Choosing the best Child Carrier for you & your Little Trekkers
- Our Guide -
As gear specialists in everything for children and the outdoors, we are asked many times a day for more information on child carriers. You often want to know which one is the best. It's a tough question as what is best for one person's needs may not be best for another. We have therefore come up with our quick reference guide to be used alongside the individual child carrier specifications that are available on our website.
Your reassurance is that we only stock the best child and baby carriers that are available on the market. We thoroughly assess them ourselves for key important features and also listen to the feedback that we get back from our customers. If you can't find it at Little Trekkers, it may be worth checking the specification very carefully. On the other hand, if you find a great baby carrier that you think should be available at Little Trekkers, please let us know so that we can put it to the test!
Buying from us gives you reassurance – call us after you buy if you have any problems and we'll know what you're talking about. We've many, many years of experience in fitting child carriers and our customers travel from all over the UK just to buy from us – we've got the largest range available with all the best ones ready and waiting for you to try. We also have very long-standing relationships with the manufacturers – any problems and we get it solved.
Baby & Child Carriers - FAQ's
Both front and back carriers should have good harness systems that are well padded and distribute the weight of your child onto your hips and not your shoulders. They should have a well-padded, wide waist-belt that can be firmly tightened to rest on top of your hips. Once you have the carrier in place you should feel that it is your hips, rather than your shoulders, that is taking the majority of the weight. A good back carrier will also have a height adjustable harness to ensure the best fit between wearers of different height.
Tough hard-wearing fabric offers good support for your baby or child, and also ensures that your carrier will last. The rip-stop-style outdoor fabrics are ideal for front as well as back carriers as they are tough and will stand up to our weather conditions better if you plan to use your baby carrier outside. They also provide more support for the wearer than thinner, more pliable fabrics, and therefore tend to be more comfortable.
Different carriers will offer varying amounts of storage room and how much you need is up to you. Within ranges of back carriers the more pricey models tend to have more storage space, with the top of the range carriers often having a removable day bag allowing you to share the load, or use as a useful storage bag for items such as nappies, wipes and feeding equipment when you don’t want to take the whole carrier with you.
If you're still undecided about which carrier to choose, you can take a trip to our showroom at Millhouse Green near Penistone where all our carriers are available to try on and our friendly staff there can answer all your questions to help you pick the one that’s right for you.
Most front baby carriers are usable from birth and then up to at least 6 months of age. Although you can continue to use a front carrier beyond 6 months up to the maximum recommended by the manufacturer, it is usually around this age that most children are ready to progress into a back carrier should you wish to do so. The main stipulation for making the transition is that your baby can support his or her own head.
Well, actually … no. This is a common misconception as we tend to think of babies when we think of neck supports. What actually happens in practice is that young babies tend to sit very low in the child carrier when they first start to use them. When they fall asleep, and they usually do, they tend to lean their head forward – this is what the front pillow area is for that you see on many child carrier models. As children grow, they then start to sit higher in the child carrier and more upright. When they fall asleep, and they often still do, their head is too far away from the front pillow and tends to loll from side to side – this is what the neck pillow/supports are for and they usually attach to the back of the seat or around the straps in some way. Having said all this, many customers will still buy their neck pillow with their original purchase to save on the postage cost as they will invariably need one as their child grows.
Whilst there are some slight variations between brands, most back carriers will take a child up to about 20 kg (up to around 3-4 years of age, depending upon the individual child). You will probably find that as your child reaches the upper end of the age range they will want to have periods of riding in the child carrier interspaced with periods of walking and exploring. You will be very glad of this once they get this heavy!
This is entirely a personal choice. A freestanding model does make it easier to load and unload a child, especially at first as you are getting used to a carrier. However, even with the non-freestanding models it is relatively quick and easy to load and unload your child once you get the hang of it. The freestanding models tend to have the frame exposed as part of the frame operates as a kick-stand to make the carrier stable on the ground. For example, the Deuter and Vaude range of back carriers. Non-freestanding models tend to have a covered frame as with the Bush Baby, Macpac and Littlelife ranges. However, even the non-freestanding brands now often have some form of anchor point system that enables the child carrier to be stabilized whilst leaving both arms free to put your child in and out of the carrier. It should also be noted that with all child carriers it is not safe to leave your child in the carrier unattended whether or not it is freestanding. It should also be considered that the carrier will spend most of its time up on your back, so the most important features are a good harness system and any additional features that are specific to your needs.
Sometimes customers are concerned with the weight of the child carrier and may feel that the lighter the carrier, the lighter the load will be. However, we have found that the best way to get the feel of the lightest load is to get the carrier that best suits you with the best harness system possible. The biggest weight will be your child, and once they start gaining the pounds you will not notice the extra 500g of one carrier over another. In fact, if you go very lightweight in your choice of child carrier, as your child gains weight they may actually feel heavier in a basic carrier that they would in a heavier carrier that has a superior harness system. If you are planning reasonable length trips, a good harness system is the most important feature.
You have to remember that when you have your child on your back, you are carrying weight and you will feel it. If you are used to carrying a large rucksack, you may well be used to this. Otherwise, it can take a little time to get used to it and a series of shorter trips in the first instance may be the best course of action, gradually building up to long days out.
In our experience, we have found that it is best to get a child back carrier as soon as your child is able to safely ride in one (once they have good head control at around 6 months old). This way, when they first go into the back carrier they are light in weight and you become accustomed to the gradual increase in weight as they grow. It can be a bit of a shock to suddenly carry the weight of a two year old when you have not been used to carrying in this way.
Oh my goodness … we get asked this nearly every day! The simple answer, and the one that you don’t want to hear, is ‘It depends …’. As we have been asked this question so many times we have come up with our own Little Trekkers Rating system to try to help you choose a child carrier which best suits your needs. Size is a consideration for some, weight important to others. Some like removable bags and lots of storage, others want it as minimal as possible. Cost is a concern for some, but others will see this as an investment as they will use it twice a day for the next 3 years. There are so many considerations that ‘Which is the best one’ is just impossible for us to answer.
The reassurance is that we aim to only stock the good ones – the brands that have put much research, development and a prime focus on their child carrier ranges. If things are not right, they change them and make improvements to what is already good. If something goes wrong with a child carrier they trust us when we tell them and they sort it out quickly.
We feel the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ really does hold true here. We only supply models that our team have tried and would be happy to use themselves. On cheaper models the lower price is usually at the expense of the harness system which means that the carrier can be uncomfortable to use and, in our view, therefore not good value for money. If your child carrier is uncomfortable you are not going to use it. We get enquiries from customers wishing to upgrade from cheaper models and they are invariably asking us about the comfort of the various harness systems. Some of our carrier suppliers also do an entry level carrier especially designed for short trips or travelling. These are designed to be minimalist in nature and are well priced, but still offer a good comfort level for the wearer over shorter periods.
We like to carry full stocks of all our products, and when products are not available we remove them from the web site. Therefore, if an item is on our website we should have it in stock ready for dispatch. Very occasionally situations may arise whereby a product suddenly sells above expected levels whilst we are waiting for new stock to arrive, and we are not fast enough to remove the item from the website (we are talking hours and not days here, as we update several times per day). In this situation you would be informed of the expected delivery date and asked whether this is acceptable for you. This situation is very rare and you would, of course, also be offered the alternative of a full refund.
We send out all our back carriers using the Parcel Force 48 hour service so that you receive your carrier in good time from dispatch. We aim to dispatch all orders the same or the very next working day, although this may take longer at busy times and our standard service is not a guaranteed time service. If you have a deadline to meet we also offer a prioritized Next Day delivery service for orders received before 12 Midday, Monday to Friday. Orders placed on Friday are normally received on the following Monday on this service (unless this is a Bank Holiday and then it would be the next working day).
We only stock carriers which we feel are of good quality and up to the job for which they are intended. However, if you were not happy with your chosen baby or child carrier for any reason, you would just need to return it to us with all labels still attached, un-used and in re-saleable condition. This does not mean that you cannot try on your carrier and test it with your child in place in your own home; please try out your carrier once it arrives just as you would do in a shop. In fact, we feel that it is much easier to do this in your own home as you can pick a time when your child is more co-operative to allow you to experiment a little. We will provide a full refund of the product cost, but unfortunately we are not able to refund the return postage. However, we feel this small, and probably unlikely, cost is offset by the costs that a trip out to the shops would normally incur.
Information compiled from manufacturer recommendations and the experience of Little Trekkers' staff. No liability can be accepted by Little Trekkers.