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Baby Carrier Buying Guide -

Soft Structured Baby Carriers

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What is a Soft Structured Baby Carrier

A soft-structured carrier lets you easily strap your baby onto your front or back or hip, using straps and buckles that are designed to evenly distribute the baby's weight through your hips and shoulders. These carriers are suitable for parents and babies of different sizes. The buckles on soft-structured carriers keep the babies safely in place, making them perfect for activities like walking and shopping.
  • Slings

  • Sling carriers are quite popular nowadays. A sling provides warmth and closeness to thicken the bond between mother and child. Slings have become a style statement and even dads have started using slings extensively.
    sling

    What is a Sling Carrier

    Slings are one shouldered baby carriers that can be worn diagonally across the body like a sash. They are made up of one shoulder strap and a wide stretch of fabric that is worn around the waist. While slings are undeniably quite comfortable for babies, parents should be aware that the cozy pocket they create could also be a suffocation hazard for small infants, if not used properly. Since the weight of the baby is not equally distributed across both the shoulders, slings are only suitable to be worn for shorter periods of time.

    Features of a Sling Carrier

    Click the labels for more information.
    sling
     
    Sling

    Fabric


    Sling carriers are made from a range of materials, like cotton, cotton mix, polyester, silk, and other organic materials.

    Shoulder Strap


    Although traditional slings do not have any straps or buckles, the modern day variations provide padded shoulder straps for better comfort to the wearer.

    Fastener


    Again, traditional slings do not have any fastening mechanisms, but several sling manufacturers provide waist belts and buckles for enhanced protection. These ensure that the child is safely secured to the wearer, while still maintaining the ease of sling usage.

    Comfort and Convenience


    Slings come with a few additional built-in features like pockets and storage spaces that, although small, can be of great convenience to the parent.

    Types of Sling Carriers

    There are two types of slings available –
    • Ring Slings
    • Pouches
  • Ring Slings

  • One shouldered, the ring sling is essentially one long rectangular piece of fabric pulled through two rings. The cloth stretches once the baby is in the sling. The wearer can adjust the sling according to the comfort of the baby, by just pulling the fabric through the rings to either tighten or loosen the sling. The ring sling can also accommodate different wearing positions, depending on the baby’s weight and comfort.
    Ring Sling

    What is a Ring Sling

    A ring sling is a long piece of cloth with a metal rings on one side. One end of the cloth is sewn into the metal rings. The cloth wraps around the shoulder of the wearer, comes down till the hip, then goes back up onto the shoulder, where it is threaded into a ring and forms a buckle.

    Why you Need a Ring Sling

    You need a ring sling if –
    • You are going to carry your baby everywhere.
    • You want to discreetly breastfeed your baby in a crowded place.
    • You want to move a sleeping baby onto the bed without waking the child up.
    • You are looking for ease of moving your baby in and out of the sling once you get the knack of using it.

    How is a Ring Sling Useful

    • Ring Slings are a blessing to most mothers or caregivers, especially when they have chores or errands to run.
    • Ring Slings keep your hands free for jobs you need to do.
    • With a ring sling, your baby can be carried on your tummy, back, or hip.
    • It is helpful if you have to make quick trips like carry in groceries from the car.
    • It can help when you’re boarding a bus/train or just walking on a rough uneven road.
    • It can be used to carry babies who are just learning to walk and cannot manage long distances yet.
    • The ring sling’s good elasticity provides a firm bandage to the child and offers comfort.

    Features List

    The list of features will help you in taking an informed buying decision.
    Click the labels for more information.
    Ring Sling
     
    Ring Sling
    Must Haves
    • Rings: 2” to 2.5” welded steel rings.7
    • Straps: Padded or unpadded shoulder straps, preferably flat.
    • Panel length: Open tail-end with adequate flowing fabric, to be used as a panel for discreet breastfeeding or a sunshade.
    • Fabric: Breathable fabric, preferably 100% cotton, cotton mix, 100% silk or silk mix with rayon or polyester fabric, which has not been chemically treated during creation or wash.
    Good to Haves
    • Decorative panel: As per your liking you can order or make yourself a beaded or embroidered panel.
    • Color: Contrast colors for tail for easy differentiation.
    • Reversibility: Second layer of cotton or silk material, allowing the sling to be reversible.
    • Storage: Mobile pocket attached to the sling.

    Pros and Cons of a Ring Sling

    While every carrier has its advantages and disadvantages, it is important to know them before you decide on buying any one of them. Listed below are a few pros and cons that you need to keep in mind.
    Pros Cons
    Comfortable - Part of the cloth used will usually be hanging down, and can be doubled up as a sunshade or nursing cover. Improper positioning of the baby can lead to risk of hip dysplasia.
    Easy to use - It is easily adjustable, since the pouch that holds the baby can be tightened or loosened through the rings. Painful on one shoulder, since the baby’s entire weight is supported by it.
    Ring slings are lightweight, simple to fold and easy to store. Unequal distribution of weight across the torso may result in back pains.
    These are the most comfortable for breastfeeding. The ring sling permits limited piggy backing for heavier babies.
    You can use almost all carrying positions - cradle carry, kangaroo carry, front, hip and back carry - using ring slings.
    Ring slings are affordable.
    Some ring slings are reversible.

    What to look for when buying a Ring Sling

    There are a few important things that you must look for when buying that ring sling for your baby. As a parent and caregiver, you need to make sure your bundle of joy is bundled up safely.
    • When you buy the Ring Sling, make sure that it’s of the best quality.
    • Ensure that your baby feels comfortable cuddled in there.
    • Look at the quality of the rings used. Be aware of duplicates in the market, which may look very attractive and cheap at the same time.
    • Do your homework on the stores and places to buy from, to ensure quality.
    • Look for a fabric that is machine washable and easy to maintain.

  • Pouches

  • Exactly as the name suggests, pouches are pouch-shaped baby carriers.
    Pouch

    What is a Pouch

    A pouch sling is a piece of fabric stitched to form a pouch, wherein the baby sits. A Pouch is very similar to a Ring Sling, but with a few unique characteristics of its own. A pouch is designed like a sash fabric and is worn on one shoulder. It is doubled to form a pouch, in which you can securely place your baby. Unlike the ring sling, a pouch does not have any rings, buckles or clips. Pouches have to be of the correct size, and therefore it’s important that you wear one before buying it. An incorrect size can make babies feel uncomfortable, and can hamper them if they aren’t positioned correctly in the pouch. It is one of the best slings that babies can have, as they can be carried in a variety of positions.

    Why you Need a Pouch

    You would need a pouch if –
    • You are looking for an inexpensive baby carrier.
    • You want a carrier that is compact enough to fit into your diaper bag.
    • You are looking for a simple baby carrier, with no unwanted accessories or attachments.

    How is a Pouch Useful

    • It allows for the front facing-in, hip carry and cradle carry positions.
    • Pouches are easier to use than a ring sling. They can be folded when not in use and can easily fit into a diaper bag.
    • Pouches help reduce colic and crying in babies, as they are cuddled up with you for the most part of the day.
    • Carrying a baby without getting stressed up, can help the baby learn a lot of things, as the baby is involved in the activities happening around and is not just lying around as a spectator.

    Features List

    Before you come to any decision just have a look at the important features of a Pouch.
    Click the labels for more information.
    Pouch
    Reversibility
    Reversibility
    Layered fabric so that the pouch can be used on both sides.
     
    Pouch
    Must Haves
    • Shoulder Strap: Snugly fits around your shoulders.
    • Size: The pouch must exactly fit the wearer and the child.
    • Fabric:100% cotton, cotton mix, 100% silk or silk mix with rayon or polyester fabric, which has not been chemically treated during creation or wash. It must be machine washable, fire resistant and breathable.
    • Curved pouch end: Snugly fits around your torso.
    Good to Haves
    • Storage: Fabric loop for mobile pockets and keys holder.
    • Decorative panel: As per your liking you can order or make yourself a beaded or embroidered panel.
    • Reversibility: Layered fabric so that the pouch can be used on both sides.
    • Padded rails: To provide extra support and comfort for the baby.

    Pros and Cons of a Pouch

    While every carrier has its advantages and disadvantages, it is important to know them before you decide on buying any one of them. Listed below are a few pros and cons that you need to keep in mind.
    Pros Cons
    A pouch is very cost effective and easy to put on and off. Pouch has a high risk of suffocating the baby or causing hip dysplasia.
    It is very compact to store and can fit into your diaper bag. It is painful on one shoulder for the carrier, if the pouch is not regularly changed between both shoulders.
    Pouch is very light weight. The same pouch cannot be used by both the parents if they vary much in size.
    Pouch is good for carrying your baby for short intervals. Not many carrying positions are available in a pouch.
    Pouch is not practical for older babies.

    What to look for when buying a Pouch

    There are a few important things that you must look for when buying that pouch for your baby. As a parent and caretaker, you need to make sure your bundle of joy is bundled up safely.
    • Check if the fabric is stretchable. Usual fabrics used are cotton and fleece.
    • Check if the size fits both partners, and the people who will mainly be using it. Some pouches are adjustable, with the use of buckles or poppers.
    • Do your homework on the stores and places to buy from, to ensure quality.
    • Ask for a demonstration.
    • Take your baby along when you go to buy the pouch, and try it on with the baby seated.

    Comparison between Pouches and Ring Slings

    Pouches Ring Slings
    The size needs to fit the wearer correctly, therefore it cannot be worn by multiple wearers. It can be worn by multiple wearers as long as they don’t differ in size drastically.8
    Does not allow the baby to be seated upright. Allows the baby to be seated in an upright position.
    The easiest baby carriers to use. Ring slings need some getting adjusted to, especially for fastening and adjustments.
    Not too breastfeeding-friendly, unless the size is just perfect for the baby to easily latch on to you. Since they are adjustable, ring slings are more comfortable for breastfeeding.

  • Buckle Baby Carriers

  • Buckle baby carriers, also called soft structured buckle carriers, are the best-selling and most popular baby carriers available in the e-market because of the comfort and style they provide.
    Buckled

    What is a Buckle Carrier

    Buckle baby carriers use, well, buckles. Since these carriers evenly distribute the baby’s weight across the wearer’s torso, buckled baby carriers offer ergonomic, two-shouldered comfort. Modern buckle carriers allow you to carry your baby on your front and your back. Some designs allow you to carry your baby on your hip too. It has padded shoulder straps to wear as backpack. Some carriers allow straps to be crossed in an X on your back, for front carry. A robust, flexible and padded hip belt helps transfer baby's weight to your hips. This is especially useful for people with back problems. The baby is held in an upright position in these carriers. Buckle baby carriers are easy to use, with buckles that everyone can figure out and with no worries about tying knots or long pieces of fabric. Buckle baby carriers are friendly to both mom and dad. They can easily be shared between wearers of different sizes.

    Why you Need a Buckle Carrier

    You would need a Buckle Carrier if –
    • You are looking to use it in front and back carrying positions.
    • You want a carrier that is easily adjustable and inter-changeable between baby wearers.
    • You want the carrier to be small enough to be portable.
    • You are looking for a carrier that is comfortable and moldable to your baby’s body yet strong and durable.
    • You want a carrier that can correct spine and hip development when used correctly.
    • You are looking for a carrier with high quality material, with a cotton or canvas body.
    • You are concerned about the structural safety and durability of the carrier. The advanced sewing techniques used in buckle carriers make them highly durable and structurally safe.
    • You want a carrier that can also be used for discreet breastfeeding, thereby aiding in bonding.

    How is a Buckle Carrier Useful

    You can use buckle carriers for younger babies as well as toddlers and preschoolers.
    • If you plan to use it for infants, be aware that you might want to avoid using the seat darts meant for older babies. Also, you might need inserts to fit in your baby snugly. Chest straps can be used to make the bottom narrower. A buckle carrier is often more convenient outdoors.
    • There are a few carriers in the market that are designed exclusively for use on the hip. You can usually start using these from when your baby is around 4-6 months old (when the baby is able to hold head up independently) and use them through toddlerhood.
    • Once the baby develops head and neck control, you can back carry your baby. This will allow your baby to see the things around and help your baby socialize.

    Features List

    Before you come to any decision just have a look at the important features of a Buckle Carrier
    Click the labels for more information.
     
    full buckled carrier
    Wide Waist Belt
    Wide Waist Belt
    The wide waist belt shapes to your body and provide firm support.
    Buckle Baby Carrier
    Must Haves
    • Attachable hood: For protection from sunshine.
    • Crossable shoulder strap: To provide equal distribution of baby weight.
    • Buckle: Safe and easy to use fasteners like waist belts, buckles, etc.
    • Padded straps: Padded shoulder straps reduce strain on the shoulders.
    • Fabric: Washable fabric, easy to maintain.
    • Headrest: Padded seam for head and neck support.
    Good to Haves
    • Storage: A pocket on the exterior of the carrier to fit in diapers, wipes, wallet or keys.
    • Optional support belt: To carry heavier kids.
    • Foot stirrups: Works as leg rest for toddlers’ legs.
    • Sternum strap: To keep the shoulder straps in place.
    • Wide waist belt: The wide waist belt shapes to your body and provide firm support.

    Pros and Cons

    While every carrier has its advantages and disadvantages, it is important to know them before you decide on buying any one of them. Listed below are a few pros and cons that you need to keep in mind.
    Pros Cons
    The shoulder straps of the buckled carrier are narrower and more padded. Some buckled carriers might be bulky, owing to a stiff design.
    There is a soft leg padding to ensure that the baby’s thighs aren’t squished. Restricted adjustability, due to the presence of heavy padding and buckles, can make this an uncomfortable choice for petite or broad parents.
    Some buckle carriers come with hoods. These can be worn like a backpack, or on your front, with top straps crossed at the back. Some versions also have an optional chest strap on request.
    Buckle carriers are available in different sizes.
    Buckle carriers can be made to order, as per the body size and strap length you choose, and with the wrap of your choice. Generally, you’ll need 2.5 m of wrap.

    What to look for when buying a Buckle Carrier

    • Always look for the comfort of the baby and the baby wearer, when buying a buckle carrier.
    • On the basis of the weight and age of your baby, check if you need a back strap, and choose one with a back strap, if you need one.
    • Very small babies need hoods and supports for the head, and need inserts for their body to perfectly fit in the carrier. Look for a buckle carrier that has these.
    • Most buckle carriers have top quality webbing and adjustable buckles on both the waist strap and shoulder straps. Look for them when you buy this type of carrier.
    • This kind of a carrier is ideal from infant to toddler up to 15 kg. However, some buckle carriers are ideal even for preschoolers. Look for the weight specifications of every make before buying one.
    • The best way to test a carrier is by trying it on with the baby in it.

    Types of Buckle Carriers

    Based on the structure of the carrier and the number of buckles, there are 3 types of buckle carriers.

    Full Buckle Carriers

    A buckle carrier, unless otherwise specified, is usually a Full Buckle carrier. It uses buckles throughout, to secure the baby. It has a contoured 3-4 layered body with seat darts, that are optional for toddlers, and comes with a padded waistband and a tapered shoulder strap, that are padded with foam, and an adjustable sternum strap to reduce pressure on the shoulders.

    Wrap conversion carriers – Full buckle and half buckle versions (WCFB and WCHB)

    Some manufacturers provide custom-made soft-structured carriers, made from wraps of your choice. Here, the wrap is converted into a full buckle or a half buckle carrier.
    Wrap Conversion Half Buckle

    Wrap Conversion Half Buckle (WCHB)


    The name typically means that a wrap is converted into a buckle carrier. When a wrap of your choice has straps on top, with a buckle waist, it is usually termed as a Wrap Conversion half buckle. This has straps on top with a waist tie. The WCHB includes adjustable sleep hoods and leg padding. The body piece is made of 3 layers consisting of a canvas layer between two wraps.

    Wrap Conversion Full Buckle (WCFB)


    WCFB is a wrap converted to a buckle carrier by virtue of replacing all the tie-knots with buckles and straps. While WCHB has buckles only at the shoulders and knots at the waist, WCFB has buckles both at the shoulders and the waist. In a WCFB, you can get the comfort of a wrap and the strength of the carrier. Buckle carriers converted from wraps have supreme support, maximum durability and excessive comfort.
    Wrap Conversion Full Buckle

    What to look for in a Wrap conversion carrier

    Before you opt for a WCHB or a WCFB, you need to know how big your baby is and how long you want your carrier to last. Don’t opt for a toddler size carrier unless your baby is already 2 years old. Using a toddler size carrier can overextend your baby’s hips and cause discomfort.

    A WCHB or a WCFB might not be ideal for you if you intend to start using the same carrier from the time your baby is an infant to toddlerhood. However, if you are getting it custom-made, you can have an adjustable body panel, such that you can roll the waistband up to shorten it.
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