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Best Baby Carriers, According to Experts | Time

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BY AMBER KATZ

UPDATED MARCH 14, 2024

Whether you want to lull your little one to sleep, log some steps, or travel with your baby, a good baby carrier is a must. “I have always been a big advocate of baby-wearing, encouraging young infants to be carried as much as possible,” says board-certified pediatrician Dr. David Berger, founder of health education company Dr. David, MD and family practice Wholistic Pediatrics & Family Care. “Being close to a parent’s chest provides both warmth and the familiarity of a heartbeat, which was the rhythm the baby heard prior to being born. It also allows the person wearing the baby to be hands-free, allowing other tasks to be performed.” There’s a lot to consider when shopping for a baby carrier. Here, I consulted the experts to develop this list of the best ones.

What to consider when buying a baby carrier

Baby carriers are an excellent alternative to travel strollers, however, they won’t replace a baby or toddler car seat. Choosing the right baby carrier requires a few considerations to ensure it’s safe, comfortable, and fits your lifestyle. Here’s a breakdown of key areas to consider.

Safety

Dr. Berger says that when shopping for baby carriers, one of the most important things to consider is safety of the infant. Ensure that your baby fits well into the carrier of your choice, that nothing pinches them, and that the baby’s weight is properly supported. You want to make sure that all buckles and fasteners are in good condition and that you put the carrier on correctly. This can be surprisingly complicated when you first set it up, so consult the manufacturer’s directions as needed.

Comfort

Comfort for the person carrying the baby is also a key factor, Dr. Berger says. Make sure you find a carrier that doesn’t dig into your shoulders or midsection when you’re carrying your little one. Look for padded shoulder straps, a supportive waist belt, and breathable fabrics for both you and your baby. Ensure the carrier fits properly.

Comfort for your baby is also important. Opt for ergonomic designs that support your baby’s hips and spine in a healthy position, particularly for newborns.

Baby’s age and weight

  • Newborn ready: Carriers designed specifically for newborns often have an insert or support system to accommodate their small size and developing bodies.
  • Baby’s weight range: Check the carrier’s weight limits and ensure it’ll support your baby as they grow.

Carrying positions

Front-facing in: Great for bonding with your baby and allowing them to observe their surroundings.

Front-facing out: Offers babies a different point of view, but not all experts recommend this for long periods due to hip position concerns.

Back carrying: Ideal for heavier babies when front carrying becomes tiring.

Hip carrying: Perfect for quick in-and-out carrying with toddlers.

Ease of use

  • Adjustability: Choose a carrier with adjustable straps that allow for easy switching between parents or caregivers of different sizes.
  • Intuitive buckles and straps: Consider how easy the carrier is to put on, adjust, and take off while holding or wearing your baby.

Lifestyle

  • Versatility: If you’re looking for a carrier for different uses (e.g., hiking, errands, travel), choose a versatile design with a variety of carrying positions and features.
  • Lightweight and portable: If you frequently travel or need a carrier that takes up minimal space, consider lightweight carriers or those that fold down compactly.

Material

Choose comfortable and breathable fabrics like cotton or mesh, especially for hot climates.

Machine washable

Look for a machine-washable carrier for easy cleaning.

Safety certifications

Ensure any carrier you consider has appropriate safety certifications and adheres to safe carrying practices. If possible, always try on a carrier before purchasing to ensure a proper fit and adjustability for both you and your baby.