Buckle Carrier Features
Some buckle carriers have shoulder straps that can be worn crossed or back pack style. Back pack style is where each shoulder strap goes over a shoulder and back under the same armpit. Some carriers only allow backpack style. Crossed straps are usually only applicable when carrying your child on your front. The way you like to have the shoulder straps on a buckle carrier is very much personal preference.
Hoods can be attached to the carrier or completely detachable. They can often fold into a pocket or part of the carrier itself when not in use. When in use they can be secured to the shoulder straps by poppers, elastic loops, Velcro or buttons. Hoods come in several styles - they can be flat, sweat (like in a hoody) or pixie (over sized, pointy) style.
Many buckle carriers have pockets. Some have a small pocket in waistband, often suitable for a purse. Others have a larger pocket on the main part of the carrier which is suitable for a couple of disposable nappies and small wipes. You need to consider how comfortable anything you carry in this pocket will be against your child's back.
Leg padding is extra padding on the main part of the carrier when the child's legs come out of either side of the base of the carrier. It is designed to make your child more comfortable.
Perfect Fit Adjustors
These are additional buckles on the shoulder straps where they meet the body of the carrier. Perfect fit adjustors (PFAs) are designed to reduce and lengthen the padded section of the shoulder straps to make for a more comfortable experience for the wearer. Perfect fit adjustors replace the need for petite, standard and extra large versions of carrier straps.
Strap tidies are small loops of elastic on the end of buckle strap webbing. You can roll up any unused webbing and use the strap tidy to keep it out of the way. This stops excess straps dangling.
Adjustable Height / Width
The height and width of some carriers can be adjusted with toggles or poppers. This enables them to be used with smaller or larger babies without needing additional accessories. Particularly useful for carrying 2 or more children individually without needing to buy 2 different sizes of carriers.
Integrated Infant Harness
Used with newborn babies, the harness secures the baby in a safe position, ensuring they are higher up in the carrier without the top of the panel obstructing their face, and so their legs can be kept inside the carrier to avoid over-extending their hips.
Perfect for holidays and summer weather, UV protection is built in to the fabric of the carrier. The UV protection can fade with repeated washing, so our rental carriers may not offer as high a degree of protection as a new carrier would.
Again, perfect for warmer weather. Breathable mesh fabric is used in the panel of the carrier to allow for maximum air circulation throughout to help keep baby cool.
Structured / Unstructured Waist
Most soft structured carriers have some level of padding to the waist band, for comfort and positioning of the child (whereby they sit on the waistband). Some have no padding at all - the body of the carrier comes down their back and all the way under their seat to the front, creating a pocket for the child to sit in. It is very much personal preference which style of waist you and your child may prefer.
Most buckle carriers can be worn two at a time - one one the front and one on the back. Because the shoulder straps will overlap, it's best to use brands of carriers with less shoulder padding, as heavier padding can feel uncomfortable and bulky for the wearer. It's also recommended to put the baby you'll be wearing on the back on first, and then the baby on the front afterwards.
There are a couple of brands of carriers that are specifically designed to hold two children in at once. This can be as described above (one child on the back and one on the front), or with both babies side by side on the front.
Lightweight / Ultra Lightweight
A lightweight carrier such as a Connecta, or Nova Classic Full Buckle is a great sling to have around if you won't be using it all the time. They fold up really small so can easily be carried in your bag, or stored under the buggy etc. Ultra Lightweight carriers are like the "Pack-a-Mac" of the carrying world, and fold up in to their own pocket, some as small as a pencil case, like the Boba Air. Perfect for travelling, or keeping around "just in case" your child needs to be carried.