When my kids were little, I heavily relied on my mother to help take care of them. She was especially helpful when my oldest was a baby, sometimes watching her for full days while I was at work.
Since my mom was with her so often, I wanted her to have the right baby gear to make the day go smoothly (or as smoothly as days can go with a yelling/crying/pooping baby). With so many parents relying on grandparents to help with their little ones these days, it's important to get them the equipment they need to best take care of your baby while also making it as easy as possible on them.
Baby carriers have become a household staple, and it's important to make sure grandparents have the one that’s best for them. With so many options on the market, we’ve outlined the top baby carriers for grandma — or grandpa — based on style, use, comfort and ease.
The Different Types of Baby Carriers
There are so many options when it comes to baby carriers.
They usually fall into one of the following categories:
- hip carrier
- ring sling
- soft structured carrier that buckles
- mei tais
- hiking backpack
Depending on which carrier you're using, there are five main ways you can carry your baby:
- Hip Carry
- Front Carry Face In Upright
- Front Carry Face In Lying Down
- Front Carry Face Out
- Back Carry
Some carriers utilize all five positions, while other carriers only accommodate one or two.
Different carriers are better suited for different ages. A ring sling, for example, would be best for calming a newborn. Soft structured carriers, on the other hand, often can't be used until babies can hold up their heads on their own.
Now that you have an idea of the array of carriers that are available, it's time to decide which would be best for grandma to use with your little one.
How to Determine Which Type of Carrier to Get
To pick the carrier that’ll work best for grandma while she's on baby watch, you'll want to consider:
- where she'll be using the carrier
- the age of your baby and if grandma will continue watching your baby as he grows
- ease of use
Where and why will grandma be using the baby carrier?
Here are some possible places and reasons:
- at home to multitask while babywearing
- to calm a crying baby or help them sleep
- to hip carry an older baby or toddler who wants to be held
- out on errands
- day trips to the zoo, aquarium, etc.
It's likely that grandma will need the carrier at different times. If that's the case, you'll want to look for a carrier that works both at home and on the go.
Will granny be watching your baby in the first six weeks, or not until he or she is a little older?
Some carriers work better with newborns than they do with toddlers. That’s why it’s important to consider age when you’re choosing the carrier that’s right for you, or grandma. I loved using my sling with my youngest until she was about 8 weeks or so. But after that, she wanted to sit up and look at her surroundings, so it was no longer the best choice. It's smart to get a carrier that works well for a young baby and all the way through toddlerhood, since it's likely that grandma will be watching your little one for years to come.
How easy is the carrier to use?
Your friend's baby may look absolutely darling in a mei tai style carrier with all its perfect knots and cute pattern. But chances are if you asked your friend how easy it was to get their baby strapped in, they'd tell you it takes a lot of practice.
If you don't give grandma a carrier that's easy to use, she won't want to use it. Remember that she likely isn't using this day in and day out, and probably just wants something simple to make caring for your baby easier on her.
Our Top 4 Baby Carriers for Grandma
Taking the above considerations into account, we’ve found the top four baby carriers for grandma!
*Top Recommendation* TushBaby Hip Carrier
Those who don’t have a baby carrier typically carry kids on their hips. As parents, we put our kids on our hips countless times per day, and it’s...exhausting. When grandma is in charge, she'll be doing the same. Think about how exhausting it must be for her.
The fact is, little ones love to be held and snuggled up to you. They like to see the world up high like you do. But carrying a baby on your hip can lead to back and shoulder problems as discussed here and here.
Which is why we recommend the TushBaby hip carrier as our top baby carrier for grandma.
Taking care of a baby is a tough job, but TushBaby makes one part a lot easier: carrying your baby! This is because it's essentially a wide-belted fanny pack that has a baby seat built right into it. It Velcros and fastens around the caregiver’s waist and when a baby sits on the seat, the TushBaby does the heavy lifting, quite literally. It completely takes the load off of the person carrying the baby. In this case — grandma!
It's by far the most comfortable and easy-to-use baby carrier available! Plus it can be used in 4 different ways.
Best for: All babies and toddlers who love to be held.
Where and why to use: The great thing about TushBaby is that it allows you to hold your baby with ease anywhere you are. If your baby wants to be held while multi-tasking at home, great! It also works well for day trips where your baby will likely want to go up a lot, but down a lot, too.
Ease of Use: Seriously, so simple. With practically zero learning curve, it's perfect to give to Grandma to use. The other great thing is that it’s one size fits all. That means grandma can use the same TushBaby that you do! (Though let’s be honest, she’ll probably want her own.)
Safety and Comfort: TushBaby has been approved by doctors for both the caregiver and baby. Chiropractors give it two thumbs up because it's design takes away the strain from the shoulders and back that normally comes with holding a baby. And because it puts baby’s legs in the safe “M” position, it’s safe to use for your little one too.
2. Ring Sling
A ring sling can be a nice supplement to a carrier like TushBaby. The thing about slings is that they probably won't get used much if you want to sleep train your baby. Slings can also be used for a baby to sit upright, though it's not our top recommendation for this use.
Best for: New babies
Where and why to use: Slings are great to use at home when you won't be walking around for long periods of time. Little babies love to hang out in them to be close to someone who cares for them.
Ease of use: Ring slings are simplistic in design and are pretty easy to use. It can sometimes be difficult to get perfectly positioned where it's not pulling on your neck, so it does take a little practice.
Safety and Comfort: When tightened securely, ring slings are usually very comfortable. There should not be any pulling on the neck. As baby grows, the lack of weight distribution that occurs when using a sling will make the baby's weight more difficult to carry.
3. Baby Bjorn Original Baby Carrier
With the first one made in 1973, the Baby Bjorn was one of the earliest made baby carriers. They continue to improve their baby carriers to fit the lifestyles of today’s caregivers. The Baby Bjorn Original Baby Carrier is a no-frills soft structured carrier. It can be used to face baby in or out. It gives a secure fit so grandma will be able to have both hands free.
Best for: Non-walking babies who don’t constantly want to be put down.
Where and why to use: A soft structured carrier can be used at home or out and about, but since baby is well-secured once they’re in, you wouldn’t want to use it in shorter bursts of time.
Ease of use: Soft structured carriers need to be fitted properly over your shoulders. The most important part of using something like the Baby Bjorn is becoming comfortable with putting your baby in it. Unlike other similar carriers, however, many reviewers say that the Baby Bjorn in particular is much easier to use.
Safety and Comfort: Because it evenly distributes baby’s weight and puts baby’s legs into the safe “M” position, it’s very safe to use with your little one. As for adults, you’ll want to make sure that it’s tightened properly so there’s no pulling on the shoulders.
4. Baby K'Tan Baby Carrier
Baby K’Tan is essentially a wrap carrier, but without all the wrapping. It easily slips over the head and there are no extra clasps, rings, or buckles to deal with. It’s a great way to cozy up with your little one.
Best for: Younger babies.
Where and why to use: Like a sling, a wrap-style carrier is great to use with newborns and younger babies who sleep a lot. When babies just want to be close to you, these work great. Young babies usually sleep well in these, too, and give you use of both hands.
Ease of use: Unlike other wraps, the K'Tan "wrap free" wrap is much easier to use. It still takes some getting used to in order to slip baby in correctly, but there aren't a lot of extra loops and ties to figure out.
Safety and Comfort: The Baby K'Tan can be worn different ways meaning Grandma can find the most comfortable position that works best for her and baby.