“My baby carrier says it will last until they’re a toddler. But they’re only 5 months old and it’s killing my back already! Am I just weak? Do I need to stop carrying? Or do I need to buy a new carrier?”
I hear this from parents every single day. It’s not you being weak: either we need to adjust your carrier; change your carrying position, or it may be you’ve outgrown your carrier sooner than you might expect. Here’s what you need to know…
MOST BRANDS OVERPROMISE WHEN IT COMES TO UPPER AGE AND WEIGHT LIMITS.
A long-lasting carrier will always sell better. So brands will often put ‘Newborn to Toddler’ on the box. What age/weight a carrier is technically ‘suitable for’; and what age/weight it’s realistically ‘comfortable’ for are two very different things!
How do brands arrive at their stated upper weight limit? First, the brand decides what upper weight limit they’d like their carrier to have, and then they design it accordingly.
They then pay for a testing centre/lab to load the carrier with weights up to that amount, shake it on a clever machine X thousand times, and see if its breaks. If nothing snaps, breaks or rips, it passes as ‘safe’ up to that weight.
Does that mean a carrier safety tested up to 20kg will be comfy for you to carry your 20kg toddler in? Not necessarily!
Equally, does it mean your carrier is instantly unsafe if you carry a 21kg child in it? Warranty-wise yes – but logically speaking, I’d say no. It simply means they didn’t feel the need to pay for testing beyond that point. Because relatively few people carry kids over 20kg and additional weight tests cost more money.
SO HOW LONG WILL YOUR CARRIER ACTUALLY LAST?
The upper age/weight is more subjective than you might expect and will vary from person to person.
At Wear My Baby, we list both ‘Suitable’ and ‘Ideal’ weight/age ranges on our product descriptions. The suitable range is what the manufacturers claim. The ideal range is based on feedback from many thousands of families we work with and our expertise.
Don’t be surprised if we describe an allegedly ‘0-4 years’ carrier as actually ideal from 0-18 months. That simply means that, by around 18 months, most parents will find other toddler carriers MORE supportive. So it’s likely worth sizing up at that point to prevent backache!
Does that mean you can’t use it beyond 18 months? Not at all. Especially if your baby is more petite. We much prefer to be honest, realistic and to look after your back as best we can!
SO HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN IT’S TIME TO SIZE UP TO A BIGGER CARRIER?
1. If your carrier is correctly adjusted but your baby feels heavy; your back/shoulders hurt; and/or you can’t use it for more than 30mins: it may be time to size up.
2. If the body panel only comes up to your toddler’s armpits and their wiggling around is making you feel a bit unstable: it may be time to size up.
3. If their legs are hanging down and the carrier isn’t supporting them across their seated width, all the way from one ‘knee-pit’ to another: it’s very likely time to size up (and rescue your back!)
HOW CAN I MAKE MY CARRIER LAST LONGER BEFORE BUYING A NEW ONE?
1. Make sure your carrier is on its widest and tallest settings. Manu carriers have clever little Velcro, button, popper or drawstring adjusters so they grow with your baby. Not sure if yours has these? Get in touch!
2. If you’re carrying your baby facing outward (4-10 months), turn them around so they’re facing you – ideally with one or both arms over the top of the carrier.
They will now feel lighter as your centres of gravity match and their weight isn’t pulling away from you. With an arm or two free, they can still look around and won’t feel restricted.
3. Try back carrying. You can do this in most baby carriers from 6 months, but most parents feel the benefits most from 9-12months and up – when your baby is more likely to be able to see over your shoulders.
All this means that: YES, YOU’RE PROBABLY GOING TO USE MORE THAN ONE CARRIER! It’s like buying a pair of shoes for your 1-year-old and expecting them to last until they go to school: you just wouldn’t, right? We know that children grow, and so they need different levels of support as their bodies get bigger.
You don’t need to buy a new carrier every six months (unless you want to). But most families will need at least 2 carriers: a soft newborn carrier or sling for those early months, then a more supportive carrier from 3-6 months until around 1-2yrs and up.
From newborns slings to toddler carriers, front-facing carriers to baby backpacks, we’ve reviewed and rated the best baby carriers on the market. You can also live chat with us below, call us on 0345 222 9004, or pop into our London Store.