How Long Can You Carry A Baby in a Carrier?

Babywearing is a boon for parents and their offspring. It has been the custom in many traditional cultures for centuries and modern society is catching up. There are just too many obvious benefits not to follow this trend.

Having your baby on your body in a baby carrier fosters a close bond between you and your baby. It soothes a niggling baby and can stop constant crying. And while you have your child safely with you, your hands are free to do whatever you need to get on with.

In fact, this is such a nice and comfortable setup that mother and child can spend hours like this, but is there such a thing as being too long in a baby carrier?

Before we answer this question, let’s look at the different types of baby carriers available and the benefits they each offer.

Wraps

Wraps are the most basic type of baby carrier but don’t be fooled, they offer great support and comfort for both wearer and baby.

A wrap is basically a long piece of fabric made from cotton, linen or a knit, that you wrap around you and your baby. Most commercial wraps come with instructions on how to do the wrap. You can also make your own wrap and simply find out from YouTube videos how to master wrapping.

How Long Can You Carry A Baby in a Wrap?

Newborns to 5 months

Small babies will stay happy in a wrap for hours on end. A wrap creates a little cradle for them that they seem to find comforting.

Newborns wake up to feed every two hours, so they will be taken out of the wrap regularly as a matter of course. As they start to sleep longer, they can stay in the wrap until they get restless.

At any rate, as soon as baby feels uncomfortable, he will let you know.

5 Months to 18 months

These babies can hold their heads steady and they are now interested in their environment. You would think that they won’t stay in a wrap for too long, but babies who are used to a wrap usually spend many happy hours in it.

Mothers report that their 18-month-old children habitually fall asleep in their wraps.

The rule of thumb is the child can stay in the wrap for as long as he and the wearer are happy and comfortable. Some mothers wear their babies for many hours in the day as it’s a practical, simple way to look after a baby.

18 Months to 36 Months

As all parents know, these toddlers have endless energy; they are on the go all the time. Chances are that they won’t want to be in a wrap for hours on end.

Besides, a 3-year-old weighs between 26 and 40 pounds – not a weight you want to carry around for hours while you’re doing chores. Although you can definitely carry a 3-year-old in a wrap, it is not the most comfortable choice for that age. Also, children of that age should be active; they should not be held immobile in a baby carrier for hours.

You can wear your toddler in a wrap for as long as they are happy in it, but do remember that a child of that age should be running around (although it’s tiring for you).

Slings

A sling is made of a long piece of fabric that has two rings at one end. To secure your baby in it you thread one end through one of the rings and then thread it back through the other ring.

The sling is worn over one shoulder and you carry your baby in the pouch that’s formed on the opposite hip. Slings are very popular for use during summer as they only hang over one side of the wearer’s body and leave one shoulder complete uncovered

Slings can be used from day one until your child is around 3 years old.

How Long Can You Carry A Baby in a Sling?

Newborns to 5 months

A sling holds your baby in an ergonomically good position which is snug and comfy. A small baby will sleep happily in a sling for hours. Mothers find that they only take their newborn out for a feed every couple of hours, the rest of the time the little one usually sleeps.

As for how long you can carry your baby in a sling, the answer is for as long as he is happy in it. You don’t need to worry that you are spoiling your child if he spends hours in his baby carrier. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, holding a baby in the early months helps them to feel safe.

5 Months to 18 Months

The same guidelines apply for slings as for wraps. A toddler who is accustomed to a sling will willingly sit in it for hours provided they can look out and see what’s going on around them.

You can be sure that if your child becomes too hot or uncomfortable for whatever reason, he will let you know.

18 Months to 36 Months

Toddlers of 18 months usually love their slings and will spend hours in it, but by the time a child reaches 36 months, they weigh quite a bit. A sling can still be used for carrying older toddlers, but you’ll probably find that the time spent in the sling becomes shorter. Partly because nap times are less frequent and partly because your back is complaining about the weight.

How long you can carry an older toddler in a sling will depend on you and your child. Use your discretion, but again, keep in mind that toddlers should have ample opportunity to run around and explore.

Soft-structured Carriers

Soft-structured carriers look like mini backpacks. They have a padded rectangle that forms a pouch for the baby to sit in. They come with straps that fit over the parent’s shoulders and around the parent’s waist. The straps are fastened with buckles.

These carriers are comfortable and secure for you and your baby and there is a large variety to choose from on the market.

How Long Can You Carry A Baby in a Soft-structured Carrier?

Newborns to 5 months

Most soft-structured carriers are not suitable for newborns. They are designed for babies from 4-5 months old who have developed their neck muscles well enough to be able to hold their heads properly. Some models can be used from birth, usually with the addition of an infant insert.

Depending on the make, these carriers can be quite snug and a little one will be content in it for extended periods. As long as your baby is well-supported and happy, he can stay in the carrier. These little ones should be carried in the front, facing you so you will know immediately when they are unhappy and need a change.

5 Months to 18 Months

You can carry your child in a baby carrier for as long as he is content. Many mothers report that they carry their babies for most of the day to no ill effect.

18 Months to 36 Months

If you plan to have your baby in a soft-structured baby carrier for a few hours, make sure that it is a brand that supports the child in a healthy way. That is the seat should be wide to allow for the child to sit with their legs in the so-called frog position with knees bent, legs apart and knees higher than the hips.

Keep in mind that your child should not be in the same position for long periods at this age – he needs to get out and explore his world.

Conclusion

It is okay to wear your child for some hours. It’s unlikely that you will wear your baby too long because he will let you know in no uncertain terms when he’s had enough. There is no official recommendation for a set number of hours that you can carry your child. You and your baby will be fine if you stay alert to your baby’s signals.