A baby carrier will not come with an expiration date. However, there are signs of wear and tear that you need to look out for to ensure safe use.
Most reputable baby carrier brands will last you many years, and multiple children if you look after them. You may even be able to hand an old carrier down to a new mom if it is in good shape.
In this article, we will look at what are the key indicators that your carrier, wrap, or sling, might be reaching its expiration.
Do Baby Carriers Expire?
Baby carriers do not expire on a specific date and can be used up until there is a risk that a key component may fail. These components depend on the type of carrier you are using and we will look at each common carrier design shortly.
The other major variable that will overite and guidance provided here is the frequency of use.
If you practice babywearing every day then you will wear out your carrier much faster than a parent who only wears their baby on weekends.
You may have noticed that child car seats expire at a specific date set by manufacturers, and there are guidelines for maximum use. However, this is due to the different environments and that safety standards change rapidly related to vehicles. This is not the case for most other baby products.
Signs of Wear and Tear in Each Carrier Design
Soft Structured Baby Carriers
This is the most widely used type of carrier due to its user-friendly design that anyone can use right out of the box. However, the additional components that improve the babywearing experience are also where the weaknesses can be found over time:
- Buckles – A worn buckle is a big safety risk. Look for any signs that the mechanism is losing its shape, struggles to click in place, or unclips too easily.
- Adjustable Straps – A snug fit is critical to ensure a comfortable baby, and to minimize the risk of injury to mom or dad. Loose fittings are unsafe and can lead to back & shoulder problems for parents.
- Fabric – Any torn fabric or loose stitching is another sign that your carrier may be on its last legs.
Most carriers have attachment points so if a buckle or strap fails you will be able to support your little one with your arms quickly. If you are using an older carrier then front carry is the best position to ensure you keep your baby close.
Wraps are usually not worn for as long as a structured carrier as babies tend to outgrow them faster. There is also just one component to the whole product – the fabric.
However, you will encounter different material blends that will deteriorate in different ways:
- Stretchy Fabric – a loss of elasticity in the fabric can lead to the tie loosening as you wear it. While your baby is unlikely to fall out with a reasonable knot, it is likely to cause discomfort or injury to the wearer.
- Woven Fabric – A fabric with less give in the material has a higher risk of tearing. This is unlikely unless you do something drastic that shifts the weight of your baby, like going down a large step. Look out for other signs of tears or fraying.
Similar to baby wraps, your child will probably outgrow your ring sling before it wears out – assuming you have bought a good quality sling.
There are limited components for this type of carrier:
- Ring Component – Any bending or signs of strain on the ring is a warning sign. Metal will be more durable than plastic and less likely to break suddenly.
- Fabric – Similar to the wraps, any tears or loose threads is a sign that the fabric is deteriorating and may no longer be safe to use.
Why Baby Carrier Weight Limits are Important
Carrying a load in excess of the maximum weight limit specified in the manufacturer’s guidelines is not only unsafe, but it will accelerate the time frame for wear and tear to kick in – bringing the expiration dates of your carrier closer!
These limits vary considerably for each type of design. For example, wraps and slings can be unsafe for use when your baby is over 25lbs-35lbs. Whereas structured carriers are usually 35lbs-45lbs.
All of our product reviews on this site will always include the manufacturer’s recommended weight range for what they have considered safe.
Make sure you always read the instructions included with your carrier to ensure you have the most up-to-date advice on correct use so you can maximize the life of your carrier.
Most Durable Baby Carrier Brands
When buying a carrier you tend to get what you pay for. Most of the best-known brands have been around for decades and have established a strong safety record.
You can also be sure that they keep up with changing regulations, and maintain high standards of manufacturer testing before releasing new models.
Below are some of the market-leading carrier brands that feature regularly on our site in each design category.
Structured Baby Carriers:
- Ergobaby Carriers
Wraps & Slings
- Baby K’tan
Babywearing is such an important part of your parenting journey. A secure fit, allowing you to be hands-free, is not only practical but hugely beneficial for you and your child.
Like any product, baby carriers expire eventually as they wear out. But if you have a quality product and look after it then it can last for many years of safe use if you take care of it.
Pay attention to any signs of damage to the key components that we have discussed in this article, and discard if it can no longer support baby safely.