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Baby Carrier Buying Guide

Our Baby Carrier Buying Guide helps you choose the right baby carrier for you and your baby.
Baby carriers allow you to hold your baby hands-free.  Depending on the model, they can be used for infants all the way through preschool-aged children.  Carriers allow your child to be close to you while you do chores, go for a walk, or even go for a hike!  Read on to find the baby carrier that's right for you.

Baby Carrier Buying Guide:

How to Choose the Right Baby Carrier For You and Your Baby

Ask yourself these questions to ensure that you choose the best baby carrier for your needs.

Function:  Why do you need a baby carrier?  What purpose do you want it to serve?  For what activities will you primarily be using a baby carrier (to be able to do chores while carrying your infant vs. go hiking over terrain a stroller can't handle)?

Age:
  How old is your baby?  Does your baby have good head and neck strength yet?  How much does he/she weigh?  How long do you intend on using the baby carrier?

Size:
  Are you looking for a baby carrier that can fold up and be packed away in your diaper bag?  Or is a larger framed carrier what you are looking for?

Comfort:
  Will your baby ride comfortably in this carrier?  Is it comfortable for you?  Is it adjustable to accommodate other people wearing it?

Slings & Wraps:
Slings and wraps are made for infants of any age.  They allow you to hold your baby horizontally or upright and are made of soft fabric with an adjustable strap to accommodate your body size and shape.  Babies can even nurse comfortably and discreetly while being carried in a sling or wrap.  The feeling of the soft material around your baby is similar to that of swaddling, giving your baby the feeling of security and comfort.  Many babies enjoy sling and wrap carriers since the shape of these carriers allow your baby to rest in a comfortable, natural sleeping position.  Oftentimes, babies wind up falling asleep when carried this way due to the swaying motions of your body as you move about.  Some models can be used for newborns all the way through toddlerhood; with a semi-reclining position for young babies, then the ability to support a toddler on your hip.  Weight limits on slings and wraps vary depending on the product and model chosen, however most cap at 20 pounds.

BABY CARRIER TYPES

Sleepy Wrap Baby Carrier
Pros: Some models can be used for newborns through toddler-aged children, usually completely washable, comfortable fabric, slings can be positioned for discreet nursing

Cons:
Can sometimes be cumbersome to get the right fit for both you and your baby, you cannot lean forward while wearing your baby in a sling or you risk him/her falling out, puts a lot of weight on your shoulders and back

Age Range:
Newborn - toddler (depending on model)

Best Used For:
Around the house activities

Price Range:
$35 - $65

Front Carriers:
Perhaps one of the best-known carriers due to the popularity of the Baby Bjorn, the front carrier is a good choice for parents looking to carry their babies in the front with the option of facing in (when they're very young) or out (when they gain more head control).  Front carriers are easily adjustable to both your size and your baby's.  Some parents feel their baby is more secure in a front carrier than a sling or wrap.  A number of models of front carriers offer additional lumbar support to displace the weight of carrying a baby on your front.  Weight limits on front carriers vary depending on the product chosen, however most cap at 30 pounds.

Baby Bjorn Front Carrier
Pros: Comfortable fabric, baby is very secure, most models allow you to face your baby in towards your body or out, some models allow you to take the front carrier off and lay a sleeping baby down without disturbing your baby's position

Cons:
Can be hot for both you and baby.  Although many models say they can be used for babies up to 30 pounds, we have found this to be an unreasonable amount of weight for you to carry on your front - also, it is uncomfortable for such a heavy child to be carried this way.

Age Range:
Newborn - baby up to 30 pounds (depending on model)

Best Used For:
Around the house activities, short walks

Price Range:
$20 - $160

Hip Carriers:
Hip carriers are similar in style to slings and wraps in that you wear them across your body.  With hip carriers, however, your child rides sitting up on your hip.  Therefore, hip carriers are only recommended for older babies and toddlers who can sit upright unassisted.  Hip carriers have less fabric than slings and have a higher weight limit than front carriers.  These carriers may be the perfect choice for carrying older babies and toddlers.  Weight limits on hip carriers vary depending on the product chosen, however manufacturers claim hip carriers can be used up to three years of age.

Ellaroo Mei Hip Baby Carrier
Pros: Can be used for older babies through toddlers

Cons:
May put strain on your neck and shoulders

Age Range:
5 months - 3 years

Best Used For:
Around the house activities, short walks

Price Range:
$35 - $90

Framed Carriers:
Frame baby carriers are worn on your back and resemble hiking backpacks.  These are rugged baby carriers that allow you to take your baby along for outdoor activities such as long walks or hikes.  Frame baby carriers have sturdy metal frames and belts that evenly distribute your baby's weight to reduce strain on your neck and shoulders.  If you have difficulty carrying your child due to discomfort or lack of strength, a framed baby carrier might be a good option.  Framed carriers are great for long walks or hikes; however, it can be tricky getting your baby in and out of the carrier, especially by yourself.  Frame baby carriers can only be used for babies with adequate head and neck control and are about 5 months old.  Most models are made of lightweigh aluminum and have movable and washable seat fabrics and adjustable padded straps and seats.  Other features to look for include sunshades, diaper packs, storage pouches, bottle pockets, and toy loops.  Weight limits on framed carriers vary depending on the product chosen, however most cap at 50 pounds.

Kelty K.I.D.S. FC 1.0 Frame Child Carrier
Pros: Distribute the weight of your child so as to reduce the strain on your neck and shoulders, enable you to enjoy hikes and outdoor activities with your baby where a stroller can't go

Cons:
Can be tricky getting baby in and out of carrier, especially by yourself

Age Range:
When baby can sit up (about 5 months) until he's too heavy to comfortably carry him
 
Best Used For:
Hiking, long walks

Price Range:
$100 - $200

We hope our baby carrier buying guide has helped you make an informed decision regarding what type of baby carrier will best accommodate you and your family.  To find our top-rated baby carriers in each category, refer to our Baby Carrier Reviews.


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