You already know that baby carriers are amazing! They let you carry your baby close to your body while leaving your hands free for other tasks, and babies love them.
That much is clear.
But how do you know if baby carriers are always safe?
And will there actually come a day when you have to discard your baby carrier because it no longer functions optimally? Do baby carriers expire?
Well, that’s what going to depend on what kind of baby carrier and what kind of use it’s got.
There are five different types of carriers: the wrap, sling, soft-structured carrier/ buckle carrier, Mei Tai and backpack carriers. They are all designed for you to carry your baby, but they are not all the same. Two are basically long pieces of fabric, two are constructed from fabric and one comes with a rigid frame.
So, which of these carriers should you be aware of and how do you know when to retire it?
A wrap is basically a long stretch of fabric that you tie around yourself and your baby. Baby wraps come with clear instructions on how to go about wrapping your baby safely to your body.
Wraps come in cotton, linen, bamboo, and knitted materials. If tied correctly, a wrap forms a safe nest for your baby.
Wraps are pretty simple. If the fabric is still intact, has enough stretch to it and can safely be tied; you’re good to go! Don’t worry to much unless you feel you can no longer tighten it up enough to keep baby snug against your body.
A sling is also a long stretch of material, but it has two rings at one end. To form the sling, and the seat for the baby, you sling the fabric over one shoulder, bring the one end to the front at the opposite hip and thread it through the two rings.
Slings are very popular with some parents, but you have to make sure that your baby’s back is well supported.
Make sure to always check the fabric for rips or tears, especially near the ring where it ties. The main thing to worry about for the sling besides the fabric itself are the rings. It’s possible that the rings may bend and damage as they get older. Always make sure the rings can still hold the weight of your baby and the material is not sliding down what it shouldn’t.
Soft-structured baby carriers
Soft-structured carriers are constructed with a padded rectangle for the baby’s body to which four straps are attached: two padded shoulder straps and two hip straps with buckles.
This is a popular style with many parents.
Well-designed soft-structured carriers allow for the baby’s legs to be in the optimal position – with knees bent, legs apart and knees higher than the hips. This is called the frog position and is the best position for your baby’s hip and spine development.
If your SSC has Velcro that’s used for weight bearing, make sure to check the strength in them. Velcro will become less effective as it gets older so it’s important to check its integrity. On top of that, you should also take a quick look at the buckles to make sure none of them are cracked or broken. A broken buckle may cause it to come undone when you least expect it.
This is also a type of soft-structured baby carrier in that it is constructed out of a square of fabric to which two wide, padded shoulder straps are added as well as two hip straps.
The shoulder straps are tied in a cross over the back and then around the wearer’s body and are secured with a knot. This is a popular baby carrier that is comfortable for the wearer and secure for the baby.
Like a wraps, make sure to check the material for tears or rips, especially on the long straps where you tie them together.
A backpack carrier has a solid structure with fabric that fits onto a metal frame. Backpack carriers come with padded shoulder straps for wearer comfort as well as straps that are tied around the wearer’s waist. The shoulder straps combined with waist straps help with even weight distribution.
Parents who love the outdoors and want to share the experience with their babies usually go for a backpack carrier as these carriers are built to carry toddlers for longer periods of time.
Like in any backpack, you should always check that the straps are not worn out too much and the wait buckle is still in good shape.
If you want more info on each of the types of baby carriers, check out our complete baby carrier guide.
Do baby carriers expire and are they safe?
Baby carriers are very safe. There is always a chance or misusing the carrier but that’s usually only in cases where someone didn’t follow the instructions and good practices. This is why we always tell you to read the instructions careful before using your baby carrier and have someone help you put on whenever possible.
For optimal safety, your baby must be close to your body, his back must be supported and his chin should be off your chest. His position should not constrict his airways. Also, take care not to exceed the maximum weight limit of your baby carrier.
Baby carriers do expire and won’t last forever. So make sure to check the integrity of the fabric and all of the attachment hardware regularly to maintain the highest level of safety for your baby.
When you have decided on a baby carrier, read the instructions thoroughly before your attempt to use the product.
Check your product’s weight limit and don’t be tempted to exceed that when your child gets older [and heavier].
Regularly inspect your child carrier for tears, faulty buckles, torn straps, broken rings and other signs of wear and tear.
In general, as soon as your baby carrier shows signs of damage or significant wear and tear, consider it as expired and get a new one. Baby carriers are not a place where you would want to take a chance with your baby.
Paul is a passionate dad who founded Upside Dad to share his parenting journey with other new parents. He graduated from Concordia University and worked as a test engineer for over a decade. Paul loves dad jokes and craft beer.
Learn more about Paul and Upside Dad here.