You asked

What's the best way to carry a small child when we're travelling?

A buggy is probably the best all-round baby carrier there is. Depending on where you are travelling, a buggy can certainly be useful and helpful, to both you and your baby. For urban travelling, going to shops, parks, the zoo, in fact anywhere that has flat waling surfaces, a buggy cannot be beaten. You child can sleep in one, it does not put strain on you back, neck or shoulders, it can carry your purchases, along with all the baby gear you need. Most models fold up quickly and easily, and provide a safe, secure mode of transport for your baby. Just remember that infants should lie flat and not sleep sitting up, since their developing spines can be affected. You should make sure that your buggy can tilt, so that the seat can lie flat. Buggies can be a bit clumsy and awkward on public transport, and in places that have lots of steps.
Front carriers and slings are light-weight, can be packed away easily and offer great mobility. Along with backpack baby carriers, they are popular amongst hikers and campers, since buggies cannot go off-road easily. Although there are expensive “off road” buggies available, the terrain they can handle effectively is limited to slightly rougher gravel paths and level hiking trails. Negotiating small streams and fallen tree trunks is much easier with a sling or front carrier. The front carriers provide good intimate contact between you and your baby, and they free your hands for other things. The weight you can carry is dependant on the strength and design of the carrier, and on your own strength and comfort levels. Children over 15 pounds are too heavy for most parents to handle with a front carrier.
If your child is strong enough to sit up properly and they can support their own head weight, then a backpack is a better option. Backpacks distribute the weight across the parent's shoulders, upper body and waist – depending on the make and design. Generally speaking, you can carry a heavier baby for longer, with a backpack, in comparison to a sling or front carrier. While back packs offer good mobility, your situational awareness must be excellent, especially if you take your baby into confined places, such as narrow shopping aisles, or through overgrown vegetation. Remember that you cannot see your child, so they might be grabbing onto something, or putting an object into their mouth, without you even knowing about it. If you need to run errands, the constant stopping and removal of your child from the backpack, then belting them in again, can be tiresome. Long periods of carrying will make you tired and put significant strain on your upper body, no matter how strong you are – especially if your child weighs around 30 pounds.
When choosing a carrier, take the environment you are travelling to in mind. Your comfort is as important as that of your baby. If you cannot handle the carrier properly, it can be dangerous for your child. Make sure you know the operating and safety procedures of any carrier you buy. Look at what optional or included extras are available, such as sun shields, or weather-proofing.

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