

wraps

A wrap works just like a front carrier, except that it’s made from fabric and worn around your body and over both shoulders for support. These versatile carriers are similar to slings in the way that it’s easy to breastfeed your baby when on the move. Wraps have a steeper-learning curve to use, though, and wearing and removing them can be time-consuming.

 

refine your selection

Whether to choose a soft-structured carrier, sling or wrap is a matter of personal preference. This also depends on your child’s stage of development, and your lifestyle needs. Here are several factors to consider when making your choice.

physical considerations

    • When selecting a carrier, it’s important to consider your child’s weight and whether their neck muscles have developed enough to support their head.
    • Soft-structured carriers and slings can be used for newborns; certain soft-structured carriers will require an infant insert. Slings provide full-body support for your infant, while soft-structured carriers require the baby to face towards you to provide adequate head support
    • When your child has developed adequate head and neck control, typically at about 6 months, you can switch them into a front-facing position in a soft-structured carrier
    • Babies tend to outgrow a sling within a year. As your baby gets heavier, slings or wraps may not have the best weight-distribution profile. A soft-structured carriers that can switch to a back-carrying position is a possible alternative and is easy on your back

lifestyle considerations

    • Activity Level: If you’re a busy mom or dad, and always up and about, a soft-structured carrier is ideal because it keeps your hands free, and rebalances your child’s weight as you move, keeping him securely fastened. Wraps are pretty stable too, but if you use a sling it’ll require more awareness since there aren’t straps to keep your baby fastened
    • Nursing: Wraps and slings are perfect for discreet breastfeeding on the go, due to the way they are worn around your body
    • Comfort: Soft-structured carriers are designed with shoulder and back support, which is great if you plan to wear your baby for longer durations of time. Slings support your baby’s entire body and keep them in a comfortable position, very much similar to their position in the womb
    • Stage: Babies tend to outgrow a sling within a year. For this stage, a wrap will be a fine alternative, as well as soft-structured carriers that can switch to a back-carrying position

 

features to look for

    • Versatility: Some parents prefer a sling or wrap for a young infant, and progress to a soft-structured carrier for an older baby or toddler. Many carriers, however, are designed to accommodate a growing child, and can be used in different positions as your child gets heavier.
    • Sturdiness: The baby carrier should ensure your baby’s well-being, so look for a seat that will support your baby’s thighs to the knee joint for healthy hip positioning and to prevent hip dysplasia. Ensure that the buckles, snaps and straps are durable and working as intended.
    • Comfort: Look for generous, well-padded straps with a sturdy fabric to distribute your baby’s weight and reduce the strain on your neck, shoulders and back. The straps should be easily adjustable so you can share the carrier with your spouse or another person. Soft-structured carriers should be made of a comfortable material that to minimize irritation to your baby’s skin, as they will probably spend long durations of time in the carrier. For young infants, either use an infant insert, or select a carrier with a padded headrest for head and neck support. Slings and wraps should be made of breathable material.
    • Machine-washable: Don’t overlook this point. Carriers are bound to get dirty if you use it more than occasionally, so an easy-to-wash carrier is a huge plus. 

 

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