Choosing the Right Carrier
Backpacks, slings, and front carriers are available in a dizzying array of styles, colors, fabrics, and prices. Most importantly, the carrier should be comfortable and grow with your baby. Here are some other things to consider:
- Your Activity Level: If you and your family do a lot of hiking or long distance walks, a backpack may be a better choice than a sling or front carrier.
- Breastfeeding: Do you plan to use the carrier to facilitate breastfeeding? If so, consider a front pack or sling.
- Use: Are you buying a carrier to promote bonding with your baby or mainly for transportation? How many hours a day will you wear your baby? Will it be your main carrier or a supplement to a stroller?
- Your Partner: Babies benefit from being carried by both caregivers. Choose a pack that adjusts to your partner's size and one that he or she will feel confident wearing.
- Your Size and Shape: Almost all front carriers and backpacks are adjustable. However, some slings and wraps are sewed together and do not have an adjustment ring. These styles are available in sizes small, medium, and large.
- Ease of Adjustment: You should be able to reach and adjust all snaps, buckles and adjustment straps while wearing the carrier. Choose a sling that allows you to tighten and loosen the adjustment ring with one hand. Also, make sure that the fabric slides through the ring without bunching up or getting caught.
- Padding/Back and Neck Support: Different carriers offer different amounts of padding for back and neck support. Some slings and wraps have shoulder pads while others have no padding at all. Backpacks designed for rugged, outdoor activities feature metal frames and thick back support, but tend to be heavier.
- Price: You may experience some sticker shock when shopping for a baby carrier. But keep in mind, most newborn strollers cost hundreds of dollars and need to be replaced as your baby grows (That Bugaboo Frog? $800!). Before deciding against a carrier based on price, visit the manufacturer's website to check for discounts and gently used models.