Which Buckle Carrier?
Selecting a buckle carrier is rather like choosing a pair of jeans- they all look much the same, but they have small features that make them unique. In the same way as the small features in a pair of jeans make one pair perfect and another a no-go for us, so it is with carriers.
When I shop for jeans I decide which features are important to me and this helps me narrow down my options. I then try on the items from the short list to find my perfect fit. Now I have all the features I want and the perfect fit, I turn my attention to colour and fabric and fingers crossed all these come together in one garment for me.
I would suggest following this approach when buying a buckle carrier.
So first things first. You will need to think about who is going to use the carrier, what you are going to use it for, how long you want to be able to carry, how big is your baby when you are starting to use the carrier ,and what is your budget, before moving on to the finer details.
Small things that then make a difference:
- Newborn Usage
Carriers are usually made to last up to 45lbs. They have a wide front panel so that the baby is held in an M position, and supported from knee to knee. This distance is going to be considerably different for a 2 month baby and a two year one.
The panel in all ergonomic carriers will be be too wide for younger babies and different brands will have different ways of dealing with this. Some carriers can be used from 7.7lbs by the panel being narrowed or the baby being raised within the carrier. Others don’t have this feature and they will need an insert to be used for the first few months. Adding an insert can be an additional expense.It will make the carrier more bulky and warmer, which could be a disadvantage in the Summer.
Do you want a structured or unstructured waistband?
Some parents find a structured waistband can dig in to hip bones if they are a small build. Some who are short bodied find a substantial waistband difficult to accommodate. On the flip side an unstructured waistband can feel as if it doesn’t give enough support for the wearer and may be less good if you suffer from back problems.
Without going into the pros and cons of this here- is having a carrier where babe can face outwards important to you?
Facing out is a feature of a limited number of carriers so if this is a deal breaker for you then you need to know which ones you can use in this way.
It is worth noting that many parents who come to me and short list this feature as essential actually rarely use it. Perhaps it is worth reading more about forward facing in carriers to enable you to decide if it really is important to you.
Do you want straps that can cross or are you happy with straps that have to be worn ruck sack style?
I find for smaller babies crossing can get a better fit. If you have narrow shoulders or shoulders that slope down then crossing can be more comfortable.
When you tighten your carrier some have straps that pull forward and others straps that pull backwards. Some have 2 way adjustable straps. It is worth noting that many find pulling the straps backwards less easy than pulling them forwards. AND the direction of pull will of course change according to whether you are doing front or back carries- so if you find the pulling forwards works well for front carries will it then mean you have to do a backward pull when you move on to back carries.
Are the straps made of webbing or fabric? You may find one more comfortable and easier to adjust than the other.
Consider the positioning of the buckles.
Some waist bands have a central buckle and others a side buckle. A side buckle enables you to add a support pad if needed. A central buckle means you don’t have a long dangling tail.
Buckles on the straps can need more of a consideration. If they are behind your back can you easily reach them to loosen the carrier? If they are on the body of the carrier does it mean the straps pull up uncomfortably into your armpits when you tighten them.
Some buckles need two hands to open- do you find that easy to do?
- Warm weather Usage
If it is warm when you are babywearing you may want to have a carrier made of fabrics that enable more airflow. So if you live in a hot climate or frequently travel to hot places the fabric may be an important one of those small features to consider.
Armed with these answers, prioritise your requirements and begin to shortlist. Visit a sling library or consultant and try on the carriers that you think will suit your needs and requirements- BUT be prepared for a compromise, sometimes something has to give!