How to choose the right baby carrier



Once a baby is born, parents must figure out how to transport their little one from point A to point B. An increasing number of parents are “wearing” their babies, a term used to describe putting the infant in some type of carrier worn by a parent.  Many of these people love the practicality of a hands-free carrying experience, which allows for easy breastfeeding and the baby to have a snooze on the go. 

Over the past 10 years, the popularity of carriers has increased dramatically; not long ago, parents could only find front carriers like the Baby Bjorn. The following is a description of different styles of carriers along with their pros and cons. 

Pouches

These are the simplest style of baby carrier and come in two types: a straight pouch and a ring sling.

The straight pouch is a loop of fabric that is slung over one shoulder with the baby rested or seated tummy-to-tummy with the adult. 

Pros: It’s small and compact, making it easy to bring along on short outings. It’s good for newborns because it keeps them close, and they can be breastfed without much readjustment. 
Cons: It’s non-adjustable, which is problematic if you and your partner are different sizes, if your belly changes shape after pregnancy, or your breasts change size. Once your baby passes seven kilograms, he will be too heavy to carry safely and comfortably in the pouch.

The ring sling is an adjustable pouch carrier. Two metal rings allow one long piece of fabric, like a belt loop, to adjust to the size of your growing baby.

Pros: It can be used for newborns up to preschoolers. It can be worn on the side to allow babies to look around and they can be put in a vertical position for nursing.
Cons: If not worn high enough, the ring sling puts a lot of weight on your shoulder. 


Wraps

Versatile and long-lasting, wraps are a mother’s best friend in many cultures around the world. They are simple pieces of fabric that can be folded and wrapped in countless ways for every shape and size of parent and child.

Stretchy wraps come in various compositions. Some only have one stretchy section while others are made completely of stretchy material. There are two-piece wraps and others that come in various sizes or have tapered ends,

Pros: Great for preemies and newborns because it keeps them close and wrapped snugly. It has two-shoulder support for more long-term comfort for the adult.
Cons: The fabric will stretch out over time, especially when the baby surpasses seven kilograms. This may cause her to slump and bounce around or to be bothered by ridges in the fabric.  A poorly positioned baby may also cause discomfort for the parent, particularly in the shoulders and back.

Woven wraps are not stretchy, and are the most versatile carriers on the market.

Pros: Can be used for newborns to preschoolers. It can be worn tummy-to-tummy in the front, on the side, or on the back. It can be used comfortably for long periods of time, and can be transformed into a modified ring sling.
Cons: Because the wrap can be used in so many ways, parents may need lessons and practice to get the hang of using it, and many parents are intimidated by the amount of cloth. Thicker material can be too warm for your child, and thinner material can have the same disadvantages as a stretchy wrap.


Asian-style carriers

These come in a variety of styles, shapes, and designs. Mei-tai carriers are a piece of fabric that tucks under the baby’s bum, with straps that wrap around the adult and are worn like a backpack.

Pros: The infant is held close, and many of these carriers have convenient pouches for carrying extra items to make it a truly hands-free experience.

Cons: Best suited for babies 6 months and older, or once they can hold themselves up. Some fabric ties can be uncomfortable for the adult.


Soft-structured carriers

Soft-structured carriers like the Ergo, Becca and Boba brands are based on the backpack-style Asian carriers, and come in a variety of designs and styles.

Pros: All of the weight is distributed to the adult’s hips, just like a good backpack, and the baby can be carried for long periods of time. This makes these carriers ideal for active parents who might want to take their baby hiking.  Big buckles that click loudly assure parents that their baby is well strapped in.

Cons: Babies must be able to hold themselves up as there is not enough support for preemies and newborns; inserts that are available for the very young can cause overheating and lessen support. 

Overall, carriers offer great convenience to parents and a warm, comfortable spot for little ones. Learning to use one often takes time and practice: test out a few to see what works for you. Safe travels!


Local baby-wearing workshops

Attending a workshop is a great way to try on different carrying styles with the help of a professional. Here’s a list of several boutiques that offer a selection of carriers as well as workshops on how to use them.

Boutique Bummis
4302 St. Laurent Blvd.
(514) 289-9415
www.boutiquebummis.com 

Chimparoo
(514) 905-6484
www.chimparoo.ca

Mamasupial Montreal
(514) 284-9435
www.emportemoi.com

Melons & Clementines
5659 Sherbrooke St. W.
(514) 482-5248
www.melonsetclementines.com


Using carriers safely

Babies have been held safely and comfortably in carriers for centuries. However, parents may hear or be told that carrying a baby in certain positions — specifically, with the child’s legs hanging straight down and their weight supported by the crotch areas — can cause hip dysplasia, a malformation or dislocation of the hip joints. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) has helpful diagrams on proper placement of a baby’s legs on its website www.hipdysplasia.org

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