How to Choose a Baby Carrier.

How to Choose a Baby Carrier.
Michelle is carrying her beautiful boy Charlie in the 'Beco Gemini Cool Mesh' while wearing the 'Bamboo Long Sleeve Top' in baltic blue.

Babywearing - or the use of a baby carrier - is one of the most useful tools you can have as a new parent. A carrier can be the difference between feeling stuck at home, or getting out and about.

I remember when I first became a mom, my son just wouldn’t sleep in the cot (not until I did the 'cry it out theory,' but that's a story for another day!) so I wore him A LOT. I’d go for walks, or I’d just pace around the house watching ‘Downton Abbey,’ while he slept! While I don’t recommend doing this for weeks on end, (like I did) I definitely know first-hand the value in having a quality carrier for those extra fussy days, or when you need to head out to do jobs, or have some time outside.

But...there are so many options out there! It can be confusing and a bit overwhelming if you don't know what you should be looking for. At Cadenshae we thought we'd do the research for you, so you can be sure you're making the right choice! We love getting advice from experts, so for this blog we went with Louise Tanguay from New Zealand's 'The Sleep Store.' Louise knows her stuff when it comes to babywearing and has some helpful tips on how to wear and how to choose a baby carrier.

Why use a baby carrier?

There are so many reasons to choose hands-free carrying! It means your arms are free to do things rather than hold your little one or a larger toddler! 

1. Babies love the comfort and calm of a carrier, it’s the easiest way to give your baby a fourth trimester so they can sleep close to your heartbeat.

2. You can quickly and easily get out of the house for fresh air, which is essential for your own wellbeing as well as helping to calm your baby.

3. Babies will often sleep or resettle more easily in a carrier, which is far less stressful than constant rocking or leaning over the bassinet trying to make your little one nod off.

4. A carrier can go places that a buggy can’t! Busy shops, anywhere with steps, bush tracks etc. Not to mention, it's much lighter than the bulk and weight of a buggy.

5. Your partner or other family members can help with calming and carrying baby.

6. Once your child can walk, they’ll still want to be held...a lot! A carrier is much more ergonomic for you than carrying a heavy toddler in your arms.

7. You can exercise more easily with your baby or toddler in a carrier.

8. You can meet local parents through Kangatraining exercise classes (dance class while using a baby carrier) or through your local babywearing group.

9. Travel is much easier if you have a carrier for public transport, airports and other busy places.

10. A well fitting carrier is more gentle on your body than carrying your child in your arms, as they are specially designed for both child and adult.

Nikki C is carrying Billie in her pink 'Beco Gemini Baby Carrier' whilst wearing the 'Aspire Top' in neo.

How to choose a baby carrier:

Like so many things for babies, there's a huge variety of options to wade through. We recommend you seek expert advice from a business that specialises in baby carriers. You can also get a lot of advice through your local babywearing group or by seeing a babywearing consultant. However, here's a few essential things all new parents should know!

1. Choose a reputable brand rather than a cheap mass-market carrier. Yes, you can get cheap carriers from discounters and department stores, but it’s highly unlikely they'll be ergonomic for baby or comfortable for you. This just leads to either wasted money as you need to buy a better one, or you just avoid using the carrier and all its benefits altogether! No good! 

2. While there isn’t a Canadian standard for baby carriers, Louise recommends you choose a carrier that meets either the USA or EU safety standards to ensure it has been thoroughly safety tested. 

3. Have a think about what features you want in a carrier. Straps that can be worn crossed can make a big difference to weight distribution. Plus, you can easily adjust the size and fit of your carrier for the age or size of your baby, without the need for buying any additional accessories or complicated infant inserts. 

4. Also, do you want your baby to be able to face outwards in your carrier to see the world? Both the Beco Gemini and Beco 8 offer this option. However, be aware that this position is only suitable for a few months, between baby developing really strong neck muscles and before they get too big that carrying them frontwards becomes uncomfortable for YOU. Having your child facing forward can impact your centre of gravity if they're too heavy. It’s generally much comfier for a larger baby or toddler to be worn on your back. 

5. And finally, the all important budget question! Carriers are a big investment and you don’t want to waste money on an uncomfortable carrier, and you also don’t want to pay more than you have to. For example, some big brands are considerably more expensive but don’t offer anything more than Beco or Boba - you’re just paying for the name and expensive advertising! Do consider a second-hand carrier from a reputable brand rather than a cheap no ergonomic carrier, but be mindful that there are a lot of fake carriers online. Ask for proof of purchase if buying second-hand.

Babywearing safety:

Babywearing done properly is very safe! Always follow the carrier instructions exactly and/or learn how to safely use your carrier from a qualified babywearing consultant who has had expert training in this field. Some things to note though...

1. Pay special attention to ensuring baby's airways are always totally clear and that your baby is fully and safely supported by the carrier.

2. All carriers are designed to be used with baby held securely and firmly in an upright position. Never use the cradle or lying down position with a baby carrier, as this can compromise your baby's airways.

3. Special care must be used when bending. Hold your baby with one or both arms if you're bending and avoid bending from the waist. Carriers are not designed for hands-free use when bending.

4. Carriers are also not designed to be used in situations where it wouldn't be safe to carry a baby in your arms, for example, running, jumping or biking.

Essential safety checks:

While there are numerous ways to describe how to carry safely, all the different points come down to two ESSENTIAL factors:

  1. Airways.
  2. Hands-free.

Airways:

  • Can you see, feel or hear your baby is breathing?
  • Ensure fabric isn't over your baby's face. 
  • Keep your baby's face above and clear of any squishable chest material - i.e. above your breasts! With a newborn, this often means wearing a buckle carrier high on your waist and creating a deeper seat to ensure the back panel is not over baby's face or head, i.e. no higher than baby’s earlobes. 
  • It’s also important to ensure that the carrier is firm fitting and baby can’t slump down.

Hands-free:

  • Do you feel confident you can be totally hands-free?
  • If you need to hold your baby when you're standing upright, then your carrier isn't safe for hands-free carrying.
  • When bending forward, support your baby with at least one hand.
  • If you're not feeling confident, check you're following the instructions correctly, or get some expert help.
Michelle is using the 'Beco Gemini Cool Mesh' while wearing the 'Aspire Top' in black marle.

Our top pick?

There are some great brands out there, but at Cadenshae, we're huge fans of the Beco baby carriers. A number of our team members use this brand for both their babies and toddlers. Reason being, Beco carriers are well priced, excellent quality, simple to use, and comfortable for all sizes of adults. Beco’s sister brand - Boba - also make amazing carriers, including beautifully soft stretchy wraps and the much loved Boba X carrier, which is another excellent carrier for careful exercise with your little one. 

So there you have it, some solid tips and advice on babywearing and how to choose a baby carrier. Trust me, done right babywearing is so convenient and to be honest...so sweet. I loved it, and I adored how much my husband enjoyed carrying our boys too...that closeness was so special for him, and he relished the fact he could still make a sandwich, or leave the house to walk to the cafe for his favourite ginger loaf in a flash!

Happy carrying! 

Written by Ellen Chisholm in conjunction with Louise Tanguay from 'The Sleep Store.'

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