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If you're heading to the great outdoors with baby in tow, consider a structured backpack tailor made for long hikes and sheltering your child from the harsh sun or inclement weather. Before you imagine you're going to be lugging around a hefty outdoor carrier plus a small child, listen to this – you can get a relatively lightweight structured backpack carrier. There are a number of models on the market with lightweight aluminum frames.
Take a look at the Kelty backpacks - designed for taking your infant on some outdoor excursions. The Kelty Pathfinder($190) is a mid-line model that's popular with fans of the Kelty brand. It weighs just over seven pounds, making it easier to take your child on an outdoor hike. Contoured shoulder straps and a molded padded belt help ensure your comfort, while a sun and rain hood helps keep your little one protected from the elements.
Sherpani also has two structured backpack carriers that parents are pleased with. The Sherpani brand is geared for women, but the structured carriers are designed for both men and women in mind. The Sherpani Rumba Superlight baby carrier is a great buy for $150 and weighs just over four pounds without accessories, while the $205 Rumba Unisex baby carrier is for those who want a bigger storage capacity.
Toddlers are certainly past the sweet cooing stage of an infant that relies completely on parental help for mobility from one place to another. However, they're still at a phase where getting a lift from Mom or Dad is much needed and wanted. Toddlers are the perfect candidates for a backpack carrier. They can get a nice view of the surroundings while enjoying a lift from a parent. And neck muscle control isn't a concern – a requirement for a youngster riding backpack style in a soft carrier.
To get the most mileage out of a toddler carrier, get one you can wear in multiple ways. When traveling, if you anticipate navigating a lot of stairs and crowded areas or simply prefer the use of a baby carrier, try some of these favorites.
For soft carriers, I really like the Ergo Baby ($90-$100). Some carriers will give you strain after half an hour of use. This one should keep you and your little one comfortable for quite a while. This cotton canvas carrier comes full of features like a zippered pocket, padded shoulder straps, and a hood for your little one. You can carry younger infants in front and older tots in the back. It's rugged enough for a hike outdoors and works equally well if you're zipping through the airport.
Another favorite is the Beco Baby Carrier, created by an active, outdoorsy mother who was determined to create a comfortable carrier for taking her son out and about with her. Although the Beco baby carrier is certainly suited for some local hiking, it doesn't look like a carrier styled for the outdoors. Fabric choices like crane patterns over a swath of blossoms or a funky dot print make these carriers much more chic. They're great for back carries, but you can use them as front carriers and hip carriers as well.
If you're nursing and traveling, one way to keep baby close to you and facilitate easy nursing is by the use of a suitable baby carrier. Which baby carriers are best for nursing, you ask? While we don't think there is any one best bet, many baby wearing aficionados do feel the slings and pouches make nursing easier.
The sling is a loop of fabric with the ability to adjust the size and fit at the shoulder for a custom fit. Smaller infants stay cradled in the sling and you can carry her on the front, back, or hip. Sings come padded for extra comfort or without for maximum portability. There's a lot of great ones, but we like Ella Roo Baby Slings ($50 and up)– great fabrics, just a bit of padding, and not too much bulky fabric.
The pouch is another favorite among baby wearers. These baby carriers are just like the slings without the adjustability. The upside is you have a carrier you can easily pack away into your diaper bag or luggage. We like Hotslings ($45-$80) for their fashion forward fabrics. Plus they come with just a wee bit of give for added comfort.
Helpful Hint: To make your sling or pouch more comfortable, sizing is key. The bottom of your infant should end up between your hip and your belly-button.
Sling carriers are one type of baby carrier that is convenient for hands-free baby toting. Worn over one shoulder, baby gets tucked safely and comfortably in the pouch of the sling. This carrier works lying down or in a more upright position. Sling carriers have the added bonus of an easy on, easy off characteristic due to their simple design. Breastfeeding moms may find sling carriers easy to use during nursing as well. Sling carriers work well for carrying newborns and even work for toddlers. One way to add some neck support in a soft sling for newborns and young infants is with the use of a head pillow.
If you're getting ready to travel with an infant, baby carriers are an indispensable tool. Even if you're not traveling and just trying to accomplish a few things around the house, baby carriers make parents' lives easier. If you're planning on getting one for your trip, take heed of these baby carrier tips -- I promise, you'll find discerning from all the choices will be much easier.
Baby carriers come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and fabrics. Here's a lowdown on some of the more common as well as lesser-known styles.
Backpack carriers – Great for toting around older infants and toddlers, you essentially wear baby on your back. Typically, babies face you. They should be able to sit unsupported on their own and have solid neck control.
Hip Carrier – The weight rests on one shoulder on your hip. You'll likely use these with older babies and toddlers.
Pouches – They come in all kinds of fabrics; some with give in them and some without. They're a one-piece loop of fabric which opens up to create a pouch for baby. You can use pouches for newborns up to toddlers, but most folks use them for younger babes.
Soft Front Carriers – Wear your baby in the front, either facing you or facing out. These carriers tend to work well for younger babies and children under one.
Slings – It's just like the pouch, but with the flexibility of an adjustable ring or device at the shoulder to create a proper fit.
Traditional Baby Carriers – They're modeled after the traditional Asian baby carriers. The Mei Tai and Podegi are two examples of traditional Asian baby carriers. They come in great fabrics and are very versatile. There is a learning curve to use these, though, so beginners take note.
Wraparound baby carriers – Characterized by lots of fabric, wraparound baby carriers allow the wearer to literally wrap several yards of fabric into a comfy nesting spot for baby.
Just when we thought we'd seen just about every type of baby carrier out there, we found one that doubles as a baby carrier and backpack. You can carry younger infants on your front and tote around essentials on your back. These baby carriers are made by Sherpani. You can choose from two models. The Sherpani Emi ($65) and the Sherpani Emi V2 ($95). The main difference is that the V2 model comes with a removable daypack, so you can choose to just carry baby and use the pack as a sling instead. Both versions come with a cozy fleece lined material to keep babies comfy and a tube sleeve for moms who want to hydrate on the go. The packs look sporty enough that we think dads would be as happy wearing them as much as moms.
Baby carriers are a wonderful way to tote younger babies and newborns around. Parents get to have their hands free and babies get to be close to Mom or Dad. With younger infants, you should keep in mind the necessity for neck support when choosing a carrier.
For easy on, easy off carriers for younger babies and newborns, try a pouch. They're relatively simple to wear and place baby in. Just put a sling over one shoulder, tuck your infant in safely, and you're ready to go. Babies can be worn in front or back. Get one in the right fabric and color and Dads likely won't mind wearing this one to carry baby around in.
Slings are also good for younger babes, too. However, they require a bit more work in the beginning because having greater flexibility to carry your child in different positions also means figuring out what works best. Until your infant is at least a year, wear baby in front with a sling.
Soft front carriers are another great option for the youngest of infants. The appearance of most soft front carriers appeal to both mom and dads. Baby Bjorn makes one which works nicely for infants starting at eight pounds and 21 inches. For travel and carrying your little one for extensive periods, we recommend getting the Baby Bjorn Active Carrier version. The added lumbar support will remove a lot of weight off your shoulders.
Having an infant is no reason to stay inside. With a backpack carrier, you can go hiking and take your infant with you. A number of backpack carriers come in lightweight frames with enough comfy features to keep both parent and baby happy. Kelty, one manufacturer of backpack carriers, has a full line of products for the outdoors. Their top-of-the-line Adventure carrier features goodies like a child-view mirror to see your little one and a sun and rain hood to keep your infant dry. The popular Pathfinder carrier has everything you need for comfort, including curved straps, a molded back panel, and specially designed straps to lift the weight off your shoulders.
It's perhaps one of the best-known baby carriers around. The Baby Bjorn is a padded front baby carrier for babies and a great way to keep your hands free whether you're taking a walk or going around the house. Newborns will be content to fall asleep in the baby carrier facing you. The Baby Bjorn also allows you to carry an older baby with good neck control facing out. You can carry babies just a week old who are as small as 8 pounds and at least 21 inches tall in a Baby Bjorn. The manufacturer lists 22 pounds as the maximum weight limit for carrying an infant, but carrying around a heavier infant for any extended period of time tends to weigh on the shoulders with the original baby carrier version.