5 Types Of Baby Carriers – Which One is Right For Your Baby?

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There are so many different types of baby carriers to choose from, so how do you know which one is right for your baby? This guide has the answer!

The best types of baby carriers guide of 2019

 

 

As a new mom, you’ll want to be close to your baby every chance you get. After all, they won’t be babies for long so you want to make the most out of every opportunity.

But sometimes, you need your hand free for cleaning, cooking or something else that’s on your to-do list, even though you’d much rather snuggle with your precious little one.

Using a baby carrier will allow you to keep your baby near but still have your hands available to get stuff done. You’ll get the best of both worlds and you’ll find yourself to be a multitasking pro in no time!

The practice of babywearing has been around forever. For centuries, women have been finding different ways to strap their babies to their chests to keep them safe, make transportation easier and freeing their hands for all chores they needed to do.

While we’ve come a long way from the first baby carriers made of bark, leaves and animal skins, choosing the right type of baby carrier for you and your baby is still tricky.

Which one is the best?

Which one will give you the most bang for your buck?

And most importantly, how do you know which one is right for you?

 

Do I Really Need a Baby Carrier

A lot of new parents ask if they really need a baby carrier as they already have bought a stroller. But if you ask me, a carrier isn’t an alternative to a stroller.

Baby carriers are a great solution for moms who want to carry their babies while still keep their hands free to do other things.

A baby carrier can also take some strain off you and help prevent your arms and shoulders from getting sore from holding your baby the traditional way.

If you plan on going to the beach, strolling along the shoreline, hiking or going to crowded places a lot, then a baby carrier may be a better choice to use for the places you can’t take a stroller or where one would be hard to push.

Some research has also shown that babies who are carried a lot, don’t cry as much. And that is one of the best benefits of a baby carrier!

 

 

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Benefits of Babywearing

There are lots of reasons why wearing your baby is a good idea. It can benefit both moms and babies physically, emotionally and it can even help breastfeeding efforts.

Here are some of the biggest benefits of babywearing:

1

Your Baby May Cry Less

A study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that infants who received supplemental carrying (not only in reaction to fussiness) cried and fussed 43% less overall, and 51% less during the evening hours.

 

2

It Prevents Flat Head Syndrome

When a baby lays on their back too much, they run the risk of developing a flat head (also known as plagiocephaly).

Plagiocephaly is preventable if you hold or wear your baby in a carrier instead of letting them stay on their backs in cribs, baby swings or pack ‘n plays for long periods of time.

 

Did you know?

 If your baby gets a severe case of plagiocephaly, they may have to wear a helmet to correct it.

 

 

3

Stable Heart Rate and Body Temperature

Your baby’s heart rate can be too low at times and too high at other times. The best place for the heart rate to be is more in the middle. Babywearing can help your baby’s heart rate stabilize so it is in the optimal zone.

Wearing your baby can also help your little one have a more stable temperature and help them regulate their breathing according to a Harvard study.

 

4

Freedom to Multitask

If you only use your arms to carry your child it will become very heavy quickly and your arms will eventually start to hurt from the extra weight you’re carrying. Carrying a baby in your arms actually takes 16 percent more energy than using a baby carrier.

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When you have your child in a carrier, your child will be close, while you have your hands free to do anything else. This means that you can become a multitasking queen and check off things from your to-do list while still taking care of your baby.

 

5

The Bond Between Parent & Child Becomes Stronger

Wearing your baby is a great way to connect with each other. You can look into your baby’s eyes while you talk or sing to her and you can sniff her head to smell that sweet scent.

Your awareness of your baby’s needs increases as well. When your baby is close, you can recognize the early signs of hunger faster and can begin to nurse (sometimes right in the carrier) without your baby needing to cry.

 

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5 Different Types of Baby Carriers

There’s a whole lot of different types of baby carriers that you can choose from and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, cause let me tell ya, it’s a jungle out there. Every carrier has it’s own features and pros and cons but the important thing is that you choose one that fits your lifestyle and your needs.

These are the five main types of carriers you’ll come across:

 

1. Stretchy Wrap

Age range: Newborn – 12 months
Weight range: Up to 25 lbs (11 kg)

A stretchy wrap is a long piece of elastic fabric that is tied around your body, creating a pocket and straps that secure the baby to your chest. It is suitable for carrying your newborn and even your premature baby.

The advantage with a stretchy wrap is that it’s soft and comfortable against the baby’s sensitive skin, but also very easy to tie.

You don’t have to untie the wrap when you want to take out or put in your baby. Which is practical since there’s a lot of diaper changes with a new baby.

When the baby weighs a bit more though, the wrap may feel weak. The stretchy wrap doesn’t reduce the weight of the baby as well either. Most people exchange their stretchy wrap for a woven wrap at this point.



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Pros
  • Allows you to breastfeed in
  • You can wear your baby from day one
  • Distributes the weight very well over your entire torso (No sore shoulders or back!)
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Cons
  • Can only be used until the baby is 6-12 months
  • There’s a learning curve to get a hang of the tie
  • Not quick to either put on or take off

 

 

2. Ring Sling

Age range: Newborn – 2-3 years
Weight range: Up to 45 lbs (20 kg)

The ring sling is made from a single piece of fabric that is pulled through two rings and form a loop.

It doesn’t need to be wrapped and is worn over your shoulder, kinda like a sash. It is important to not only wear the ring sling on the same shoulder and by changing shoulder the parent avoids spine pains.

The beauty of a ring sling is that it’s quick to pick out and put in the child because the wrap doesn’t need to be untied. If the ring sling is tied right and it is properly tightened, a child can be worn for a couple of hours without causing pain in the back or shoulder on the parent.

A larger child is preferably worn on the parents hip, with support from the ring sling under the buttocks and above the child’s back. A smaller child can be worn like a small frog on the stomach of the parent.



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Pros
  • Quick to put on
  • Distributes weight between shoulder and pelvis
  • Easy to breastfeed in
  • Can be used in a lot of carrying positions
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Cons
  • Takes a while to learn how to adjust
  • A weight limit of 45 lbs
  • Not suitable to use for long periods of time
  • Might not fit both parents since they’re fit to size

 

3. Woven Wrap

Age range: Newborn – 3 years
Weight range: Up to 35 lbs (15 kg)

Woven wraps are a long piece of cloth that is wrapped around the parent and baby and then tied, creating a tight, secure, and supportive wrap. The woven wraps aren’t as elastic as the stretchy wrap which makes them more stable and provides better support as the baby gets heavier.

There are a lot more ways to tie a woven wrap compared to the stretchy wrap. The baby can be worn on both the stomach, hip and back but it can not be lifted in and out of the wrap without you having to untie the wrap.

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A lot of parents start with a stretchy wrap and switch to a woven wrap as the baby gets bigger and heavier. But it is possible to use woven wraps for newborn children as well.

The woven wrap also lets you carry the child for long periods of time, even for a full day, without getting sore shoulders or back because the shawl distributes the weight evenly across the back, shoulders, and hips.



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Pros
  • Allows you to breastfeed in
  • Distributes the weight very well over your entire torso (No sore shoulders or back!)
  • Can be used from newborn til 3 years
  • You can wear the child in a lot of positions
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Cons
  • Takes some practice to get the tying technique right
  • Can be hot and cumbersome due to the length of the material
  • The size of a wrap indicates it’s length. (Size 5, 6 and 7 usually fits all.)

 

4. Mei Tai

Age range: Newborn – 4 years
Weight range: Up to 45 lbs (20 kg)

Mei Tais are based on traditional Asian baby carriers. It’s a mix between a wrap and an ergonomic carrier. A Mei Tai has a back panel just like a carrier, but instead of the shoulder strap and hip belt (like on a hiking backpack), a Mei Tai has four straps that tie the same way as a wrap.

The weight is distributed to both shoulders which make the Mei Tai great for parents with heavy children. The child is generally worn on the front or back, but can also be used in a hip carry position.

Mei Tai carriers offer a lot of versatility, is easy to use and provides good relief for both moms and dads no matter what position they prefer to carry in. A Mei Tai has a long service life, it is cool, easy to bring and great to breastfeed in.



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Pros
  • Adjustable to fit all body types
  • Can be used for front, back, and hip carries.
  • Can be used from newborn til toddler
  • Comfortable to use with heavy children
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Cons
  • Long straps which may possibly drag on the ground
  • At the age of 3-5 months, the babies seem to be too big to curl their legs in, and too small to spread their legs outside.
  • Not as compact as slings

 

 

5. Structured Carrier

Age range: Newborn (with extra insert) – 3 years
Weight range: Up to 35 lbs (15 kg)

Structured carriers are suitable for babies age 6 months and older till they reach 18-20 kg (depending on the carrier size). A lot of carriers have an extra insert for newborn babies so you can carry your little ones as soon as they are born.

These carriers have a wide and padded hip belt that distributes the weight to end up on the hip and not on the shoulders of the parent. The child sits in an ergonomic position that supports the pelvis and thighs and lets the child sit in the frog position. The back is also supported, but at the same time allows it to follow its natural round

You can wear your baby in a tummy-to-tummy position or on your back. Some carriers also let you wear your baby on the hip. Structured carriers are among the most comfortable carriers, especially if you intend on wearing your child even as they get bigger and heavier.



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Pros
  • Super easy to use
  • Can be used from newborn til toddler
  • Very comfortable to use, especially with heavier children
  • You can choose from a lot of features, colors, and patterns
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Cons
  • Doesn’t fit that great on parents who are short
  • Infant inserts are almost always needed
  • Can be expensive
  • Not as compact as slings

 

Important!

It is vital that you check your baby’s position every now and then – No matter which carrier you choose.

 

 

 

How to Wear Your Baby Safely

Babywearing can be great for both you and your baby, but there are a few general guidelines that you should keep in mind when wearing your baby.

Practicing safe babywearing will allow you to enjoy all the benefits of keeping your baby close while also keeping them safe.

 

The T.I.C.K.S. Rule for Safe Babywearing

the TICKS rules of safe babywearing

Photo credit: Baby Sling Safety

A UK agency called The Consortium of UK Sling Manufacturers and Retailers has developed a checklist to promote sling safety. It is known as the TICKS Rule for Safe Baby Wearing. It is easy to remember and gives you a good foundation for babywearing safety:

T

TIGHT – Your carrier should be as close to you as possible while still being comfortable to wear. Any slack/loose fabric will allow your baby to slump down in the carrier which can hinder their breathing and cause back pain for you.

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I

IN VIEW AT ALL TIMES – You should always be able to see your baby’s face. The fabric of a sling or carrier should never wrap up around them so that you have to open it to check on them. In a cradle position, your baby should face upwards, not be turned in towards your body.

C

CLOSE ENOUGH TO KISS – Your baby’s head should be as close to yours as possible. By tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss your baby on the forehead.

K

KEEP CHIN OFF THE CHEST – There should always be room between the baby’s chin and their chest. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby’s chin.

S

SUPPORTED BACK – If wearing your baby in the upright position, their back should be supported in its natural position. If their back isn’t supported, it can cause them to slump and hinder their breathing.  A baby in a cradle carry should be positioned carefully with their bottom in the deepest part so the sling does not fold them in half.

 

 

 

 

 

Other Important Babywearing Safety Tips

As long as you remember the T.I.C.K.S. rules, you’ll know that your baby is safe in their carrier. But there are still a few more things you should keep in the back of your mind:

  • Never drink hot beverages while wearing.
  • Never ride a bike or drive while wearing.
  • Practice with a doll or stuffed animal in the carrier for the first few times.
  • Always check all buckles and knots to make sure the carrier is secure.
  • Check your carrier for signs of wear or damage periodically.
  • Tuck in any loose fabric so you don’t trip on it.
  • Be very careful when picking something up. Bend/squat at the knees instead of at the hip and use one of your arms to hold baby securely against your chest.

 

 

The Right and Wrong Way to Carry a Baby

Unfortunately, certain carriers and carrying positions can be a huge danger for causing dysplasia.

Carriers, where baby’s legs are dangling, should be avoided, as they do not support proper positioning and can lead to hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a common developmental issue that usually happens during the first few months of life.

Hip Dysplasia

This diagram from the International Hip Dysplasia Institue shows the right and wrong ways baby should be carried.

In the “wrong” position, the baby’s thigh is not supported to the knee joint. The resulting forces on the hip joint may contribute to hip dysplasia.

In the right position. The baby’s thigh is supported to the knee joint. The forces on the hip joint are minimal because the legs are spread, supported, and the hip is in a more stable position.

 

 

 

Some Considerations Before You Buy

1

Try them on – Ask your friends to try their carriers with your baby or go to the store and ask to try different models. It’s a good idea to test different carriers before buying one to make sure that you choose one that you find comfortable.

2

Set a budget – Most good quality and ergonomic carriers cost between $30 and $175 so there are options at every price point. Buying a (gently) used carrier is a great way to save money. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website before purchasing, to make sure that the carrier model hasn’t been recalled first.

3

Save the receipt – Some babies refuse to be in a carrier. Make sure to ask the stores return policy and save the receipt in case you want to return the carrier.

4

Choose machine washable – Your carrier will be part of accidents involved both puke and poop so it’s a good idea to choose a carrier that can be washed in a machine.

 

 

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There is a lot to think about when choosing a carrier. But even though it may feel overwhelming with all the different types of carriers, choices and safety rules to remember, there are so many benefits to babywearing that it’s worth the hassle.

Baby carrying can take some getting used to at first, but you’ll soon discover that it’s a great way to keep your baby close while still getting things done.

 

 

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Viktoria Andersson

Viktoria Andersson is a writer, editor, coffee junkie, and most importantly, the loving mother of a little boy and a girl. Viktoria's goal at What Babies Love is to help the new moms make motherhood an easier job.

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mireille - July 5, 2019

I have had several kinds that I have used and my favorite has been the ergo followed my the ring carrier

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