We just had a small birthday party for my daughter this past weekend. She turned six years old (well, it was six weeks ago, but spring weather in our current location screams anything but spring, so belated it was!) and while I love this age (and honestly every age has its perks) part of me has that little twinge of sadness – not just the growing up but that she really is a big girl now and our babywearing days are coming to an end. I’ve given away clothes, books, and toys and (barely) shed a tear, but this feels different. We’ve been on this journey together since she was a newborn and babywearing was the only way I could get a one month old and a 70lb dog out the door and around the block for a much-needed walk. We’ve walked neighborhoods and cities, bushwalked in Australia, tootled around Paris, and made the tightest flight connections simply by me strapping her to myself and going for it. I’ve even taken her to a job and wore her while photographing clients. But beyond that, I really believe that it helped us form a very tight bond with each other. It allowed her to be up at an adult level and see and listen to our (usually not very interesting) conversations, at the same time picking up the little nuances of human communication that helped her learn to talk and interact. It will come as no surprise to you then, that one of my favorite hashtags is #wearallthebabies . I’ve been through several baby carriers and wanted to share my favorites whether you’re about to embark on babywearing, are a seasoned user, or needing some recs for finding that extra set of hands . . . . errrr . . . your only set of hands to wrangle everything else.
Without further ado here are my favorite baby carriers that should be on every parent’s radar!
For the newborn: Baby Bjorn. As thrilled as I was about the prospect of being able to wear my baby, I was also terrified of not doing it right or hurting her. Baby Bjorn was a great first outing for both of us. It initially looked complicated, but it was actually really simple to put on and worked especially well when she was front-facing – she was well supported while at the same time being able to see everything that we could see. Of course, there was the drool (alllllll the drool) so putting a small cloth over the front prevented the material from becoming dirty and damp. On days where a sun hat wasn’t necessary but it was still bright, I could tuck in a light swaddle blanket (we loved Aiden + Anais) and either let it hang down on her legs or hold it over her head as a shade when needed. I really loved the cross-behind back that made me feel much more confident about her being in the carrier. One of our favorite baby carriers when she was little!
For the tiny newborn who’ll catch up soon: ErgoBaby with Infant Insert. Our peanut was very small when she arrived and took a while to catch up with similar-aged babies. A friend had gifted us a ErgoBaby, but she seemed even smaller when we initially put her in it and felt that her tiny legs and feet really needed more support. They have an awesome, super soft newborn insert (or in this case past newborn!) that didn’t make her overheat and enabled me to tuck her tiny feet into the frog pose that made her feel safe and comfortable. She felt snug but not lost in the carrier and it didn’t add any additional weight. I also loved the almost invisible side-zip pocket for stashing keys, money, and a small burp cloth.
Growing and going further: Beco Toddler Carrier. This was the next step up for us and it definitely felt even more solid and structured than our previous carriers. Since she was still super tiny for her age (weight-wise) it didn’t really change how heavy she was, but it did allow me to really feel more confident in the back carry. It took a few dress rehearsals to develop a technique that didn’t feel like I was tossing her over my shoulder in an attempt to install her safely in that position, but once we had that down it was a cinch to head out the door. Our current city is super walkable and having the carrier meant that our dog was guaranteed a walk during the day (he is big and a hunter, so our jogging stroller was never going to work with him), and I could get around the supermarket in record time (and no curious hands pulling things off the shelves!). The only downside was that if her hat fell off, it was nothing short of a yoga class for me to get it back on without taking her off and starting again. But . . mum life?
Your second carrier (because one is NOT enough!): Tula Toddler Carrier. Yes, yes it was the cute but simple chevron print with the yellow canopy that sold me on this, but I really liked this for both front and back carries and despite the lack of storage spaces, it more than made up for it in its ease of use and sturdiness. I probably did more toddler front carries with this one, but a big part of that was also enjoying seeing my daughter’s face whether we were in our own neighborhood or across the world.
Your final purchase (because all good things must come to an end, but not just yet!): The Lille Baby All Seasons. This has been one of our favorite baby carriers for the past two years. It’s designed to see you through all the seasons, but especially the warmer times with its mesh flow panel which can be zipped down when necessary to make both you and your little one feel cool and comfortable. The weight limit on this is 45lbs (and no, we’re not even there yet at age six!) so even with her tall girl on my back, it barely feels like anything. This is probably why, last week, when I proposed taking our dog for a walk she bargained with me that she would, providing she could ride in the carrier. I . . no, we can still do it and it won’t be long before our team bond will move onto other activities. She’s growing up and so am I (one would hope!) but I will always have the memories and experiences of literally taking her with me and exploring the world, sharing observations, snacks, and laughs (and tears if we’re honest!). We’ll still do all those things, but this time she’ll be by my side using her own two feet to help us find new adventures
Bonus item! For those of us who experience some level of winter that requires a large heavy jacket and may or may not include tramping through the snow, I highly recommend the Extendher jacket extender. This essentially doubled the front of my winter jacket, so that my daughter could be in her carrier and have an additional layer of fleece over her without me needing to buy a bigger jacket or fiddle with a blanket. This is definitely a pricer purchase but well worth it! I got three winters out of mine and then consigned it onto someone else. It’s warm, washable, and very practical for both the last few months of pregnancy and front-wearing for as long as you feel it works for both of you.
Do you have a favorite baby carrier (or baby carriers!?…we all know one is never enough!) Let us know in the comments below!
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