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Hotslings Infant Baby Carrier $48.00
Hotslings Infant Baby Carrier $48.00

How to Buy a Baby Carrier

Baby carriers are the latest phenomenon to give parents a much needed to tool to help manage all aspects of life with the little one in tow. From being on-the-go out in the world to taking care of housework a baby carrier is a necessity to make sure that parents don't skip a beat when it comes to the demands of a busy life. While ancient eastern cultures have carried their babies tied to them for thousands of years we are just learning this time-saving practice that enables us to bond with our bundle of joy all at the same time. Our modern world gives us so many options to choose from when it comes to baby carriers from sporty Baby Bjorn carriers to the more traditional baby slings how do you choose the right one? Read on for everything you need to know about finding the perfect carrier for you and your baby.

The Basics

Step 1POSITION: The first step in choosing a carrier is deciding whether you want to carry your precious cargo on your back, hip or in front close to the heart. Back carriers are better for babies who are four months up to four years old, who have good head control and can wrap their legs around you. They're super comfortable and leave your hands free for doing a myriad of things. You can carry your baby, your keys, your diaper bag and even a bag of groceries -effortlessly. Hip carriers are great for younger babies and infants and convert as your baby grows. Plus your baby's weight distribution is easier on your back with the hip carrier. Front carriers are best for nursing newborn babies and younger babies. You can keep your baby close to you and the rhythmic sound of your heart beat and breathing helps baby fall asleep as you go about your day. It's "baby wearing" at its finest.
Step 2COMFORT: Baby carriers supply the sensations of pressure, activity, contentment, warmth, safety, trust and auditory stimulation that are key to the development of motor control and muscle activity. Two things to consider when choosing a baby carrier are baby's comfort and your comfort. There are so many different types of carriers to choose from, like: wrap carriers and sling carriers; Ergo baby carriers, Maya carriers, Baby Bjorn carriers and more. The choice is yours when it comes to your and your baby's comfort. Some questions to ask when choosing are: Is there any unnecessary pressure or stress on my back? Is baby comfortable? Are there any pieces of fabric or material that might be obstructing baby's normal breathing? Is baby positioned comfortably or awkwardly?
Step 3STYLE: Baby carriers have been around in one shape or another since the beginning of human history. Creative parents have designed ways to carry their baby - ranging from fabric slings to crude packs fashioned from grass. Today, these makeshift baby carriers are a thing of the past, as technology and innovative design ideas take child transportation to a whole new level. Lightweight metals, durable fabrics, and superior functionality have transformed the antiquated baby carrier your parents used into a wide range of baby slings, carriers, and backpacks that fit just about any lifestyle. There are many great baby carriers that are made with stylish prints and trendy cuts like Hotslings and the Moby or Maya Wraps. There are even baby carriers that are more "masculine" so dads can feel comfortable wearing them like the Baby Bjorn or Ergo carriers. Whichever style you choose you'll feel good knowing that carrying your baby promotes bonding, closeness and trust.

The Lingo

Sling : The basic single shoulder style is easy to use and can be converted for use with baby on your hip. The ring sling is a long piece of fabric with rings at the shoulder for adjustments; can be worn on front, back, or hip. Most are designed for newborns and babies up to 40 pounds.
Wrap: Easy to fold and store. Allows you to wear baby in many different ways (front, hip, back, hammock-style). Designed for newborns and babies up to 4 years.
Front-Pack Carrier: Two shoulder style. Baby faces in or out. Padded straps allow for adjustment (depending on who is wearing the baby). Designed for newborns and babies up to 25 pounds (baby must have good neck control to face out  some require a special newborn insert).
Backpack: Some are soft and padded; some provide structured support with metal frames. Designed for babies who can sit up unassisted. Some can be worn either back or front. Complete with pockets and organizers to hold keys, phone, bottles, and more.
Asian-Style Carrier: Less structure than a backpack carrier. Can be worn on front, back, or hip. Padded or unpadded.
Hip Carrier: Allows you to carry baby on your hip, leaving one arm completely free. Ideal for older babies and toddlers. Some have pockets to hold keys, a phone, or a bottle.

The Experts

Mothering Magazine says that: "parents should look at the pros and cons of each carrier and choose a few, rather than one select carrier for their children. Incorporating various carrying styles for the babies and alternating the stress load to the mother's spine are ideal ways to utilize these carriers to everyone's advantage."
Babycenter.com says: "A ring sling - is great for one shouldered wearing. It is adjustable, so you can share with a family member close in size. You want one that is made with real sling rings (no craft rings or shower rings, tack rings are fine) for safety.

The Brands

Baby Bjorn Developed together with parents and leading medical experts, the Baby Bjorn Original Carrier keeps baby close and warm while allowing mom and dad to carry on with daily activities. Unique styling has given this carrier "celebrity" status. Winner of Silver Award, Design of the Decade, IDSA, 1999, USA as one of the best 36 products of the decade.
Ergo Baby Carrier is a soft, multi-position carrier that works well with infants, toddlers, and even bigger kids. This versatile carrier has proved so popular in the US and Europe that Ergo Baby received a "20 Best Products of the last 20 Years" award from Parenting Magazine.
Moby Wrap is perhaps the most comfortable way to keep your baby close and calm. It spurs a baby's development by providing much-needed bonding through close contact with mom, dad, or caretaker. Intimate and versatile, the Moby Wrap is one of very few baby carriers that can carry a child in any and every position; front carrier, infant carrier, back carrier, and hip sling.
Kelty is probably the biggest name in the backpacking business. With the launch of the K.I.D.S. line in 2002  Kelty has brought some innovative backpack carriers to the market and fixed some major flaws of other competitive brands along the way.

The Price

$: Wraps and slings like the Moby or Maya Wrap use your entire back, as well as your shoulders, to carry the weight of your baby. Unlike other carriers, which have narrow straps or go across one shoulder, they are basically a wide piece of fabric that is wrapped over both shoulders with no buckles, snaps or other fasteners. Moby Baby Wrap Carrier is about $39.99.
$$: The Baby Bjorn or Ergo carriers provide safe and snug head support for the small baby. When your baby becomes a little older and his neck is strong enough to support his head, he can be carried facing outward. The neck-rest can then be folded down giving the baby a birds-eye view of his surroundings. The carrier grows with the baby thanks to an adjustable buckle that gives maximum comfort for all ages. Baby Bjorn Original Carrier in Chocolate is about $79.95.
$$$: Backpack carriers are probably the priciest style of any carrier. Many of them have a variety of extra features and are well-engineered: Some of them include :top-notch harness systems adjustable sternum strap, curved and molded shoulder straps, triple-padded waistbelt and even an auto-deploying kickstand which allows you to simply set the pack down with your child in it. Kelty Pathfinder Framed Baby Carrier is about $157.99.