I have two children now and I swear by the importance of baby carriers. I think I didn’t put my second baby in a stroller more than 3 times before the age of 5 months. I carried him everywhere, and I still carry him 90% of the time now that he is 7 months old. I am a big fan of carriers because I believe they reduce fussiness, allow you to bond with your baby, help you to run errands with greater convenience, keep your baby safer, let your baby sleep better than in the stroller when you need to be on the go, and with a carrier you don’t need a double stroller just because you have two kids. Let me take you through my journey in baby carriers and also what I have come across in the land of mommies.
The Baby Bjorn My first Bjorn didn’t have a lumbar support and my back always hurt when I used it. I then upgraded to one with a lumbar support and it was better, but still not perfect with my baby as she got heavier and heavier. I would suggest not buying a Bjorn that doesn’t have the lumbar support because you’ll eventually wish you had it. There are other brands of carriers similar to the Bjorn style (Snugli for example) but everyone I have known with those brands covets the Bjorn’s comfort and ease. The Bjorn is great for younger babies (beginning with 8 pounds). They face inward to you and just fall asleep for hours – HOURS! When they can hold up their heads they can face outward and check out their world. It’s fun to hear the baby giggle and be excited about everything, and people on the streets love to see your baby’s face. I found that around 20 pounds my back couldn’t handle the weight of the baby anymore (even though it is safe up to 25 pounds), so that is when I packed my Bjorn away.
My second carrier was the Kelty Tour. I had a few friends suggest this so I gave it a try. I liked that my daughter was high up and looking at the world, but I didn’t find this convenient. I didn’t like that I couldn’t carry other things with me when I had her in this. It was bulky, uncomfortable, hit people on the subways, and didn’t give me the full freedom I was looking for. I also felt like I needed to go get a massage after wearing it for more than an hour. So I donated this to a church yard sale and was done with it. Some people like this though, but I won’t recommend it after finding something better…
One day my life changed. My friend told me about the Ergo Baby Carrier. I immediately looked up their website and purchased the carrier. I think I found heaven when I found this carrier. Life has never been the same. This carrier was different than the others. Whereas the others had my baby hanging by the crotch and pulling straps on my shoulders, this had my daughter in an actual sitting position around my waist, which then distributed the weight to my hips – NOT my shoulders! I could also wear her on my back (for hiking), my hip (for times I wanted to talk to her and be about walking), or my front (which is easiest for everyday errands so I can still wear a backpack and sit with her on the subway). Also, this carrier holds up to 40 pounds! I like that this carrier has pockets on the front big enough for my wallet, subway card, and 2-3 diapers and wipes! I was a free woman! I carried my 32 pound daughter on a 7 mile hike through hills and trails with this and never was sore or tired of carrying her. I love taking this traveling because I carry my baby in it through the airport, then fold it up in the overhead bin. This carrier has a head support that comes up and snaps behind your neck when the baby is in front, and snaps in some loops on the straps if the baby is in back. This is used when the baby sleeps and you don’t want their head bobbing around everywhere. The Ergo is good for babies beginning at 4-6 months. Before that you need an infant insert that lays them in sling-style in the carrier. I used the infant insert sometimes with my baby, but because I had a Bjorn I usually used that instead because it is more convenient when dealing with a newborn. However, if I were to only get one carrier, it would be the Ergo (or Beco below) with the infant insert.
A carrier extremely similar to the Ergo is the Beco Baby Carrier. From what I understand from others, it is almost identical in function to the Ergo, but the difference is that the head support is higher up so you don’t need the head support like the Ergo has. I do like the Ergo head support because it provides shade for the sleeping baby’s head, but with the Beco you can purchase a solar veil hood too. I also can’t tell, but from the information about it, I don’t think the Beco’s pocket in the front is as roomy as the Ergo, but I really don’t know for sure. The fact that there is a pocket is still wonderful since most carriers don’t have one. I must say that there is quite a cute range of prints that the Beco comes in so it is very hip and stylish, but here is something to remember when picking your print: no self respecting husband is going to wear a girly flower print baby carrier, so pick one you know your husband will be willing to don! Also, the Beco has an infant insert just like the Ergo for newborns.
Another option in baby carriers is the sling. There are so many slings on the market, and almost all of them are similar in design and everyone seems to be happy with their slings, so I don’t think there is any ONE I can recommend. Check out Baby Center’s website with reviews about slings (and other products!) and just decide on the one you think is cutest and has a pocket for your keys, phone and wallet essentials. The sling is good for the first 3-5 months and then you will probably want to switch to a more substantial carrier when the baby is heavier and can wiggle around more.
I hope this helps! I love baby carriers and think it is a shame that the stroller market has taken away from the bonding time a mother and baby could be having. There is a time and a place for strollers, but for me, option one is always the carrier. Does that make me “earthy?”