5 Different Types Of Baby Carriers For You To Choose From

  • 5 types of baby carriers you are likely to encounter 
  • Learn how these carriers are used and the pros and cons of each
  • Discover the best type of carrier for baby based on age range
  • We recommend trying different types to find your ideal carrier 

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!

1. Wraps

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.

Pros

  • Extra skin-to-skin contact. You and your child can be very close in this type of wrap.
  • Great for use with breastfeeding babies. It’s easy to carry your baby in a breastfeeding position or adjust your child’s position quickly with this type of wrap.
  • Excellent option for newborns. Newborn babies as small as 8 pounds can be safely carried in one or two tying methods with a wrap.
  • Easy to DIY. You can make a baby wrap with just a piece of fabric and about an hour of free time.
  • Can be found online and in stores. It’s easy to come by this type of carrier.

Cons

  • Toddlers cannot be worn as easily in a wrap. As your baby gets older, he or she will need to upgrade to another type of carrier.
  • You will be limited to only one tying option with a newborn. Very young babies can only be safely carried in one style until they get a little bigger.
  • Brand name wraps can get expensive fast. You may end up paying a lot of money for something that seems like it’s just a piece of fabric.
  • It can be very tough to learn how to tie a wrap correctly. There’s a steep learning curve with this type of baby carrier.
  • There are always safety concerns with wraps. Some parents consider them the least safe babywearing option, although this is an objective opinion.

Popular brand names: Moby, Boba, Wrapsody, Didymos. Many people DIY this type of wrap easily.

2. Ring Slings

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.

Pros

  • It’s easy to nurse your little one in a ring sling. It’s even easier than nursing in a wrap, and it’s a great option for nursing moms on the go.
  • You can have a little more privacy when nursing in a ring sling because of the long tail of fabric you’ll usually have on hand. Use it to cover up while you’re breastfeeding your baby.
  • It can be fun to make a DIY ring sling from scratch or from a wrap you aren’t using. If you’re looking for something to do while waiting for your baby to be born, this is a good option.
  • Adjusting your baby throughout the day can be very easy with a ring sling. You usually only need to give it a tug and you’re good to go.
  • Many ring slings are available in a lightweight material that’s comfortable for hot weather. Some can even be worn in the pool.

Cons

  • Because many of these slings are lightweight, they can be less safe for your baby. You are the best judge of whether or not a sling is safe for your child to use.
  • It can be a little more difficult to wash one of these slings. You may need to take the rings off before throwing it in the wash.
  • This type of sling may make you feel as though your baby is not secure. Even if your child is secure in the sling, you may not feel comfortable with its use.
  • Ring slings can be a little harder and more expensive to make yourself than baby wraps. You’ll need to buy the right type of rings to keep your baby safe.
  • The rings may dig into your shoulder over time. This can be a very uncomfortable type of carrier to wear for longer periods of time.

Popular brand names: Mamaway, Vlokup, LILLIEbaby

3. Pouch Slings

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.

Pros

  • Very easy to learn how to use and wear correctly. There’s no learning curve with this carrier.
  • Can be folded down to a small and portable size. Great for babywearing on the go!
  • Usually available in a lot of cute colors and patterns. You can find tons of pretty and cute carriers among pouch slings.
  • Tend to be cheaper than some other types of carriers. These are usually fairly affordable.
  • Can be used with newborns. Although they’re not ideal for newborns, they can be used with care.

Cons

  • May cause a lot of shoulder pain. Since they’re worn on one shoulder always, this can be a physically tough carrier to use.
  • Not secure enough for long-term use. Hiking or even a lot of walking around town may require a more secure carrier.
  • May be more dangerous than other types of carriers for younger babies. This type of carrier can increase suffocation hazards.
  • Cannot be used for back carrying. It is only for use with hip and front carries.
  • Cannot often be shared between parents or caretakers. These slings are often not adjustable or, if they are, usually aren’t adjustable enough for people of differing body types to share one.

Popular brand names: Kangaroobaby, Mo+m, Hotslings

4. Mei Tai Carriers

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.

Pros

  • There are a lot of varieties of mei tai. You can choose padded or unpadded straps or waist or choose between strap styles.
  • Most mei tai carriers are made from natural fabrics. This is great for babies who have allergies to synthetic fabrics.
  • Your mei tai carrier may come with a hood for your baby. This is great for babywearing in the hot sun.
  • These carriers are easy to adjust to different body types. Choose wrap style straps for even more versatility in sizing.
  • Mei tais are widely available and can fit into just about any budget. They come in many colors and patterns, as well.

Cons

  • Most mei tai carriers won’t work for different ages. You may need to buy more than one throughout your baby’s life.
  • Some low-cost mei tais aren’t constructed well. Be sure to check your carrier before you use it.
  • It may take some time to learn how to wear your mei tai. You’ll need to practice before you carry your baby.
  • It’s difficult to make a mei tai carrier in a DIY project. You should know a lot about sewing before you try.
  • It can be more difficult to wash a mei tai carrier than some other types of baby carriers. Some cannot be put in the dryer.

Popular brand names: Infantino, CuddleBug, Moby

5. Soft Structured Carriers

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

Pros

  • This is a great carrier for using long-term in your baby’s life. Buy one soft structured carrier and you probably won’t need to buy another one for your child.
  • These are great carriers for hiking adventures and long walking excursions. They offer a lot of ergonomic support for you and your baby both.
  • These are some of the safest baby carriers on the market. They offer a lot of security as well as closeness for you and your child.
  • These carriers are formed but not heavy like plastic carriers can be. This way, they can be brought along on vacation or anytime you’re on the go with your baby.
  • Most of these carriers come with a nursing hood. This can also keep your baby protected from the elements.

Cons

  • Newborns will usually require an infant insert with these carriers. They cannot be safely worn in a soft structured carrier without something that positions them higher on your body.
  • These carriers are usually only intended to be used with front inward-facing carrying methods. You cannot wear your baby on your back, hip, or facing outward in one of these carriers.
  • These can be very expensive carriers. They may be over budget for a lot of babywearing parents.
  • Some soft structured carriers can’t be shared between caregivers. Other are more adjustable and can be shared.
  • Because of the buckles, washing these carriers can be a challenge. They usually must be air-dried.

Popular brand names: Mo+m, Beco, Infantino

Conclusion

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 possibl​e. 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!

BONUS VIDEO

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