From hitting the grocery store with your hands free to keeping your baby calm on a playdate, the right soft structured baby carrier can be a game-changer for dads who choose to baby wear.
The benefits are many. Research suggests that babywearing fosters language development in young children, promotes calmness in both parent and child, can make parents more attuned to their little one’s needs and vocal cues, and can even help your little one sleep better.
As your little one grows, carriers become an essential tool for adventures with your toddler, from hiking through a forest to walking around the park or the zoo. There is no better way for little ones to view the world than riding around next to Dad.
What Dads should look for in a Carrier
Ready to wear your baby? When shopping for a baby carrier for Dad, there are a few unique features you should look for to ensure you purchase the type of carrier that will comfortably fit parent and child.
Hip-Healthy Designation: Before any other feature, ensure the carrier you are considering is considered ergonomic and hip healthy by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
A hip-healthy carrier uses a supported seat position for children under 6 months of age. This position ensures their growing hips have the ideal support. It is also more comfortable for parents, as it wraps the child’s weight around your center for gravity. Carriers that leave baby’s legs dangling straight down put more weight and stress on your shoulders.
The International Hip Dysplasia Institute only rates carriers intended for use with children under 6 months old. If you are shopping for a toddler or big kid carrier, this designation will not apply.
Adjustable Shoulder Straps: Men tend to have broader shoulders than women. When choosing a carrier, make sure it has adjustable shoulder straps that can be fitted for multiple body types. It should be easy to put on and not cause discomfort across your back or neck.
Long Waist Belt: No matter your gender, you should also look up your prospective carrier’s waistband length to ensure it will accommodate your size. Baby carriers buckle around your natural waist, not your hips, so you will be measuring the area above your hip bone, but below the bottom of your rib cage.
Unfortunately, not all brands are size-inclusive. If you are plus-sized, this is an important feature to check before making a purchase. Most baby carriers will accommodate petite and average sizing. Some brands, including LÍLLÉbaby, offer versatile waistband lengths and additional waist extenders if needed.
Lumbar Support: If you intend to wear your child for extended periods of time, such as allowing them to take a nap in the carrier while you're at a family picnic, look for a carrier that includes a lumbar support panel on the waistband. This panel provides extra support and better weight distribution to ensure your back and shoulders don’t become sore.
Breathable Fabrics: Choose a breathable fabric that matches your activity level and climate. If you live in a hot or humid climate, consider carriers featuring breathable mesh fabric for improved airflow. If you are in a temperate climate, or don’t venture out of the A/C in the summer, look for cotton or polyester twill fabrics, which are durable and machine washable.
Versatile Positions: Newborns are content to cuddle against your heart beat. But, as your little one grows, they’ll be interested in the world around them. Look for a carrier that allows you to face your child forward, as well as wearing them on your back or hip.
Switching up the position will allow your child a new way to see the world, and may be more comfortable for you as they grow in size. The carrier should be designated hip-healthy in all positions.
Newborn to Toddler Weight Range: Look for a carrier that you can comfortably wear from newborn to toddler. As a newborn, your little one will love to cuddle for comfort and security.
As they grow, the carrier becomes a way to explore the world and a refuge when they are tired. Plus they are perfect for going where strollers can’t, from rocky trails to locations with stairs, or simply anywhere you don’t want to lug around and keep track of a stroller (such as an airport or theme park).
While many soft structured carriers have wide weight limits, up to 45 pounds, and claim newborn-to-toddler functionality, not all of them offer this comfortably. Look for a carrier with a wide waistband, lumbar support, and thickly padded shoulder straps that will support and distribute the weight of a toddler. Read customer reviews to see what other parents say about the comfort of wearing older children.
LÍLLÉbaby's Top Pick for Dad: LÍLLÉbaby Complete 6-in-1 Carrier
Designed to accommodate six comfortable carrying positions, the Complete carrier features an adjustable seat that starts small for newborns and can be extended for toddlers. This ensures your little one is always supported from knee-to-knee in a hip healthy position.
The padded shoulder straps are easy to adjust for parents from petite to tall and broad shouldered. The wide waistband extends to 52 inches, and is compatible with the LÍLLÉbaby Waist Belt Extender, which provides an additional 9.5 inches if needed. The waistband also features a structured lumbar support panel to prevent back strain or pain.
This carrier is available in several different options to accommodate your needs and lifestyle:
- Complete 6-in-1 Original: Our original carrier is made from durable, washable 100% cotton and features a handy cargo pocket.
- Complete 6-in-1 All Seasons: This carrier features a zippered front panel that reveals airflow mesh. Zip down for hot days to improve airflow. Keep zipped up on warm days for extra coverage.
- Complete 6-in-1 Airflow: Our coolest carrier, it features soft mesh lining and mesh panels for breathability and comfort.
- Complete 6-in-1 Luxe: This premium carrier has elevated hardware and features, soft brushed fabrics, and fun, trendy prints.
Picking a comfortable carrier that fits your body and securely and safely supports your little one will allow you to bond, cuddle, explore and adventure together for years to come.