4 tips how to best choose a carrier

These last few weeks have been crazy for my little family and me and I’m guessing that it is not much different for you! In the last three weeks we were in Spain (to visit friends), spent our last days in Germany and decided short notice to fly back to New Zealand before borders were being closed. Once back in New Zealand we went straight into self-isolation and watched New Zealand moving swiftly into lockdown within a week.

And here we are now. Lockdown for 4 weeks or possibly longer. And even though this time may seem a little tricky with a three-year-old, I think it is nothing compared to becoming a new parent. Because this is the time when you would need support from family and friends the most. Someone, who just comes around and drops off some pre-cooked dinner or someone, who answers your countless questions.

I have been wondering how I may be able to help those of you out there who are pregnant, have a newborn or a baby. Are you thinking about buying a carrier (once this is possible again), and are simply overwhelmed by the number of different carriers that are on the market? You are not the only one!

Usually, my first reaction would be to advise you to find a local babywearing group or library or a babywearing consultant where you can try different types of carriers, before you buy one. But right now, this isn’t possible. And in fact, for lots of parents who live rurally this will never really be an option. Therefore, I have written down a few tips that may hopefully help you in finding a great carrier.

1.     Know your budget

First, you should know how big or small your budget is for purchasing a carrier. If you have a small budget, you have an advantage, as you already have a limited number of options. This will make it easier for you to decide which carrier you should buy.

Certain types of carriers are more affordable in general. Stretchy wraps, for example, are usually the most affordable carriers. However, they won’t last you for years and if you want to continue babywearing after the first 6 months or so you will most likely have to invest in another carrier. Ring slings are also generally a little cheaper than other carriers. But again, you may need another carrier if you also want to be able to carry a heavy toddler for long stretches of time.

Certain brands are more affordable than others, so don’t just get the carrier that your friend has recommended if that carrier doesn’t fit your budget. You may be able to find a similar carrier for a lot less money.

Another great option for saving money is to look second hand for a carrier. Facebook has lots of groups for the sole purpose of selling pre-loved carriers. You may not be able to find good bargains for woven wraps, as they don’t tend to lose much value, but soft structured carriers often have a good price.

2.     Decide on one type of carrier

To stop being overwhelmed by all those options on the market, decide which type of carrier you want to purchase at this stage. Do you want a stretchy wrap for your newborn? Are you keen to learn how to wrap with a woven wrap? Do you need a ring sling for quick ups and downs and short carries? Would you like a mix between a wrap and a soft structured carrier like the meh dai can offer? Do you just want something easy to put on with buckles that a soft structured carrier has? Or are you pregnant, but still want to carry your toddler in an onbuhimo?

Find out more about the pros and cons of each type of carrier in the links above.

3.     Consider your previous experience

When choosing the right type of carrier, remember to think about your previous babywearing experience. Are you right at the beginning and have never used any type of carrier before? Then perhaps a wrap or ring sling might not be the right choice for you as those carriers tend to have a learning curve and you may need some personal help. Nothing is worse than buying a carrier and then realizing you just can’t get the hang of wrapping. However, if you are a visual learner, YouTube videos with instructions may be all the help you need.

If you are not too sure about the whole wrapping thing, then a soft structured carrier may be the best option for you. With soft structured carriers it can be a bit tricky finding the right fit without being able to try first. It can help to ask in various groups or ask friends who have a similar body type to yours, which soft structured carrier has fit them well. For example, I have found that friends who are taller than me and have larger breasts prefer different soft structured carriers than I do.

4.     Take your climate into account

Another option for narrowing down the many choices you have is by taking the climate into account that you live in. Do you live in a tropical climate? Is Winter or Summer coming up and in which season will you likely babywear most often? Great carriers for hot weather are ring slings, as there is only one layer of fabric between you and your child. But other carriers can be great for hot weather too if they are made of light fabric, like bamboo, linen, silk, thin cotton or mesh.

On the other hand, if your climate is mainly cool, you may want to consider a carrier made of thicker, warmer fabric, like cotton or wool. The carrier will act as another layer of clothing and will keep your child warm while out and about in cold weather.

Which tips would you add?

Can you think of any other tips that might be helpful, when choosing a carrier, which you can’t try first? Please let me know in the comments!


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