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3.5 – 20kg – What’s behind the Mysterious Weights on Baby Carriers

Can I carry my baby only from 3.5 – 20kg?

Most baby carrier brands write that their carriers are from 3.5 – 20kg (7 – 45 lbs).

So does this mean that I can’t carry my smaller baby?

My own baby was born at 2800g. I thought he didn’t fit in any common baby carrier and I felt very insecure!

What many do not know is the real meaning behind these numbers! And here I am taking the chance to explain them.

The mysterious 3.5 – 20kg of baby carriers

When selling baby carriers in the USA (and some other countries), baby carriers have to be safety tested. These tests include, for example, material tests (fabric and seams durability), tests for harmful substances, falling risks, and sometimes suffocation risks.

The material tests are done with dummies of different weights. They include how long the seams and fabric holds the dummy while copying typical carrying situations.

Each “step” in weight costs money and most carrier brands opt for the common 3.5 – 20kg. Only few are testing lower.

Safety Testing

These tests are, by the way, not compulsory in Japan or Germany! If you want a carrier that was tested, you should look out for these norms, or ask the brand if the carrier you like is tested:

PD CEN/TR 16512:2015

The European testing standard

ASTM F2907 – 19 (replaced ASTM F2907 – 15 in 2020!)

The American testing standard for woven baby wraps.

ASTM F2236 – 16a

The American testing standard for soft structured carriers.

I couldn’t find the exact standard for Japan but it starts with SG.

Why 3.5 – 20kg kilograms?

And why 3.5 kg? Most baby carriers are made in countries where the average birthweight is around 3 kg or higher. And many parents won’t start right away with carrying their baby. There is a good chance that most babies are at 3.5 kg or above when the carrying journey begins! 

I am not sure why the 20 kg became a standard though. Maybe because they suggest that you can use their carrier for a very long time and is strong enough to hold any baby. In reality though, it’s unnecessary to have a normal carrier tested until 20 kg.

My child was still 20 kg with 5 years but he didn’t fit in a common carrier already with 2 years and much less kilograms. Everyone who is going beyond a certain age or weight and carrying on a regular basis will automatically get a bigger (toddler size/preschool size) baby carrier for having a better fit and more comfort.

From newborn to toddler
3.5 - 20kg

Fitting smaller babies

But back to our small babies born with less than 3.5 kg. 

Some carriers are already fitting a smaller baby, even though the carrier says “3.5 kg”. On the other hand, babies with 3.5 kg might not fit in such a carrier yet. 

Of course, carrier brands try to design their carriers for the widest range of babies but it is just not possible to fit all in the same way. We are all different in body proportions, as are our babies. Especially carriers that are made for also fitting toddlers often don’t fit small babies well.

The best way to find a carrier that really fits your newborn, is to try many different ones.

You will soon see the difference, especially when trying a “one size fits all” vs a carrier that was especially designed for newborns in mind.

Of course, I have carriers for every fit in my collection which you can try. Just send me a message!

A last word on the numbers and safety tests. In case you are using a carrier with a baby under or over the given weight and something happens, this will be in your responsibility and you won’t be able to sue the maker.

If you are not sure about if you can use your carrier with your baby under the 3.5kg and if you should take the risk or better not, you can always consult with a babywearing professional!

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