5 Things a baby carrier must have
Baby carriers are a must-have baby item for parents. They offer so much more than just the possibility of carrying an infant, with bonding opportunities made simple and some even offering the potential to breastfeed on-the-go.
BUT! before purchasing one of these (often expensive) articles, you need to know what is out there and what questions to ask.
So, first things first.. what will you be doing with your baby carrier (apart from carrying a baby)?
Are you going to be wearing for prolonged periods? using for long walks/hikes? a settling resource? Will you exercise with it?
There are loads of options to choose from. Some will include wrap-around slings, soft carriers, framed carriers, ring slings, Mei Tais and pouch slings. Each carries different specifications and like all things, some are great and others not so, so it pays to know what you want.
Questions to ask yourself when considering the purchase of a baby carrier
- Will it contribute to hip dysplasia?
The hip is a ‘ball and socket’ joint. The ball at the top end of the thighbone (femur) should, normally, fit well into a socket. In babies with dysplasia of the hip, the hip joint has not formed normally.
We are told that the least healthy position for the hips during infancy, is when the legs are held in extension. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute states ‘This is, with the hips and knees straight and the legs brought together. This is opposite to the foetal position’. It’s determined that the risk to the hips is greater when this unhealthy position is maintained, especially over a long period of time.
When considering the purchase of a baby carrier, ensure that baby’s hips are spread and that they fall naturally apart. Thighs need to be supported also, and the hips and knees should bend. Baby should have free movement of the hips, without them being forced together.
Support of the back is essential too. The back should not be in a curved ‘C’ Shape, but should be straight, with a bend at the bottom… more like a ‘J’ shape, if you like.
2. Does it have the ergonomic support you BOTH need?
Check that the carrier holds the baby close to your body and evenly distributes the weight of the baby across you. An ergonomic design will be essential for the wearer if you’re planning to wear it for a good portion of a day.
If in the sitting position, the carrier should cater with a deep, wide and stable seat; this will satisfy the importance of supporting baby’s hips and thighs.
It should be fully adjustable, with consideration given to areas where the pressure is at its highest eg. shoulder straps and across the hip/mid-section. Look for something with added padding to prevent strain on the wearer.
3. Is it really safe?
How strong is the fabric? Does it have certified weight capacity? Look too for a design that gives consideration to enhanced mid-section support (perhaps by means of a double-buckle or a carrier cleverly designed using wide swathes of fabric). This will optimise safety and distribute weight along the wearer’s back. It needs to be safe for both baby and wearer.
Does it have neck support for the infant? The neck rest will need to be adjustable, giving consideration to baby’s growth.
4. Do you need a carrier with multiple carrying positions?
This feature is a winner, especially once baby grows and her interest in the environment around her increases. Varying positions might mean the wearer gets a wider view of baby, aiding interaction.
Remember it needs to be easy to get on and off too!
5. Is the fabric breathable?
The fabric of this garment should be light and breathable and should never trap heat.
Keep baby comfortable during prolonged wearing by choosing a fabric that is either 100 percent cotton, or is a ‘smart fabric/. If you can find one, a carrier that uses fabric that has regulating fibres to absorb excess moisture and heat is a winner.
For many mothers, saying goodbye to wearing your baby is a sad time. I think if you think through these points carefully it will allow you to really cherish this beautiful baby-wearing season. Enjoy!