New parents love to hold their babies, but it’s not practical to carry the baby with you at all times. That’s why many parents turn to a baby carrier while they’re out and about or doing house hold chores.
Baby carriers let you cuddle your baby against your body, leaving your hands free so you can move easily, navigate crowds and complete daily tasks. And there are benefits for the baby as well.
Many experts say “baby wearing” soothes fussy or colicky children. It also promotes bonding between baby and parent and can help lower a mom’s risk of postpartum depression. Dads love baby carriers because they allow opportunities for one-of-one contact with their infants.
Some parents chose to use baby carriers during their baby’s first few months, as they can become uncomfortable one the baby reaches 15 or 20 pounds. Others tote kids around much longer, even up to age 4.
Types of Carriers
Front baby carriers have two shoulder straps that support a fabric seat. The carrier is worn close to your chest, with the baby facing inward as a newborn, then out as they get they get head control around 5 or 6 months. Nursing mothers will probably find front baby carriers difficult to use. Plus, newborns may find the carriers bulky, and some require a special insert.
Sling carriers are wide pieces of fabric worn across your body and across one shoulder. Some are padded, some aren’t. Some can be adjusted. Breastfeeding is easier because the sling fits loosely and you can usually nurse the baby rather discreetly.
On the downside, slings can be cumbersome for women of small stature, and since the weight is born on one shoulder, it can become uncomfortable when the baby reaches 15 pounds.
Wrap are pieces of fabric worn around your body and over both shoulders. These carriers are versatile and make breastfeeding simple. However, wraps can be time consuming and confusing to get off and on. They are also generally uncomfortable once the baby gets bigger.
Things to Consider Before Buying
Before selecting a style, try on several carriers before you make a purchase. Look for well-padded straps and sturdy fabric that can help distribute the baby’s weight evenly. Make sure the carrier is easily adjustable, especially if you choose to share it between parents.
Make sure the carrier provides comfort for you baby. If you buy a front carrier, make sure the leg holes don’t constrict the baby’s thighs, but they shouldn’t be so big that they let the baby slip out. Many babies sleep while in the front carrier to consider getting one with a padded headrest. If you opt for a sling or wrap, make sure the fabric is soft and breathable so the baby won’t overheat.
Baby carriers range in price, depending on the type. Wraps and slings generally range from $30 to $65. Front carriers will be between $90 and $150. More expensive models may be more comfortable for you and allow you to wear your child for more hours in the day and a longer age range. They may also have higher quality fabrics or features like a sleeping hood for your baby.