Let me preface this by saying I am not an expert when it comes to baby carriers or carries. I’m learning though, and hope you can benefit from this post. If you’re an expert babywearer that’s stumbled across my blog, please feel free to chime in. The last thing I want to do is provide any misleading or false information. As always, do your own research on the subject and use this blog as a starting point. If you’d like expert help and opinions, head on over to the forums on The Babywearer. There are many people who have been doing this for a loooong time and know more than I thought possible about the subject! Another great website is the Becoming Mamas blog, which has a plethora (“Would you say I have a plethora, Jefe?”) of information about anything you could possibly want to know about babywearing! All the information is really helpful, but its also overwhelming and you really have to take the initiative to do the research. What if you just want to know the basics? Let me break it down for you. By the way, I’ve linked up to the carriers I mention, but I’m not being paid to advertise for them and I’m not necessarily endorsing them, although I will never link to something I can’t recommend.
There are several different types of carriers used today, and within each category there are as many variations as there are mamas and babies who use them (well, almost!). The trick is to pick something and try it out, then find out what works for you and and your little one. If one carrier/carry doesn’t seem to work, then please don’t give up! Try something new and get some help!
Soft Structured/Buckle carriers (SSC): These are very popular and if you’ve done any air travel lately, you’ve probably seen many exhausted parents using these. They have structured bodies, padded waists, padded straps, and are fastened using buckles. These are widely available at the big box stores, and include Ergo Baby (pictured above), Beco, and Boba. The carries vary from carrier to carrier, but they can typically be used on both the front and back and sometimes on the hip, and can be used for newborns up through toddlers. SSCs are typically daddy friendly!
Stretchy Wraps: These are just what they sound like, carriers made of a long, stretchy piece of fabric to wrap up baby. Lately these have been very popular and widely available. Maybe you’ve seen the Moby Wrap (pictured above) or Sleepy Wrap (now the Boba Wrap)? They’re nice for carrying an itty-bitty, squishy newborn because the material is so soft and pretty easy to use. However, they don’t work well for older, heavier babies, typically up to 16 pounds, because the material stretches so much. The material can also be pretty hot. Baby is worn on the front in a stretchy wrap.
Woven Wraps: Ah, the woven wrap! My new favorite! These wraps are made from a thick, sturdy, woven piece of material or gauze that is used to wrap up baby. They range in length from short to long, and can carry a newborn through a toddler in front, hip, and back carries; they’re incredibly versatile. The modern woven wrap originated in Germany in the 1970s but of course have been used in many countries for ages. The perfect size wrap for you will be one that fits your size and need, based on the type of carry that you would like to do. (The Dolcino woven wrap is pictured above).
Mei Tai (pronounced May Tie): These carriers originated in Asia and are also very versatile. They easily fold up and fit in your diaper bag and can fit more than one user. They come with many different options in terms of padded waists, straps, and hood styles. They can be used for front and back carries, from small through large babies. I’m loving the Baby Hawk pictured above!
Ring Slings (RS): Another favorite of mine, the ring sling. These go over one shoulder and can be used in front, hip, and back carries. They range in materials, some being very basic and some quite beautiful. You can find them with a padded shoulder, no padding or structure, or very structured and pleated shoulder styles, so if you find one type of ring sling but aren’t in love be sure to try another brand! These are easy to use and quick to put on, and I always have mine with me. Some popular brands are Maya Wrap (pictured above) and Sakura Bloom. When using a sling (really with any carrier) proper positioning is incredibly important. If you buy a sling, make sure to watch some videos or get some personal instruction for how to carry baby. Carrying in a cradle position can be dangerous.
Pouch Slings: Similar to the ring sling, these are worn over one shoulder and range in materials and types of carries. However, they come in specific sizes and are not adjustable. Some popular brands include SlingLings (pictured above) and Hotslings. As I mentioned previously, make sure to take care when using your sling and always properly position baby.
Well there you have it. I have very intentionally avoided mentioning a few popular brands of carriers, as they are known to be not ergonomically correct and potentially unsafe. I also have avoided mentioning bag slings, which studies have shown are dangerous both for baby and can cause injury to the wearer. Another post (or posts?) for another day.
As always, please learn how to correctly use your carrier by watching the carrier dvd, watching videos online, and getting personal instructions.