On the market for a baby carrier? You’ll want to read this post brought to us by Priscilla Parra, Certified Babywearing Educator and Community Manager at our friends Baby Tula.
Whether you’re welcoming your first baby or your tenth, deciding what baby carrier you will be getting may be a tough choice with all of the options that are available to you. There is not one perfect choice for everyone and it’s important to find a carrier that fits you and your lifestyle needs. Here are my top eight questions to ask yourself when purchasing a carrier:
- What type of carrier are you looking for?
There are basically three popular carrier types: a wrap, a ring sling, and a soft structured carrier. Within those three types of carriers there are different features and brands that make them distinct or more catered towards your specific wants or needs. Simply defined: a wrap is a long piece of fabric designed to be be tied around your body to carry an infant; a ring sling is a smaller piece of fabric with two rings on one side that secure the fabric to create a sling for you to carry your baby; a soft structured carrier has a center panel and straps that create a backpack style of carrier for baby, they can have a structured waistband and many have straps that are secured with buckles. When buying a baby carrier, it can be helpful to focus your search on one type of carrier at a time. The following questions might help you decide what type of carrier you want to focus on.
- What is your budget?
Price range is an important factor to consider when comparing baby carriers. There are a variety of carriers to fit every budget. You want to be sure that you are not over-extending your budget; however, be sure to consider the quality of the carrier and the amount of time you’ll be using the carrier. For instance, a carrier that can be used from infancy through toddlerhood might be more cost effective than buying a carrier for each stage of your child’s growth.
- What are the weight limits?
It may be tempting to purchase from the baby carrier brand that is having a sale, but make sure you’re purchasing a carrier that will fit you and your baby. Be sure to look at the weight ranges supported by the carrier and if you need any newborn accessories to use the carrier safely. Different types of carriers will have weight recommendations for use, and sometimes different ones for different carrying positions.
- Is it easy to adjust?
Will you have multiple people wearing the carrier? You’ll want to make sure that 1) the carrier will fit each user, and 2) it is easy to adjust for each of the users. If you’re purchasing a soft-structured carrier, take a look at the length of the shoulder straps and the hip belt. The webbing should be long enough to fit all wearers. If you are in the market for a ring sling or wrap, make sure the length of fabric will still fit comfortably for each wearer. In addition to fit capabilities, you’ll want to find a carrier that can conveniently and easily adjust between different wearers. Be sure you know the steps necessary to adjust the carrier and if it will be suitable for your day-to-day needs. At Baby Tula, we make a variety of carriers that are fully adjustable and fit all body types while making it easy to adjust to fit your baby at different stages while they grow.
- Are you planning to breastfeed in your carrier?
Breastfeeding while babywearing can serve multiple purposes! It not only allows you to breastfeed on the go, but it also allows you to be hands free. If you are hoping to breastfeed, make sure the carrier you choose has the flexibility and ability to adjust for breastfeeding your little one. Some carriers come with a convenient hood that provides some additional privacy while breastfeeding if you would prefer. A longer ring sling ‘tail’ can also provide you with some extra coverage.
- What activities will you be using it for?
Do you have an active lifestyle? Other kids to chase after? Are you planning to use the carrier while traveling? These are all questions you’ll want to consider because there are several different carrier types that will better serve your needs. For example, there are carriers with a breathable mesh panel to keep you and baby cool during hot months or while out hiking. Ring Slings are one of the fastest to adjust, once you have had some practice, and they are compact carriers making quick trips to the store much easier!
- How do you want to carry your baby?
Different types of carriers will offer different ways to carry your baby. While looking for a carrier that fits your needs, abilities, and desires, the carrying positions that particular carrier offers could be an important feature to note. Beyond carrying your baby on your front, facing you, do you want your carrier to also allow you to carry your baby on your front, facing out, or on your back, or on your hip?
- Have you tried other carriers?
Do you have experience with other carriers? Not all carriers fit alike! Just because one carrier didn’t work, don’t count out baby carriers all together. You might think you want a certain type of carrier until you try it on. Was your baby not content in the carrier? Did you feel confident putting it on? You might even find that you have a preference for the feel of the different fabric. For instance, at Baby Tula, we make soft-structured carriers with canvas material; however, there are also Coast mesh carriers and woven wrap conversion carriers. A great way to start your search for a carrier is by finding your local babywearing group or babywearing educator. They can assist you with hands on comparisons and fit.
A baby carrier is bound to be one of your most-used baby gear purchases so it is important to find a product that will work well for your family. We have created a comparison chart that shows the benefits and functionalities of different carrier types to help you narrow down your search! We also have babywearing experts on hand who would be more than happy to help you answer fit or Baby Tula product questions – please do not hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Priscilla Parra is the Community and Social Media Manager at Baby Tula and a Volunteer Babywearing Educator with the Portland, Oregon chapter of Babywearing.