Photo Courtesy Kourtlyn Lott
Baby carrying has become increasingly popular in the US within the last decade. From backpacks to wraps, more and more American parents are choosing to wear their babies especially in the first few months of life. Although baby carrying has been around for thousands of years and it has been shown that different cultures carry their babies in different ways, the phenomenon of baby carrying has spread like wildfire. This has birthed a multitude of brands featuring different types of baby carriers to choose from and although it’s great to have variety, the majority of new moms have no idea which style to choose, what brands are best or what would be the ways to use them. With that being said, here’s a list of the different types of baby carriers and their best uses:
Wraps are the most popular baby carrier, mainly because of the versatility and comfort. A wrap will usually come in a variety of different lengths and fabrics in order to accommodate the weight of the baby or toddler so that they are secure. One of the best things about wraps is the fact that they are versatile and can be used to carry baby in various positions (front facing, back facing, front carry, hip carry, back carry, etc.). Another great thing about wraps is that you can buy fabrics that fit your style, mood and weather conditions (more breathable fabrics in the summer, heavier fabrics during the winter, etc.). Wraps can be used all day- whether you’re running errands, breastfeeding, doing tasks around the house or exercising moderately.
While wraps are multipurpose and extremely handy, learning the proper way to wrap your child so that they are supported and comfortable will be your biggest challenge. It is said, however, that once you learn the techniques and master them, that you’ll never forget again. If you choose a wrap as your baby carrier, you will need to practice wrapping through tutorials on YouTube or from actual wrap expert who can guide you through the step-by-step process of proper wrapping techniques. If you’re a woman who isn’t afraid of the complexity and adaptability of the wrap then this may be the perfect choice for you.
Pouch slings are an easy option, as they are customized to fit you and support baby comfortably. These slings are typically worn like a sash, are not adjustable and don’t offer much versatility in terms of carrying options (cradle, front and hip), but they are extremely easy to use, inexpensive, and compact enough to fit into your purse or diaper bag! Pouch slings can be used for quick errands, breastfeeding and are mainly used around the house.
Wearability pretty much depends on how heavy your child is and how your back and shoulders feel, but typically moms wear them from birth all the way up to early toddlerhood. However, when you are carrying your newborn in the cradle position, you will still need to hold him which doesn’t give you that hands-free experience that so many of us long for. But one of the best things about this option is the fact that you can literally put it on, put baby into it (securely) and go, which makes them the perfect option for the busy mom who needs something quick, easy and effective.
Ring Slings are a great option for moms who are looking for something a little more stylish. These carriers are basically just a long piece of fabric with a pair of rings attached to it for easy, quick adjustments and added secureness. Otherwise known as a “one-shoulder carry,” the ring sling offers a multitude of different wearing positions including the front face, back face, front carry, hip carry and back carry. This sling can be used from birth until toddlerhood and can be utilized for easy breastfeeding.
This popular carrier option originates from China and traditionally consists of a large panel of fabric (where the baby sits), two short straps to tie around the waist and two long straps to wrap over the shoulders. Mei tai carriers are traditionally for back carrying, but can be used to front carry as well-especially for newborns. There are multiple different styles of carrying that can be achieved with mei tai although it can only be used for front and back carry. The versatility and simplicity of the mei tai makes it a perfect option for those who rotate carrying duties (mom, dad, grandma, etc.).
Soft Structured Carriers
Otherwise known as backpack or buckle carries, SSCs are probably the most common baby carrier you’ll see. Popular brands such as ErgoBaby and Baby Bjorn have made SSCs the default option for many new moms, as they are supportive, easy to operate and easily adjustable. Many of them feature padded waistbands, shoulder straps and even lumbar support panels that help keep you comfortable while keeping your posture in check. These carriers are also comfortable for baby since the seats are typically adjustable and padded as well. SSCs are durable and can be worn for an extended period of time- some moms even hike with them.
Wearability usually extends from birth into late toddlerhood, but each brand is different. SSCs are typically used for back carrying, but they can be used for front carrying as well. These carriers are quite bulky, so if you’re looking for a more portable option then you may want to reconsider, but if you’re a mom who’s looking for a foolproof carrier that you can buckle on and off without worrying about whether or not it’s secure, than an SSC may be the perfect choice for you.
The carrier you choose is basically just an extension of your personality and personal preference. It is best to do your research and consult with other moms and carrier experts who can guide you through proper carrying practices and techniques, no matter which carries the option you choose. Each carrier type can range from cheap to expensive depending on the brand so rest assured that no matter what your budget is, there is a carrier option that suits your needs.