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Which Baby Carrier Is Right For You?

virginia May 31, 2016

Which baby carrier is right for you? | The rundown of 5 common baby carriers and when you should choose each one. | by Virginia George at Modern Alternative Pregnancy

By Virginia George, Contributing Writer

Babywearing is all the rage these days. The lure of hands-free carrying, quiet and content babies, and early infant bonding is strong. Even if it isn’t the case for every parent-child couple. But for many of us, learning to babywear can significantly increase our mobility, and hopefully, our sanity.

There are a lot of carriers on the market, all promising to be the best thing for your life. How is a new mom supposed to know which is right for her?

This veteran mom will take you through the pros and cons of 5 types of carriers and tell you when you may want to choose each one. This guide will help you decide which one(s) will meet your needs the best!

This post is sponsored by Carol’s Carries.

General Baby Carrier Safety

One of the beauties of babywearing is the hands-free capability. That said, when wearing your baby you should always be cautious about your baby’s positioning. Most of the time I keep one hand or at least a forearm around my baby as I’m wearing them to assure they stay close to my body, and they don’t fall out. That said, I’ve never dropped anyone while babywearing.

Proper positioning is crucial when babywearing, both for safety and for proper spinal development of the infant. Some carriers leave baby dangling from their crotch, putting a lot of pressure on the baby’s developing spine. All of the carriers we will talk about today promote the “frog leg” position, where baby’s knees are higher than their hips. We want baby sitting rather than hanging.

Now… let’s look at some carriers!

Ring Sling

A ring sling, like the ones found at Carol’s Carries, is made of a length of fabric and 2 circular rings. The fabric “tail” is threaded through both rings, then back down through one.

Carol's Carries | Ring Sling

The ring sling is a fantastic carrier, particularly for wee ones. It isn’t bulky, and folds up nicely into a diaper bag. It is also very versatile. You are able to get a newborn in there nice and snug, or throw a toddler on your hip quickly on your way into the grocery store.

The down side of a ring sling is that it’s a one shoulder carrier. Once a baby starts putting on some weight, it can cause back pain because all of baby’s weight is on one shoulder.

Choose this carrier:

  • If you have a newborn or small baby.
  • When you want to be able to get someone in or out quickly.
  • Getting someone down for a nap, as you can loosen the sling and slip out once they’re laying down.
  • For on the go, it’s compact and versatile for a wide range of sizes.

Wrap

There are two kinds of wraps: knit and woven. While the fabric choice may seem menial and the carries are the same, there is a big enough difference in their usage that it is worth talking about them separately.

Knit Wrap

Knit wraps are made of knit fabric, and they range in length, usually between 4 and 6 yards long. They are very versatile, and you can wear your baby on your front, back, or even on your hip. Knit wraps are great for little ones, as you can get them in good and snug. They also disperse the weight of your child nicely across both shoulders, your back, and your hips. This makes for a comfortable carry.

The downside of knit wraps is that when your little one puts on some weight, the knit can be too stretchy to get them comfortably and safely inside. Wraps are also long, and can be difficult to keep them off the ground when putting them on outside.

Choose this carrier:

  • For comfort.
  • When you are going to be babywearing for a long time.
  • With little ones.
  • If you will be putting a little one in and out (like when running errands at more than one place).

Woven Wrap

Woven wraps are made of woven fabric, and they range in length, usually between 4 and 6 yards long. They are very versatile, and you can wear your baby on your front, back, or even on your hip. Woven wraps have the benefit of knit wraps, but they do not stretch as baby gains weight, giving them a longer lifespan.

Woven wraps can be a little less forgiving when putting your carrier on. They don’t stretch, so if you get it on a little tight you will have to take it off and try again. As with knit wraps, a woven wrap is long and can be difficult to keep off the ground while putting it on outside.

Choose this carrier:

  • With bigger babies, toddlers, and with infants.
  • For comfort and long wear.

Mei Tai

A mei tai carrier is a rectangle of fabric with wide ties on each corner. Two short ties go around the wearer’s waist, and the two long ties go over the shoulders and are wrapped around to secure baby.

Mei tai carriers are comfortable because they distribute the baby’s weight across your shoulders, back, and hips. They are simpler than wraps because the rectangle of fabric is there to hold your baby, you just need to get it attached to you.

The downside of a mei tai is that there are (in my experience) limited positions in which you can carry your baby. The long straps are also difficult to keep off the ground if you’re putting it on outside.

Choose this carrier:

  • For long carries.
  • When you want your babe on your back.

Soft Structured Carrier

A soft structured carrier is similar to a mei tai, but instead of straps to wrap, it generally has buckles. This is a really great carrier for those who aren’t comfortable with adjusting the straps on a mei tai or wrap. Our soft structured carrier was my husband’s carrier of choice, simply because he is a backpacker, and putting it on is similar to strapping on a pack. Again, weight is distributed across your shoulders, back, and hips, making it relatively comfortable for long wear, and there are no long straps to dangle on the ground.

The downside of a soft structured carrier is that the positions and carries are limited to (in most cases) a front or back carry.

Choose this carrier:

  • For someone uncomfortable with wrapping straps.
  • For long wear.
  • With all ages, up to toddler and preschooler.

Which baby carrier is right for you? | The rundown of 5 common baby carriers and when you should choose each one. | by Virginia George at Modern Alternative Pregnancy

This is not an exhaustive list of all the carriers that exist, but they are some of the most common kinds of carriers on the market today. With this list, I hope you will go forth and carry confidently!

Do You Have a Favorite Baby Carrier? Is There a New Carrier You’d Like to Try?

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Virginia is a firefighter wife and mother of 4. She loves Jesus, coffee, dark chocolate, essential oils, and inspiring women to love the Lord and themselves. Find her on her blog, Periscope, Instagram, and Facebook for encouragement in faith, motherhood, mental, and natural health.
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1 Comment

  1. I would echo wraps for long carriers, but I have found (and heard from several friends) that after about 1 hour of soft-structured carrying, the straps start to dig. Distributing weight across wide fabric is more forgiving than the most sophisticated cushioning on a narrow strap.

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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