Are you thinking of starting your babywearing experience with your little one?
Would you like to find the right type of baby carrier to suit your needs as well as your baby?
Do you have trouble remembering what each different type of baby carrier is and how each one is used?
If you’re looking for more information about the different types of baby carriers available on the market today, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll give you a rundown of the five types of baby carriers you’re likely to encounter in your babywearing experience. For each one, we’ll tell you what it is, how it’s used, the proper age ranges for this type of carrier, and plenty of pros and cons to help you make the right decision for you and your little one.
We understand that there are many different kinds of baby carriers out there, and it can be tough to remember which one is which. We hope to provide you with all the information it takes to find the perfect solution—or solutions!—to suit your needs.
If you still feel as though you can’t make up your mind even after you check out our information, you may want to take a look at some of the most popular products available from each category as well. Even within each type of baby carrier, there are different brand names that may offer their own individual strengths and weaknesses. Take some time and do your research to choose the right brand name among whichever option you decide to try.
Remember that babywearing isn’t for everyone but with the right information to help you make an educated decision, you should be able to determine if it works for you and your child in no time.
Let’s get started!
Other names for this carrier type: Baby sling (a bit of a misnomer), beach wrap, Moby wrap (a brand name)
Description: A baby wrap is a type of carrier that is made of one long piece of fabric. This fabric is usually at least somewhat stretchy, but depending on the specific wrap’s intended purpose, it may be made out of thick woven fabric to provide extra support for your little one. You may also find a wrap made of lightweight and almost sheer material that is meant for use in and around water. Always make sure to read up on the specific wrap you’re considering to ensure that you’re using it correctly.
How this carrier is used: There are many different methods for tying this type of wrap, but they all follow the same general principles. You usually begin either with the center of the wrap at your belly button or behind your neck, depending on the tying method you’ll be using. From there, you configure the long tails of the fabric to form a “pocket” for your baby as well as plenty of support and ergonomic help for you and your child both. Most of the time, these tying methods are finished with firm knots either at your waist, your hip, your back, or under your baby’s bottom.
Age range: Babies from 8 pounds to 35 pounds, give or take. Premature babies should not be carried in a wrap, but newborns may be carried with the proper tying method.
Popular brand names: Moby, Boba, Wrapsody, Didymos. Many people DIY this type of wrap easily.
Other names for this carrier type: Baby sling, nursing sling
Description: A ring sling is a type of baby carrier that’s put over your shoulder and slung around your body, forming a pocket in which your child is carried. The difference between this type of carrier and a wrap is that there are two rings near your shoulder that can be used to adjust, tighten, loosen, and reposition this wrap as needed throughout the day. There are different ways to tie this type of wrap, just as there are with a traditional wrap, but they are somewhat more limited because the position of the rings cannot be changed.
How this carrier is used: This type of carrier is usually made from one long stretchy piece of fabric that is threaded through two durable metal or plastic rings. The threading method is usually the same for any type of tying you’ll be doing with this wrap, but the way you wear it on your body may differ depending on your specific needs. It is possible to convert a wrap into a ring sling as a fun DIY project.
Age range: Babies from 8 pounds to 35 pounds. While it is safe to use a ring sling with a newborn, it does pose more safety risks than a wrap does for this age.
Popular brand names: Mamaway, Vlokup, LILLIEbaby
Other names for this carrier type: Baby pouch
Description: A pouch sling is very similar to a ring sling, but it isn’t exactly the same. They are made of a tube of fabric that already has a built-in pocket, which means you don’t have to tie it them any confusing methods to form a pocket yourself. They go over one shoulder like a ring sling but usually don’t include any rings.
How this carrier is used: Most of the time, all you have to do is slip on your pouch sling and go. If you have an adjustable sling, you may need to make a few simple adjustments once you have it on to ensure that it’s secure.
Age range: Babies of 8 to 30 pounds. Because this is a formed carrier, you’ll have to upgrade to something more size-appropriate a little earlier than you would with other types of carriers.
Popular brand names: Kangaroobaby, Mo+m, Hotslings
Other names for this carrier type: Chinese carrier, mei dai
Description: The mei tai carrier is a very traditional type of baby carrier that looks a bit like a backpack. It’s usually made of a rectangular piece of fabric that has four straps, but it can be more formed than this, depending on the brand you choose.
How this carrier is used: Most of the time, your baby is positioned in the carrier and worn on your back. The straps are tied around your arms or adjusted, depending on the type of carrier you’re using.
Age range: 8 pounds to preschoolers, but you may need to buy a few different mei tai carriers to suit your baby as he or she grows.
Popular brand names: Infantino, CuddleBug, Moby
Age range: Newborn to 2 years
How this carrier is used: To use a soft structured carrier, all you have to do is buckle the straps and waistband around your body and adjust them until they’re comfortable and secure. Then you only need to put your baby into the formed, shaped seat and put his or her arms through the straps provided. Adjust as needed and you’ll be good to go. Your baby is usually worn with his or her legs straddling your waist in this type of baby carrier, and some of these carriers will allow you to keep your baby’s arms tucked in or free at your own discretion.
Description: Soft structured carriers are probably what you think of when you think about babywearing in a more modern sense of the term. These carriers look a little more like the heavy-duty plastic baby carriers that have been popular for a long time, but they are still made of fabric and therefore much more comfortable for both you and your baby to use. They include buckled straps and a buckled waistband plus lots of padding for comfort and safety.
Other names for this carrier type: SCC, formed carrier
Popular brand names: Mo+m, Beco, Infantino
Do you have a better idea of which type of carrier you want to try out first? Depending on your budget and the cost of baby carrier options you’re considering, you might want to start with just one or you may consider bringing home several variations of baby carriers to figure out which ones are right. Although we understand that budgeting may not always allow for it, we do recommend trying a few varieties, especially if the first one you try doesn’t seem to be quite right.
Another great reason to keep many types of baby carriers on hand is that some situations call for one version while others call for a different option. If you go on a hike, for example, you may want a soft structured carrier to keep your baby as safe and secure as possible. For daily breastfeeding sessions, however, a wrap or ring sling is by far the better choice. Depending on the price of baby carrier options you’re considering, you may even want to bring home two of the same one so you never have to wait for one to be clean!
Babywearing is a very personal experience and choosing the right options for you and your child may take a little while. Give yourself some time and be patient with yourself as well as with your baby. Remember to always choose a baby carrier that’s appropriate for the age, weight, and physical development of your little one, but also choose one that’s made of the right type of fabric for your own comfort as well as your baby’s. If you have physical trouble wearing one type of carrier, don’t be afraid to try another. There’s no right or wrong way to practice babywearing as long as you and your baby are both comfortable and, of course, safe.
Remember to always speak to your child’s pediatrician before you make any lifestyle changes for you and your baby. Your baby’s pediatrician can let you know if there are any physical development concerns you need to keep in mind when choosing the right type of baby carrier.
Enjoy your babywearing experience!