When is a Baby Carrier Right For Baby

There’s no question about it: a baby carrier is one of the most comfortable and secure ways of carrying your child around! However, there are a number of questions that we keep hearing from parents looking for a baby carrier for their baby.

What are the advantages of a baby carrier?

With a baby carrier, your baby will always be close to you, without you having to sacrifice your arms to holding them when you have a million chores to attend to. You can carry on working – inside the house, or outside – while your baby sleeps serenely beside you.

Baby carriers are especially helpful when you are travelling or visiting friends or family, and pushing a stroller around is not a choice. You could be waiting in line at the bank or walking along the beach, and your arms would not get tired from holding your baby for too long.

How do I choose a baby carrier for my child?

While choosing a baby carrier, there are a number of questions that come up with most parents.

When can a baby go in a carrier?

Theoretically, babies can be carried in a carrier as a newborn. But you have to keep one thing in mind: babies need to be at least 4-5 months old before their neck muscles are strong enough to support their head. If you do carry a newborn that is less than 5 months old in a carrier, you need to make sure it provides enough support for the baby’s head to rest on.

Baby carriers are usually hard and firm to give a sturdy support for your growing child. Your newborn might find it uncomfortable to sleep inside a rigid carrier; for this reason, a baby wrap or a sling made from soft fabric that can allow your baby to curl up comfortably inside might be a better choice.

To answer the question at hand: although it is perfectly all right to buy a baby carrier for your newborn baby, they will be better suited inside a sling or a wrap.

How much weight do baby carriers hold?

Different carriers are built for babies of various weights, differing between brands and models. On average, babies weigh around 7 to 8 pounds at birth and slowly gain another 12 to 15 pounds over the next 12 months. Most baby carriers are built to support babies weighing from 7 pounds to 40 pounds – the average weight babies reach when they are 4 years old or more.

Therefore, most baby carriers can easily support a child who is more than 3.5 or 4 years old. However, most parents stop carrying their children when they reach their 2nd birthday, because they learn to walk very well by that age.

When can I carry my baby facing outward?

Very young children do not need to face outwards; they will be more comfortable sleeping the whole time you carry them around. Before they are 5-6 months old, it is recommended that you carry your child facing towards you, so that they can rest their head on your chest and sleep comfortably, listening to your heartbeat and feeling your skin against them.

By the time your baby is 6 months old, they would have developed strong neck muscles and started to show some interest in the world around them. This is the perfect time to start carrying them facing outward, because they can hold their heads high and enjoy looking around them at different colors and movements.

When is a baby carrier safe for the baby’s hips?

If the proper position to carry a baby in a carrier is not maintained, it is possible to harm your baby’s hips and lead to hip dysplasia – which is the abnormal formation of the hips. When the baby’s legs are left dangling on the sides, at any age from birth to 3 years old, it can create permanent problems for the hips, especially if the baby remains in the same position for a long time.

However, a good baby carrier provides support to the legs and not just the parent’s back. In such cases, the pressure is taken off the hips and the legs get proper support; the legs do not dangle below the back but are spread and supported, going around the waist of the person who is carrying the child. The hip is more stable and doesn’t need to carry the pressure of the whole body, thus making the baby feel more comfortable.

How old does my baby have to be for a carrier?

Newborn babies can be put in a carrier, but it is preferable to wait until they are capable of holding their heads high. If you need to use a carrier for babies younger than that, it is recommended that you choose a carrier that has a sturdy headrest where your new baby can rest its head. Your newborn to 5 months old baby will be more interested in sleeping close to you rather than enjoying the view, so it’s important that the carrier you choose is comfortable enough for them to sleep in.

What is the best way to carry a baby when hiking?

If you are looking to explore the great outdoors with your baby, be sure to check out our in depth look at baby backpack carriers.

 

Baby Carriers We Love

Baby Backpack Carriers

Backpack carriers are a great way to hike in safety and comfort, both for you and your baby.

Baby backpacks look very similar to camping backpacks but come with a fabric mounted on a rigid aluminum frame and a seat for the baby to ride on. Like front carriers, a baby backpack is far easier to handle than a stroller as it distributes the child’s weight more efficiently, thereby allowing you to walk long distances, more comfortably than you would otherwise do. Not only that, the baby’s head is always in close proximity with your head, thus affording great views for the child and better bonding too.

Backpack carriers mainly fall in two categories: framed and unframed. While the framed ones are more expensive and can be bulkier (especially when not in use) they do a great job at distributing your child’s weight. Non framed carriers are cheaper, but as they are without frame support, the baby tends to sit lower and can weigh down on you more.

Finding that perfect backpack can be an intimidating task. Baby backpacks come in a variety of sizes and models. It is important to find one that fits your baby’s size. Most backpacks are designed for children weighing at least sixteen pounds. For someone less than that or an infant you might consider going for a front baby carrier. This is an excellent solution as carrying babies in this manner is very beneficial to keeping a baby calm and quiet, thanks to the closeness involved.

Hiking backpack carriers are ideal for travel and out of town use. These externally framed backpacks offer a built in frame that allows you to actually wear your child high on the back, once he is at least six months old. You can then head for the mountains hands-free, or with trekking poles, while your child stays safe and supported.

Remember before heading out with your new backpack to adjust the straps, so as to spread the weight of the baby evenly on the hips and legs rather than the back.

When Can Baby Go in Backpack Carrier

The total weight of a backpack along with the weight of the child should typically between 30 to 50 pounds. That usually occurs when the child is around 6 months old and is able to sit up independently, with total control of the head and neck. At this time the baby can go in the backpack carrier quite comfortably and makes it easy both for you and the child.

Even though backpack carriers can look cumbersome at first, they are a great hit with parents thanks to the comfortable ride they provide. Here are a few of our favorites.

Backpack Carriers We Love

Baby Backpack, Sling & Front Carrier Guide

Choosing a Backpack, Sling or Front Carrier for your Baby

Going out and about with your baby in a stroller is one way to go, but for increased mobility and potentially greater closeness, consider using a baby carrier, sling, or backpack that straps onto you via shoulder straps. Contraptions of this type conveniently free up both of your hands and allow for a closer physical connection between parent and baby. It is much easier to navigate stairs or crowded stores with a carrier than with a stroller. And, if you plan on hiking and camping with your child, then these would be your only choice, since strollers just won’t cut it on more rugged terrain. For baby, they have the added benefit of providing a view of more than just shoes and socks and the chance for added closeness and even conversation with Mom or Dad. Here are a few things to consider when purchasing any type of backpack, front-carrier, or sling:

  • Look for a carrier that is comfortable for both you and baby. Try out the ones you’re thinking of buying, rather than asking a friend for a recommendation. A carrier that fits your friend well may not fit you.
  • Carriers can be used until your baby is about 45 pounds, though you may find that they may feel too heavy and uncomfortable even before your baby reaches that weight. At that point, it’s time to try a stroller.
  • Make sure your carrier is the right size for your child’s size and age.
  • Beware of carriers that you cannot manipulate on your own. It’s unrealistic to think that you will always have a spouse or companion with you to help get your baby in and out of the carrier.
  • If you plan on sharing the carrier with someone else (like a spouse or babysitter), make sure it adjusts to fit everybody who’ll be wearing it.
  • Carriers made of fabrics that are easy to wipe clean or that can be put in the wash are best.


Front Carriers

Front carriers are made up of two shoulder straps supporting a fabric seat. They are typically designed so that your baby can ride on your chest, facing inward or outward, and have adjustable settings to help distribute your baby’s weight across your back and shoulders.

  • Front carriers are good for newborns and can hold infants up to 30 pounds, though many parents find that a backpack works better once your baby exceeds 15 or 20 pounds.
  • Front carriers allow baby to face outward and see the world while still being close to you, which may be soothing and cut down on fussiness.
  • The snug fit of front carriers makes them warm, so pick one with breathable fabric that won’t make baby too hot.
  • Use a carrier with well-padded shoulder and waist or hip straps to save your shoulders and back from strain.
  • Make sure your carrier has a sturdy headrest that will support a sleeping baby’s neck and head and that leg holes are banded with soft fabric that won’t irritate a baby’s skin.
  • Find a carrier that is easy to slip on and off by yourself and that won’t require you to wake baby to do so.
  • It is awkward to breastfeed a baby in a front carrier. If this is something you plan to do, you might want to consider a sling instead.

Parents and reviewers have been raving about the classic BABYBJORN Baby Carrier for years now, and with good reason. It is a great, easy to use carrier that fits most parents perfectly. We love it.

Our favorite carriers are:

Slings

Slings are simply a wide swath of fabric that hangs across an adult’s torso and is supported by one shoulder strap. They allow infants to lie in a fetal position or to face outward, and older babies may enjoy straddling the wearer’s hip.

  • Slings are best for carrying newborns under 20 pounds around the house or for short distances. As infants grow, they will become cramped and uncomfortable in a sling.
  • Slings are incredibly comfortable for the wearer and allow infants to rest in a comfortable, natural sleeping position. The soft material of a sling wraps around the infant, simulating the coziness of a swaddling blanket, and the swaying motion may help them sleep.
  • Slings are the easiest type of carrier in which to breastfeed.
  • Make sure the strap of your sling is comfortable and well padded.
  • Some slings can be bulky due to the large amount of fabric they contain. Watch out for slings that have an unnecessary amount of fabric in order to cut down on some of the bulk.
  • Cotton and other breathable fabrics are best for slings, which will be warm due to baby’s close proximity to the parent.

We have a few favorite slings, but our #1 is definitely the Boba Baby Wrap.

Our favorite slings include:

Baby Backpacks

A baby backpack carrier is similar to a backpack used for camping except that a seat for baby takes the place of a storage compartment for gear. The frame and straps will help distribute your baby’s weight evenly over your shoulders and hips.

  • A baby is old enough to ride in a baby backpack when she can sit up on her own (about 5 to 6 months). Until then, it’s best to stick with front-style carriers.
  • Backpacks are sometimes difficult to get on and off without help from a second person, so they may not always be convenient if you’re running errands that require taking the pack on and off at each location. Practice solo loading and unloading of baby until you get the hang of it.
  • It is especially important to make sure a backpack fits correctly and is adjusted properly.
  • Look for a lightweight backpack with an adjustable inside seat and a harness that will safely strap baby in, ideally one that fits across baby’s chest and shoulders.
  • Choose a model that has a stable support stand that allows you to prop it up while putting your child in or taking them out.
  • If you’re planning on hiking and camping with your baby, get a backpack that comes with a protective canopy to shelter him from the elements.
  • For heavier children or for hiking, look for a model with a waist belt, which will transfer some of the weight from your shoulders to your hips.
  • A model with roomy, easy-to-access pockets for stashing baby gear will be most convenient.

If you are looking to take your little ones hiking, we highly recommend the Kelty Tour Child Carrier. It is solid, easily adjustable, and recommended by many parents.

Our favorite Backpacks:

Safety Tips

  • Carriers should not be used while driving, jogging, skating, or riding a bike.
  • Frame-style carriers should be used only when baby can sit unassisted.
  • When picking something up while wearing a carrier, always bend at the knees so that baby doesn’t fall out.
  • Do not cook while baby is in the carrier.
  • Stay off stools and ladders while wearing a carrier.
  • Do not reach for overhead items that could fall and hit baby on the head.