Key considerations when choosing your Baby Carrier
Using the wrong baby carrier can result in discomfort for the baby as well as the parent. In the worst case, injuries can result. This is a comprehensive guide to selecting the right Baby Carrier for you and your baby. We will share with you here, the key considerations based on our own experiences to help you better assess and decide which baby carrier is best suited to your needs and that of your baby's.
Here are 8 Key Considerations you want to keep in mind when choosing your Baby Sling or Baby Carrier:
1. Age of your Baby
The age of the baby plays an important role in the selection of the right baby carrier for your baby. From newborns to around 5 months old, before your baby develop enough strength in their neck to support their head independently, it is important to have a good baby carrier that provides adequate neck support for your baby. Babies of this age range are used to their position in the womb and would likely prefer the more natural curled up or froggy position when their are being carried. Baby carriers that allow this form of carrying which also keeps the baby close to your chest would therefore be preferred.
As your baby gain strength and start to be interested in the world around them, their needs would be different. They will start to roll, then crawl, then walk, then run. All these different phases in your babies development can mean very different needs. To simplify this, we have divided this into 4 different growth phase to help you better understand the needs you are likely to encounter in each phase and recommend to you what we believe are the most suitable baby carriers to meet your needs. Find out more by following the links below:-
Newborn/Preemie to 5 months old
5 to 18 months old
18 months to 3 years old
3 years and above
2. Weight & Height of your Baby
Every baby is very different in weight and height. Choosing a baby carrier based solely by their age may not be the most ideal method. It is important to also be aware of the recommended (or comfortable) weight limit for each type of baby carrier. It is crucial to take note that even when a baby carrier's specifications states that it is safe to carry a baby in it up to a certain weight , it does not necessary mean that the baby carrier is suitable to be used for up to that weight for each individual wearer. For example, a good quality baby ring sling can withstand weights of well over 30kg but in actual fact, our experience shows that typically baby wearers will start to feel the strain from carrying babies over 7 or 8kg in a baby ring sling for an extended period of time.
Another aspect you want to consider is the height limits which are usually not specified for most baby carriers. This is important because each baby carrier is designed to be well balanced for babies of a certain size, using it beyond that can be uncomfortable for the child as well as the baby wearer. In some cases, it may result in higher risk of injury. For example, a taller child in a baby carrier that has a back support too short for his height would result in undesirable strain to the child's spine.
3. Physical Development Stage of your Baby
For young babies below 5 months old, it is best to use
unstructured baby carriers like the baby pouches, baby slings or baby wraps. Newborns and babies who do not yet have good neck support
and cannot yet sit unassisted should never be placed in an upright baby
carrier simply because movements will cause a baby’s head to bob
around, which may result in whiplash type injuries. Newborns should
always be placed in slightly inclined carriers that support the spine
lengthwise to prevent a spinal condition known as Spondylolisthesis. You need to have a baby carrier that supports carrying in such positions.The baby ring sling, baby pouch slings or the baby wraps or are good choices.
When the baby has gained
good neck control and can sit well unassisted, they would be more suited to upright carriers. This is also the stage where the baby can better enjoy the environment around them. You should be be mindful to choose a good quality structured baby carrier to instill good sitting posture and give good support for the baby's back and spine.
4. Ergonomics of the Baby Carrier
Generally, the ergonomic factor of a baby carrier measures how comfortable and safe is it to use the baby carrier for both the baby and the baby wearer.
Most parts of babies or toddlers bodies are still in the formative stages, especially their spine. A good ergonomically designed baby carrier must take care not to obstruct the natural growth of a child. A good guideline is to check the position of the baby in the baby carriers. The baby or toddler should be in a position that is as natural and comfortable as possible. For example, a baby sling carrying a baby in the cradle position emulates the baby's curled up position in a mother's womb, this gives best support for the baby's spine especially for newborns to 5months old.
For older babies who can sit upright, a structured carrier that allows them to be carried in a sitting position on their buttocks is most ideal. That emulates a mother hugging a baby close with her arms. It is best to avoid baby carriers that hang the baby by the crotch because of the unnatural strain placed onto the base of the baby spine that can adversely affect the development of the spinal curves and, in some cases, cause spondylolisthesis.
For the baby wearer, it is most important that a baby carrier have good weight distribution efficiency. The better the weight distribution efficiency of a baby carrier, the more weight a baby wearer can carry with less effort and strain on his or her body. Baby slings are limited in its weight distribution efficiency because all the weight is on only a single shoulder. The ergonomic backpack carriers on the other hand provides the best weight distribution efficiency in the market with the weight distributed to both shoulders and the padded hip belt. Another property that is common of all ergonomically designed baby carriers is high snugness factor. This is a measure of how snugly a child is to the baby wearer when carried. A snug baby carrier is safer for the child. It is at the same time better for the baby wearer because it minimizes unnecessary shifting of the baby's weight in the carrier that can result in strain and injury to the wearer. A good baby carrier should have good weight distribution efficiency as well as the snugness factor.
5. Quality of the Baby Carrier
The market is flooded with many types and brands of baby carriers. To tell a high quality baby carrier from another one of inferior quality is not always easy. For example, there has been cases of injury to babies when the rings in a baby ring sling broke while the baby is being carried. This does not mean that baby ring slings are risky to use. This only means that it is important to ensure that the baby ring sling you are using or are going to purchase have been put through stringent quality checks. When in doubt, err on the safe side, choose a manufacturer with a proven safety record such as the JumpSac Baby, Taylormade Slings, Moms R' Us Slings & Moms In Minds Slings.
As for other types of baby carriers in general, apart from choosing the more established brands with good safety record, you should also pay attention to "single points of failure". These are essentially the weakest link that can cause the baby carrier to fail. For baby carriers with buckles, make sure the buckles are quality assured and heavy duty ones. For those without buckles, although they are generally safer in this aspect, you should check the fabric and the quality of the sewing just be sure. Extra care should be taken if you are taking over an old baby carrier because you may not know what kind of stress the carrier has been put through that may have weaken the material. Signs of weakness include hairline cracks on buckles and rings. In our opinion, this is one area you should never never compromise on because we simply cannot afford to make any mistakes at all. At Baby Slings & Carriers, we only carry products with the best safety records and you can be assured that all our baby slings and baby carriers have been quality and safety tested.
6. Ease of Use of the Baby Carrier
How easy or difficult a baby carrier is to use depends very much on
individuals. Baby pouches are almost fool-proof as they have no snaps,
buckles or rings to manipulate. This simplicity may come at the price of limited snugness factor. Baby ring slings are probably the most complex to learn how to use, however many
parents find is almost indispensable once they are used to it because it is the most versatile of all baby carriers. Not only is it great for baby nursing, there are over 6 carrying positions that you can choose from! Modern ergonomic soft structured carriers are a breeze to use as once adjusted, it is just
a matter of popping baby in (or out) and buckling up. Irregardless of the baby carrier you choose, remember that baby wearing is a skill that you can learn. Many around the world before you have done it. Practice makes perfect!
7. Aesthetics of the Baby Carrier
Some baby carriers are built with practicality in mind, others can easily make it to the catwalk. It is really a matter of your own preference. Most
Daddies prefer a simple look, so solid colours will work well if the
baby carrier is intended to be shared between the parents. If this is not an issue, you may
like to select a few different colours or even different types of baby
slings or baby carriers to match different occasions. If you are going to be baby wearing anyway, why not do it in style?
8. Your Purpose for the Baby Carrier
Before you decide on the ultimate baby carrier, remember to ask yourself what you intend to use it for. Is it for bringing your child along for hiking? Or is it to bring along for a vacation overseas? Or just for baby nursing discreetly? Maybe you'll like to have a baby carrier that you can carry your baby in during shopping trips without a stroller or trips to the zoo and other places where a stroller may not be convenient. Or perhaps you need a baby carrier as a backup when your child wants to be carried to sleep while out for an extended period of time (well, older toddlers still do get tired on long shopping trips). You should always keep your purpose for the baby carrier in mind when choosing your baby carrier. A baby carrier is only as good as it is for its intended purpose. What's the point of investing in a super duper baby carrier with world-class features only to find out later that it is not suitable for your original purpose?