Finding the right baby wearing carrier for you and your baby is such a personal choice. Everyone has different amounts of back strength, and every baby is unique in size, weight, and wriggliness. You’ll also have your own preferences regarding choice of material and how complicated it can get before you throw up your hands in despair!
A baby carrier that cares for your back
I’ve got a few problems with my back, so back comfort was a key consideration for me. There are lots of baby carrier models that take the comfort and safety of your baby as the top consideration, and of course we need that. However, many designs don’t take the stress and strain on the body of the person wearing the carrier into account. Do they not realize that babies are incredibly heavy? My little girl is quite light as eight month olds go, but she is still 7kgs – a lot of extra weight once you’ve had it on your back for half an hour slogging up and down the hills of our city. My best friend’s baby was already 11kgs at eight months!
There is no need to reach for the back pain medication if you choose to go with a baby carrier. A well-designed one should allow the weight of the baby to be distributed evenly on your hips, shoulders and back.
We currently have an Ergo, and we’ve used it since birth with our baby. Ergo carriers are highly recommended by most sources I’ve found, and the brand has been around for ages. Ergo baby carriers are Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs). These are based on technology originally developed for heavy hiking packs. The waist belt and padded straps distribute the weight of the baby ergonomically between your hips, shoulders and back. Ergos also allow the baby to be in a natural seated position, which is best for their hips.
These baby carriers are quite similar to the Ergo. They are also ergonomically designed. They’ve got padded shoulders and a waist belt. And your baby can sit in multiple positions. I’ve never seen these ones myself, but in photos they look supremely comfortable so I’d recommend checking them out.
Many people use the Baby Bjorn carrier, and it is well-known as an ‘entry level’ carrier that is easy to use. It sits nice and high on your body, and the straps keep the baby snug against you. The baby can be worn facing inwards if she’s tired out, but it also works well facing out. Some people avoid Baby Bjorn’s like the plague, saying they are really bad for your back because the straps place the weight of the baby on your upper body. Narrow-based carriers like the Bjorn don’t harm your baby, but there is some evidence that they can exacerbate already-existing issues with hip dysplasia, so be aware of this if your baby is prone to or suffers from this condition.
Baby slings and wraps
You can get many variations on the baby sling concept, but basically it’s a long piece of fabric that you wrap around your torso and across your shoulders.
Moby wraps are a stretchy cotton wrap, and we used one when our baby was small. They are particularly good for newborns, because it holds them nice and close to you and supports their head. Although the wrapping process may seem a little bit complicated, it’s easy once you’ve done it a few times, and there’s none of the complications of belts, clips and buckles that you have with other baby carriers. The main issue with stretchy wraps like the Moby is that once your baby becomes slightly larger, they sag and aren’t as supportive.
Woven wraps are much more supportive and more versatile. You can find them in numerous blends, such as 100% cotton, cotton and linen, cotton and merino wool, silk, hemp, bamboo, cashmere, or mixtures of all of the above! They come in different sizes (from size 2 to size 8) which are used for different types of carries, or suit different body sizes and different baby sizes. A size 4 linen/cotton wrap is very different from a size 8 wool/cotton wrap, and you should make sure you do your research before buying a wrap as they can be very expensive. Along with our Ergo, we have three wraps and a ring sling, so we certainly love them in this house!
At the end of the day, it comes down to what you and your baby find comfortable. Before making a big investment, I’d definitely recommend trialling a few that you like the look of. There are several ways of doing this. You could borrow one from a friend, some baby stores will let you have a walk around inside the shop with them on, and there are baby wearing meetups in many big cities.
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