The Best Baby Carriers for Travel
If you’re planning to travel with your baby at all, then a baby carrier is a must! If your travel plans include going through an airport and plane travel, then this becomes an absolute necessity.
Whether it’s your first time travelling with a baby or your hundredth, it's fair to say that travelling is stressful. There’s a lot to do, a lot to think about and a lot to remember. That’s why keeping your baby close, and having your hands free, is the only way to do it. And baby carriers work for babies of all ages, whether you're carrying a newborn, a young toddler, or an older toddler.
Here are our top 5 reasons for using a sling or carrier to go on holiday and travel!
We’re not counting this in the top 5, but it’s definitely something to consider:
- carrying your baby helps develop a secure mutual attachment;
- it allows both parents, or indeed any caregiver, to develop a deep bond with baby;
- it increases parental sensitivity to a baby's needs - you learn to interpret their noises and expressions so much quicker;
- it simulates the sensations of pressure, motion, warmth and security of the womb;
- carrying your baby in a sling reduces their level of stress, and
- it can greatly reduce crying and fussiness, and also helps your tired baby fall asleep.
You’re at the airport. It’s busy, noisy and brightly lit. Keeping your baby close allows them to snuggle into you and ignore all the busy to-ing and fro-ing of all the people. Over-stimulation can lead to a grumpy baby, so keeping your baby close allows them to relax and sleep their way through the stress.
When you’re carrying your baby, your hands are free - literally free. Your baby is close, secure and happy. Your hands and arms are free to take care of everything else - tickets, passports, luggage, hand-luggage, you name it, you can carry it, because you have 2 hands free!
Getting through security - you can take off your coat, shoes and bag, without removing your baby from the sling. You’ve stream-lined and simplified the process as much as possible, and can get everything sorted once you're through security as quickly and easily as possible, most likely with your baby still asleep!
You’ve made it through security and you’re ready to board. Remember, at this point, if you’ve taken a buggy or stroller, you may have had to check it, so you won’t have access to it now.
With baby in a sling, you can queue, keep hold of your hand-luggage, your boarding pass, all with ease. You can use the toilets and grab a bite to eat whilst keeping your little one safe and secure.
Having your baby in a sling simply makes everything so much easier. Getting onto the plane with luggage and getting it stowed overhead is definitely an exercise in spatial-reasoning. Having your baby in a sling means you can navigate the space and negotiate your way to your seat without worrying about where your little one is - they are tucked up next to you, of course!
3. The Journey
The theme of keeping your baby secure and close continues, especially on the flight. Take off, landing and everything in between. If your baby is snug and secure, then it’s easier for you to deal with anything. You can go to the toilet, you can eat and drink, you can even walk up and down the aisles to settle your little one if they become fractious or upset.
You’ve arrived! The plane has landed! You still need to disembark, travel right through the airport to the exit, or collect your hold luggage from the carousel, and even have to wait in line at passport control.
Literally all of this is so much easier with your hands free. You can collect your luggage, and head to the toilets to freshen up, without a second thought or worry. You’re able to work your way through the airport with speed and ease. Whether you’re then heading for a connecting train or bus, you’ve got your hands free for everything you need. Your baby is safe and happy in the sling.
5. The Experience
No matter where you are or what you’re doing, it’s easier when you use a sling or carrier. Whether it’s an escalator, a forest walk, or the lift to the top of the Eiffel Tower, it’s easier, simpler and more fun, with your baby in a sling. It’s not only more simple though - when you carry your baby in a sling, you are actually sharing the experience. You share the emotional space in which it’s happening. That’s amazing.
PRO-TIP: Use a back pack for baby’s and your essentials. It’s easier to carry with a baby on your front and easier to get to when you need it.
Top 5 Slings & Baby Carriers for Travelling
1. Stretchy Wraps - Newborn to 5/6 Months
Stretchy wraps are usually pre-tied. In other words, you tie it around you before tucking baby in. The main advantage to this is that you can tie it on in the morning, and if you want to, keep it on all day, popping baby in and out as necessary; you can also have it tied before you go out - great for travelling too! In this way, stretchy wraps can be an amazingly helpful tool in those first challenging and precious few weeks. There are no buckles, rings or fasteners, just soft jersey fabric.
In general, most stretchy wraps are used for front carrying only, with the baby being placed in an upright, tummy-to-tummy position. One size fits most wearers and stretchy wraps can be very comfortable and supportive for both wearer and baby, particularly as they are so soft. They're a great carrying option for newborns up to around 1 year.
Ring Slings - Newborn to Toddler
Really good ring slings are usually made from woven wrap fabric, sewn through two aluminium rings. As such they:
- have slight diagonal stretch, making the fabric firm to use - supportive enough to hold even a heavy toddler;
- are most often found in 100% cotton options (cotton is easy to care for, easy to wash and dry and suits babies of all ages);
- can be found in a variety of colours, designs, lengths, and weaves.
They are a great option for lightweight, simple babywearing and as such great for travelling too; they can be folded up into a bag if necessary.
Buckle Carriers - Newborn to Preschool
Buckle carriers, such as the BabyBjörn Carriers, are versatile and relatively easy to learn. The basic design is a front panel, where baby is ‘seated’ in an upright position, a waist strap and two padded loop shoulder straps, all of which are adjustable to achieve a comfortable fit, and secured with buckles.
Buckle Carriers can be supportive and baby can be carried on your front or back, and sometimes on the hip too. Buckle carriers are probably the most popular design of baby carrier. Some carriers can be used from newborn, and some from around 3-4 months onwards. Toddler buckle carriers are growing in popularity and most can be used from around 18 months up to preschool age.
Although comprising a basic design, baby buckle carriers do vary slightly, mostly in terms of whether they are structured or unstructured. Most carriers are structured - in other words, the waist and shoulder areas are padded with either foam or firm padding. Examples of structured carriers include Tula Baby Carriers and Ergobaby Carriers.
Half Buckle Carriers - Newborn to Toddler
Halfway between a full buckle carrier and a meh dai carrier, a half buckle carrier offers the ease of a clip buckle at the waist, with the adjustability of long shoulder straps for a truly snug fit, without the reaching for back or side clips. Front, hip and back carrying, most are suitable for newborns. They are a wonderful option if you'd like a little more structure for ease of use, but want something mouldable, soft and wrap-like. There are lots of variations between the brands. Some have wrap-strap shoulders, some have padded shoulder straps and waist straps.
Meh Dais - Newborn to Toddler
The basic design of a meh dai is a main panel with two pairs of straps. One pair ties ties around the waist, securing with a knot, and the other pair, sits on the shoulders and crosses on the wearers back then around baby, distributing the weight evenly across the shoulders, back and hips.
It is very simple in design, yet very supportive in style. There are no buckles, or rings, just fabric, and sometimes padding in the shoulder and waist straps for extra support. They can be used for front, hip and back carries, and most can be used from newborn through to toddlerhood and beyond.
They are a wonderful option if you'd like a little more structure for ease of use, but want something mouldable, soft and wrap-like.
There are lots of variations between the brands. Some have wrap-strap shoulders, some have padded shoulder straps and waist straps, some even have a combination of both.