Babywearing: The best baby carriers, wraps & slings for 2019

PHOTO: Pixabay

Baby carriers are part of the daily necessities once you have a baby in the family. But with so many choices out there, it is hard to figure out which one to invest in.

We will help you make a decision but showing the pros and cons of each one and giving you the list of the best options as suggested by real parents.

*How we pick our suggestions: Our product suggestions, are based on research of the most popular brands available in the market and on real recommendations and reviews from moms and dads among our ShopBack community.

WHY USE CARRIERS, WRAPS OR SLINGS VS STROLLERS?

There's no right or wrong. Go with what feels best for you and your child. Parents should go with what works best for their child, their needs, and their lifestyle.

Previous studies show that babywearing is helpful to reduce crying in infants and can help foster the bond between the baby and the parent. Most importantly, babywearing allows you to do regular day tasks while you carry your little bundle of joy with you, around the house and when you go out. You get your baby up close, but you also free your hands to do other tasks. It's a win-win situation.

Babywearing is said to:

-Calm and soothe a fussy baby.

-Foster attachment to the baby.

-Give you more freedom to move around while taking your baby with you.

-Adds more sensorial stimulation for the baby: the movement of bouncing and swinging, along with the pressure of the wrap around the baby's body stimulates the infant.

-Aids the baby to develop visual perceptual skills and strengthen the back muscles and neck.

CARRIERS, OR SLINGS/WRAPS? PROS AND CONS

There are excellent benefits to using a carrier or wrap. But do they replace the strollers? That is totally up to you. Many parents opt to get both and use each one depending on the occasion.

Now, strollers are great for when you go outdoors for specific activities, but if you are planning to head to crowded places, to parks and hikes or just to sites with a lot of stairs, a carrier, sling or wrap becomes much more convenient.

Between carriers and slings/wraps, many parents are of the opinion that the latter are preferred for increased attachment.

Many parents find a sling or wrap provides a tighter and custom fit with their babies, especially newborns, than more structured carriers. Wraps and slings are also easier to carry and store because they can roll up and be packed as a smaller bundle. Most of wraps and slings can also be machine washed and dried.

Carriers do win in these aspects, though: they are more comfortable and more intuitive to use. (Options such as wraps, slings, and mei dais might require more time and practice to get used to.) Their backpack like design is easy to put on and take off and even to switch between people. Although wraps and slings are great for the first few months of your infant's life, suitable carriers can last longer as some models can accommodate older babies. By this perspective, carriers seem to be a good investment.

Pick the one the suits your situation better. We will aid you on your choice between carriers or wraps and suggest you the best models to invest in.

Parent's opinion: Babywearing, yes or no? Or do you prefer a stroller?

"Yes, babywearing it was my lifesaver for the first year. Now lesser as the baby got fussy. I use a Trike these days because it is more convenient for the car." - Paul

"Strollers were bulky, plus not accessible to go up/down escalators. When I travelled overseas with my kids, babywearing them was much easier than bringing a stroller. In fact, I used a carrier up until when my kids were 3+ year old." - Rita

BEST BABY CARRIERS

There are different types of carriers: soft structured carriers, buckle carriers, hiking carriers. They all serve the same purpose, they only diverge on the structure and way they are built.

What to look out for when you purchase a carrier:

-Be easy to use and adjust - a carrier with crossable straps is generally easier to put on for front carrying than one with a backpack or H-style straps.

-Best comfort for the adult and the child - a carrier should distribute the weight of the child well, so she/he feels secure.

-Ideally, your carrier should be suitable for kids of different ages and sizes.

-Allow for multiple carrying positions - baby facing you or forward, carrying him/her in front of your chest or on your back.

-Breathable and preferably meshed so your baby can stay cool.

-Washable.

Pro Tip: Avoid soft, structured carriers with a narrow panel. This puts the baby in a position where the body weight is all on the lower back/crotch area without much support on the legs. This can strain the infant's spine and affect his/her development.

POPULAR MODELS WORTH INVESTING IN

Photo: Shopback

Good value for money options: get ready to invest from $200 to $350 in one of the popular options.

Parent's choice: What is your favourite carrier?

"I tried Stokke, Babyjorn and Ergobaby. For me, the Ergobaby is the best, especially because of the mesh back. With the Singaporean heat, this is a huge plus for me." - Andy

"I prefer babywearing yes, it's more mobile and saves space. Also, convenient and cost the same as a stroller currently using an Ergobaby and Lilliebaby." - Jacob

BEST WRAPS AND SLINGS

There are different types you can consider: stretchy wraps, ring slings, woven wraps, meh dais. Stretchy wraps are the most popular.

Using woven wraps is an acquired skill and they tend to be more expensive than stretchy ones. Still, they can be more versatile as they can be used in varied ways and are more suitable for heavier children.

One of the other choices, the meh dais, should be chosen base o the fit of the baby. Because of their design, meh dais are very similar to buckle carriers and therefore carry the same type of disadvantages.

Photo: Shopback

Parent's feedback: Do you have any preferred model of slings or wraps?

"Yes, we use Tula (I like the prints) which makes sense even for dads to carry." - Kit

"I have used Oscha slings for the pretty prints. Have tried the sling for SG50 slings but didn't work for my back…" - Alic

WHAT MAKES SLINGS GREAT?

Wraps and slings are more portable than carriers; they roll up and can be packed away easily. They can be machine washed and, even, machine dried.

Another difference is that although slings and wraps are great for the first few months of the baby's life, they might not be the best choice once your baby turns into a toddler. It all depends on the model you choose.

There are important developmental reasons to use wraps and slings. Together with skin on skin time, the benefits of babywearing are far greater than those of other baby equipment. They are snugglier, softer, more customizable, which tends to be better for newborns than the inserts of more structured carriers.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR WHEN WEARING A SLING OR A WRAP

You would want on a wrap and sling: one that is easy to use that offers comfort and support is versatile, washable and portable (lightweight and foldable).

A good wrap/sling should:

-Safeguard breathing: give your baby room to breathe and keep the face visible.

-Prevent falls: so you will need to learn how to tie it properly.

-Protect hip health: the baby should be put in a "froggy" position, with the thighs supported, hips bent, and knees slightly higher than the child's bottom. Babies' hip sockets are made of soft cartilage, so the correct position is important to prevent them to become misaligned or dislocated.

Babywearing is a skill that requires practice and patience. If you feel you can get it right the first time, you can always seek help via a babywearing consultant or organisation.

CONSIDERATIONS WHEN BUYING BABYWEARING IN SINGAPORE'S HOT AND HUMID WEATHER

Babywearing is fantastic but, let's get real, wearing your baby next to your body in this weather is always going to be hot.

That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a baby carrier for use a warm and humid climate.

-Get a carrier with UV protection built in. These are especially handy when wearing a baby who is too young for sunscreen.

-Consider coverage when choosing baby carriers for sunny weather. For example, ring sling tails can provide additional coverage and sun protection for your baby.

-Choose the fabric of the carrier wisely. Fabrics like linen and mesh, are breathable and cool. 100 per cent cotton is also breathable, and therefore also a right pick.

-Consider a back carry over a front carry, if your baby is old enough. Back carriers feel less hot for the parents.

BABYWEARING IN SINGAPORE

Babywearing is referred to as the practice of carrying your baby everywhere. As we mentioned before, it turns out to be more convenient and practical than using a stroller for many situations.

How to wear your child safely?

Babywearing International uses a mnemonic (ABC) to help remind people how to carry their children safely.

Airway: your child should be comfortable inside the carrier, with enough space to breath, with chin off their chest, their face should not be entirely covered by any fabric.

Body positioning: sit your child high enough, so their face is visible. Simple test: can you kiss your babies head? The carrier should offer appropriate support on their head (if an infant) and back. The carrier should offer enough snug, so the child doesn't shift around too much.

Comfort: for you and your child. The carrier should allow you to monitor your child, see how they are faring

When you're carrying your child facing out, some manufacturers and experts advise to stay attentive to your child's state - they should not sleep in this position, as their chin is likely to drop to their chest and obstruct their airway. Experts also suggest switching to a back carry once your child feels too heavy to carry on the front.

If a carrier feels uncomfortable to use, you might check whether you're doing one of the following:

Carrying too low: If your child is not close enough to kiss, they're probably positioned too low. This is uncomfortable as creates extra strain on your shoulders, neck and back.

Wearing the chest/back strap too high: If the strap feels like it's pulling on your neck, position it lower. It should sit at or below your shoulder blades when you carry in front.

Wearing the carrier too loosely: If the carrier doesn't feel secure or feels like you have to hold on to it with one hand while your child is in it, tighten the straps.

CONSULTANTS IN SINGAPORE TO AID YOU AND PLACES TO TRY AND BUY BABYWEARING

If using a wrap/sling for the first time seems daunting, or if you can seem to choose the best carrier for you, get help. There are plenty of places in Singapore that can guide you in these decisions.

Among them, you'll find:

The Association of Babywearing Consultants Singapore (ABCS) that provides a platform for Babywearing Consultants to support and exchange of information.

Baby Slings & Carriers where you will get professional help to get a carrier, sling or wrap fitted.

13Thirteen where they teach parents how to babywear safely and correctly.

Baby Carriers Rental SG

Warabee.

This article was first published in Shopback

 

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