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You love holding baby close and experiencing every moment of parenthood. Your baby likes being carried and staying close to you, too. This constant contact allows you to bond, but sometimes, you may need your hands free to care for other children, tidy up the house or run a few errands.
Since you don't have that built-in, ultra-convenient kangaroo pouch, you'll need to find your own carrier to keep your little guy close. Luckily, carriers and wraps are practical alternatives that allow baby to be attached securely to your body without limiting the use of your arms.
Like so many other baby products, carriers are available in many styles. We've provided some guidelines to help you select the right carrier for you and baby.
types of baby carriers
Do you want to keep baby nearby while doing household chores? Do you hike or spend a lot of time outdoors? Would you prefer to carry baby instead of pushing a stroller? Whatever your reason for choosing to keep baby close, there is a convenient and comfortable carrier made just for you. Consider baby's age and weight when shopping for a carrier. A newborn will need to be placed facing towards your chest because he's unable to hold his own head up. As he gets older, a back carrier will allow him to discover his surroundings, and reduces the strain on your back.
sling or wrap is generally one large piece of stretchy or woven fabric that wraps around your body to keep your baby close. Many moms love this option because it's comfortable and easy to use. Babies love it because it's soothing and snug. Slings and wraps are also great for discreet nursing.
front or hip carrier keeps baby in an upright position either facing you or outward. Front carriers are pouches that attach to your body and allow your newborn–who's unable to hold his own head up–to comfortably face inward. As he grows stronger, you can carry him in a front or hip carrier, face out to see the world.
framed carrier is usually the sturdiest type of baby carrier because of its metal or aluminum framing, but it's also the bulkiest. It typically has extra storage compartments, making it the best substitute for a stroller. Even though frame carriers offer plenty of support for little ones, they should only be used for older babies.
questions to ask before you buy
is it easy to use? Some carriers come with easy-to-use belts, buckles, rings and snaps, while some wraps may feel like they require a Ph.D. in engineering. If you're on the go a lot or just want something quick and easy, make sure you find one that doesn't take long to fit in place. However, if both you and your partner are going to use the same carrier, you may want the additional adjustment abilities, even if it takes longer to fit. Make sure you find one that you're comfortable with and can use correctly.
will baby feel secure in it? Carriers and wraps fit everyone differently, and some may be designed for smaller or larger babies. To see if baby feels like he will stay put as you move around, test it out in the store or make sure it can be returned.
will baby still fit as he grows? Some carriers require that you purchase additional padding for smaller babies to ensure a proper fit until they grow into it. Others may be designed for infants, so when baby becomes a toddler, he may not fit into it anymore. However, you could also find one that's easily adjustable for your growing child.
how does it fit me? If you have to order a size (which is common for wraps), be sure to check height and weight guidelines for both you and baby. If it's adjustable, see how easily it alters to your fit or your build.
does it feel natural? Some wraps are designed to mimic how you would hold your baby. Check to see if he sits comfortably on your hip or waist, and be sure he doesn't ride too high or too low.
does it have good back support? Keep in mind that you will be holding an extra 10-15 lbs. as you carry baby, so good padding and back support will make it more comfortable when using it for longer periods of time.
is it versatile? If you want to be able to use the carrier at home and while you're out, make sure it's designed to fit both needs. But if you're only going to use it to keep baby close when you're sorting the mail or straightening the nursery, then versatility will be less important.
Wrapping it all up...keeping baby close while tackling your to-do list is easy with a baby carrier or wrap. Your little one's safe and comfortable while your hands are free to take care of business. With the right carrier, you and baby will be in sync in a blink!