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Choosing and Fitting the Right Size Baby Sling or Carrier

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 2 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
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Slings and carriers are a great way for parents to be able to carry their baby around with them, plus they are comfortable for babies and give them a birds eye view of what’s going on. But how can you ensure you choose and fit the right size of baby sling or carrier?

Baby slings and carriers are a nice alternative to prams and pushchairs and can be a really practical way of carrying your baby. They’re kept close to you, which can be very comforting, and you don’t need to worry about manoeuvring a pram or pushchair in awkward places. Due to the nature of the slings and carriers, getting a good fit is imperative to your baby’s safety and your own comfort.

Different Types and Fits of Carriers and Slings

When you’re choosing a baby sling or carrier, you’ll come across various different types and options. Some of the main options are a front carrier, back carrier and sling.

A Front Carrier:This type of carrier can be used from birth, but you need to ensure that there’s good support for your baby’s head, back and neck. Ideally the holes where the legs go through should be well padded, as this means it will be more comfortable for your baby. Also the back and shoulder straps should be wide and padded too, so it’s a good fit for you and it distributes weight well.

A Back Carrier:As the name suggests, back carriers are worn on the back. They’re aimed at babies aged from about six months and older and your baby needs to be able to sit up unaided before you use this type of model. When you’re choosing a back carrier, good fitting models should have lots of padding for both the wearer and baby and have a fixed harness inside, so your baby is fully secure when fitted in. Sometimes back carriers also come with added extras, such as sun shade or hood which can be used when the weather is hot or wet.

A Sling:Slings differ from carriers in that they’re not so rigid in their form. They’re usually made of a big piece of hard wearing fabric with either straps or buckles placed at strategic points. They offer versatility, in that your baby can be carried in a sling in either a front or back position – or sometimes even on the hip. Slings are supposed to be self-supporting, but getting the right fit is crucial, so both parent and baby feels safe, secure and comfortable.

Fitting a Baby Sling or Carrier

Making sure a sling or carrier fits you well is essential, as your baby’s safety will be reliant on it. Before you decide on which type of sling or carrier you’re going to buy, make sure you’ve tried on various options in the shop. You may find that there are some options that don’t feel quite so right for you and, if you’re looking for a carrier that can be used by both you and your partner, it may be slightly more work finding an option that’s comfortable for both of you.

As well as trying it on to see how it feels wearing it, also have a go with trying your baby in it too (if you’ve given birth yet, that is!). It’s sometimes hard to know when babies are entirely comfortable, but if they show signs of distress when in the carrier or sling, try another brand and see how they like that. Shops should be perfectly okay about you trying products out - within reason - as it's crucial the fit works well for both you and your baby.

One important tip to remember is that, if you’re looking for a carrier or sling when you’re pregnant, your size is likely to change after you’ve given birth. This will affect the fit, so if you’re certain you want to buy one before your baby arrives, double-check and make sure the shop or store will accept returns if you subsequently find it really doesn’t fit properly after your baby arrives.

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