Choosing a Baby Carrier

What baby carrier is the best for you and your baby?  What carrier should you buy?  How do you narrow down the options and choose one? This post will help you choose the best baby carrier for you and your baby!

Most blog posts like this tell you what carrier is the best, maybe even give you a handy affiliate link so you can just head right over and buy it.  I hate to break it to you, but it’s just not quite that simple.  No one can tell you what carrier will be the best for YOU.  You have to try them and see what you  and your baby prefer.

I work with a lot of caregivers and there is one thing I find is nearly always true.  When people have the time to try on each type of carrier, they nearly always end up liking a completely different carrier than they expect.  Often caregivers end up really loving a style of carrier that they didn’t even know existed.  In nearly every situation the carrier a blog or friend told them to buy ends up not being their favorite.

The truth is that what works great for the blogger whose article you read or the friend who recommended a carrier is probably not the best one for your situation.  You can save yourself a lot of money and frustration by finding your local babywearing group or babywearing educator and trying on carriers in person.   There are 5 main types of baby carriers.  The best way to find the perfect carrier for you and your baby is to try them on and see what you both like!

Soft Structured Carriers aka Buckle Carriers

A Soft Structured Carrier is a carrier that has a panel and buckles on at the waist and at the shoulders. 

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Pros:  

  • They are quick and easy to use!
  • Most brands can do a front and a back carry.  Some brands can also do a hip carry.
  • Padded shoulder straps and waist belts make these very comfortable for the wearer.
  • Some brands have a breathable panel that is nice in the summer.

Cons:  

  • Some people find it difficult to buckle the chest clip.  However, there are tricks to solving this problem!  My “Using your SSC” page has some great tips at the bottom.
  • Most Soft Structured Carriers begin to work well at 8 pounds or heavier, so you may need a different option before baby is at the minimum weight and height needed for the carrier you purchased.
  • Some caregiving partners find it annoying to share one soft structured carrier because the settings have to be adjusted between wearers.  It’s like when someone else drives your car and moves your seat and steering wheel.  Some people don’t mind this, but others do.
  • If your carrier requires an infant insert, the insert can feel hot and bulky in summer.

Meh Dais

A Meh Dai is a carrier that has a panel (much like the buckle carrier), but has long straps that are tied on the waist and shoulders.   

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Pros:  

  • A meh dai can be used from birth to toddlerhood. However, pay attention to the weight range for your particular carrier.  The carrier cannot be used below the minimum recommended weight or above the maximum recommended weight.
  • Meh Dais can be used for hip, front, or back carries.
  • These are easy to share between two caregivers because there is no adjustment (they are simply tied onto the wearer).
  • A meh dai back carry is really easy to learn.

Cons:

  • Some people do not like working with the long straps, particularly in parking lots or on rainy days.

Ring Slings

A ring sling is a long piece of fabric attached to a pair of special babywearing sling rings.  The  fabric is threaded through the rings and placed over the wearer’s shoulder.  

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Pros:  

  • A ring sling can be used from birth-toddlerhood.
  • A ring sling can do a front, hip, and back carry.
  • It is really easy to pop a baby into a sling.  This makes ring slings a favorite for quick errands.
  • A sling rolls up small to fit in a diaper bag and is easy to just wear while you are not wearing baby.
  • Ring Slings are usually nice in hot weather because there is only one layer of fabric over you and baby.

Cons:  

  • Some people prefer a 2 shouldered carry or do not like the asymmetrical feel of the carry.
  • A ring sling back carry is not as comfortable as a back carry in other carrier styles.

Stretchy Wraps

A Stretchy wrap is a long piece of stretchy fabric that is wrapped around the wearer’s body.  After pre-tying the wrap around the wearer, the baby is put in the wrap.   

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Pros:  

  • Once you learn to tie the wrap on, it is easy to pop baby in and out of the wrap.
  • Stretchy wraps fit all sizes of caregiver and are easy to share between wearers.
  • Stretchy wraps are snuggly and warm in the winter.

Cons: 

  • You can not do a back carry in a stretchy wrap.
  • Stretchy wraps can only be used for carries that have three layers of fabric over the baby.
  • Some people find that they feel a little warm in a stretchy wrap because it has three layers of fabric over baby.  This is wonderful in the winter when it is chilly, but can be a bit too warm in the summer.  However, the warmth of the wrap does vary by brand and some are thinner than others.

Woven Wraps

A woven wrap is a long piece of non-stretchy woven fabric that is wrapped around the wearer and the baby.  There are many ways to wrap a woven wrap.   

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Pros:  

  • Woven wraps can be used comfortably from birth-preschool.
  • Woven wraps can do front, hip, and back carries.
  • Woven wraps can be used to do carries that just have one layer over baby (which is cool in summer) or carries that have three layers of fabric over baby (and are snuggly and warm in winter).
  • Woven wraps carries can be pre-tied and baby can be just popped into the wrap.

Cons:  

  • You only need to know one carry to be able to enjoy a  woven wrap, but there are a lot of carries and it can take some time to learn more than one.
  • Learning to do a back carry in a woven wrap can take some time.

I would really like to encourage you to visit your local babywearing group or educator.   If possible, visit before your baby arrives!  Your local babywearing educator or group will have a few carriers in each of the five main styles that you can try on.  Not only will they be able to let you try the carriers, they can teach you to use them in the safest way and with optimal positioning as well.

If you already have a carrier that you need help learning to use and aren’t able to find a local group, please see my “using your carrier”  pages.

Further Reading:

Babywearing Safety
Positioning your Newborn
How to Use a Stretchy Wrap
How to Use a Woven Wrap
How to Use a Ring Sling
How to Use a Pouch Sling
How to Use a Meh Dai
How to Use a Soft Structured Carrier