Choosing the perfect soft structured baby carrier is not the easiest of tasks. There are so many excellent choices, with so many similarities, that even the smallest of features may be what ultimately sways you one way or another. Whether it’s a the type of material used, or the length of an adjustable strap, do not overlook anything.
I get asked this question all the time, “what’s the best baby carrier,” unfortunately the answer is not that simple. The question should be, “what’s the best baby carrier for me and my baby, right now?” Everyone is different, we all have different tastes, and styles, as well as different body types. Our babies are unique and special too. All of these things factor into finding the best baby carrier for you and your baby.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the features that may sway you one way or the other. Carrying positions is a big one. Some carriers, like the Babybjorn’s, only offer front carry, front facing in or front facing out. Others, like the Beco Butterfly II offer 2 positions, front and back carry. Then, on the other end of the spectrum we have the Lillebaby Everywear Carrier which offers 5 positions, front facing in, front facing out, cradle, hip, and back. Depending on you and your baby, carrying positions may or may not be a selling point. For instance, my daughter only liked the front facing out position, and the back position. She didn’t like feeling cramped, and she wanted to be able to see what was going on around her, even at an early age, however some babies are just the opposite. Another thing to think about is, as your baby gets older and heavier, you may want that back carry position available, especially for longer wear, otherwise it can put quite a bit of strain on your body. Most front carry only baby carriers, like the Babybjorn’s, are only rated to go up to about 26 pounds anyways, whereas other carriers, like the ERGObaby, the Beco Butterfly, Lillebaby, and Boba Classic, all go up to around 40 to 45 pounds.
The maximum weight recommendations are very important, but the minimum weight is even more important. If you plan on using it on a newborn, make sure that the carrier will properly support a newborns head. Some baby carriers, like the Beco Butterfly II Baby Carrier, have a minimum weight limit of 15 pounds, but they come with a removable infant insert that goes from 7 to 15 pounds. Also, make sure the baby carrier is ergonomically correct for every carrying position. That means a sitting position, also called a natural frog like position, verses a hanging position. Some of the older designs positioned the baby hanging from they’re crotch, this can cause damage to the spine if worn for long periods of time. Some baby carriers offer extra baby comfort features to go along with the ergonomic sitting position. For instance, the Boba Classic Baby Carrier offers detachable foot stirrups for your baby’s legs, so instead of dangling they’re resting.
Your comfort is important as well, so check the designs and straps. Some offer extra lumbar support, and wider straps, others, like the Pikkolo Soft Structured Carrier, offer and internal X support system. Also, wider straps are good, but too wide make the baby carrier feel bulky and uncomfortable. You want the baby carrier and your baby to feel like they’re part of you. Unfortunately, this is where you need to be careful. Every manufacturer will claim that they’re baby carrier is extremely comfortable, and that may be true, but comfort is also a matter of opinion. This is where I would make use of the customer reviews and feedback. See if anyone is complaining. Keep in mind, you’re carrying extra weight on your shoulders, it’s only a matter of time, and completely natural for your shoulders and back to grow tired, but not after 5 minutes.
Let’s take a look at some of the extra features available, and see what is important to you. If you plan on using your carrier out and about, maybe at the grocery store, or a walk through the park, a storage pocket for keys or your cell phone might be handy. The ERGObaby, and the Lillebaby Everywear Carriers offer front zippered pockets. They’re not very big, so if you plan on packing your purse into one of these pockets, think again. Other features that may or may not sway you include, removable sleeping hoods and neck support, infant inserts (as I said earlier), 100% cotton fabric (best for cooler climates), or breathable mesh fabric (best for warmer climates).
One more thing to keep in mind. How complex is the carrier? Most baby carriers do take some time to figure out. Make sure it comes with some good instructions. Some baby carriers actually come with instructional DVD’s, while others have websites offering video tutorials. Either way, make sure you take the time to understand how your baby carrier works BEFORE you put your baby in it.
TaSha Franklin is a Stay-At-Home Mom and Professional Product Reviewer from Kalispell, Montana. She specializes in active baby gear.
For full in-depth reviews on soft structured baby carriers and baby backpack carriers, visit http://www.baby-carriers-reviews.com.
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