Working out when your child has outgrown their buckled carrier and needs to move up to the next size can be confusing. For example, the box says your buckled carrier goes up to 15kg/33lbs, a weight achieved (on average) once your child is 3. However, the maximum weight guidance doesn’t take into account the height of your child and this varies massively between children.
When I’m helping clients choose their buckled carrier I do not ask how heavy their child is, or even their age. Instead I ask what clothes size they wear. Generally, standard and baby size buckled carriers become too small when the child is going into age 2-3 clothing. I’ve met a 5 year old who wears 2-3 clothing and I’ve met a 5 month old who wears 2-3 clothing. Children come in all sizes!
If you’re unsure, here are my top 3 tips for checking if your child has outgrown their carrier:
1. Panel Height
The height of the back panel should be no lower than one inch below your child’s armpit. If the panel is more than an inch below their armpit, you need to size up as it is now a fall risk if they lean back. Similarly, when using a new carrier with your child, the back panel height should be no higher than the base of their skull to protect their airways.
2. Panel Width
Before your child can walk it is imperative that your carrier supports them knee to knee. It provides a stable base promoting baby’s own head control, ensures healthy hip development, and enables your child to get all the benefits of tummy time. Once your child can walk, full knee to knee support isn’t as important as the action of walking will deepen that hip socket. For safety and comfort, the width of the panel should reach at least halfway down the thigh.
The last indicator that your child has outgrown their carrier is your comfort. If you’re finding your child is heavy, or your back is hurting, or you’re finding it harder to carry them for longer periods of time then it may be time to size up. More fabric in the panel of your carrier holds your child’s weight better, enables them to support their own weight better and distributes their weight over your torso better. All of this contributes to making your child feel lighter whilst carrying them.
Woven wraps and ring slings have no upper weight limit, and will fit children of any age. Stretchy wraps tend to be outgrown between 3-6 months but you can use up to 12 months, just make sure you tie it tight! Buckled carriers, meh dai and onbuhimo can all be outgrown and need bigger sizes purchased as your child grows.
If you think your child has outgrown their buckled carrier, please get in touch to discuss options for the next stage of your carrying journey. A lot of brands offer bigger versions of their standard size carriers which may or may not work for you and your child. I have a great range available for hire or purchase.