While baby carriers and baby slings give your baby the developmental benefits of intimacy and physical closeness to you, the most convenient benefit to parents is their easy, hands-free operation. With your baby safe and your hands free, you can go about everyday tasks such as grocery shopping, running errands, or even vacuuming with peace of mind.
Many carriers come in chic, modern designs focusing on both comfort and style, so you can stay in fashion and still be comfortable while wearing one.
Many carriers hold your baby facing your chest when he’s small. Then—once your baby has sufficient head control—some baby carriers let you face your baby forward so he can explore the world and enjoy the view. Some carriers are reversible even, switching from front- to back-carrying so you can carry a small baby on your chest and then use the carrier as a backpack when your infant is about 6 months old.
Also, as your baby grows, carriers can be easier on you since they distribute your child’s weight more evenly along your back instead of concentrating on your shoulders. Generally, baby carriers work great for newborns and toddlers up to 30 pounds.
With a little practice, baby slings and wraps can be easier to put on and take off compared to the typical baby carrier. Slings and wraps not only allow you to nurse discreetly, but they even let you lay your baby down without waking him. This is because of an important distinction between carriers and slings: carriers have safety restraints, whereas slings and wraps do not.
For this reason, many parents opt for slings when the baby is newborn and not quite as active as an older infant. Some parents can continue to use the sling throughout the first year and even when their baby becomes a toddler, although many children find the sling too restrictive once their muscles and senses develop more.
Baby backpacks are best for an older infant—your baby must be able to sit up alone before riding in a backpack. Baby backpacks are very similar to camping-style backpacks in that most have a lightweight frame that supports and distributes weight along with padded backing and shoulder straps. Many backpacks offer additional strapping, such as a waist or sternum strap, to distribute the weight over more of your body.
If you and your baby are the outdoorsy type, you should look for models that come with accessories such as sun or rain canopies (or the option to upgrade or add-on) so that your baby stays cozy and shielded from the elements.
The drawback to backpacks is that some models can be cumbersome to put on and take off if you’re by yourself or if you need to make frequent stops. However, some baby backpacks are equipped with frames capable of standing on their own and even acting as a baby seat, supporting your little one while you take a break.