Choosing a Baby Carrier

  • They're perfect for an older baby who loves to look around and be carried high on your shoulders.
  • Many backpacks have pouches for holding supplies.
  • Some models have a canopy for inclement weather or sun protection.
  • Getting a backpack off (and putting it on) are typically two-person tasks.
  • Backpacks are best for an older baby who can sit up well.
  • They're great for an all-day trip, such as hiking, shopping or visiting an amusement park

How do you decide which carrier to use?

No single baby carrier is perfect for all parents. Every parent has different needs, preferences and proportions. Many people actually begin with one type of carrier and move on to another when their babies get older.

First, think about how you plan to use a carrier. Will you use it primarily at home, instead of a stroller while away from home, or both? Do you already have a stroller, or must your carrier fill all your baby-carrying needs? Defining its purpose will help you choose which carrier is best for you. Read the package information (or talk to other parents who own a similar carrier) to learn which purposes it serves best and to determine if it matches your needs.

The very best way to decide? Try carriers on -- either at the store or with a friend who owns one. Actually putting your baby in the carrier will give you the best idea as to fit, but if you are shopping without your baby (or don't have your baby yet!) try using a stuffed animal from the toy department.

PARENT TIP: "A baby carrier can help new adoptive parents to decline politely those who want to hold your baby while he still needs exclusive Mommy or Daddy contact. The carrier can be especially helpful in difficult situations such as visits to your child's orphanage or former foster parents."
Laurel, mother of 16-month-old Crystal

Points to consider when purchasing a carrier:

  • Comfort. Does the carrier feel good to you?
  • Fit for your baby. Does it seem to suit your baby well?
  • Fit for you. Does it fit your size and body type? Can you carry the baby without strain?
  • Safety. Will the baby be secure and well supported?
  • Features. Does it meet your needs?
  • Usability. Can you easily get your baby in and out of the carrier? How about putting it on and taking it off? Keep in mind that some models require practice.
  • Construction. Does the fabric suit your wardrobe, climate and needs (i.e., lightweight for summer, weatherproof for outdoor use)?
  • Care. Is it machine-washable or easy to wipe clean?
  • Flexibility. Can you carry your baby in various positions?
  • Adjustability. Can it be tightened or adjusted to fit you when you are at home in indoor clothing or outside wearing a coat? Can you adjust it easily for use by others?
  • Adaptability. Will it work for your baby now as well as six months from now?
  • Appearance. Do you like the style? Will you enjoy wearing it?

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)