Features: A type of Soft Structured Carrier that is widely available from all major baby equipment retailers; usually suitable from birth for front carries only. This style of carrier holds baby in a harness that works by first attaching the harness to the parent, and then fixing baby into the harness. Most fasten over parent’s shoulders and around the sides and do not have a seperate waist band/support, though better designed ‘ergonomic’ models will offer improved lumbar support.
Age Range/Suitability: Most suitable from birth (some from 3 months) and parents find them comfortable up to between 4-12 months depending on carrier features.
Carrying Positions: Usually suitable for front carries only, facing parent or facing outwards; some have a breastfeeding position.
Options: Front carriers have a wide variety of fastening methods using straps, webbing, buckles, clips, poppers, toggles and many others! Different models have different possible adjustments to help the carrier to better fit adult and child and better designed models have additional lumbar supports for better weight distribution.
Pros: Most can be used from birth; facing outwards position possible; widely available to buy; very cheap options available; many parents find that these are a good starter baby carrier to use before moving onto a more supportive carrier type when baby gets too heavy.
Cons: Not usually comfortable past 4-6 months; do not always offer recommended levels of thigh support for optimal hip development; structured shape makes it harder to get a good fit; will need adjusting between different sized parents; baby not always held close to parent’s body.
In our experience, by 4-6 months most models of this style of carrier generally will not support a baby’s thighs and will allow their weight to hang down and away from the parent’s centre of gravity. If the weight is supported mainly by shoulder straps this will have the effect of dragging uncomfortably at the parent’s shoulders, encouraging an unnatural and uncomfortable posture. This effect is exaggerated in carrier models without suitable lumbar support. For the best support, look for models with wider seats and a section that fastens seperately around the waist as this will tend to offer much better weight distribution.
We regularly get asked about the suitability and safety of outwards facing carrying positions and so have added a seperate page here: Outwards Facing Carry Positions.
The Library currently does not stock any Soft Structured Carriers that do not have a seperately fastening waist band/support – see Soft Structured Carriers for carriers of this type that we feel offer better levels of support and comfort.