Find the Right Baby Carrier
Filed under: Gear Guides: Babies
Hands-free parenting wouldn't be possible without one crucial bit of gear: baby carriers. In fact, a lot of things wouldn't be possible: Remember that, while negotiating passage of the continent and translating for Lewis and Clark, the teenaged Sacagewea was wearing her baby Pomp. Of course, carriers have come a long way since the early 1800s. Here, a look at some popular options.
- Good for kids up to 40 pounds.
- Has an easily accessible zip pocket for wallet, keys, and phone. (Also a good place to stash straps when you change the carrying configuration.)
- Machine washable and soft, but those cushiony straps are bulky and don't easily fit into tote bags. (That said, there is a particular hip-parent fashion to wearing the carrier dangling from your waist, almost like a kilt.)
- The piggy-back carry can require two people to position the kid.
- There is no face-out option. The kid can only face in, toward your chest or back. Some parents don't like that the width of carrier's seat splays the kid's legs and hips. Also, the baby can tend to slouch into himself.
- Different carrying positions can require an additional insert or strap: Infants need the cushiony interior cradle pad; hip-carrying calls for a shoulder strap; some waists might require an extender for the hip strap.
- Good for kids from 7 to 43 pounds. The piggyback position should require a second person to position the child.
- The baby can ride face out. This seems to be the single most important distinction.
- The carrier folds up small and compact and fits easily in a bag or under the stroller. The compactness comes at the expense of padding, though.
Kind of a mummy-wrap for mommies, the Moby is a simple length of knit cotton about 20 feet long by about 2 feet wide. You ravel it around your body in variously patterns for different baby holds, such as the hug hold, the face-out lotus hold, and the two-baby twin cradle hold. Folding and wrapping the carrier can be a bit like origami, and, as such, requires practice.
- Comes in an array of colors.
- Good for kids up to 45 pounds. Unlike most carriers, without any additional equipment can be used for preemies and twins.
- Wearing it can require lots of practice and proficiency. Since it's so long, brace yourself for it grazing the floor, ground, and sidewalk as you're out and about and positioning the baby. (Still, of all these carriers, it's the easiest to just toss in the wash.)
- Since the fabric wraps around your torso and waist several times, it can get toasty and schvitzy underneath there.
Playtex Hip Hammock
You would not want to hike the Grand Canyon wearing it, but this carrier is capable of carrying your older baby and freeing up your hands for various around the neighborhood tasks. The baby can ride on either side, above the hip strap, with another strap going over the opposite shoulder.
- Good for babies 15 to 35 pounds. The baby must be able to hold her head up on her own.
- With one shoulder strap, you can feel the strain of carrying the baby in your shoulder and neck.
- On the plus side, this carrier is very compact: It even has a button for holding it in place when it's rolled up. (It fits handily in a diaper bag.) On the down side, it's not very padded, which you can end up feeling in your waist and shoulder.
- Best for the kind of errand running that has you getting in and out of the car a lot, when you don't want to haul the stroller out of the truck or tote the baby in the carseat.
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