Reaching back to our introductory post on baby products:
Let’s start with baby carriers, around which seem to have sprung up a series of cults. My wife shows me photos all the time of the closets of some of these religious devotees. I’m talking entire closets dedicated to the same damn baby carrier, just in a multitude of patterns and colors. In my mind, matching a baby carrier to your shoes or underwear, every single day, is just about as necessary as intentionally stubbing your toe in the middle of the night on your way to prepare a four-course midnight snack for your cat. It just isn’t. And it appears I am not alone in thinking this is a strange phenomenon.
I’ve gotten my wife to at least profess out loud that she does not want or need that many baby carriers, but I am not sure if she says it to appease me or if she is serious. She still trolls the Tula and Líllébaby Instagram accounts and gets lost in all of the colors and patterns.
But on a totally serious and objective note, having a baby carrier has actually been a big help for both of us. It does not fall into the category of necessity, but it is near the top of my list of things that have a lot of utility value and generally make life easier. We don’t have a baby that will sleep in her carseat, like, EVER, so if we are going to be out for any period of time longer than two hours we really have to have a sleep-space alternative. We have found that with a carrier, knocking out errands while my little princess is strapped closely to one of our chests can also become her nap time (and is one of the few times I get to bond with her for any considerable amount of time).
Also, because you can’t just leave your baby to fend for itself while you whittle wood, and you can’t whittle wood with just one hand, you kind of need something to hold baby while freeing up your hands for doing productive stuff. You can just replace “whittle wood” with any sort of two-handed activity, like cleaning house or judo, and you will see the value of having a carrier in your life. Inside your own home a crib will probably do, so long as you don’t have to wander too far, but anywhere else you’ll either have to have a portable crib or a carrier of some sort. A stroller, ratchet straps, travel kennel… something.
I don’t want to stray too far into recommending one brand over another… partly because each baby and each parent is different, but also because I fear that the offended cults not mentioned would try and take my life. Also, my wife has only ever had three different commercial carriers, and one that she made herself (if you could see me as I write this, you would see the pride beaming from my DIY pores). There are plenty of brands that we haven’t tried.
If I were to drum up some rough selection criteria, the things that we determined were important to have in a carrier, they would be as follows (in no particular order): does baby tolerate it? If no, move on. Will it be comfortable for the adult? Does it “breathe” well (this one is clutch when you live in a hot and humid environment)? Is it durable and easily washable? Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is baby carrier cult membership a prerequisite for ownership of the carrier? If so, move on. Quickly.
The carrier we did settle on, after trying out a Tula carrier for a few weeks, was a carrier made by Líllébaby for most every-day activities, and a stretchy wrap made by Boba for when we won’t be walking around a lot but still could use a carrier. My wife uses the Boba when we attend church, and our little angel sleeps so well through the sermon that I wish I could join her.
So, bottom line: if you are active and will not have someone there to whom you can hand off your little baby, you will need something that can hold him/her while allowing you to do what you need to do. I suggest checking out any nearby baby consignment shops to see if they have any you can take for a whirl before you commit to buying one. Although some do hold their retail value well, even when used, there is no guarantee that you will recover the money you spend on a carrier that just doesn’t work out for you.
And don’t quote me on this, but I think Target’s return policy allows you to return a carrier if it just doesn’t work out for you. They have a variety from which to choose, across all price ranges, so it is a relatively risk-free place for test driving baby products.
We would love to read your thoughts on carriers. Please leave a comment with your own thoughts and reviews of carriers you’ve tried.