Which Type of Baby Carrier Is Right for You?

mom wearing baby in ring sling

Babywearing is a wonderful way to bond with your baby as well free up your hands so you can tend to other tasks. As a mom of three children under the age of 5, babywearing is my sanity saver.

There are many different types of baby carriers. If you're a soon-to-be mom or new mom, you might have wondered, “What carrier would work for me?”

From soft-structured carriers to woven wraps, there are many different types of baby carriers. It's not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Factors that go into determining which carrier is right for you include Baby's size and age; Mom's body build and Dad's body build; the purpose of the carrier; and the fabric preferences.  

Here are the basics for four different carriers:

ring sling
Image via Mindi Stavish

Ring Slings and Pouches

A ring sling is a long piece of fabric that is joined with a ring and worn on one shoulder. The fabric is adjusted using the ring. A pouch is similar to the ring sling, in that it is worn on one shoulder, but is not adjustable.

Pouches come in several different sizes, and the size is based on your baby's weight. Ring slings and pouches can be used to carry a newborn, an infant, or a toddler. The carry position for a ring sling and pouch for a newborn is tummy to tummy. A child who is sitting independently can be worn in the hip carry.  

I have a few different slings and just love them. I found that the ring sling was a great option during the first few weeks of my son's life — when he was too small for my soft-structured carrier. I also love the portability and quick on-and-off of a ring sling, making it great for running errands.  

Since your baby's weight is only distributed on one shoulder in a ring sling or a pouch, they are best to use for short periods of time, particularly when wearing a toddler.

mom wearing soft structured carrier
Image via Mindi Stavish

 Soft-structured Carriers

A soft-structured carrier is much like a backpack and can be used to carry your child on your front or on your back. Many of the soft-structured carriers are not supportive enough to use with a newborn alone. Several of them have infant inserts that provide your baby with additional support.  

A soft-structured carrier was my very first baby carrier. I even still use one with my infant and toddler. Soft-structured carriers are particularly good for wearing your baby for longer periods of time, such as an outing to the zoo.  

woven wrap
Image via Mindi Stavish

Wraps

A wrap is the simplest baby carrier, as it is a long piece of fabric that you use to tie your baby to your body. Wraps come in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and materials, including cotton, gauze, and wool. Best of all, there are hundreds of different ways to wrap your baby to yourself, from hip carries to back carries. The age range for a wrap is newborn to toddler.

When I was pregnant with my third baby, a friend of mine showed me her wrap, and I was intrigued. It was amazing how well the wrap conformed to her body and helped her baby stay sleepy. She called her wrap “sleepy dust.”  

After I delivered my baby, I attended a baby-wearing meeting and learned a basic wrap for a newborn. It took me several weeks of practice to feel comfortable wrapping my newborn, but once I did, I fell in love with this type of baby carrier.

As a newborn, my son slept so well while in the wrap, and it was extremely comfortable. Ryker is 16 weeks old now, and I continue to love to wear him in my wrap. 

mom with infant in mei tai carrier
Image via Flickr/dani0010

Asian Baby Carriers

There are several different styles of Asian baby carriers, Mei Tai being one of the more popular. The Mei Tai is similar to a soft-structured carrier, yet instead of buckles, it has straps that tie.

The Mei Tai is constructed of a rectangle of fabric and four straps that come off each corner. The bottom straps are tied around your waist, and the shoulder straps are typically crossed and tied under your baby. The Mei Tai can be worn as a front, back, or hip carry.  

I have never used a Mei Tai, but I am amazed at how you can customize a Mei Tai based on your needs and body type. A few of the custom features include a padded body, longer straps, a padded waist, a hood, foot rests, and head rests.

So with these four carriers in mind, what are the quick and easy tips to remember for baby wearing safety? We've got the acronym that will help you keep your little one safe and sound:

Image via Baby Wearing International

According to Rachel Borman, leader of Baby Wearing International of Southern Maryland, there are a few basics about baby-wearing safety you should be aware of.

Babywearing Safety:

There are two basic rules you should always follow while wearing your baby:

1. Make sure your baby has a clear airway. Baby should always be visible with chin off of chest. Even while nursing in a carrier, the caregiver should always be able to see the baby. Baby should be held snugly by the carrier, and baby's back should be fully supported so that Baby never slumps chin to chest.

2. Don't drop your baby. If you are trying a new carrier or if you are trying a back carry, have someone spot you until you are completely comfortable with it. You can also work over a soft surface such as a bed or couch. If you have finished the carry and you feel like you need a hand on your baby, then you do need to keep a hand on Baby and try the carry again.

Babywearing groups are a great way to get hands-on help with any carrier.

Which carrier is your favorite? What tips would you offer a first-time mom considering baby carrying? 

Check out this great selection of 70% OFF baby carriers and wraps!  Remember that you get free returns with Amazon so you can find out which type works best for you!

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What do you think?

Which Type of Baby Carrier Is Right for You?

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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  1. i like the T.I.C.K.S.rule

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