Baby carriers have been used by new parents to carry children for thousands of years. Typically consisting of a shawl wrap that hugs the child close to the body such as the traditional Mexican Rebozo to modern iterations like the American Ring Sling popularized by Dr. William Sears in the 1980’s, baby carriers are a convenient and safe way method of carrying and nursing your child. With so many modern products now available, choosing the best baby carrier for nursing your baby requires a little homework. Why Babywearing? What to Look For & How to Find it Tips on Choosing a Baby Carrier
When choosing a baby carrier, the first decision to make is the type of carrier that will work best with your lifestyle. Front carriers, working somewhat like a reverse backpack, seat your child against your chest. Sling carriers are great for discreet nursing, work across the shoulder and the torso and come in a variety of padded and unpadded forms. Wraps, the traditional option, are economical but somewhat complicated to tie and adjust, with no support for heavier children.
Image: Mothering touch
The Advantages of Babywearing
Babywearing, or using a baby carrier to nurse your child, has a wide range of benefits. Alongside the more practical aspects of having your child close to you at all times and the financial benefit of not needing a pram or pusher, baby carriers offer a number of developmental advantages for your child. Clinical evidence points to evidence that children carried in baby carriers cry less, learn more, from closer bonds with their parents and gain an environmental stimulation, leading to faster brain development.
What to look for in a Baby Carrier
When you’ve decided which pattern of baby carrier works best for you, there are a number of factors to consider to make sure you’re getting the best product possible. A quality baby carrier should be versatile and comfortable, with adjustable straps and sturdy fabric that distributes the weight of your child evenly. Nursing-friendly baby carriers are a plus, offering the ability to breastfeed while out and about with minimal fuss.
How to Use a Baby Carrier
When using a baby carrier or a babywearing sling, there are a few things to remember to make sure your baby is safe and comfortable. Easily remembered with the mnemonic acronym “T.I.C.K.S.”, using your baby carrier properly means your baby should be Tight to your chest, In view at all times and Close enough to kiss, while Keeping their chin off their chest with a carrier that Supports your back.
Is Babywearing Safe for Your Baby?
While baby carriers are a convenient method of nursing and caring for your baby with a successful model that has been used since the dawn of time, there is a small amount of confusion around the safety of babywearing. Ensuring the head and neck of your baby, especially in the first 4-6 months while they require cranial support is important, as is frequently taking your child out of the carrier to allow them to stretch their limbs. Following these basic steps ensures the safety of your child while allowing you to take advantage of the many benefits of babywearing.
What You Need to Start Babywearing
While the main prerequisite to using a baby carrier is essentially only having a baby and the need to move around, it’s important to check the size requirements of the carrier you’ve chosen to make sure your baby is big enough to sit safely within. Most carriers are designed for children at leads eight pounds and 21 inches, which is usually around three months of age. If you’re ready to start babywearing, take a look at the top 5 baby carriers below.
The Infantino Flip Front carrier is one of the most popular baby carriers on the market. 100% cotton and completely machine washable, the Infantino Flip Front offers a padded adjustable shoulder and waist straps to secure your baby.
Weighing just 11.4 ounces, the Infantino Flip Front 2 is incredibly light for a front-facing baby carrier with fully adjustable straps, offering three different carry positions- facing in, facing out, and backpack carries. Able to carry children from 8-32 pounds, the Infantino is a long lasting carrier that is able to grow alongside your baby.
- Wonder cover bib protects both baby and your clothes from inevitable spills and mess.
- Easily detached from carrying frame to take the baby out easily.
- Adjustable lumbar support for minimizing back strain.
- Lap strap sits quite high- not ideal for taller parents.
- Adjustable straps better suited to smaller babies.
The Boba Baby Wrap is a traditional baby wrap in the style of baby wrap shawls used around the world. Simple, elegant and reliable as well as easy to wash and incredibly easy to store or pack, the Boba Baby Wrap is perfect for parents who prefer the old-school.
95% cotton and 5% spandex for a snug fit, the Boba Baby Wrap supports babies up to 35 lbs and is ideal for breastfeeding anywhere, with no straps or toggles to adjust.
- The classic one-size-fits-all design used for thousands of years.
- Machine washable all over- simply unwrap and throw it in the machine!
- Custom fit every time provides a perfect fit for your baby as it grows
- Folding, wrapping, and tying can be somewhat tricky to learn.
- No padding means wrap must be carefully adjusted for comfort.
The Infantino is one of the best baby carriers for nursing. A hybrid between a traditional baby wrap and modern baby carrier, the Infantino Sash Wrap and Tie baby carrier combines the best of both worlds to create an ergonomic, comfortable and reliable daily babywearing carrier.
With three carrying functions in a similar fashion to the Infantino Flip Front, the Sash Wrap and Tie can carry your baby facing in, on the hip, and as a backpack. Carrying children from 8-36 pounds, this innovative carrier is based on traditional Chinese Mei Tai carrying methods.
- Detachable hood for sun and rain protection.
- Hybrid design offers both ergonomic carrying and practical function.
- Adjustable clip-free sash tie perfect for mothers of all waist sizes.
- Mei Tai inspired design could potentially prove uncomfortable for large-chested mothers.
- Polyester hood collects lint and hair easily.
Scientifically designed by a team of pediatricians, the BabyBjorn original carrier is a front-facing carrier that has had the same pattern since release in 1973. Constructed from super-safe nonhazardous textiles, BabyBjorn offer the Rolls-Royce of baby carriers with a solution that can be used with newborn babies all the way up to 25lbs.
Machine washable, this unique baby carrier offers both in-facing and outfacing chest carrying and offers both a waist belt and back support.
- Designed by pediatricians to offer the safest solution that promotes healthy baby growth
- Distributes baby weight across hips, not back, for maximum comfort.
- Respected brand with over 40 years experience.
- Thick fabric mesh can become somewhat warm on hot days.
- Chest-carry only design doesn’t allow for backpack carry.
With the most dynamic range of functions available on the market, the 4-in-1 Cuddlebug carrier combines the chest-carry design of modern carriers with the time-tested wrap design of traditional carriers.
Made from a blend of French Terry Cotton and Spandex, the Cuddlebug is a comfortable, reliable and flexible carrier that offers all of the advantages of a traditional wrap with none of the difficult folding learning curve.
- Breathable lightweight fabric is ideal for warmer environments.
- Strap-free one-size-fits-all design grows with both baby and mother.
- Multiple functions- carrier, changing blanket, pram cover and more.
- Shorter in length than traditional wraps at 5 yards isn’t ideal for larger or heavier babies.
- Lack of back support straps can cause the baby to bounce slightly- not ideal for hiking.
Out of the five best baby carrier for nursing reviewed above, there’s just one clear winner that covers all of the bases required for safe, comfortable and convenient baby carrying. While sash carriers or backpack carriers have their uses, the BabyBjorn Original Baby Carrier is the safest, most reliable and long lasting carrier of the bunch.
The major issue with any pack or strapped baby carrier is the potential for hip displacement during long wear, mitigated by the professional pediatric design of the BabyBjorn. Combined with the added advantages of extensive neck support, safety padding and the best weight distribution of any baby carrier available, it’s easy to see why BabyBjorn has been a market leader since 1973.
While slightly more expensive than traditional sash carriers, the BabyBjorn Original Baby Carrier wins our pick for the best baby carrier of 2017, freeing your hands while delivering safe, comfortable and snug babywearing.