When to Start Using a Baby Carrier?

Emily Larsen

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Wondering when you can start using a baby carrier? You’ve come to the right page.

When to start using a carrier:

Various types of carriers are suitable and safe to use with your baby at different developmental stages. It’s important to consider your baby’s development and ensure their muscles can handle the strain that carriers may put on them. In this post, I’ll explain in detail the safety aspects to consider and dispel many myths including deceptive marketing practices that you should be aware of.

Infants have muscles that are barely developed and babywearing safety is of utmost importance to ensure that the baby is not at risk. When to start babywearing or using a carrier can impact your baby’s health and development. This is why it is essential to have an expert guide you through the process.

Over the years in various babywearing safety conferences, I have sat through presentations showcasing the importance of waiting for an infant’s neck muscles to develop before starting to carry them on a baby carrier. But, what does that mean? When do infants’ neck muscles start developing? And how will you know when it is safe to wear your baby?

Neck muscles in infants start developing at around 3 months of age, which means that until this time, babies have limited head control. This is why it is recommended to wait until the baby is at least 4-6 months old before starting to carry them on a baby carrier. However, this does not mean that you cannot carry your newborn in a carrier. It simply means that you need to take extra precautions and use a suitable carrier designed for newborns or seek advice from an expert.

In this guide, I have compiled helpful info on the different timelines you can use the different types of carriers, wraps, slings and backpacks to carry your baby. From newborns to toddlers, this guide will help you determine when it is safe and beneficial for your baby’s health to start carrying them on a baby carrier.

Beware of unsafe advice on when to start using baby carrier:

As I researched this topic, I found two baby carrier manufacturers indicating how you can use a carrier right from the Hospital after delivering your baby.

Ergobaby in this blog states that “take a baby carrier with you to the hospital and use it the day your baby is born, as long as they weigh at least seven (7) pounds.”

Infantino on this blog wrote “You can start using a baby carrier right away! There are baby carrier options suited for all ages, from newborns to toddlers.”

The information provided by the above carrier manufacturers are misleading as they do not provide more context to recommend starting to carry infants with carriers from week 1. Ergobaby maintains that the immediate adoption of carriers is important as it helps maintain skin-to-skin contact downplaying or outrightly ignoring the grave concerns of not giving caveats on their blanket statement.

There is a conflict of interest among baby carrier manufacturers, including the two mentioned above. Their primary motivation is to maximize sales and profits, which leads them to advocate for early babywearing. This choice is financially beneficial for both the manufacturers and their shareholders.

This is why I advice parents to always be cautions about where they get baby safety advice. Rely on reputable independent organizations that share recommendations based on research and data demonstrating baby safety with no ulterior interest for financial gain.

That aside, let’s continue..

Experts agree across the board that different baby carriers that utilize different babywearing positions are suitable for babies at different times as they grow. For example, a forward-facing babywearing position is suitable for babies over 4 months old. However, the importance of considering a baby’s weight before starting to carry them on a carrier cannot be overstated.

Hip seat carriers are only suitable to use when the baby has developed enough neck strength and pelvic development to support themselves. This typically happens when the infant is around 4-6 months old.

A baby wrap is only ideal to use when the baby is able to sit up and support their head. This can happen between 4-6 months old. Before this period, wraps will not provide the necessary support for the baby’s spine and could potentially be dangerous.

In general, it is recommended to wait until the baby is at least 4 months old before using a carrier that has a forward-facing or outward-facing position. This is because their neck muscles and pelvic development are stronger by this age and can handle being in these positions for longer periods of time without causing any discomfort or pain.

Factors to consider when deciding when to start using a carrier:

  • Weight: As mentioned earlier, the weight of a baby is an important factor to consider when deciding when to start using a carrier. Most carriers have a weight limit that should be adhered to for safety purposes.
  • Developmental milestones: It is important to keep track of your baby’s developmental milestones, such as neck strength and pelvic development, before starting to use certain types of carriers.
  • Your baby’s comfort: Every baby is different, and some may not enjoy being in a carrier until they are a little older. It is important to pay attention to your baby’s cues and stop using the carrier if they seem uncomfortable or unhappy.
  • Height: Some carriers may not be suitable for taller babies until they have reached a certain age and can fit comfortably in them.
  • Your physical ability: Carrying a baby, even with the help of a carrier, requires some physical strength. Make sure you are comfortable and able to handle the weight of your baby on your body before using a carrier.
  • Carrier type: Different carriers have different age and weight recommendations, so it is important to research and choose a carrier that is suitable for your baby’s age.
  • Breathability: Babies can easily become overheated, so it is important to choose a carrier with good breathability for warmer weather.
  • Safety: The safety of your baby should always be the top priority. Make sure to follow all safety guidelines and instructions provided by the manufacturer when using a carrier.

Benefits of carriers:

  1. Promotes bonding: Babywearing allows for close physical contact between parent and baby, promoting a strong bond and attachment.
  2. Hands-free convenience: Carriers allow parents to have their hands free while still keeping their baby close, making it easier to complete daily tasks or activities.
  3. Comfort for both parent and baby: The ergonomic design of carriers helps distribute the weight of the baby evenly, making it comfortable for both parent and baby to wear.
  4. Supports development: Being carried in a carrier can help with a baby’s physical and cognitive development, as they are exposed to different sights, sounds, and movements while being close to their caregiver.
  5. Easy transportation: Carriers make it easy to take your baby with you on daily outings or trips, without the need for a stroller or bulky equipment.