How To Choose A Baby Carrier (Step by Step Guide)

August 30, 2023

So, you’re expecting a baby, and you’re realizing that you need a baby carrier. But with so many options out there, how do you choose the perfect one? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Wwe’ll break down everything you need to know about choosing a baby carrier, from the different types available to the key factors to consider. Say goodbye to overwhelming choices and hello to a confident decision-making process. Let’s get started on finding the ideal baby carrier for you and your little one.

Discover the best baby carriers and sling wraps currently on the market.

1. Consider Your Needs

When it comes to choosing a baby carrier, it’s important to consider your specific needs and circumstances. This will ensure that you select a carrier that is not only suitable for you, but also for your baby. One of the first factors to consider is the age of your baby. Different carriers are designed to accommodate different age ranges, so it’s important to select one that is appropriate for your baby’s developmental stage.

Your lifestyle is another important consideration. Are you an active parent who enjoys hiking or outdoor activities? Or do you prefer a carrier that allows you to have more freedom of movement while still keeping your baby close? Thinking about how you plan to use the carrier will help you determine which style will be the best fit for you.

Additionally, it’s essential to consider any physical limitations you may have. If you have back pain or any other condition that affects your mobility, you may need to choose a carrier that provides extra support or offers ergonomic features to ensure your comfort as well as your baby’s.

2. Understand Different Types of Baby Carriers

There are various types of baby carriers available, each with its own unique features and benefits. Understanding the different options will help you make an informed decision.

  • Wrap Carriers: Wrap carriers are versatile and provide a secure and cozy environment for your baby. They consist of a long strip of fabric that you wrap around your body and tie to create a carrier.
  • Ring Sling: A ring sling is a piece of fabric with two rings attached to one end. You loop the fabric through the rings to create a secure and adjustable carrier that can be worn on one shoulder.
  • Soft-structured Carriers: Soft-structured carriers are a popular choice among parents as they offer both comfort and convenience. They have a padded waistband and shoulder straps and can often be adjusted to fit different body types.
  • Mei Tai: Mei Tai carriers combine features of both wrap carriers and soft-structured carriers. They consist of a square or rectangular piece of fabric with straps attached to each corner. You tie the straps around your waist and shoulders to secure your baby.
  • Backpack Carriers: Backpack carriers are designed for parents who want to carry their babies on their back. They usually have a frame for added support and adjustable straps for a comfortable fit.
  • Hip Carriers: Hip carriers are worn on one hip and provide a quick and easy way to carry your baby. They offer a similar feel to holding your baby on your hip without straining your arm.
  • Babywearing Shirts: Babywearing shirts are a convenient option for skin-to-skin contact with your baby. They have built-in pouches or panels that allow you to carry your baby close to your body.
  • Hybrid Carriers: Hybrid carriers combine features of multiple types of carriers. They offer versatility and can be adjusted to suit different carrying positions.
  • Onbuhimo: Onbuhimos are a traditional Japanese carrier. They consist of a strap that goes around your waist and two longer straps that go over your shoulders. They are a great option for quick and easy babywearing.
  • Pouch Slings: Pouch slings are a simple and lightweight option for carrying your baby. They are typically made from a tube of fabric and can be adjusted by folding or unfolding the fabric.

3. Evaluate Safety Features

Safety should always be a top priority when choosing a baby carrier. Here are some key safety features to consider:

  • Check for a secure fastening system: Ensure that the carrier has a secure fastening system, such as buckles, snaps, or Velcro, to keep your baby safely and securely in place.
  • Ensure proper weight distribution: Look for a carrier that distributes your baby’s weight evenly to prevent strain on your back, shoulders, and hips.
  • Look for adjustable straps and buckles: Adjustable straps and buckles allow you to customize the fit of the carrier to ensure both you and your baby are comfortable and supported.
  • Consider ergonomic design: An ergonomic design supports your baby’s natural posture and provides proper hip and spine alignment. Look for carriers that have a wide and supportive seat for your baby.
  • Choose carriers with breathable fabric: It’s important to choose a carrier made from breathable fabric to prevent overheating and ensure your baby’s comfort.
  • Check for clear instructions and easy adjustments: Make sure the carrier comes with clear instructions on how to properly use and adjust it. Easy adjustments will make it more convenient for you to find the right fit for your baby.

4. Consider Comfort for Both You and Your Baby

Comfort is crucial for both you and your baby when using a carrier. Consider the following factors to ensure maximum comfort:

  • Look for padded shoulder straps and waistbands: Padded shoulder straps and waistbands help distribute the weight of your baby more comfortably and prevent discomfort or pressure points.
  • Consider the fabric material: The fabric material of the carrier should be soft, breathable, and gentle on your baby’s skin. Natural fibers like cotton or bamboo are often a good choice.
  • Ensure proper head and neck support for your baby: Younger babies require more head and neck support, so look for carriers that offer adequate support in these areas. Some carriers have built-in headrests or hoods for added support.
  • Check for leg support and proper seating position: A carrier should provide proper leg support for your baby and ensure they are in a comfortable and ergonomic seating position. Look for carriers that allow your baby’s knees to be slightly higher than their bottom.
  • Consider the climate you live in: If you live in a hot and humid climate, you may want to choose a carrier made from lightweight and breathable fabric to prevent overheating.

5. Test for Fit and Adjustability

Before making a final decision, it’s important to test the carrier with your baby to ensure a proper fit and adjustability. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Try the carrier with your baby: Bring your baby along when you go to test carriers. This will allow you to see how well the carrier fits and how your baby responds to being in it.
  • Check if it provides a snug fit: The carrier should fit snugly against your body to ensure proper support and weight distribution. Make sure it doesn’t sag or shift when your baby is in it.
  • Ensure it allows for easy adjustments: Look for carriers that are easy to adjust, especially if you plan on sharing the carrier with a partner or caregiver who may have a different body shape or size.
  • Consider the weight and height limits: Different carriers have different weight and height limits, so make sure to choose one that can accommodate your baby’s size and weight.
  • Evaluate the ease of putting on and taking off: Test how easy it is to put the carrier on and take it off, especially if you plan on using it frequently or while you are on the go.

6. Research and Read Reviews

Researching and reading reviews from other parents can provide valuable insights and help you make an informed decision. Here are some ways to gather information:

  • Read online reviews from other parents: Many websites and online platforms have customer reviews and ratings for baby carriers. Reading these reviews can give you an idea of the experiences and opinions of other parents.
  • Ask for recommendations: Reach out to friends, family, or colleagues who have used baby carriers to get their recommendations and insights.
  • Join parenting forums and groups: Online parenting forums and groups can be a great source of information and advice. Many parents are more than happy to share their experiences and offer recommendations.
  • Consider expert opinions and recommendations: Look for recommendations and reviews from experts in the babywearing community, such as babywearing consultants or experienced babywearers.

7. Consider the Longevity of the Carrier

When investing in a baby carrier, it’s worth considering its longevity to ensure you can use it for an extended period. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Think about the growth of your baby: Babies grow quickly, so choosing a carrier that can accommodate their growth is important. Look for carriers that offer adjustable features or multiple carrying positions.
  • Consider if it can accommodate various carrying positions: As your baby grows and develops, they may prefer different carrying positions. Choose a carrier that allows for versatility and flexibility in carrying options.
  • Look for adjustable features for long-term use: Adjustable straps, buckles, and seat heights allow you to continue using the carrier as your baby grows.

8. Set a Budget

Before you start shopping for a baby carrier, it’s important to determine your budget range. Baby carriers can vary significantly in price, so having a budget in mind will help you narrow down your options. However, it’s also important to consider the value for money. A more expensive carrier may offer additional features or better quality materials, but it may not always be necessary depending on your specific needs and preferences. Comparing prices and features can help you make an informed decision.

9. Test the Carrier and Seek Assistance

When it comes time to test carriers and make a final decision, it’s recommended to visit a baby store and try different carriers with your baby. The store staff can assist you by providing guidance on selecting the right carrier and ensuring it fits and feels comfortable. They can also show you how to properly use and adjust the carrier. Testing the carrier in person helps you get a feel for its comfort, ease of use, and overall suitability for you and your baby.

10. Consider Add-ons and Accessories

Lastly, consider any additional features or accessories that may enhance your babywearing experience. Some common add-ons and accessories for baby carriers include:

  • Storage pockets: Carriers with storage pockets allow you to keep small essentials, such as keys, phone, or baby essentials, within easy reach.
  • Detachable hoods for sun protection: Hoods can provide additional protection from the sun and offer a cozy environment for your baby to nap in.
  • Teething pads or bibs: Teething pads or bibs attach to the carrier straps to protect them from your baby’s drool or to provide a teething surface.

By considering these add-ons and accessories, you can customize your baby carrier to suit your specific needs and preferences.

In conclusion, choosing a baby carrier requires careful consideration of your needs, the safety features, comfort for both you and your baby, adjustability, and additional features. By following these steps and conducting thorough research, you can select the perfect baby carrier that meets your requirements and ensures a comfortable and enjoyable babywearing experience for both you and your little one.

Sandra McNeil, PhD.
Sandra McNeil, PhD.

Sandra has over 13 years of experience as a child psychologist, both as a practitioner and researcher. She has a Bachelor's in child psychology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and then she did her master's in Psychology in Education (focused on Children & Families) at Columbia University, NY. She has been writing for health and child-related publications for over 5 years now.

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