Baby carriers allow you to carry your baby safely and next to your own body. Both parent and child enjoy the feeling of natural closeness and the bonding opportunities this brings. This type of carrier also enables you to transport your infant while having your hands free to do other things.
There are literally thousands of such products on the market, so it can be understandably difficult to know which one is best for you. There are different styles, aimed at Moms, Dads, or at both parents, with different options for positioning your baby on your body and adjusting his weight to protect your back and muscles.
Types Of Baby Carriers
Conventional carriers - modern baby carriers hold your baby against your body in a harness supported by straps. The straps go over your head on rest on your shoulders. The two "halves" of the carrier fasten to one another around your stomach area. Some of these carriers allow you to switch the baby from your back to your front, facing towards you or facing away. Some are made of reasonably soft materials, but not as soft as the material of a baby sling, for example. Baby carriers usually have straps and buckles, which can make them less comfortable.
Baby backpacks - parents who enjoy trekking, or even just a weekend stroll, find baby backpacks very convenient. These have an adjustable, hard metal frame that helps you to support the baby's weight, but comes with plenty of padding to prevent discomfort. Such backpacks come with a detachable hood to protect your child from bad weather. Certain designs even contain storage space. Backpacks may be more suitable for older babies who can already support their own heads.
Baby slings - also called baby wraps or baby pouches, are long, adjustable strips of soft but durable material that wrap around you and your baby, creating a snug place for him to rest against your body. There are slings that let you carry your baby on your hip, on your back or even in the breast feeding position. These soft carriers use your upper body to support the child's weight and are generally suitable for children weighing up to 30 to 50 pounds. Some parents continue using slings until their children are 3 years old - after that, they are usually just too heavy to carry constantly.
Baby pouches - the baby pouches mentioned above are similar to baby slings, except that the baby slips into a readymade pouch which is part of the stretchy material. Some Dads say they prefer the look of pouches, because it's a little less "feminine" than that of a sling or a wrap.
(Just a word on sling fashion - slings have become real fashion accessory. You have a huge range of patterns, colors and even designer labels to choose from. For those who have the budget, and the desire, it's possible to have a sling to coordinate with every outfit. It's also possible to choose more masculine looking slings to make Dads feel comfortable).
Multiple baby carriers - multiple carriers are harder to find and more expensive, but they do exist. There are twin sling carriers which stretch around your neck, back and waist. However, the majority of multiple baby carriers rely on buckles and shoulder straps to help you take the weight without hurting yourself.
Choosing A Safe Baby Carrier
When buying a baby product such as a carrier, the safety of your child will be a concern. Whichever carrier you purchase, you need to make sure that your infant is positioned in it safely and that his airflow isn't restricted in any way. You also need to keep an eye on his body temperature.
Another important element of baby sling safety is your own physical wellbeing - that is to say, whether or not the carrier distributes the baby's weight evenly across your upper body, and is therefore comfortable for you. There's no point in buying something that's going to strain your back. If possible, try a few carriers on in the store before making your decision.
Any reputable manufacturer of baby products will be able to prove to you that their products have been tested and are thoroughly safe for you and your baby. You can check out the credentials of baby carrier producers online or, when you visit the store, you can request details from the sales staff about the safety of certain products.