A Baby Carrier Guide: Don’t Get the Wrong Baby Carrier

Congratulations on your new baby! Your hands are full, literally, and a baby carrier is a great way to free them up while you're on the go. Understanding how to buy a baby carrier is more than a matter of parental instinct. With just a little bit of research, you can make sure your little bundle of joy stays safe, secure and close to your heart.

>> Choosing a type of baby carrier

A walk through of the process of baby carrier comparisons includes baby carrier styles, baby carrier sizes and various baby carrier designs on the market today. Choosing the best baby carrier to suit your needs and style is as important a goal as selecting other baby products. The first step in deciding how to buy a baby carrier is understanding the different types of carriers available. Currently, there are four main types of baby carriers:

• Slings
• Front carriers
• Backpacks
• Hybrids and hip holders

A sling type baby carrier is one of oldest forms of baby carrier and goes back thousands of years. Slings are fabric carriers that allow you to carry your child in front of you, close to your chest, in a hammock-like set-up. Slings are an ideal piece of baby gear for nursing mothers and come in two types: a one-size-fits-all version with adjustable straps or one that can be customized to your specific body specifications using different wrapping techniques.

A front carrier is equipped with two shoulder straps that are attached to a fabric seat in which your baby rests. This baby carrier design is the best baby carrier to buy once your child is able to control his or her own head and sit up, usually at about 6 months old. The advantage of this type of baby carrier is that your baby is close to your chest and can be positioned to face forward to see the world in front of them, or face you when they need a warm shoulder to rest against, or just a loving smile.

Backpack-style baby carrier designs look very much like other backpacks except these carry more precious cargo. Backpacks are a good style of baby carrier to buy if you plan on long walks or hikes and want to bring your baby along for the fun.

A baby carrier comparison would not be complete without mentioning the latest multi-position hybrids and hip holder types of baby carriers in addition to a complete baby gear bundle. This type of baby carrier allows you to hold your older child on your hip as you would without a carrier but frees your hands. It is considered a hybrid because it can be adjusted for use in different positions.

>> What important features should you look for?

Different types of baby carrier designs have different features and you should consider when, where and how you plan to use your carrier. Babies love to ride in baby carriers because they enjoy the gentle motion they receive which is similar to when they are in a baby bouncer or baby jumper.

During the first few months of your baby's life, back support will not be an issue, but as your baby grows and his or her weight increases, the right back support for you will make a difference. This is particularly true for backpack style baby carriers. You will want to find one that transfers the weight to your hips and off your back and shoulders.

When trying to decide which baby carrier to buy, be sure to look for a style that is easy to clean and is machine-washable. Many families share baby carrying duties which means you will want to shop for a baby carrier that can be adjusted to fit more than one person.

The best baby carrier to buy is the one that offers specific features and options that are important to you. If you anticipate frequently being out and about with your baby alone, you may opt for a baby carrier that comes with built-in storage for things like diapers, bottles and even some of your own belongings so you won't have to manage multiple bags.

Of all the baby carrier models, the backpack style may be the one best suited for toddlers who are anxious to explore the world on their own two feet. The backpack baby carrier advantage is that many of them collapse, so when baby is walking, the carrier is out of the way.

>> Which personal considerations are important to you?

A big part of learning how to buy a baby carrier is knowing what's important to you. Of course, your personal considerations are what matter. Keeping your hands free to care for older siblings is just one baby carrier advantage that you may be considering when you are making your baby carrier comparisons.

Another is which baby carrier design is best suited for nursing mothers. Sling style baby carriers provide the easiest and most discreet access for mother and child. This most intimate of decisions often involves thinking about where and when you will be using your baby carrier most.

>> What types of accessories matter to you?
Once you determine which baby carrier to buy, you will want to look at available accessories. There are two things you can count on with babies: they love pacifiers, and they love to drop them on the floor. Pacifier clips help keep binkies safe, clean and close by for when your baby wants it back. Baby carrier covers are basically clip-on blankets to help keep your baby warm and cozy during chilly outings. Because they clip right on to your baby carrier, you'll never leave your cover behind between stops.

Hats and sun covers are also very popular baby carrier accessories, as sun protection is essential for new baby skin and eyes.

>> Which safety features are important to you?

When shopping for a baby carrier, be sure to inspect the fasteners used for shoulder and waist straps, and make sure they are sturdy enough to stay connected while your carrier is in use.
Protecting your baby also means protecting yourself and your back. An important consideration, especially when looking for a baby carrier for a toddler, is lumbar support. Lumbar support will help transfer the weight of your baby from your back to your hips, keeping you comfortable and aligned for those long family walks.

Baby carriers allow parents to be productive while still keeping a close and caring eye on their children. Once you understand your own needs and preferences, buying the perfect carrier for your family can be easy.

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