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Baby Carriers, Slings, and Backpacks

With a variety of functional baby accessories currently on the market, parents have plenty of options available when choosing a carrier, sling, or backpack for their child. It is important to consider features such as weight and comfort when purchasing. Here are a few things to consider when looking for baby carriers.

What types of baby carriers are there?

A baby carrier should feel comfortable, help you distribute the child's weight, and support the baby's head, back, and legs. There are five types of carriers: soft-structured, sling, wrap, backpack, and mei-tai. Following is a short description of each.

  • Soft-Structured Baby Carrier: These carriers have padded straps and a wide waistband that attach to a soft structure. Many models come with adjustable components to help distribute the weight across the shoulders and hips.
  • Sling Baby Carrier: This type of carrier comes in two styles: ring and pouch. A ring sling drapes over the shoulder and allows you to feed the fabric through hoops to adjust for comfort. By contrast, a pouch model rests on the shoulder and has a curved pouch for transporting the baby.
  • Wrap Baby Carrier: This carrier covers the body of both the parent and the baby to create a snug fit. It is absent of any hardware in an effort to keep you and the baby comfortable.
  • Backpack Baby Carrier: Designed for carrying toddlers, a backpack carrier allows you to tote little ones on your back. Usually, the carrier features padded shoulder straps and a waistband for a comfortable fit.
  • Mei-Tai Baby Carrier: Modeled after a Chinese carry method, this carrier combines the benefits of a soft-structured carrier and a wrap. It fits several body types and offers multiple carrying positions.
How do you choose a baby carrier?

You'll likely find an assortment of baby carriers to meet your needs, including those with soft fabrics and unique prints. Baby carriers replicate the natural position of holding your baby, whether it's against the chest, straddling the hips, or riding piggyback. When searching for a carrier, you may want to add the following criteria to the list of must-haves:

  • Material: Search for natural, flame retardant fabrics. Dyed, non-breathable materials can cause discomfort and irritate your baby's sensitive skin.
  • Positioning: The age and weight of the child will determine how to carry the baby. Options include facing against or away from the chest as well as hip and back carrying positions. Always follow the manufacturer's suggestions for the head, back, and leg positioning to ensure your baby's safety.
  • Comfort: Make sure the carrier supports the shoulders and waist to help prevent back problems. For carriers with straps, look for padded shoulder straps and wide waistbands. If you choose a carrier without hardware, make sure the fabric is wide enough to help distribute the weight.
  • Adjustability: As your baby grows, you will need to accommodate the extra length and weight. Look for carriers that grow with your baby. If you will share baby-carrying duties, you will also need to consider the fit of other adults.
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