When selecting a baby carrier, it can be a good idea to consider the following points:
- Broad, well-padded shoulder straps that cross at the back can help distribute your baby’s weight.
- A broad hip or waist strap will take some weight off your shoulders and limit sideways movement of the carrier, adding stability.
- Try the carrier on in the shop to make sure it fits firmly, and that the straps are long enough to fit other potential wearers (such as your partner or another carer). The baby’s weight should be evenly distributed.
- All straps should be fully and easily adjustable with one hand. They shouldn’t obscure a baby’s vision or cut into baby’s face.
- Make sure you can put the baby carrier on and off easily without assistance. Clips and buckles are usually easier to do up and release than straps that tie up.
- The carrier should support your baby sufficiently without restricting head, leg and arm movement.
- Adequate head support is particularly important for younger babies who have little or no head and neck control yet.
- For your baby’s comfort, inside seams should be well-finished so they don’t rub or chafe.
- Think about the season you’ll be using it – lightweight carriers with a more open design can be more comfortable for your baby in warmer months.
If you plan to use the carrier for more than just a few months, make sure it can accommodate your baby’s growth. A facing-out option is particularly important for carrying older babies.
Clear and concise instructions are important, especially if you haven’t used a carrier before. Pictures are helpful, as is a video, or instructions printed on the carrier itself.
Useful carrier features include a ‘dribble-guard’ to protect your clothes, a pouch for your wallet or keys and a rain guard or sun cover.
Most carriers indicate a suitable weight or age range from birth to 18 kg, or even preschool age. While this can be useful to see if the carrier is suitable for a newborn baby, in most cases you or your baby will be the ones who decide when it’s time to stop using a carrier – your child will get too heavy or wriggly for you to carry safely, too big to fit in comfortably, or will find it too confining.
See the full CHOICE online report for more information, or go to choice.com.au for expert, unbiased tests and reports on baby items, appliances, electronics, food and finance products.