Does my child fit in their carrier?
So how do you tell when a carrier is too small?
You will need to check three things:
1. The panel of the carrier should support your child so they are held snug against your body. The fabric of that panel should reach up to your child’s armpits. If it is lower, then your child will likely be able to pull away from you. This could be quite uncomfortable for you or be a safety concern if your child is able to pull too far backwards.
2. You will want to look at their leg positioning. When seated in the carrier, are your child’s legs supported across their thighs and are their knees at bum level or higher? If not, then you might find a wider panel more supportive.
3. Check the weight limit of the carrier. If your child’s weight has exceeded the recommended weight range of the carrier, then it is time for the next size up.
If you are still wondering which carrier is the best fit for you and your child, then find your local sling library or carrying consultant (or me) for a fit check. They will likely be able to tell you if it is time to size up. They may be able to help you try the next size up with them too.
Picture showing a carrier that is too small.
Image showing the 3 different Tula carrier sizes and how they fit.
The child’s legs aren’t well supported across the thighs in this size, and when she moves her arm up, the fabric is no longer reaching her armpits. This, in my opinion, is too small now (only just though)
She fits perfectly into the toddler size carrier. The fabric supports her legs well and comes up past her armpits. She is still able to get her arms out over the top if she wishes.
In my opinion, she just fits into the preschool carrier. If she wanted to get her arms out though, it would likely be a bit difficult for her because of how high the fabric comes up her back.
How do you tell if a carrier is too big?
Common signs that a carrier may be too big for a child include bunched fabric behind their knees or their legs are not able to hang freely and bend at the knee. And for height, if the top of the carrier comes higher than mid cheek.
Where should their arms go?
Some children will prefer arms out of the carrier, some will prefer arms in, some like the choice to do both. As long as your child has good head and upper body control (roughly 4 months) they can have their arms out.
My child likes to have her arms out when alert and awake, but she likes to snuggle them in when she needs a rest.
There is no right and wrong, you can let your child decide as long as they are able to move them in and out on their own.
For reference, the younger child in the comparison pictures is age 3 and wearing age 3-4 clothes. She is 16kg and 1m tall.
This blog is all based on my experience as a babywearing consultant and working with families, fitting carriers for 4 years.
South Essex Slings