Framed carriers are widely available and most people are aware of them. We often get asked about our thoughts on framed carriers; how comfortable or practical they are and whether we recommend them. As with all carrier types some models are better than others for different people and there are pros and cons to all of them. We currently stock an example of a cheap and poor quality framed carrier as well as a good quality, better designed framed carrier so that you can see the difference better design and support makes.
We’d always suggest trying at least one carrier of each type just to get an idea for the fit and fastening methods, but to help you decide, here are some more of our thoughts and experience of Framed Carriers:
Comfort and fit for parents: Framed carriers hold the child’s weight higher than other carriers and often further away from the parent’s centre of gravity. If there isn’t adequate lumbar support this may mean that the parent needs to adjust their posture to compensate, which can make longer periods of carrying uncomfortable. On the positive side, taller parents may find that this higher carrying position is preferable, as some softer carriers can be hard to fasten high enough for baby to see over their shoulder. Framed carriers tend to be fastened lower on the hips rather than around the waist, which some parents may find more comfortable.
From experience, women in particular find this type of carrier less comfortable than ones which hold a child close against their bodies (probably because many Framed Carriers seem designed to be better suited for parents with a broader, flatter torso). However, as with all structured carriers, fit and comfort is a very personal thing and so it’s always worth trying a carrier if you can before purchasing.
Comfort for child: Not all framed carriers support baby’s legs, hips and spine in the recommended position, and the distance between parent and child can make it harder to monitor your child’s well being while carrying (especially relevant if the baby is held in an exposed position in very cold weather). On the plus side, some toddlers prefer the greater amount of space that they have when in a framed carrier, and there’s room to bring more of their things along for the ride!
When using framed carriers it is very important that a child is dressed appropriately for the weather as they will not share your body heat as they would in a softer carrier. It’s also very important to ensure that they’re buckled in correctly with a harness going over their shoulders to protect them from falling out if the parent stumbles or falls. For more information, see: http://www.babywearingadvice.co.uk/backpacks.htm
Look for carriers that hold your child closer to your back, that have a secure and easily adjustable safety harness plus a wider seat and even stirrups for a safer, more comfortable position for you both.
Our Verdict: For most families Framed Carriers tend to be bulkier, heavier and less quick and easy to use than most softer carriers and so not usually the best solution for regular day-to-day use. A good quality framed carrier can be comfortable to use for longer periods, especially for taller parents. They can be great for using on holidays or on less regular trips when you need to carry larger amounts of stuff than usual, though we wouldn’t usually recommend a framed carrier as the most convenient or comfortable carrier type for most families to use regularly.