There are three types of baby carriers - front style, sling style, and backpack style - each with different features to suit your personal lifestyle.
1- FRONT STYLE BABY CARRIER
- Consists of two adjustable shoulder straps supporting a fabric seat. Some straps are padded for additional comfort.
- Typically holds 7 - 40 lb. infants depending on the model.
- Has an adjustable waist belt to help distribute baby's weight evenly. Some belts are also padded.
- Has lumbar support that work with the straps to direct the weight of the baby away from the shoulders, reducing shoulder strain.
- Are ergonomically designed for parent and baby.
- Some models include a DVD with instructions on how to wear the carrier correctly.
- Provides two directions for baby to face - infants face inward and older children face outward. (Note: for some models infants face inward and older children are carried either in the back position or hip position.)
- Adjustable straps allow for more than one person to use.
- Easy to remove front allows a sleeping baby to be laid down with out waking them.
- Allows newborns to use the carrier by providing head and neck support with infant inserts or adjustable head supports.
- Has an adjustable buckle to accommodate a growing baby.
- Many models can not be used with newborns.
- The snugness of the carrier and the parent's body heat can make baby or the parent warm.
- Breast-feeding can be difficult or not possible.
2- SLING STYLE BABY CARRIER
- Consists of a wide swath of fabric worn across an adult's torso, supported by a single shoulder strap (on some models the strap is padded).
- A few models also offer an adjustable strap with a safety stopper. This allows more than 1 person to use the carrier.
- Holds newborns - 35 lbs. depending on the model.
- When wearing, the baby should ride above your waist line, but below the bust line. When baby is being carried, the bottom of the sling's pouch should hang just below your belly button.
- Some models include an instructional DVD showing you how to wear the sling carrier correctly.
- Baby can be carried in multiple positions as they grow. Infants are carried in a fetal position while older children straddle the parent's hip.
- The soft material of the sling wraps around the infant creating a swaddling effect.
- Built in padding on the fabric's edge adds comfort for baby's legs.
- Can be used with newborns.
- When in use can breast feed.
- Some models include a loop for a pacifier or teether and/or cargo pockets to hold a cell phone, diapers, wipes, keys, wallets or a bottle.
- Is size specific allowing only one person to use it.
- Does not have safety restraints so should only be used with less vigorous activities.
- Some people have difficulty putting on and wearing the sling correctly.
3- BACKPACK STYLE BABY CARRIER
- These carriers look like backpacks with a place for baby to sit.
- Are for children who are able to sit up unassisted (around 6 months) to 40 lbs. and can handle 10 lbs. of gear depending on the model.
- Offer a five-point, adjustable child's safety harness.
- All frame models help to distribute baby's weight and offer an auto-deploy kickstand which makes loading and unloading the carrier easier.
- Lumbar supports work with the straps to direct the weight of the baby away from the parent's shoulder's therefore reducing strain.
- Sternum strap helps to evenly distribute baby's weight.
- Padded hip belt contours to parent's shape, providing comfort and support.
- Sliding or waist belt torso-length adjustment allows for easy fitting changes between short and tall parents, letting more than one person use.
- Is a good choice for active parents. They are great for hiking and traveling and include water bottle pockets for long hikes.
- Has adjustable seat and custom fit leg straps that allows the carrier to adjust to your growing child.
- Some models include a loop for a pacifier or teether, a removable diaper pack to hold toys and other essentials, and fold for compact storage. Other features to look for are - a sun/rain hood to protect baby and 3M reflective tape on the carrier for better visibility at night.
- Cannot be used with newborns.
- Some models can be difficult to get on and off without help.
- Not a good choice for around the house use.
FABRICS - Carriers are available in a variety of fabrics and color choices. The most common are:
- 100% Cotton and Cotton Spandex blend (Front Style and Slings) - a premium fabric that is light and breathable and keeps baby cool and comfortable.
- Polyester (Front Style and Slings) - is light and breathable, but not quite as comfortable as cotton or cotton blends.
- Polyester/Nylon Blends (Backpack Style) - offer better weather resistance and may include a vented mesh back for parent comfort.
- Some models come in organic fabrics.