When is a baby strong enough to be placed in a baby carrier, wrap, or sling? A newborn is fragile and you may be hesitant to start babywearing, but they are ready sooner than you may think.
In this post, we will look at when you can start carrying your child in a carrier, and what designs are most suitable depending on the age and developmental stage of your baby.
When Can I start using a Baby Carrier?
You can start using a baby carrier as soon as your baby is born if you choose a design that is suitable for a newborn! Baby wraps, ring slings, and some soft structured carriers provide the support required for a new baby.
Babywearing in those early months is an important way to bond with your child and the instant soothing effects of a carrier can be a lifesaver for parents with a crying baby.
It is common for moms and dads to buy more than one carrier design so they are equipped to carry their baby through all stages of their development from birth all the way to the end of toddlerhood.
Guide to Baby Carrier Designs Suitable for Which Month
Newborn to 4 months
Suitable Carrier Designs for newborns and infants:
- Baby Wrap
- Ring Sling
- Soft Structured Carriers + Infant Insert
Wraps and slings allow you to fully customize the fit around your baby and the wearer.
During the first four months, your baby is still adjusting to life outside of the womb. They are physically fragile and that snug fit will make them feel safe, calm, and will nurture that closeness you will both feel.
Some structured carrier designs can accommodate a newborn if used with an infant insert. We don’t recommend this for two reasons:
- You don’t get the same snug fit and your baby can still move around.
- They are usually an extra purchase and that money is better spent on a good quality baby wrap, which are still fairly cheap compared to a structured carrier.
Recommended Newborn Carrier
We love the Boba and Moby Wraps. They are very similar in price and function with some subtle differences:
- The Moby (pictured above) is 100% cotton and is longer than the Boba. Excellent for those new to wrapping.
- The Boba has stretchy fabric and is slightly shorter. Great for those who want a really snug fit.
If you really want a structured carrier from day one then the Boba 4G is the most suitable (more on this carrier in the next section). It comes with an infant insert included in the price.
4 Months to 18 Months
Suitable carrier designs for infants and early toddlers:
- Soft Structured Carriers
- Hip Seat Carriers
- Baby Wraps
- Ring Slings
By four months, your baby has likely started to develop better head and neck control. They are less reliant on the carrier to provide physical support and will get much more curious about what is happening around them.
Soft-structured carriers are the most suitable option during these months. They have a variety of carrying positions that will provide your baby with plenty of visibility and room to grow.
Your baby is also getting heavier! At this age, most babies weigh between 15-25 pounds so you’ll want a carrier that can comfortably accommodate their weight.
You can still use a baby wrap and a ring sling through this period. Just be mindful of the weight limit of your specific carrier. Most reputable brands can manage 25lbs to 35lbs safely.
Recommended Carriers 4 to 18 Months of Age:
You are spoilt for choice in this period with the majority of baby carriers of all designs suitable for this age range.
- Boba 4G – Can be used from 7lbs with the infant insert, and 10lbs without. High quality carrier with a enclosed secure seating area.
- Ergobaby 360 (pictured above) – If you can be more patient and wait until 12lbs then the Ergobaby has a much more open structure around the seat. Best for curious babies and warmer climates,
18 Months to 48 Months
Suitable carrier designs for older toddlers:
- Soft Structured Carriers
- Framed Hiking Carriers
By this time you are probably leaning more towards a stroller for a day out. There are plenty of baby carriers that can accommodate the weight, but you may be hitting the limits of your physical capacity.
However, there are some occasions where using a baby carrier will still be the best option. Think traveling through airports, navigating crowded places, and of course if you wanted to head off-road through parklands or hiking.
The good news is that the structured carrier you have purchased for the early toddler years is still probably going to last you through this period. Most major brands have a weight capacity of 40lbs-45lbs and will likely handle the weight longer than you can.
Hiking carriers are in a whole new category. Your baby is no longer nestled into your torso, they are sitting high up with the best view possible. It is also now a cockpit, not just a seat.
Recommended Carriers 18+ Months of Age:
We will provide one recommendation for each style of carrier. Both are at the higher end of weight capacity and can be used for as long as you can handle it:
- Baby Tula – This has the highest weight capacity of any soft structured baby carrier, at 60lbs. Can you handle it?
- Deuter Kid Comfort (pictured above) – It is difficult to choose between the Deuter and the Osprey Poco. We like the Deuter more due to the huge but lightweight frame, with lots of storage capacity, and even a cooler to bring lunch. An all in one solution for a day out with an older toddler.
Can One Baby Carrier Handle All Ages?
Yes, the Boba 4G can be used for all ages, from newborn to an older toddler. It has the included infant insert and can be used almost from birth until your child reaches the 45lb maximum weight.
However, we don’t think that this provides the optimal experience for the first few months. So while you can, the extra expense of a baby wrap for those first few months is worth the investment.
You will understand the first time you wrap your child and they are snuggled up to you. This is less about what is practically possible, but the experience itself.
There are options here for all parents to customize their baby-wearing experience through all developmental stages of their child’s life, from newborn to the end of being a toddler.
You can buy a good quality wrap for around $50, and a structured carrier for $100-$200. So the investment required for the best experience possible through the use of multiple carrier designs is a reasonable sum.
This will allow you to carry your baby from day one and continue doing so until they outgrow your physical capacity, or desire to continue babywearing (because the baby carriers will likely outlast you!).