There’s a strange misconception that wearing a baby makes your child into an accessory, but this is hardly the case. Although modern society has for some reason drifted away from the practice of baby wearing, the truth is that this ages-old practice is an extremely convenient way to move through the world when you have a relatively helpless newborn or quick-to-tire toddler in tow.
Whether you opt for a stretchy, sling-like device that wraps around your body and your baby alike, or you choose a back (or front) pack-like carrier, you’ll find that wearing your baby is a great way to keep him or her safe, close, and contained when you’re out running errands or visiting family and friends.
Naturally, there are going to be times when a stroller makes more sense. If you’re going for a jog, nesting your baby securely in your Bumbleride Speed 2018 is preferable to strapping him/her to your chest, and you’ll probably want to use your full-size Nuna MIXX2 Stroller for comfort on long outings so you don’t get too tired carrying your little bundle of joy hither and yon.
However, products that let you wear your baby can also come in handy at times. Here are just a few things you need to know about when and how long you can wear your baby.
When to Start
You might wonder when it’s appropriate to start wearing your baby, and the simple answer is: right away. Your baby wants to be held, wants to be near your body as much as possible for warmth, comfort, and your familiar smell. A carrier, especially a wrap model, only gives you more opportunities to bond with your baby, and in some cases, even facilitates easy feeding since your infant is already in the proper position, cradled against your body.
How to Situate Your Baby
For the first few months of your baby’s life, his/her neck will not be strong enough to support the head, which means you need to be careful about how you place your infant in a carrier. You need to read instructions for different carriers to learn the best way to situate your baby.
Of course, this isn’t always easy to determine. When you buy a car seat like the Maxi Cosi Mico Max 30 Infant Car Seat, you know that it’s intended for infants ranging from 4-30 pounds in weight because it comes with a weight range. If your baby is outside that weight range, you’ll need a different product.
While carriers typically feature a max weight, they don’t necessarily let you know when it’s safe to face your baby forward, as opposed to facing in toward your body. This is because the transition is based not on age or weight, but on your baby’s development.
Typically, your infant will start exhibiting signs of holding up his/her own head between about 4-6 months of age, but you really need to monitor your child to determine when this occurs. Until this time, your baby needs the added support of your body to keep his/her head in a safe and comfortable position.
Once your baby is lifting his/her head and looking around for extended periods of time, it’s probably safe to switch to the front-facing position in the carrier. While most babies six months and older enjoy getting their first look at the world from this front-facing position, you need to watch for signs of overstimulation so you can offer some relief by facing your baby toward you before he/she gets too overwhelmed.
How Big is Too Big?
Carriers will have different max weights depending on the product, but most pack style carriers are designed to work for kids up to about 2-3 years of age, with weights up to about 45 pounds. At this weight, you might not be keen to carry your kid on your back or front for extended periods of time anyway, especially if he/she is walking well.
When to Switch to a Stroller
For the sake of comfort and convenience, you’ll want to have a stroller on hand, in addition to your carrier, for times when you’re walking a great deal. Keeping a lightweight, easily foldable stroller like the Mountain Buggy Nano Travel Stroller or an all-terrain model like the Thule Urban Glide 2 in the trunk gives you the options you need to safely and comfortably transport your baby no matter what you’re doing.