Just try pushing a stroller through the forest or a crowded bistro and you'll soon see why parents love their backpack carriers. Backpack carriers are similar to the backpack you would wear hiking in the wilderness: they are basically a sturdy, yet lightweight aluminum frame with a nylon seat for your baby to sit in, instead of a pouch for storage. They have padding in all the right places to ensure your baby has a comfortable and stable ride. Most babies love riding around on your back because it gives them a view of something other than your chest. Backpacks can be more convenient than strollers for getting around outdoors and in crowded places.
Backpack carriers come in a variety of sizes and styles, with plenty of optional features. Most are supported by a lightweight aluminum frame with thick adjustable, padded shoulder straps and a waist belt that helps distribute your baby's weight evenly over your shoulders and hips. You can put your baby in a backpack when your baby can sit up on their own, usually around age 5 or 6 months.
Many baby backpack manufacturers claim you can carry a 40 pound toddler in a backpack—unless you're training for the triathlon, you probably won't want to. When your toddler hits 40 pounds, save yourself from throwing out your back and pop your toddler in a stroller or encourage them to walk with you.
Using a baby backpack will require some practice. When you first bring one home, try it on and adjust all the straps so it fits your properly. If the weight isn't distributed properly, then you need to adjust the backpack. If your back is straining, your back is carrying too much of the weight, instead of your hips and legs. You want your hips and legs to bear most of the weight.
There are a few downsides to backpacks. Backpacks can be cumbersome to put on and take off, especially when you're on your own. Most backpacks have a folding support stand so you can set your pack down, even with your baby sitting inside. The stand should lock and be wide enough to prevent your baby from tipping over. The stand can help stabilize the pack so you can slip it on from a kneeling or sitting position; the trick is getting back up on your feet.
It is next to impossible to remove a sleeping baby from a baby backpack without waking them. You also can't see your baby very well when in a backpack—some babies have been known to swipe things from grocery shelves or throw things overboard.
When choosing a baby backpack, you want to make sure the backpack is comfortable for you and your baby. Try it on, adjust it, strap your baby in and see how it feels. Adjust the pack as needed to ensure the weight is distributed evenly. Make sure the pack sits comfortably on your hips. If you need extra shoulder or back support, make sure your baby backpack has a chest strap and a waist strap with lumbar pad.
The backpack should have a safety harness for your child. Straps should close across your baby's chest and over their shoulders. A pack with an adjustable inside seat will adjust to accommodate your growing baby. Some baby backpacks offer zippered storage areas, pockets for bottles, and loops for attaching toys.