Types of Baby Carriers
When choosing a baby carrier, it's important to consider the different types available. The main categories of baby carriers include:
Soft Structured Carriers
Soft structured carriers offer built-in support for baby through padded straps and a waistband. They distribute baby's weight across the shoulders and hips for comfort. Many are highly adjustable and suitable for newborns through toddlers.
- Easy to use with multiple carrying positions
- Storage pockets, hoods, and other features
- Brands like Ergobaby, Tula, Lillebaby, and BabyBjorn
These very long pieces of fabric are wrapped and tied around the wearer to hold baby close. They require practice to tie and fit properly.
- Breathable, lightweight fabric like cotton, linen, or blended fibers
- Very versatile, can be worn at all ages
- Brands like Boba, Baby K'tan, Moby, and Solly Baby
These backpack-style carriers have an internal metal frame with a fabric seat for baby. They distribute weight well for longer wear.
- Great for hiking and extended use
- Padded, adjustable straps and waistbelt
- Brands like Deuter, Osprey, Phil&Ted, and Thule
A sling is a single piece of fabric that goes over one shoulder to cradle baby in a hammock-like pouch.
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Discreet breastfeeding
- Brands like Sakura Bloom, Maya Wrap, and Sleeping Baby
Mei tais have four straps tied together to create a soft carrier. Straps pass around the waist and shoulders.
- Versatile, can be worn on front or back
- Unpadded, so easy to fold up
- Brands like Catbird Baby, BabyHawk, and Kozy
With many options to choose from, consider baby's age, size, and your needs when selecting the ideal type of baby carrier.
Soft Structured Baby Carriers
Soft structured baby carriers are a popular type of carrier that offer ergonomic support for parents and babies. They have padded straps that distribute weight across the shoulders and waist, allowing for comfortable wearing over extended periods.
- Versatile positions - Can be worn on front, back or hip as baby grows
- Hands-free carrying - Allows caregivers to multi-task
- Promotes bonding - Keeps baby close while leaving hands free
- Supports development - Being carried helps babies feel secure and engaged
What to Look For
When shopping for a soft structured carrier, key features include:
- Adjustable straps and waistband - Ensure a customized, secure fit for wearer comfort
- Padding - Provides cushioning and support for baby and parent
- Breathable fabric - Prevents overheating in warm climates
- Teething pads - Protect carrier from baby drool and chewing
- Weather protection - Hoods, canopies and UV fabrics keep baby shaded and cool
- Pockets - Convenient for storing small items like phones, wallets and snacks
Safe Use Tips
- Always follow manufacturer guidelines for weight limits, normally up to 35-45 lbs
- Ensure baby's chin is not pressed to chest - this can restrict breathing
- Bounce gently when wearing to keep airway open
- Take breaks to reposition baby and give your back a rest
- Use nursing covers for discreet breastfeeding
Recommended Soft Structured Carriers
|Ergobaby Omni 360||Mesh material, lumbar support, forward-facing option|
|Tula Free-To-Grow||Wide waistband, hood, pockets, newborn insert|
|Lillebaby Complete||6 carry positions, detachable sleeping hood, all season use|
With research and safety in mind, soft structured carriers can make babywearing comfortable, convenient and enjoyable.
Wrap Baby Carriers
Wrap carriers are a classic style of baby carrier made from long pieces of fabric that are wrapped and tied to hold baby close. They can be a great option, but require practice to tie and use correctly.
Benefits of Wrap Carriers
- Lightweight and breathable - Made from natural fabrics like cotton, linen or blended fibers to prevent overheating
- Highly adjustable - Can be tightened or loosened to customize fit as needed
- Discreet breastfeeding - Fabric keeps nursing private and accessible
- Versatile positions - Can be worn on front, hip or back as baby grows
- Compact - Easily rolls up when not in use
Choosing a Baby Wrap
Key features to look for include:
- Stretchy or woven - Stretchy wraps are better for newborns while woven wraps offer more support as baby gets bigger
- Material - Light, breathable cottons or blends are preferable
- Length - 5-7 yards gives versatility in styles and positions
- Easy care - Machine washable and dryer safe
How to Use
- Spread wrap out and hold centrally in front
- Pull fabric tight across back and bring to front
- Wrap baby according to carry position guides
- Spread passes and tie off securely
- Ensure baby is visible and chin is off chest
- Practice with a doll first until you're comfortable tying
- Make sure knots and fabric are tight and secure
- Monitor breathing and reposition baby often
- Consult product weight limits and follow guidelines
- Join local babywearing groups for tips and support
With proper technique, wrap carriers can be a cozy, adaptable babywearing option.
Frame Baby Carriers
Frame baby carriers are designed with an internal metal frame for sturdy support. They distribute weight well, making them ideal for hiking, travel, and all-day wear.
Benefits of Frame Carriers
- Weight distribution - Aluminum frame bears weight instead of parent's shoulders
- Long wear - Padding and support allow for extended carrying time
- Versatile - Can be used for travel, hiking, camping
- Storage - Large capacity for gear in addition to baby
- Hands-free - Leaves parent's hands free for other tasks
What to Look For
When selecting a frame carrier, key features include:
- Adjustable suspension system - Customizes fit for parent's torso length
- Padded waist belt and straps - Ensure a snug, comfortable fit
- Ventilation - Mesh material or suspended design allows air circulation
- Kickstand - Allows carrier to rest upright on ground when loading baby
- Sun shade canopy - For protection from elements during outdoor use
- Consult manual for proper adjustments and fitting
- Start with low weights until parent is conditioned
- Take regular breaks to reposition baby and rest muscles
- Monitor baby's leg positions to prevent hip dysplasia
- Stay hydrated and dress baby appropriately for conditions
Top Frame Carrier Brands
- Deuter Kid Comfort - Ventilated, adjustable, kickstand
- Osprey Poco AG Plus - Lightweight, suspension system, large capacity
- Thule Sapling Elite - Breathable, sleeping pad, sunshade
- Phil & Ted's Parade - Compact, kickstand, storage basket
With proper precautions, frame carriers allow baby and gear to be transported comfortably on outdoor adventures together.
Choosing the Right Carrier for You
With so many baby carrier options available, it can be overwhelming to select the right one for your needs. Here are some key factors to consider when deciding on a baby carrier:
Baby's Age and Development
- Newborns - Wrap carriers or soft structured carriers with infant inserts
- 4-6 months - Worn facing in, soft structured or wraps are ideal
- 6-12 months - Can face outwards, back carrying possible
- Toddlers - Structured carriers best for walking, hiking carriers for longer treks
Parents' Lifestyle and Needs
- Active parents - Frame carriers, hiking backpacks, all-terrain strollers
- Travelers - Lightweight, packable strollers and soft structured carriers
- Commuters - Compact umbrella strollers, slings or soft structured carriers
- Homebodies - Wraps, slings or soft structured carriers for bonding
Types of Trips/Outings
- Quick errands - Hip carriers, slings, soft structured carriers
- Long daytrips - Frame carriers evenly distribute weight
- Air travel - Lightweight, compact strollers and carriers
- Public transit - Carriers worn on body keep hands free
- Hiking - Frame carriers with significant padding and ventilation
Comfort and Ergonomics
- Neck, shoulder and back pain - Waist and hip belts keep weight centered and off shoulders
- Plus size parents - Carriers with adjustable, longer straps and waistbands
- Petite body types - Carefully follow size charts and fittings
- Hot climates - Prioritize lightweight breathable fabrics
Considering factors like these will help you select the carrier best suited for your baby's age, your lifestyle, comfort needs and the types of activities you plan to use it for.
What Are The Best Baby Backpacks And Carriers For Hiking?
Hiking with a baby can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it requires the right gear to ensure both you and your baby are comfortable and safe. Here are some of the best baby backpacks and carriers for hiking:
- Deuter Kid Comfort: This is the best overall baby carrier for hiking, with a comfortable fit for both child and adult, a sunshade, and a 14L capacity.
- Osprey Poco Plus: This is a close second with more storage, and it's ultra-comfortable for both baby and adult.
- Kelty Journey PerfectFIT: This is the best budget baby carrier with a perfect fit for both baby and adult.
- Ergobaby 360: This is the best frameless baby carrier with a comfortable waistband and a number of carrying options for a child.
- Deuter Kid Comfort Active: This is the best lightweight baby carrier with a well-ventilated design and a 12L capacity.
- Baby Tula Explore: This is the best baby carrier for infants with a forward-facing option and a weight capacity of up to 45 pounds.
When choosing a baby backpack or carrier for hiking, consider your child's age, storage capacity, and the level of comfort for both you and your baby. It's also important to look for features such as sunshades, hydration pockets, and foot stirrups to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.
What Are The Key Features To Look For In A Baby Backpack For Hiking?
When choosing a baby backpack for hiking, there are several key features to consider to ensure both you and your baby are comfortable and safe. Here are some of the most important features to look for:
- Comfort: Look for a backpack with thick padding in the shoulder straps and hip belt, as well as a roomy cockpit and soft performance fabrics to keep both you and your baby comfortable during long hikes.
- Sunshade: A built-in or removable sunshade that provides full coverage is a must-have feature for baby hiking backpacks to protect your baby's sensitive skin from the sun.
- Durability: A hiking backpack for babies should be made of durable materials that can withstand the wear and tear of outdoor adventures.
- Storage capacity: Look for a backpack with plenty of pockets and storage space for diapers, wipes, snacks, and other essentials you need to pack for your baby.
- Age-appropriate design: Baby hiking backpacks are designed for children who are about 6 months or older and can sit up on their own. Make sure the backpack you choose is appropriate for your child's age and size.
- Versatility: If you plan to use the backpack for other activities besides hiking, look for a versatile backpack that can be worn front or back and is great for travel.
By considering these key features, you can choose the best baby backpack for hiking that will keep both you and your baby comfortable and safe during your outdoor adventures.
What Are The Weight Limits For Baby Backpacks For Hiking?
The weight limit for baby backpacks for hiking varies depending on the brand and model. Here are some examples of weight limits for popular baby backpacks for hiking:
- Deuter Kid Comfort: The weight limit for this backpack is 33 pounds.
- Osprey Poco Plus: The maximum weight (gear, child, and pack) for this backpack is 48 pounds.
- Kelty Journey PerfectFIT: The maximum weight (gear, child, and pack) for this backpack is 50 pounds.
- Ergobaby 360: There is no specific weight limit for this backpack, but it is recommended for babies who have sufficient neck and head support.
- Baby Tula Explore: The weight limit for this backpack is up to 45 pounds.
- Framed Backpack Carriers: Most framed backpack child carriers have weight limits of 45-50 pounds, which means they are suitable for carrying kids of up to 5 or 6 years old.
When choosing a baby backpack for hiking, it's important to consider your child's weight and age to ensure that the backpack is appropriate for them. It's also important to consider the weight of the backpack itself, as well as the weight of any gear you plan to carry, to ensure that you can comfortably carry the load.