Most parents are familiar with the classic comment, “you’ve got your hands full!”. Whether it’s a welcome observation, a critical remark, or a bewildered bystander, people say it to anyone holding a baby as if it’s as natural as talking about the weather. True as it may be mentally, thematically, and emotionally, it doesn’t have to be true physically, thanks to the oldest form of baby gear known to mankind – the baby carrier.
Thanks to baby carriers, parents can be hands free, mobile, and comfortable, while still providing support and protection for their child. They really are the greatest invention, and have been used since antiquity, long before strollers or car seats were even thought of. Luckily, parents today can enjoy the combination of age old common sense – that baby is happiest when in close proximity with mom or dad, but said parents have a life to live and need to be mobile – and modern technology, that makes today’s carriers safer for baby, not to mention mom’s back.
Mobility with Intimacy
There’s nothing like those first few days after baby is born when the new family can simply be. Skin to skin is practiced by both mom and dad and the baby basks in the comfort of being close to his or her parents hour after hour. Then life starts again, groceries need to be bought, errands need to be run, parents need to get from point A to point B with relative efficiency, and those lazy days are a distant memory – unless you use a baby carrier.
Baby carriers give parents mobility without sacrificing intimacy with their child. It’s a win-win for everyone. While strollers will tie up your hands, and have baby often facing in the direction away from mom or dad, a baby carrier will let you get out of the house, with full range of motion, and baby within kissing distance.
Simplicity and Ease
There’s no question that babies don’t pack light. Baby carriers are your best bet for keeping things simple on the go. While the average stroller weighs 15 lbs or more, a carrier is almost weightless and most styles can be stored in very small spaces. Baby carriers are also a fraction of the cost of strollers, so you can benefit from mobility without breaking the bank.
Getting out the door is hard enough with little ones, which is why I loved grabbing a carrier and snapping it on in seconds as we were heading out. Even the smallest stroller take up a lot of space and may not fit down every store aisle or through every doorway, but carriers add nothing to your entourage. Except a smiling baby, of course!
If you’re in the market for a baby carrier, there is a lot to consider so here’s a quick overview of what’s available. If you’re still undecided about employing the use of a carrier, I hope this will sway you to the wonders of hand-free parenting!
Fabric Wraps and Slings
Wraps and slings are beautiful and simple. They weigh almost nothing and can fit in your purse. They’re especially great for babies under six months as they don’t provide a ton of back support for carrying a heavier baby of child. This style of carrier is excellent for breastfeeding and snuggling.
My favourite aspect of slings is how lovely they look – no buckles or plastic, just beautiful fabric. The downside of slings is that they don’t offer much back support so if you’re planning to use the baby carrier into toddler days, you will want another carrier for after your sling season.
My favourite aspect of wraps is how close baby can be to mom and dad and how truly perfect they fit a newborn’s body. They’re terrific for napping and breastfeeding on the go. The downside here is that wraps aren’t quick and easy to put on – they require some time and work to get just right.
Front and Back Carriers
These carriers are the most popular for parents, with well-known brands Ergo Baby, Beco, and Baby Bjorn leading the way. There are also some new brands on the market with beautiful designs and smart technology, like Lillebaby, Boba, and Baby Tula. This style of carrier is more structured and can accommodate up to 45 lbs. They’re designed with the child’s safety and mom or dad’s back in mind and evenly distribute the weight (even for the heaviest toddlers).
The Ergo Baby is probably the most popular carrier among baby wearing families, and for good reason – it’s diverse, affordable, and long-lasting. My favourite carrier is definitely the Beco Gemini, as it has lower back support and can be worn in four positions. Like the Ergo Baby, you can use this carrier on your back, front, or side to side, but unlike the Ergo, the back straps criss-cross, giving more security and comfort, especially if you don’t have broad shoulders. Most front and back carriers can accommodate a newborn up to around age four, so they are worth the investment!
These carriers are made for adventure! They’re a bit large for everyday use, but you will love having these larger, extremely supportive carriers on a hike with the family. If your family is active and doesn’t want to be slowed down, you’ll want a backpack carrier. These aren’t for newborns, but can accommodate a heavier weight so you’ll use it for many years.
As with any baby gear, it’s ideal of you can test a sampling of brands and styles before you buy. Ask around and test out your friend’s carriers to see what’s right for you. I’ve had moms approach me at the park and ask if they can test out my baby carrier, so don’t be shy! It takes a village, right? Also, make sure both parents are comfortable putting the carrier on and off before baby comes. If you aren’t comfortable with it, you won’t use it…so make sure to practice!