Friday, June 6th, 2008
Name the Best Baby Carrier
Thinga-reader Sara P. asks:
“We are expecting our first baby in just a couple of months, and have been having a hard time making up my mind about slings. We have a hand-me-down Baby Bjorn, but have generally been told that it’s fairly useless after about 6 months. So I would like to find something that would allow me to wear my baby into the early toddler years. I’ve been doing lots of research, but have been having a hard time finding something that seems right. Any suggestions?
Also…I’d love the dad’s point of view…we’d like something my husband can feel comfortable wearing the baby in, and so many of these slings only come in very feminine prints.”
We can help Sara, yes?
First thought… If you have a Baby Bjorn, give it a good try out when the little guy (gal?) arrives. Take note of what annoys you, then go shopping with some experience under your belt. And if you like the Bjorn, don’t sweat shopping until you stop liking it.
For longevity you can look at each carrier’s weight limit, but sometime after the 1- or 2-year mark you have to balance your child’s growing heft against how physically fit you happen to be. If a carrier strains any part of you, especially your back, it won’t stand the test of time.
The portion running over your shoulder is wide, not like a backpack strap, which helps distribute some of the weight.
Many parents find ring wraps confusing, which is why this one comes with an instructional DVD.
My wife uses the wrap nearly everywhere we go. When the baby is snug inside, strangers don’t try touching him. And, you can breastfeed in relative secrecy. It served us well into the second year for our first child, although she was a bit on the small side.
Unfortunately, a key selling point is no longer valid. We loved that the Maya Wrap had no padding. Now it has “light” padding at the shoulder. We generally find padding unnecessary while making your padded portions sweaty.
The ERGObaby carrier (“the Ergo”) has grown on me, though I confess I hate navigating the straps on all similar carriers. You can avoid this issue by not sharing the carrier with your spouse who will assuredly mess up your sizing adjustments.
The Ergo is a backpack style carrier that is very comfortable, with a lot of the weight transferred to your hips instead of your shoulders. It too can place the baby at your front, back or hip. A special insert is needed for newborns to provide neck support.
Our third carrier is an older model Kelty frame carrier bought used from a friend (recalled for repair, thanks friend!). The first thing you notice about Kelty packs is their size, resembling a backcountry backpack.
And indeed, we primarily use it for hikes and community events such as parades. It’s good for parades because an older toddler’s head can sit above yours for a good view of activities while enjoying a shade cover. Like the Ergo, weight is evenly distributed, allowing you to wear it for longer periods of time. Of all carrier types, a frame carrier will give you the best product longevity.
The best thing when shopping for a carrier is to visit an independent baby store where you can try on each type of carrier and futz with them. A carrier is a very personal item, like a piece of clothing. If you can’t make it fit right, you won’t want to use it.
So, what say you, oh experienced Thinga-readers? Which carrier(s) do you and your spouse use?