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How to Choose a Baby Carrier

When you're shopping for baby gear, don't overlook the importance of a baby carrier. These practical carriers allow you to keep your baby close while remaining hands free, which gives you the ability to multitask even when baby wants to sleep or snuggle. Whether you're chasing after older children at the park, exploring the great outdoors on a hike or simply trying to prep dinner or catch up on email, these baby carriers can come in handy. Explore the different types of baby carriers to discover one that best suits your lifestyle.

Wraps

Wraps are popular and versatile baby carriers that work for youngsters of all ages. They're crafted with a variety of fabrics, including jersey knit, wool and gauze, that are comfortable for both you and baby. Wraps boast a simple design--they're merely one long strip of fabric that you can fold, cross and tie to create a comfortable position for your baby. They work in a variety of situations, whether you're wearing baby around the house or around town. Plus, these wraps tuck easily into a stroller or diaper bag for easy transport.

You can use wraps just as easily for a newborn as you can for an active toddler. How you use the wrap depends on your child's age and the type of position that you both prefer. For example, a newborn might prefer being held on the front or hip, allowing baby to keep an eye on mom or dad. A curious toddler, on the other hand, might prefer a back wrap, which allows the child to perch above your shoulders to explore the world.

Slings

Slings typically come in two styles: ring or pouch. Like wraps, ring slings are constructed of a long piece of fabric, but a sturdy metal ring ties the fabric together for security and stability. Typically, ring slings drape over one shoulder, and you can adjust the baby's position using the ring. You can find ring slings in a variety of fabrics, including cotton, polyester and silk. Use the tail of the sling to cover the baby for warmth, sun protection or privacy when nursing.

Pouch slings feature a similar design, using the single piece of fabric. This sling slips over one shoulder and the child is nestled comfortably on your hip. Unlike ring slings, pouch slings aren't adjustable, so they offer less flexibility in positioning. However, they don't require any adjustment, which can be convenient for parents on the go.

Slings are ideal for both babies and toddlers who like to be carried. The hold simulates the position of being on mom or dad's hip, without the burden on your back and arms. They're also practical for use in and out of the home and store easily, much like wraps.

Soft-Structured Carriers

Soft-structured carriers are versatile, multipurpose carriers. These carriers include straps and buckles to keep the baby securely placed on mom or dad. These carriers also feature a waistband that fits securely around the parent for added stability. Both the straps and waistband are adjustable, which means parents can customize the fit to suit their size.

Soft-structured carriers can typically be worn in two ways. First, you can carry the baby on your chest, facing inward. This position is ideal for newborns and young infants who desire the skin-to-skin contact with mom or dad. Often, babies sleep and even nurse when mom is wearing them. Many carriers can also be worn on the back, which can be a fun position for an older baby or toddler who wants to get a look at the world.

Like other carriers, these soft-structured styles work well in many situations. They're particularly useful when you're out and about with your baby because they provide ample support that can minimize any discomfort when you're wearing baby for longer periods. Whether you're going on a hike or taking the older kids to an amusement park, these soft-structured carriers offer a practical and comfortable spot for baby to rest. Infant inserts for these carriers allow you to use them right away, and they can adapt and adjust to accommodate older babies and toddlers as well.

Baby Backpacks

Active families who like to hike and explore nature can benefit from a baby backpack. These durable carriers feature sturdy aluminum frames for support, essentially creating a comfortable seat for your youngster on your back. The frame, along with a waist belt, distributes your child's weight to maximize your comfort. Your child will sit in a fabric seat, and you can place him or her in the carrier before putting it on, thanks to a stand that comes with the backpack.

Because these backpack carriers offer a seat for your child, they don't work well for newborns and infants who lack adequate head control. Once your baby can sit independently, however, these carriers become a viable option. They can grow with your youngster, allowing you to wear your child on your back through the toddler years.

Selecting the right baby carrier depends on your child's age and your lifestyle. These baby carriers are versatile, allowing you to use them in a variety of situations. Plus, they're adaptable, allowing you to change positions and adjust sizing, which allows them to grow with your child.

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