Are you expecting a new little member of your family soon, or have you recently brought one home?
Are you looking for an efficient, affordable, and stylish way to get your baby safely from place to place?
Are you tired of struggling with complicated plastic carriers and difficult strollers everywhere you go?
If so, a baby carrier is the right solution for you!
But what do you do if you don’t like any of the baby carrier styles available or are looking for something a little different? You make your own baby carrier, of course!
In this article, you’ll learn about the four main types of baby carriers you can make yourself. You’ll find helpful walkthroughs to teach you how to make each one no matter what level of skill you might have (or might not have!). Best of all, these guides are arranged in order from easiest to most challenging, so you can decide for yourself how to make a baby sling carrier that’s right for you.
Are you ready to get started? Read on to uncover lots of helpful hints for making a carrier you and your baby are sure to love!
What are Baby Carriers?
If you’ve never heard the term “baby carrier” before or are a little unclear on what it might mean, don’t worry. This is a simple item that is used to help you carry your baby safely attached to your body in some way. There are a few different types of baby carriers, and some of these are easier to make than others.
Soft structure carrier – These are usually mass-produced carriers, although you might find some people making their own as DIY projects anyhow. They hold the baby snugly to your chest or back and slip over your shoulders. These carriers usually have adjustable straps with clips to hold them in place, and they also have infant inserts to be used with very small and young babies. They’re safe for use with newborns as well as older infants as long as you follow the directions, but they’re pretty difficult to make on your own.
Baby sling – Baby carrier sling pattern options are easy to find. This is probably the most popular type of baby carrier on the market today, and it’s a common one for DIY projects too. With this carrier, you wear the baby against your chest in a sling that goes over your shoulder. This makes it easy for you to access the baby as well as keep one of your hands free at all times.
Baby wrap – If you don’t want to make a ring sling for baby but still want to try a DIY project, a baby wrap might be just the thing for you. This is a very popular style of DIY baby carrier since it’s usually made out of a single piece of fabric. These long fabric pieces are tied over your body in a variety of configurations, and they’re made from durable material that can hold your baby safely in place no matter where you go. They’re safe for use with newborns as well as older children.
Mei Tai baby carrier – If you want something a little more unique, you might want to look for a Mei Tai baby carrier pattern instead. This type of carrier gives you all the benefits of a soft structure carrier with none of the hassle of having to buy or make one of these complicated contraptions. This is a comfortable, easy baby carrier that has four straps that go around your shoulders, stomach, or hips, depending on how it’s more comfortable for you and the baby.
As you can see, you have a lot of options when it comes to making a ring sling baby carrier or any other type of carrier you might want to try. Depending on your specific needs as well as your baby’s, one of these options might be a lot more beneficial to you than another. But no matter which one you choose, you’ll be able to get a lot of use out of your DIY carrier project.
Benefits of Making Your Own Baby Carrier
If you decide to make baby wrap carrier options yourself, there are tons of benefits you’ll enjoy right away. Pretty much anything you’re looking to get out of your baby DIY projects, you’ll find with one of these! Check out this list of great benefits you can enjoy when you make your own ring sling or another baby carrier.
1. How to Make a No-Sew Baby Wrap Carrier
No-sew baby wrap carriers are the easiest to make and take the least amount of time. However, they also don’t leave you with as much room for creativity, so you have to choose whether or not you’re okay with this! Follow these simple directions for a very easy baby wrap you can complete in one day.
1Purchase six yards of stretchy fabric. Jersey knit is a great option because it’s machine washable, pretty durable, and won’t fray at all on the ends. It’s also widely available and pretty affordable, too! If you’re petite, you might only need four yards of this fabric. You’ll be able to judge the right amount based on your body size, but it’s always best to buy extra and trim off as needed.
2Wash and dry your fabric before you get started.
3Stretch your fabric out completely along the floor and fold it in half down the middle so that you have one long, thinner piece of fabric.
4The short end of your fabric should be at least 25” long after this step.
5Cut down the long, folded edge of the fabric to create two separate pieces. You don’t have to be too careful about this as long as you don’t make one piece significantly more tapered than the other!
6Try the wrap on without the baby first. If it seems too long, cut off the extra length. Be careful to only cut off a few inches at a time so you don’t risk having to sew it back on again!
7Tie the wrap as you normally would and test it out with your baby. You’re ready to go!
2. How to Make a No-Sew Ring Sling Carrier
If you feel like trying something a little bit different, try a no-sew ring sling carrier instead. This isn’t much different than the no-sew baby wrap, but it does give you the extra security of a ring to help you support your baby even more safely.
1Purchase a piece of 30” wide fabric in about two yards of length. This should be a stretchy, light knit fabric. If you choose something that frays at the edges, you’ll need to hem it, so if you’re going for a no-sew option, be sure to pick something like a Jersey knit that won’t require hemming at all!
2Purchase two aluminum rings made specifically for ring slings. You can buy these from a few sources online, but do NOT use craft store rings. These are meant for purses and backpacks—not for supporting a baby!
3Stretch your fabric out straight and smooth out the wrinkles. You’ll need plenty of floor space for this.
4Put one end of your fabric in your lap with the right side up. Get your rings and keep them close by.
5Gather the end of the fabric in your lap in one hand and pull it through both rings. You should have a tail of about six inches on the short side.
6Lay the sling in your lap with the wrong side up. Lift up the bottom ring.
7Pull the short end through the bottom ring you’re lifting.
8Pull the loop up a little bit through the rings and spread out the fabric so the edges are on the outside and not facing in.
9Flatten the rings and fabric back to normal and make sure you have a shorter tail and a longer one.
10Pick up the long end of the sling and pull it through both rings and back down through the bottom ring, just like you did with the short end.
11Spread the fabric out again to keep the edges where they belong.
12From here, you can wear the ring sling just like you would a commercially made product!
3. How to Make a Traditional Ring Sling
Do you have a few more sewing skills? If so, you should be able to complete a traditional ring sling very easily. This pattern for ring sling carriers does require a little bit of sewing, but not too much. If you choose a fabric that needs to be hemmed, you’ll have to do even more sewing than you would with a no-fray fabric, but that choice is entirely up to you.
1Choose knit fabric to keep it from fraying. You can find other types of fabric that will have the same type of stretch as knit fabric, but they will require hemming.
2Lay your fabric out on the floor and smooth out any wrinkles. Cut off any white border your fabric piece might have.
3Fold your fabric in half the long way. Then fold both edges equally to the center.
4If you’re right handed, turn the fabric so the open edge is on your left. Do the opposite if you’re left handed.
5Slide your rings up onto your fabric and stop them about 12 inches down. Fold the fabric over to create a padding pocket and pin in place.
6Put the sling on and make sure the ring is resting close to your shoulder, near where you’d put a corsage on your chest. Adjust your pinning and ring position as needed to get this right.
7Sew three zigzag lines across to hold this in place, and make sure to reinforce the edges of your sewing.
8That’s all it takes! You can now use your ring sling the same way you would use a professionally made one.
4. Mei Tai Baby Carrier Pattern
Mei Tai baby carriers are more difficult to make than the other three types listed here, but they’re very comfortable, safe, and durable when they’re completed correctly. If you have some sewing skills, you should be able to finish a Mei Tai pattern with a little moderate effort. It might take a little longer than the other three patterns here, but it’ll be well worth it in the end!
1Choose a bottom weight fabric like a canvas for this type of carrier. If you can’t figure out which types of fabric in the store are bottom weight, don’t be afraid to ask! You need a very durable type of fabric for this pattern. Purchase this fabric in 60” wide and in about 2 to 2 and a half yards.
2Select a separate decorative fabric such as a printed 100% cotton. Purchase ½ yard of this fabric.
3Choose ½ to a 1 year of comfortable flannel, Minky fabric, or fleece. This is the lining part of your carrier that will touch your baby, so choose something soft.
4Pick up a soft stuffing like quilt batting or stuffed animal filling, or use fleece scraps from other projects.
5Purchase a matching strong thread with at least quilting strength.
6Cut three strips of 9 inches wide and 2-1/4 yards long of your bottom weight fabric. Fold the edges of the straps in and iron them down to crease them. Iron the straps in half with the right sides out.
7Sew each strap closed on one side, leaving the short sides open. Stuff with your padding of choice in the parts of the straps that will be sitting on your shoulders.
8Repeat this process with a 12” x 28” rectangle of fabric for your waist strap. Close your straps on all sides and then sew two lines down the padded section of your straps.
9Measure a rectangle over your torso to get an idea of the size of your panel. 16” x 19” is a good standard size to start with. Cut this shape out of each of your three fabrics. Trim each one into a gentle curving shape at the top.
10Pin the straps at 45-degree angles at the top corner of your heaviest fabric. Sew the straps down to the wrong side of your fabric. Reinforce your stitching several times.
11Layer your other types of fabric and sew around all the edges but the bottom to attach them to the heavy fabric. Do NOT sew over the straps at this point.
12Turn your carrier right side out and pull the straps through the holes you left. Turn in the raw edges where the straps are and press them down. Pin them closed.
13Top stitch over the straps and across the top of the carrier once more.
14Tuck the panel of your carrier down into the waist padding fabric strap you cut earlier. Pin it centered in the carrier.
15Sew the edges of the waist strap shut.
16Try on the carrier and adjust as needed. You can also make an optional hood for this carrier!
Optional Hood for Mei Tai Baby Carrier
You don’t have to make a hood for your Mei Tai carrier, but if you plan to take your baby outside in inclement weather, you probably want one! If you’ll be using this carrier for a newborn, however, do not use a hood. You might run the risk of blocking your baby’s airways if you do this, and it’s better to use a hat or bonnet if you want to protect his or her head in this situation.
1For the hood, cut out a piece of your bottom weight fabric and one from your decorative fabric that measures 5.75” at the top, 7.75” in the middle, and 7” at the bottom when folded. This is a tapered piece of fabric.
2Make two hood straps out of bottom weight fabric about 2” x 14” each. Fold them in half, press them down, and topstitch them to close.
3Cut two 2” x 3” rectangles and do the same: fold, press, and topstitch. These will be the hood loops.
4Pin the straps to the bottom edge of the back of the hood with right sides together. Pin the decorative fabric over the bottom weight fabric and straps, tucking the straps in.
5Sew the layers together, passing over the straps (but be careful not to sew them down in the wrong place). Leave a hole for turning.
6Turn, press, and topstitch the hole closed.
7Sew the hood to your Mei Tai carrier during the production process before you sew the layers of the panel together. Make sure to allow the hood straps to come through and don’t sew them down.
8Continue the carrier pattern from here!
Whether you choose to look for a ring sling baby carrier pattern or go for a wrap, Mei Tai, or another type of carrier, you can make the perfect one for you and your baby by following one of these simple outlines above. The right carrier for your needs might be different than the one your friend chooses, so don’t be afraid to be unique and pick something that’s perfect for you and your baby!
If you’re feeling extra creative or just looking for something to do to pass the time, why not give all four of these guides a try? Start with the first one, since it’s by far the easiest, and work your way up from there. If you don’t plan to use all four of these wraps, you can always give the extras away as gifts to your fellow expecting parents!
Have fun making your baby carrier, and remember to always make choices in the interest of your baby’s safety!