The baby carrier is a fantastic piece of baby equipment – every mama needs one. There are many different styles to choose from, but in this article I'll focus on more structured, yet still soft “backpack” carriers. These are often called soft structured carriers.
The best way to describe this type of carrier is to give you few brand name examples. The ERGOBaby carrier is a prime example. It is my very favorite baby carrier. The Beco Baby Carrier, the Boba Organic Carrier, and the Patapum are other excellent soft structured carriers.
Other Carrier Types
You can get other carriers with structure, like the frame backpack carrier. This carrier is similar to a camping backpack. We have had one and our family personally found a soft structured carrier was much, much more comfortable. One benefit of the frame carrier on long hikes is the possibility of a wind/rain hood. Most soft structured baby carriers do include a sleep hood but it's not meant to be waterproof.
There are also soft carriers on the market like the “Baby Bjorn.” I recommend you don't a Baby Bjorn or similar carrier for a couple of reasons. The first, and biggest reason is that these carriers let your baby's legs dangle down and put pressure on the hips in a way that's damaging to your baby. Next, these carriers only let your baby face forward.
Small babies should not face forward – “going first” into the world. As parents we protect our children. Small babies should face in (snuggled to you) and bigger babies and toddlers should be on your hip or back. This brings up another issue with these Baby Bjorn-style carriers – you can't use them on your hip or back, and you can't use them into toddlerhood.
Soft Structured Carrier Benefits
A soft structured baby carrier can be used in many different positions, and they can be used until your child is a toddler – often to 50lbs!
Carriers such as the ERGO hold babies and toddlers just like traditional ring slings and wraps – the baby's hips are flexed slightly upwards the weight of the child is resting on his or her bottom. This position is much better, even beneficial for development.
These carriers also have padded “backpack” style straps and a wide, padded belt. They're very comfortable for carrying your baby. They distribute weight well and you won't grow tired even if you're carrying your baby for a long time.
I carried Galen, Honor, and Corwin on my front for a good amount of time when they were young babies, but after awhile they start feeling heavy. But I can literally keep them on my back for hours without feeling tired.
You'll love how close your baby is held with this kind of carrier. When my babies were smaller they stayed snuggled up very close to me. Now that I usually wear them on my back, they stay cuddled close up to my back. This is one of the reasons the carrier is so comfortable for so long – the baby stays snuggled close to your back, and baby's weight is well distributed by the padding.
These carriers are also very easy to put on. It took a little practice to get Galen onto my back by myself, but I mastered that quickly and it came right back when I started using it with Honor and Corwin. I had putting him on my front down to a science within minutes of opening the package! If you feel nervous about learning to put on a baby carrier, a soft structured carrier is almost fool-proof. It offers a great starting place (practice over the bed or couch to get the hang of it).
Soft structured carriers are more of an investment then slings and wraps, but they offer a lot of versatility, security, and support. It's easy to put your baby on your back and go about your day. Baby is happy and content, and you're able to get housework done, run errands, or just take a walk. I can even type out articles like this one while my baby happily babbles on my back (they often fall asleep while I'm clicking away on the keyboard!)
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