Your Aching Back:
Tips for Choosing a Baby Carrier
I’m having some serious back issues. And, as my son gets older, my back issues seem to be getting worse. See, I love indulging myself and my son by holding and carrying him whenever I can. I don’t think I carry him too much. As a 1 ½ -year-old, he gets plenty of time on his own two feet. But lately, I’ve been finding myself saying, “Love, Mommy can’t pick you up. My back hurts too much.” After doing some research, I found that a good baby/toddler carrier can extend my Eli-carrying days by giving me more back support than my hip can do alone.
Before pregnancy, the words baby carrier equaled the word Bjorn. But there are many other options out there that, depending on your needs and preferences, may be a better fit. I talked to Tiffany Bjorlie, owner of Eco Baby + Kids, to get some tips on what to look for in a good, back-supporting carrier. I personally trust her advice, because I’ve seen her help many a mom on different baby-carrying options to zone in on the one that suits her best.
Most of the families Bjorlie sees start off the first few months of infancy with a soft, all-fabric baby carrier, such as a Moby Wrap or a K’tan sling. As the child gets older, many moms move toward using an Ergo or Beco baby carrier. Bjorlie says these options meet chiropractor standards for distributing weight evenly across the shoulders of the adult doing the carrying and taking pressure off of the adult’s back. Furthermore, pediatricians like them because the carriers give babies full support all the way to the knee in a seated position, instead of potentially straining a baby’s spine and crotch by leaving her legs dangling.
When thinking of buying a carrier for myself, my husband, and Eli – I had to keep a few other things in consideration. The Moby and K’tan seem to take skilled coordination, which I don’t typically have. Bjorlie assures me that with practice, I would be able to put a wrap or a sling together easily, but it will likely never be a quick operation. There goes the idea of pulling one out in the parking lot at the mall—a Moby or K’tan may be better for just around the house and the neighborhood (although Bjorlie pointed out that the K’tan is one piece and, theoretically, I could slip it on quickly.)
The differences between the Ergo and Beco are minimal, Bjorlie says. I tried them both on, and I agree—yet, I quickly developed a preference for Ergo. Ergo has a nifty zipper pouch in the front that you can stuff with things like your wallet or some lip balm. It also has a pouch for an attached hood to keep the baby comfortable in the wind or rain. Beco has its benefits, too—now that Eli is old enough to ride on my back, Beco makes it easier to slide him around from my front due to an extra layer of fabric pocketing him in the carrier. Yet, personally, I don’t think I’ll have Eli on my back too often, and though it takes more work, Ergo has a suitable back position as well.
All of these carriers recommend you carry the child facing you, as opposed to forward facing. So keep this in mind before letting your child get used to a carrier that allows her to face forward—she might put up a bit of a fight when she has to turn in.
The greatest aspects of these carriers are that they have long life-spans for both comfort (for me and Eli) and functionality. Bjorlie knows many moms who after using other options, try the Ergo or Beco and say, “Oh, this is great. This is the one I should have had from the beginning.” And with weight limits to at least 40 pounds, I could theoretically keep carrying Eli around until he’s around 4 years old. How’s that for attachment parenting!
TIPS FOR CARRIERS
Look for the following features in a baby carrier for your back support and your child’s comfort and development:
1) Straps for both shoulders and for around the waist.
2) Support for the baby at least to the knees.
Why Carriers Are a Good Buy for this Mommy
(advantages highlighted by Tiffany Bjorlie):
1) Getting more things done around the house while spending time with baby;
2) Infants are typically calmer when they’re right next to their caregiver;
3) All the studies on attachment parenting show positive developmental benefits;
4) Carrying around baby burns calories! And as Bjorlie says, “As long as you have back support, you’re good.”