From the earliest days, it's a great way to be sure that mama can get done everything that needs to be done. It provides baby comfort and security, eliminates the need for hauling a bulky stroller around and makes nursing on the go simple and convenient! Yes, there are many reasons to fall in love with babywearing, but first you have to fall in love with a carrier. Not all carriers are created equal, and not every carrier is going to be perfect for every baby!
Are you on the search for the best baby carrier for you? Today, I'm sharing some things to consider when finding the carrier that will work best for you and your baby.
How big is baby? How long do you intend to wear them?
First and foremost, you must find a carrier that 'fits' your baby. Soft structured carriers are great carriers, but often require an additional insert to be used with an infant. I personally prefer a mei tai or wrap for tiny babies, but find that as baby grows, they aren't always the most comfortable option for myself.
Some people only wear their babies for the first few months. If this is your plan, you may find that a mei tai or wrap is the perfect option for you. These tend to be less expensive and are great for getting a nice snug fit for the littlest of littles.
How big is mommy? (Or daddy?)
If the carrier doesn't fit the wearer, it's not going to be a great experience for anyone! Finding a carrier that is comfortable for every person wearing is a must, so be certain to check out the measurements for that as well.
For me personally, I am very petite- just under 5 foot and very thin. One of my struggles with finding the right carrier has certainly been finding one that fits snug. Again, wraps and mei tais are great options that allow for a truly custom fit...but don't rule out soft structured carriers either. I have found that for my size, options that allow you to cross the back straps allowed me to get a much tighter fit. Beco offers carriers with this option, as does Action Baby Carriers.
I cannot speak for those on the opposite end, but I do know that there are options out there that will work for moms and dads of all sizes.
Where do you need the most support?
As I've said before, as much as I love a great mei tai or wrap, once my babies started getting bigger and weighing more, I found that for me personally, they just didn't offer the support I needed. I found the same to be true with my Action Baby Carrier, which had been a favorite for my daughter's first year. I needed something with more shoulder support, such as a Beco, Ergo or Boba (excluding the Boba Air). For those needing extra back support, Lillebaby is a fantastic option!
How easy is it to use?
Even the greatest, most comfortable baby carrier in the world is not going to make for a pleasant baby wearing experience if you cannot figure out how to use it! Generally speaking, a soft structured carrier is going to be easiest to use, followed by mei tais, then wraps. But you might find that a wrap comes more naturally that an SSC and not all SSC work the same. When possible, it's great to visit your local natural parenting store or borrow some carriers from a friend to find out what feels most natural to you.
What is your budget?
Depending on your carrier needs, you might find that one type of carrier will work best for the early days or certain occasions while a different type will be better as baby grows or longer wear. If it's in your budget, having more than one carrier can be great. If you can only afford one, choose the option that best fits your needs and your budget.
Typically speaking, I am one to say that a cheaper option is just as good as the more expensive brands...but when it comes to baby carriers, I find that it's worth the splurge! Cheaper carriers tend to be less comfortable for mom and baby. Still, you don't have to break your budget to get a great carrier. Consider buying used to get a better carrier at a price you can afford.
Much like cloth diapers, baby carriers are 100% unique to each individual. What works for one person may not be the best option for everyone! I have tried many carriers over the years and have found all carriers have their pros and cons. When my daughter was a newborn, our BabyHawk Mei Tai worked best (she did not like wraps at all). As she got bigger, we loved our Action Baby Carrier. It was easier and more comfortable than a Mei Tai for my growing girl, and I loved the great fit the crossed straps provided. As she grew even more, I found I needed the shoulder support provided by the Ergo and it became our go to. At just over 18 months, we switched to a Beco Toddler and it has been our favorite carrier so far. It offered the shoulder support I loved in the Ergo AND the crossed straps I loved in the Action Baby...plus a larger and wider panel for my big girl!
No matter which carrier you decide to go with, I hope this helps you narrow down your options ...and I hope you fall as in love with babywearing as I have!
(Note: You may notice that I did not cover slings in this post. For those that use them successfully, slings are great, but personally neither of my kids liked them, which is why I don't mention them here!)
Do you have a favorite baby carrier? What tips do you have for finding the perfect carrier?