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Baby carrier is an essential baby product. You can’t hold your baby all the time since your arm or back will hurt a lot. In addition, you are not able to use your arms to do other things while you are holding a baby. With a baby carrier, you can perform other tasks while keeping your baby close to you. Not only baby carrier provides convenience for parents, but also promotes closeness between parents and baby. Baby wearing has many benefits for a baby, too. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, babies cried 43 percent less when wearing a baby in the first few months. An article by Momlovesbest also lists baby wearing benefits. Baby wearing makes baby hear you talking with others more closely and helps with their language skills. Baby wearing can also help baby’s heart rate and body temperature stabilize. However, if you do not choose a good baby carrier, it can affect baby’s health and growth. Some baby carriers are not designed well for baby’s body. Some baby carriers may even have toxic chemicals including harmful flame retardant chemicals. Then, how do we choose a good baby carrier? In this post, I share with you what to look for when buying a baby carrier and what organic baby carriers are available.
What You Should You Look For When Buying A Baby Carrier
1. Type of Baby Carrier
There are several types of baby carriers including baby wraps, baby slings, soft structured baby carriers and mei tais. Wraps and soft structured baby carriers are most popular. Although they both can be used from newborn to toddler, wrap baby carriers are better for a newborn to 5 months and soft structured carriers are more suitable for an older baby from 5-6 months.
Wrap Baby Carriers For A Newborn (0 to 5 Months)
Wrap baby carriers are made of soft fabric to offer comfort for a baby. Newborns and young babies up to 5 months years old have special needs. Their neck muscle doesn’t get fully developed until 4-5 months years old. Therefore, they need support for their head and neck. They are also just getting used to being out in the world from mother’s womb. They are used to staying in cozy space and their froggy-style position. Wrap baby carriers accommodate these needs and give a snug secure fit. With this type of carriers, you can wrap your baby facing you his/her legs curled in froggy style and resting his/her head on your chest for a good neck position. Baby is tucked into parent’s chest closely. Wrap baby carriers do this job the best. You can also breastfeed your baby easily and discreetly with wrap baby carriers. Many wrap baby carriers can be used from newborn to toddler, however, they are most comfortable from newborn to 5-6 months for a parent and a baby. When baby gets bigger and heavier, it is easier and more comfortable to use a soft structured carrier since it is built firmer to give support for baby’s weight. Soft structured carrier is also more convenient since you don’t have to wrap a baby. You can just strap a baby quickly when you are on the go.
Soft Structured Baby Carriers For An Older Baby (5 Months to Toddler)
Soft structured carriers usually have padded shoulder straps, a thick waistband and buckles. Older babies can hold their neck well and also interested in the world. My baby didn’t want to face me when she was in the carrier at this age. Every baby is different but if you have a baby like mine, you will need a baby carrier that can have your baby face out rather than face in towards you. Soft structured baby carriers provide more positioning options for your baby compared to wrap baby carriers. Babies at this stage is also a lot heavier so you need more support for you and baby. Structured baby carriers help support and disperse your baby’s weight on your hips and shoulders.
Many of soft structured carriers have weight capacity from newborn to toddler. You can use an infant insert with some soft structured carriers. However, most soft structured carriers that you can use from birth support weight from 7 lbs. If your baby is less than 7 lbs, soft structured carriers won’t fit properly. Also, soft structured carriers are built firmer and stiffer to offer support for baby’s weight. Therefore, some parents prefer wrap baby carriers that are made of soft fabric to provide more comfort for a young baby.
Use of Flame Retardant Chemicals
Many children’s products containing foam were required to meet flammability standard in the past. According to a 2011 study done by Green Science Policy Institute (GSP), 80% of the baby products they tested including baby carriers contained toxic or untested flame retardants. In order to pass an open-flame test for filling materials such as foam, manufacturers used flame retardant chemicals. Halogenated flame retardant chemicals can be very toxic and it can cause cancer, disrupt hormones and suppress immune system. Due to the ineffectiveness and dangers of flame retardant chemicals, many baby products became exempted from having to meet a flammability standard in January 2014 under new standard TB 117-2013. Three baby products including carriers, nursing pillows and strollers were exempted in December 2010. However, this doesn’t mean using flame retardant chemicals were prohibited. Manufacturers can still use flame retardant chemicals in baby products. According to 2014 survey done by Center For Environmental Health (CEH), some products still contained or may have contained flame retardant chemicals. Strollers, for example, were exempted in 2010 from having to meet flammability standard but some manufacturers have not removed flame retardant chemicals from their strollers or didn’t confirm they have remove them.
Baby carriers are manufactured from fabrics and polyester fiber or polyurethane foam for stuffing or padding. Polyurethane foam is highly flammable and is often treated with flame retardant chemicals. As a result, there is a possibility that polyurethane foam contains flame retardant chemicals in it. Therefore, check with the manufacturer if they use flame retardant chemicals in their baby carriers. CEH recommends to avoid baby products made with polyurethane foam when possible and prefer products made with cotton, wool or other natural fibers.
Over 2,000 different kinds of chemicals are used regularly in textile production. Common synthetic material like polyester is made from petroleum-derived substances. Conventional cotton is grown with genetically modified seeds and sprayed heavily with pesticides and herbicides. Active ingredients in herbicides is glyphosate which is a probable carcinogen. Not only that, many textiles contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chlorine bleach, ammonia, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). It also goes through dyeing and printing process which are done with toxic chemicals including PVC, heavy metals and resins. Even organic cottons if they are conventionally produced, they will have toxic chemicals.
Safest fabrics are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic fabrics and Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 certified fabrics. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification tests every stage of production from the raw materials through the manufacturing. The GOTS certified ‘organic’ textile must contain minimum of 95% organic fibers and GOTS certified ‘made with organic’ textile must contain minimum of 70% organic fibers that are sustainably produced. Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 tests and certifies all stages of production of textiles and leathers including non-textile accessories, such as buttons, zip fasteners, etc. to be free from more than 100 substances known to be harmful.
The reason why the use of toxic chemicals matters is because toxic chemicals remain on textile. A Greenpeace study of a Walt Disney PVC Winnie the Pooh raincoat found that it contained 320,000 mg/kg of total phthalates in the coat which is 32% of the weight of the rain coat. Also, according to the study done by Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry from Stockholm University, sixty garments they tested had presence of thousands of compounds. Over a hundred were tentatively identified and more than forty were confirmed to be reproduction toxicants, proved or suspected carcinogens and skin irritants.
Some of toxic chemicals get washed out of fabric when we do laundry but they contaminate our environment. Some toxic chemicals are hard to get rid of and remain in fabric. Toxic dye chemicals and heavy metals, for example, remain on the fabric as long as the color of the fabric remains. These toxic chemicals can be absorbed by skin or be inhaled and get into our bodies. Baby’s skin is especially sensitive and delicate and can break out into a rash. Babies can also suck and chew a part of carrier and ingest toxic chemicals. According to the study done by Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry
Stockholm University, pajamas containing 5% tri (2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate (a flame retardant), were worn by children during sleep and a fifty-fold increase in the metabolite 2, 3-dibromopropanol was detected in the urine in the following morning. After changing to a pajama free of the substance, the metabolite amount was slowly decreased in the urine. However, it was still 20 times higher in 5 days than the initial amount. Toxic chemicals can get into baby’s bodies, therefore, we should be careful when choosing a baby products with fabric.
3. Healthy Positioning
Another important thing you have to check when buying a carrier is healthy positioning for a baby. Baby stays in fetal womb position for a long period of time before birth. According to International Hip Dysplasia Institute, it takes several months after birth for baby’s joints to stretch out naturally. If the hips are forced into a stretched-out position too early, it could cause hip dysplasia or dislocation. Baby does not feel pain when this happens so you won’t know until walking age and it may also cause painful arthritis during adulthood. The most unhealthy position for the hips during infancy is when legs, hips and knees are held straight and the legs brought together. The healthiest position for the hips is frog position which allows baby to have hips spread naturally apart to the side and the knees position slightly higher than the buttocks with the thighs supported. Therefore, look for a baby carrier allows baby in healthy hip position.
Baby’s neck muscle doesn’t get developed until about 5 months old, therefore baby carrier should support baby’s neck. The best type of carriers for young babies up to 5 months years old would be wrap or sling-type baby carriers made from soft fabric. You can position baby more tightly and more snuggly with baby wraps or slings and baby’s head can be rested against your chest for his/her head support. Baby wrap or sling should also support the back of baby’s head. This doesn’t mean baby’s head should be covered all around, baby’s face should be visible and positioned right so her/his airway is not blocked. Baby’s face should be clear of fabrics to avoid suffocation.
You should decide if you will need multiple carrying positions for your baby when you are buying a structured carrier. Some structured carriers only have a front carry facing in position. Some have multiple carrying positions including front carry facing in & facing out, back carrying and hip carrying positions. Facing inward in front carrying position is recommended up to 6 months old. It is best for Babies at this age to face mother so she/he can look, smell, hear and feel mother better. Front-facing baby carrier shouldn’t be used until baby is at least 5 months old. Babies start to be interested in the world around 6 months old so that will be a good time for baby to face out around that time. For me, front carry facing out position was essential since my baby didn’t like the facing in position at all starting 6 months old. Just in case your baby won’t like the front carry facing -in position after 6 months, front facing-out position option is good to have in a baby carrier.
Organic Wrap Baby Carriers
I have listed organic wrap baby carriers below. Please keep in mind each brand carries several different baby carriers and not all of them are made of organic or non toxic materials. I featured only organic or non toxic baby carriers. Let’s take a look!
Baby K’tan Baby Carriers
Award-wining Baby k’tan organic cotton sling carrier slips on easily like a t-shirt. You can just place the carrier over your head and put one arm through each loop. There is no wrapping or buckling involved. This carrier can be used for newborns to infants up to 35 lbs. It comes in different sizes for the perfect fit. You can breastfeed discreetly and also do skin-to-skin care. You can quickly switch between 5 different carrying positions without removing the carrier.
Baby K’tan Organic Cotton Baby Carrier is a sling carrier and it can be used from birth.
Baby K’tan Organic Cotton Baby Carrier is made of 100% GOTS certified organic cotton with unique one-way stretch. It is made of soft natural fabric. This baby carrier is free of flame retardant chemicals.
Baby K’tan Organic Cotton Baby Carrier has an ergonomic positioning for healthy infant development. Baby can sit in the carrier with her/his hip and legs spread out facing a parent. Back of baby’s head is also supported. In addition, this carrier evenly distributes baby’s weight across back and shoulders of a parent.
Boba Baby Carriers
Boba Wrap Organic Dark Grey Baby Carrier can be used from birth to infants up to 35 lbs. One size fits all and you can create a custom fit every time you tie with 4 way stretch fabric. It is free of buckles, straps and snaps and ties up into the perfect fit. It has 2 carry positions. With this carrier, you are breadfeeding-ready any time and anywhere.
Boba Wrap Organic Dark Grey Baby Carrier is a wrap style baby carrier and can be used from newborn.
Boba Wrap Organic Dark Grey Baby Carrier is made of 95% Organic Cotton and 5 % Spandex. It has soft, stretchy material with 4 way stretch for flexibility and comfort. This baby carrier is free of flame retardant chemicals.
Boba Wrap Organic Dark Grey Baby Carrier is certified hip healthy by International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Baby’s head is also supported.
Strchenwiege Baby Carrier Wraps
Strchenwiege is a German company and its founder is a fabric developer and a textile engineer. Strchenwiege Woven Cotton Baby Carrier Wrap can be used from newborn through toddler. It is individually adjustable for the perfect fit and also has tapered ends to ensure easy tying. Baby can be taken out and placed back in it very easily.
Strchenwiege Woven Cotton Baby Carrier Wrap is a wrap style baby carrier and it can be used from newborn.
Storchenwiege is manufactured in Sachsen, Germany, under strict environmental regulations. Strchenwiege Woven Cotton Baby Carrier Wrap is made of cotton and Oeko-Tex Stadard 100 certified. It follows the strictest criteria of the Oeko-Tex Standard Product Class 1, to suit sensitive baby’s skin. For example, equipment that contains formaldehyde is not allowed to be used. The saliva-resistance requirement means that dyes are not allowed to bleed or run if babies suck on the baby carrier. It is certified free from chemicals including flame retardant chemicals.
Strchenwiege Woven Cotton Baby Carrier Wrap is designed for comfort of a parent and a baby. It supports weight of baby evenly for hours of baby wearing. Baby sits in the carrier with her/his hip and leg spread out. Baby’s head is also supported while in the carrier.
Organic Soft Structured Baby Carriers
I have listed organic soft structured baby carriers below. Please keep in mind each brand carries several different baby carriers and not all of them are made of organic or non toxic materials. I featured only organic or non toxic baby carriers. Let’s take a look!
Baby Bjorn Baby Carriers
Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier One can be used from birth to toddler. (8 lbs up to 33 lbs) It has 4 front and back carry positions. You can carry your baby facing in, facing out or on your back. Baby Carrier One also has two height positions.
Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier One is a soft structured baby carrier. However, it has a built-in infant insert and can be used from newborn. (8 lbs) You can use the upper height position so baby is carried close to your face.
All of Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier textiles are certified according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class 1 for baby products. The certification is a guarantee that the material contains no harmful or allergenic substances. Oeko-Tex Standard 100 prohibits the use of flame retardant chemicals in baby products.
Not all Baby Bjorn baby carriers have ergonomic wide seats. Only their ergonomic baby carriers, Baby Carrier One and Baby Carrier One Air have an adjustable seat. You can adjust seat width for comfort and ergonomic position for baby’s hips and legs. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute has tested Baby Carrier One and acknowledges it to be “hip-healthy”. Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier One comes with thick padding in the shoulder for your comfort and wide, sturdy waist belt for pressure relief when carrying a baby.
Ergobaby Baby Carriers
You can use Ergobaby 360 All Positions Baby Carrier from newborn to toddler. (7 lbs to 45 lbs) You can also breastfeed your baby in the carrier. It has 4 carry positions which includes front carry facing in & facing out, hip carry and back carry positions.
Ergobaby 360 All Positons is a soft structured baby carrier. You can use this with newborn (7 lbs) with an infant insert. Infant insert is sold separately and it comes with an infant insert pillow that makes the seat position higher. Ergobaby also has Omni 360 baby carrier which doesn’t need infant insert. It also offers all carry positions.
Many of Ergobaby carriers are made of 100% cotton. Some carriers have soft, lightweight & durable mesh material as part of their carrier. Ergobaby 360 All Positions baby carrier is not made of organic material, however, you can use their 100% organic cotton infant insert which is OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified with it. Ergobaby carriers are free of flame retardant chemicals.
Ergobaby 360 All Positions Baby Carrier has been acknowledged as a “hip healthy” product by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Ergobaby 360 All Positions offers ergonomic M-position for baby’s healthy hips and legs. They also have lumbar support waist belt for extra lower back comfort for the parent. Their adjustable padded shoulder straps also offers neck and shoulder comfort.
If you want to find out more about Ergobaby 360 All Positions Baby Carrier, please read my post, ‘Ergobaby 360 Carrier Review – Is It Worth Buying Ergobaby 360 Carrier?‘
Ergobaby Organic Cotton Infant Insert
Ergobaby carriers are made of 100% cotton and some have mesh material as part of their carrier. If you want to use organic material for your newborn, you can purchase their organic cotton infant insert. Ergobaby Organic Cotton Infant Insert is Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified. It can be used with infants 7-12 lbs or infants younger than 4 months without strong and consistent head and neck control. It works with any Ergobaby carrier exception of Ergobaby Adapt and Omni 360 which don’t require an infant insert for a newborn. Removable Infant Insert Pillow can be used alone for older babies (4-6months) if your baby still needs to sit up higher in the carrier. This infant insert and pillow offer ergonomic infant positioning and it is acknowledged as a hip healthy product by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. It provides M-shape leg position, C-curved spine, head and neck support.
Ergobaby Organic Baby Carriers
Although I couldn’t find Ergobaby Organic Carrier on Ergobaby website any more (When I checked on Nov.1, 2018), I found two organic cotton Ergobaby baby carrier on Amazon. One is Ergobaby Organic Baby Carrier, Quarz and the other one is Ergobaby Organic Bundle of Joy Baby Carrier, Navy. They both offer front carry facing-in and facing out, hip carry and back carry positions. They also offer ergonomic, natural sitting position for baby. With these carriers, baby’s weight is evenly distributed between the hips and shoulders for parent’s comfort.
Beco Baby Carriers
Beco Gemini Organic Metro Black Baby Carrier can be used from newborn to toddler (7 -35 lbs) It comes in different sizes from XS to XXL for parents. It has multiple carrying options including front facing-in, front facing-out, hip and back carry positions.
Beco Gemini Organic Metro Black Baby Carrier is a soft structured baby carrier. You can use this carrier from birth without an infant insert.
Beco Gemini Organic Metro Black Baby Carrier is made of 100% Organic Cotton (GOTS Certified) and it is free of flame retardant chemicals.
Beco Gemini Organic Metro Black Baby Carrier has a wide seat and have a built-in headrest for baby. It also has added padding by the leg holes for baby’s comfort. In addition, it has padded, adjustable straps and ergonomic comfort support for a parent. Waist belt has a pocket for convenience.
Lillebaby Baby Carriers
Lillebaby Organic Baby Carrier can be used from newborn to toddler (7 lbs up to 45 lbs). It has 6 ergonomic carry positions which include fetal, infant front facing-in, front facing-out, toddler, hip carry and back carry positions.
Lillebaby Organic Baby Carrier is a soft structured baby carrier. No infant insert is needed to be used from birth.
Lillebaby Organic Baby Carrier is made of 100% organic cotton and has no flame retardant chemicals.
With Lillebaby Organic Baby Carrier, you can widen or narrow the seat for comfortable hip and leg positioning for baby. It also has adjustable neck support for baby who needs head and neck support. In addition, it has padded shoulder straps, wide, sturdy waist belt for lumbar support for comfort of parents. It also has a convenient, large zippered storage pocket in front of the carrier.
Baby carriers allow you to perform other tasks while keeping your baby close. Baby wearing also help you to build a stronger bond between you and the baby. However, it is important to choose a baby carrier that is non toxic and also healthy. All of baby carriers I list above are made of organic or Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified fabrics. They also offer an ergonomic sitting position for a baby recommended by International Hip Dysplasia Institute. In addition, they offer support for baby’s head and neck. All wrap carriers and soft structured carriers listed above can be used from newborn to toddler. However, wrap baby carriers provides more snug fit for newborns which help baby settles in quicker and sleep longer. They are most comfortable for baby and parent at 0 to 5 months. When baby gets bigger, soft, stretchy wrap may not be most comfortable and can be harder on your back. Soft structured baby carriers comes with padded straps and thick waist band and baby’s weight is evenly distributed between the hips and shoulders for parent’s comfort. They also offer multiple carry positions and an ergonomic seat for a baby. In addition, when baby gets bigger and you go out more often, you may just want to strap a baby and go without spending time wrapping an older baby. Soft structured carriers may be more comfortable and convenient. Whether you need one type or both types of carriers are up to you. If you plan to carry your baby a lot, having both for newborn stage and older baby stage may be ideal. Whichever you choose, all of the baby carries I have listed are good baby carriers with organic or non toxic material and healthy positioning.
If you are interested in an ErgoBaby 360 Baby Carrier review, please read my review ‘Ergobaby 360 Carrier Review – Is It Worth Buying Ergobaby 360 Carrier?‘