Consumers have chosen Ergobaby as the top baby carrier brand in Australia. The American baby carrier specialist brand received the highest overall score across all brands, getting high scores for durability, comfort and support. 92% of surveyed customers recommend the Ergobaby carriers.
Baby carriers can be a helpful alternative to using a pram if you want to keep your baby close to you while you're out and about or doing chores around the home.
There are five main types of baby carriers: Sling, backpack, front carrier, wrap and Mei Tai.
Front carrier or pouch
The most common type of carrier on the market is a front carrier or pouch. They are typically suitable for babies under 18 months old.
The carrier is worn on your chest like a front-facing backpack with straps around your back and shoulders. Your baby faces you so you can keep a watchful eye on them while you move around. Some front carriers allow you to face the baby forwards as they get older so that they can observe their surroundings.
While they can help you feel close with your baby, they can cause back pain as your baby grows bigger.
A backpack carrier is designed for infants and can be used for infants who have started walking but can't do long distances by themselves yet. Your infant sits in a rigid frame on your back with their weight distributed evenly across your back and shoulders. They are able to see what is happening around them.
Backpack carriers can be suitable for those with back pain, although the high position can take some getting used to. However, they don't offer the same intimacy as a front carrier and you won't be able to keep an eye on your infant when they're in the carrier.
Sling carriers are more suitable for young babies. Slings are made mostly from stretchy supportive fabric and worn across your shoulder with baby sitting across your body. This creates a cosy position for your baby and feels intimate and safe.
A pouch sling has a loop of fabric that hugs your body with a pouch for baby to sit in, while a ring sling uses two rings to thread material through for more secure carrying.
Slings are not suitable for older babies and don't offer as much support or padding as other carriers.
Wraps are similar to slings in that they work well for younger babies and help you keep your baby as close as possible.
They are often designed with a single piece of material that wraps around both you and baby, and can be worked into different positions. It can be tricky to get the hang of the wrap configurations so you might need help getting into it until you get used to it.
While there are many different materials to choose from, some may cause you to feel overheated, especially in warm weather.
A Mei Tai is a soft-structured carrier that is also known as an Asian style carrier. It has a wrap and tie design and comes with a headrest and contoured shoulder padding. Some models come with a sun hood. They are suitable for babies of all sizes and can be carried on the front or back.
Mei Tais can help those with back and shoulder issues because the weight distribution is adjustable.
How to compare baby carriers
While there are many things you'll want to buy before your baby is born, a baby carrier should not be one of them. Wait to see when you want to start using it and how big your baby is to ensure you can pick the right type and size.
Choosing the right carrier for you depends on what feels comfortable for you and your budget. We recommend trying on a few different types of carriers to see what you like best. When you try on carriers, make sure that both you and your baby feel comfortable while walking and that baby is secured with a firm fit.
When comparing carriers, consider the following key features:
Depending on the style, baby carriers usually cost anywhere from $50 to $300. We know raising a baby isn't cheap, so it can be tempting to cut costs with a budget carrier. However, spending a little more can give you the peace of mind that your baby is safe and secure. Some cheaper models also don't offer as much durability as more expensive models.
Some types of carriers, especially slings, come in different sizes, while other styles are one-size-fits-all and adjustable as your baby grows.
Buying a one-size-fits-most carrier means that you'll only need one product as you can adjust it as your baby grows. They are also useful for when your partner or other family members take turns in carrying baby on your outings.
Padding and support
Padding in the right places can help make you and your baby more comfortable. Shoulder padding is particularly useful when wearing the carrier for long periods of time.
It's important to remember that your baby will get heavier the more they grow, so while you may feel comfortable at first, you might need more back support after a few months.
While some carriers suggest that they are suitable for newborns, many doctors recommend waiting until they are old enough to hold their head up by themselves.
Older babies tend to do better in a facing-out position so they can see what is going on around them.
While many carriers are suitable for babies of different weights, make sure to check the restrictions before purchasing. Some models are suitable for babies up to 20kg, while others are only recommended for those 12kg and under.
If you plan to use your baby carrier in hot weather, look for a breathable fabric that helps keep you and your baby cool. Keep in mind, you'll need to wrap them up with an extra layer for the winter months.
If you're worried about chemicals in fabrics affecting your baby's health, look for eco-friendly carriers that use unbleached fabrics with non-toxic dyes.
A quality baby carrier should last one to two years. Look for a carrier that is made from a durable material with well-made straps or buckles and heavy-duty seams. This will help prevent it from breaking while in use or only lasting a short period of time.
Every parent knows how quickly things get dirty. Choosing a carrier that can easily be thrown into the washing machine can make life a lot easier. Framed carriers are often more difficult to wash due to extra padding and pockets.
Straps and buckles
If the carrier has straps, make sure they're easily adjustable with one hand. Check that your baby won't be able to adjust the straps or undo any buckles while they're in the carrier.
If you're still nursing, you may want to consider a carrier that is suitable for discreet breastfeeding such as a sling or wrap.
Back and neck pain
If you suffer from neck or back problems, check if the carrier provides even weight distribution. Look for baby carriers that have wide, well-padded shoulder straps and waist or hip straps to help take the weight off your shoulders.
Some baby carriers come with accessories or add-ons, and some brands give you the option of purchasing these separately. These can include sun shades, a wet weather cover, drool bib or teething pad.
Baby carrier safety
While there is no Australian safety standard for baby carriers, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has published a safety brochure for slings. If you're purchasing an international brand, check for the US standard ASTM F2236 or the European standard EN 13209-2.
It's crucial to follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to use your baby carrier safely. Some types of carriers, especially framed carriers and slings, can cause suffocation, pinching and neck injuries when not used correctly.
Baby carriers are not recommended for any baby that has breathing difficulties or is under the recommended weight for the carrier. If you're unsure, seek advice from your paediatrician.
How to wear a baby carrier
When you're trying a baby carrier for the first time, ask someone to help you get it on and make sure it is fitted correctly. Each carrier has different instructions on how to use, so refer to the instruction booklet for the correct way to put it on and adjust any straps. Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to take it on and off easily.
Three tips for wearing a carrier:
Before using a carrier for the first time, check all the seams, fasteners and straps to make sure everything is secure. Also, check for any rough surfaces and sharp points that could harm or bother your baby. If there is a metal frame, make sure the padding fully covers any hard metal.
Make sure your baby's face is not covered while in the carrier so that they can easily breathe. Also check that they're not able to wriggle themselves out of the carrier or move to a compromising position.
If you need to bend over while wearing the carrier, bend at the knees rather than at the waist. This helps stop the baby falling out or shifting into an uncomfortable position.
Monique Law is a New Zealand writer for finder. She has superb research skills and is experienced in writing about a wide range of topics. When she’s not in front of her keyboard, she’s usually staying updated with the latest world events or exploring a new and interesting place.
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