There are many advantages to carrying your baby close to your heart after birth. It is one of the oldest traditions around the world – strong bonds and a lot of physical contact help form a secure world where the infant is able to learn and grow best. Baby carriers aren’t just for moms! Dads are enabled to have a role in which they can help comfort the baby and give mom a break.
There are generally two primary choices in baby carriers – either soft front baby carriers or baby slings. For older babies and toddlers there are also hip carriers and baby backpacks. There are many different styles of baby slings, carriers, and backpacks ranging from basic strips of cloth to sewn and padded versions. Check out some of the options here:
- Soft-front Baby Carriers: These carriers have a fabric seat with leg openings and straps that crisscross on your back. Your baby sits against your chest with his or her head supported by the baby carrier. As the baby gets older, many carriers allow you to turn your child around so that they can face outward and see the world around them. These carriers are a good choice if you want a carrier without too much fabric (especially good in warmer climates) that distributes the weight across both shoulders. It also allows your baby’s legs to stretch freely. All soft front baby carriers list minimum age, minimum weight, and maximum weight limits. Do not use baby carriers with babies who do not meet the age and weight requirements set by the manufacturer.
- Baby Slings and Wraps: Baby slings, sometimes also referred to as wraps are usually made of fabric and distribute your baby’s weight across your back and one shoulder. A major benefit to using a sling or wrap is the ability to nurse your baby discreetly. It is easy to get on and off, and enables your newborn to curl up into the fetal position. If you plan on sharing the sling with someone larger/smaller than you, find one that is adjustable, rather than one that may only fist one size well. Also, know that many slings require an adjustment period and may take you time to learn how to use – be sure not to get frustrated.
- Hip Baby Carriers: These carriers make sense for carrying older infants and toddlers who can sit upright on their own as they have less fabric than a sling and a higher weight limit than most other carriers. They generally have a canvas seat that sits on your hip, a shoulder strap like one found on a sling, and a strap that goes around your waist. You’ll find these carriers are easier than pushing around a stroller if space is limited.
- Child Carrier Backpacks: These carriers are best suited for children who are over six months old and have steady head and neck control. The backpack carriers look like hiking backpacks and allow you to take your child on long walks or hikes. Backpack frames are made out of metal or plastic and are usually lightweight. Some features these carriers may include are storage compartments (so you can leave the diaper bag at home), weather canopy and toy loops. Some convert to strollers and are generally sporty in appearance.
Once you have a carrier, your baby will spend a lot of time in it, sitting close to your heart. Choose a washable fabric for easy maintenance and be sure it will adjust to your personal needs.