Babywearing For Newbies (Part 3): Types of Carriers

In part one of Babywearing for the Newbie, I provided you with a history of babywearing and in part two I discussed the advantages and benefits of babywearing. Now that you are well versed in the basics, let me take you on a tour of the types of babywearing options as well as some basic babywearing safety tips. And again, if you would like to view some gorgeous photos of babywearing around the world, check out this post I recently published on my personal blog.

Types of Babywearing Carriers

If you are in the market for a baby carrier, it is important for you to understand the different types of babywearing options. Not all of them will fit in with your lifestyle of your physical ability to wear your baby. I have provided a comprehensive look at the different types of babywearing options so that you may better understand what will work best for you.

Front Carrier

front carrier Babywearing For Newbies (Part 3): Types of Carriers progressive parenting parenting natural parenting  infants & toddlers

Image: mslaura

A favorite with parents, front carriers are well known for their comfort and ease of use. All straps and buckles are located in the front, so the wearer simply places the shoulder straps on the shoulders, cuddles baby between chest and carrier, and securely buckles the upper fabric and adjustable waist belt. Young infants face inward with a neck support, while older babies can face outward, with the neck support folded down. A front carrier is structured, with thick, stiff material for excellent support for baby’s neck and spine, but also soft and flexible for comfort and easy storage.

·Ages: Newborn (with extra buckles) to 1-2 years
·Weight limit: Up to 25 lbs
·Positions: Front; facing in for newborns, facing out for infants who can easily hold their head.
·Advantages: Structured design distributes the weight evenly across both shoulders; Very easy to learn and use; Balance of structured material and soft padding allows for baby comfort as well as great support.
·Limitations: Slightly bulky, may not fit in diaper bags; Can be used for nursing, but a sling is a better option.
·Best for: Daily walks with newborn or infant.

Hip Carrier

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Image: reebob

Designed to be worn exclusively on the hip, hip carriers are popular with parents starting to babywear with an older baby. These carriers are designed to cup the shoulder, so that the strap doesn’t ride up on the wearer’s neck when the baby is being held on the hip. Parents adopting older babies love these for adoption travel, thanks to the compact design, ease of use, and close connection with their baby.

·Ages: Head control through 3 years old
·Weight limit: Up to 35 lbs
·Positions: Excellent for hip carries
·Advantages: Makes carrying even a heavy baby on the hip comfortable; Buckles allow for quick and easy on-and-off; Easy to learn to use; Compact design.
·Limitations: Excellent for hip carrying, but not great for other positions; Cannot be used with a newborn.
·Best for: Older babies through to toddlers who love being carried on the hip.

Mai Teis

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Image: nicodeemus1

The modern Mei Tai is based on traditional Asian baby carriers. In a Mei Tai baby carrier, the baby can be worn on the wearer’s back or front. Hip carries are also possible. The design is simple: a panel of fabric with supporting straps to go around the waist and over the shoulders. Mei Tai baby carriers are easy to use and their two-shouldered design makes them comfortable with even the heaviest babies. Some parents find that the long straps look intimidating, but this is actually the easiest carrier for parents to learn to use and master.

·Ages: Newborn through 4 years old
·Weight limit: Up to 45 lbs
·Positions: Excellent for front and back carries; can also be used for hip carries.
·Advantages: Come in a wide range of fabrics; fashionable, fun, and funky; Two-shouldered design distributes the weight of heavier babies very well; Can be worn on the front or as a baby backpack carrier; Fairly compact design; Easy to learn to use.
·Limitations: Not as compact as pouches or ring slings, may not fit in all diaper bags; Cannot be used in a cradle position with newborns, only upright; Long straps may drag on the ground during the tying process, so not great for putting on in wet parking lots.
·Best for: Great all around carrier. Newborns (in upright position) through toddler.

Pouches

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Image: stetted

Baby Pouches, or slings, are the simplest and most straightforward type of baby carrier. They are popular for their compact design and ease of use. Baby pouches are available in Fitted and Adjustable versions.

·Ages: Newborn through 3 years old
·Weight limit: Up to 35 lbs
·Positions: Cradle and tummy-to-tummy carries in the front. Hip carry with older infants
·Advantages: Available in a wide range of colors and patterns; Relatively inexpensive; Easy to learn to use; Quick to put on – great for errands and short outings; Pretty good for nursing; Compact size fits in most diaper bags.
·Limitations: Weight is carried on one shoulder, so it can be tiring for long periods of wearing; Fitted pouches cannot be shared between different sized users; Not good for back carrying.
·Best for: Newborns and small babies, and quick trips with older babies.

Ring Slings

ring sling 199x300 Babywearing For Newbies (Part 3): Types of Carriers progressive parenting parenting natural parenting  infants & toddlers

Image: HoboMama

Similar in structure to a wrap, you thread the long fabric through a pair of rings. This creates a secure, yet adjustable, pouch for your baby. The best ring slings are fully adjustable, ensuring a perfect fit no matter who is wearing the baby. An open tail (the loose fabric threaded through the rings) is not only beautiful, but functional. It can serve many purposes: nursing cover-up, sun shade, and more. Ring slings are one of the best carriers for nursing, particularly with newborns. The adjustable design of the carrier allows you to get the baby latched on in the position you like, before tightening the sling around the baby to support them in that position.

·Ages: Newborn through 3 years old
·Weight limit: Up to 45 lbs
·Positions: Excellent for front and hip carry positions
·Advantages: Best carrier for nursing, even with the newest babies; Adjustable design allows it to be shared by different wearers; Many fabrics to choose from; Tail can be used for nursing privacy (and as sun shade, emergency changing pad, burp cloth, etc.); Compact design for easy portability.
·Limitations: Weight is carried on one shoulder, so it can be tiring for long periods of wearing; Some parents don’t like the look of the tails on these slings (though they can be tucked out of sight for a more streamlined look).
·Best for: Nursing, newborns and small babies, quick trips with older babies, hip carries with older babies.

Structured

structured carrier Babywearing For Newbies (Part 3): Types of Carriers progressive parenting parenting natural parenting  infants & toddlers

Image: HoboMama

Structured baby carriers are the most supportive design of carrier. Inspired by hiking backpacks, they feature padded shoulder straps and stiff waist/hip belts, adjustable nylon straps, and lots of buckles. Dads love these! Because of the structured design, and the ability to transfer a lot of the child’s weight to the hips, these are among the most comfortable carriers with even the heaviest of children. Going one step further, a baby backpack carrier is an actual hiking backpack converted for older babies. Your toddler sits comfortably in a seat with a secure harness built into the backpack. These types are the bulkiest of any carrier, and are best for camping or long hikes. A great way to introduce your older baby or toddler to the great outdoors!

·Ages: One year through preschooler – Ergo can be used from birth with optional infant insert for front carry
·Weight limit: Up to 55 lbs
·Positions: Excellent for front and back carries; Some can also be used for hip carries.
·Advantages: Structured design distributes the weight along shoulders and hips, taking the weight of the heaviest little ones very well; Can be worn on the front or as a baby backpack carrier; Some can also be used as a hip carry; Easy to learn to use.
·Limitations: Fairly bulky, won’t fit in most diaper bags; Can be used with newborns and for nursing, but not the best option out there.
·Best for: Long periods of babywearing, hiking, and wearing heavy babies and toddlers.

Wraps

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Image: HoboMama

Wraparound Baby Carriers (wraps) are the least structured carriers available. They are simply long pieces of fabric that the wearer wraps around herself and her baby to create a secure and supportive carrier. Because of the special wrapping and tying techniques involved, they have the longest learning curve of any baby carrier. However, they also provide exceptional versatility and comfort – even with the heaviest of babies.

Many people find that wraps look very intimidating, but there are several easy “beginner” techniques that anyone can learn to do.

·Ages: Newborn through 4 years old
·Weight limit: Up to 55 lbs (woven, gauze); Up to 25 lbs (stretchy)
·Positions: Excellent for a variety of different front, back, and hip carries
·Advantages: Come in a wide range of fabrics and colors; Two-shouldered design distributes the weight of heavier babies; Excellent for nursing hands-free; Very versatile – many, many carrying options.
·Limitations: Wraps can take some time to learn to use; You are dealing with a long piece of fabric – this may be cumbersome for quick trips.
·Best for: Newborns (especially stretchy wraps), and extended wearing with older babies. Great all around carrier (especially woven and gauze versions), thanks to the wide range of carrying positions available, with even heavy children.
There are several different types of wraparound carriers:
·Stretchy: Soft and cuddly, and can be pre-tied, allowing you to “pop” baby in and out of the carrier without retying. Wonderful for newborns, providing ample support and a snuggly swaddled effect. Stretchy wraps can be more difficult to use for back carries.
·Gauze: Strong and very lightweight. A great summer wrap for front, back or hip. Little to no stretch means that this is a very supportive wrap with even the heaviest of babies.
·Woven: These are woven fabrics, usually made with a special weave to provide “just-right” stretch. These are by no means as stretchy as a stretchy wrap, but are just enough to be snuggly.
·Water Wraps: Specialty wraps that can be used in the pool or shower.
{Stay tuned for Part 4 where I look at Babywearing Safety – an important topic for all babywearers!}

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Jennifer Saleem

Jennifer, author of Hybrid Rasta Mama, is a former government recruiter turned stay-at-home mama to a precious daughter (“Tiny”) brought earthside in early 2009. She is passionate about conscious parenting, natural living, holistic health/wellness, real foods, and a Waldorf inspired approach to education. Jennifer is committed to breastfeeding (especially extended breastfeeding), bed-sharing, cloth diapering, green living, babywearing, peaceful parenting, playful parenting, and getting children outside. She is a hybrid parent, taking a little of this, throwing in a little of that, and blending it all together to create a parenting style that is centered on what her daughter needs in order to flourish as a human being. Jennifer also lives and breathes reggae music, the Rastafarian culture and way of life. Reggae music and its message touches her soul.






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Comments

  1. says

    This is great! Very informative. I've mainly only done soft structured baby carriers in the past, but I've been thinking about trying a wrap with my daughter, who is now 2.5. Do you have any suggestions? You mentioned that the stretchy wrap is great for newborns, is it also good for toddlers or do I need something with less give because of the weight? I was considering a Moby Wrap, mainly because it offers a maximum weight limit of 35 pounds. Is there anything out there that offers more?

    Thank You!

    • says

      Hi Tasha!

      I love the Beco for my 3 1/2 year old. The Ergo is another similiar choice. I also have a Moby but my daughter finds it much less comfy than the Beco. Check that product out. I think you will like it alot!

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