Discover Baby Carriers Transport Suitable for stages: 0 - 3 Months, 3 - 6 Months, 6 - 12 Months, 12 - 18 Months, 18 - 24 Months
All babies are carried in their mother's body for nine months before entering the outside world.
In the womb, it was warm, supportive, with the comforting sounds of their mother's heartbeat and voice. After their birth, new babies, seek out what they know, the warmth and comfort of their mother’s body.
For a baby, being carried is a calming, sensory, and bonding experience, for the mother, keeping her baby close to her chest makes it easy to check, feed, and protect her baby.
Carrying in arms is great, but not practical all the time. Arms get tired and hands are useful to have free for other tasks. Prams/strollers are an alternative to carriers and are great for some situations, but are not always suitable, available, or convenient.
Having one or more carrier options has so many benefits for mother and baby through the early years. There is a huge range of brands and types of carriers on the market. Any carrier will come with a learning curve but it's worth investing some time in learning babywearing skills as it can become a valuable parenting tool.
Knowing what will suit you and your baby can be difficult to figure out. It can pay off doing some research before you buy, making your life so much easier and baby so much happier.
The basic criteria for the perfect carrier:
- must be comfortable and supportive for anyone needing to wear it
- be easy to check how your baby is going.
- be comfortable and supportive for baby
This is an introductory guide to babywearing including both the general benefits and what to consider before you buy. If you are interested in what options are out there (for all budgets), see the Baby Carrier Buying Guide.
By the end, you should have a good idea of what might suit yours and your baby’s needs and be ready to start looking.
For more information on the benefits of babywearing, check out the book The Vital Touch: How Intimate Contact With Your Baby Leads To Happier, Healthier Development (Book title links to her website) by Sharon Heller, Ph.D. It's an older book but still comes highly recommended on review websites. It is available on Booktopia.
What a good carrier should do
The type of carrier which suits you and other caregivers for your baby will need to be comfortable and ergonomically compatible with its users. If it is not comfortable, it won’t be used at all or it will cause pain and discomfort for the user every time it is used.
Be comfortable for the wearer. It should not put an uneven load on the body or body parts such as pulling on the neck or one shoulder as this can lead to pain and asymmetric posture. If you think about how comfortable you are wearing a backpack versus wearing a sash bag where one strap goes across your body, you can get an idea of whether it will be important for you to have a carrier that spreads the load evenly across your body. Ring slings are worn over one shoulder, which can be comfortable for some people, but others don't tolerate these as well as other types of carriers.
A good carrier doesn't make your baby feel heavier than they are. When carrying a load, any weight close to the body will feel easier and lighter to carry than weight placed off or away from your body. As the weight moves away from the body, it feels heavier and harder to support. The most comfortable carriers distribute the weight of the baby as close as possible to your body and evenly weighted across both hips and shoulder blades, with wide straps that spread the load across a larger area rather than tight on narrow pressure points.
If the carrier will be used by people of different sizes, the size, fit and adjustment capabilities of the carrier needs to be factored into the decision. It there are straps that can be tightened/loosened, are they easy to use to adjust the use between you and your partner or another regular caregiver? Does it just need to fit you? Different carrier types have different methods for adjustment and fit, a carrier that doesn't fit right is unlikely to get much use.
Comfort and fit for the baby
Similarly, the carrier should fit the size of your baby and make them feel comfortable and supported. The position of your baby is important, especially when they are very young.
Look for carriers that maintain the 'C' shape curve of their spine/back and the legs spread apart in an 'M' position (knees slightly higher than the hips). Inward facing front carriers generally encourage the best position for small babies, as long as the baby is positioned high in the carrier (heart to heart) so that their head is 'kissable' and face uncovered.
According to TICKS guidelines for safe babywearing, 'young babies do well, against mum’s heart facing her and well supported with access to fresh air. To monitor your baby’s comfort levels, you should be able to see their face, kiss their forehead, see and feel their feet and hands to check their circulation and temperature'. Rednose.org.au also offers advice on how to safely baby carry in a sling.
Babies can easily overheat, especially when against your body and surrounded by thick layers. Look for overheating signs such as red cheeks, sweating, irritability, & heat rash when babywearing. Carriers which are made of breathable fabrics to allow airflow will be the best during the warmer months. When choosing your carrier colour, you could also consider that a darker colour carrier will absorb heat, where lighter colours reflect heat better.
How you dress your baby when going in a carrier can also make a difference. If you dress them lightly, you can always add a layer over the top such as a blanket or wrap or babywearing jacket. Also, make sure clothes aren't bunched up or putting pressure on any body parts or skin surfaces. Onesies or jumpsuits are a great option, however, these need to be an open toe design so you can see your baby's feet and prevent pressure on the toes.
Outward-facing carry positions can be used for older babies when they want to see the sights to learn about the world from their carer's perspective. An outward-facing carrier still needs to support around the hips, ideally with knees higher than their hips (and should never hang by the crotch). The carer may need to provide additional support under the thighs for outward carrying if the carrier does not provide this support.
Alternatively, if your baby has good upper body strength, a high back carry can allow them to see the world over your shoulder, but this requires some practice and assistance to get them in and out safely.
Be able to be mastered
A carrier that you don't have time or inclination to learn how to use is going to be next to useless to you and difficult to get the comfort and fit right. All carriers will have a learning curve, but some are larger than others. For example, a structured carrier may just need some initial adjustment the first time you use it, and then it can be easily taken on and off without needing to play with the adjustments too much. On the other hand, a woven wrap may have a lot more versatility in terms of ways to wear it and fit multiple wearers, however, they take longer to put on (especially at first) and can be adjusted in multiple ways.
If ease of use is more important than versatility, you may go for a structured carrier. If you want the versatility to carry your baby at any age and multiple position options, which you will master over time, it may be worth taking the extra time to master a wrap. Of course, there are many different types of carriers in between to consider. People who discover a love for babywearing can own multiple carriers for use for different activities and age stages- if you are just getting started, the first carrier you own above all should be something you can use and be comfortable using, if your baby loves being carried and you love it too, you can expand your collection.
For more information, there are many online resources OR search on Facebook to find your local babywearing group.
Check out our buying guide next to decide on what carrier will be right for you.
Please note: Above all, any information on this website aims to provide general ideas for informational and educational purposes only. We encourage users to investigate several information sources, including, where necessary, independent individualised medical advice before making any decisions that could affect you or your child’s health or wellbeing.
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