If you've started looking online at baby carriers, you might be wondering “Which baby carrier is right for me?”
You've probably noticed that there is a huge range of options too and it can feel tricky choosing the right one.
This article will break down each style of baby carrier so it's clearer what may be best for your needs and purposes.
Babywearing has been present in some form since the beginning of humankind and has been used traditionally around the world in every culture. There are many different styles of carriers in use all around the world, with six types being the most common in Australia. These are Stretchy Wraps, Soft Structured Buckle Carriers, Ring Slings, Meh Dais, and Woven Wraps.
A stretchy wrap is a long piece of stretchy material, about 4-5 metres in length, and ideal for newborns. It is fairly simple to use and can be pre-tied, meaning you can put it on at home and pop baby in when you arrive at your destination. Stretchy wraps are beginner friendly and a good introduction to concepts like positioning and making a seat. These concepts are really important if you progress to a woven wrap or ring sling. The soft and supportive material is lovely in the 4th trimester for babies and caregivers. It is important to note that stretchy wraps do have a weight limit and tend to get a bit saggy or ‘diggy’ as baby gets bigger. They are generally comfortable up to about 7-8kg.
This is a compact and simple style of baby carrier made from woven fabric of about 2 metres in length. They have a set of rings sewn to one end which you thread the fabric through belt style to make a loop which sits diagonally across your body. This type of carrier has a slight learning curve but after a small amount of practice they become very quick and straightforward.
Ring slings are wonderful in the warmer weather due to carrying your child off-centre or on your hip and avoiding that direct heat exchange off the centre of your body. You can read more about your summer options on this blog focused on carrying your baby in warm weather.
Depending on the brand, they are soft and supportive enough for newborns, yet strong and sturdy enough for toddlers. They also allow for easy breastfeeding and fold up super compact for easy storage when you're out!
Soft Structured Buckle Carriers
This type of carrier is more structured with a waistband, a back panel, and shoulder straps. There are a huge variety of brands and styles available each with slightly different adjustments, material, quality, and features, but the essence is the same. Clip the waistbelt on, put your baby in, clip up the back clip, and you are good to go!
For this reason they are probably the simplest of carriers to use and make a great option for babysitters or caregivers that don’t have the time to learn how to use other options. It is worthwhile trying on as many styles of structured carriers as possible so that you can select the one that works best for you and your baby and feels most comfortable.
Structured carriers are available in options from newborn right up to pre-schooler. Most brands are highly adjustable now and will allow for the carrier to grow with your baby from newborn into toddlerhood. Avoid carriers that require an infant insert as these can be hot and fiddly. Soft Structured Buckle Carriers are simple to use, easily adjustable, and can be used for front, hip, back, and facing out carrier positions.
This style of carrier is a traditional carrier originating from Asia. Meh Dais are made from woven wrap material with a waistband, a back panel, and shoulder straps. You tie the belt on, place baby in, and then tie the shoulder straps crossed diagonally over and around your back. These carriers are very straightforward and offer a snug and supportive fit for your baby. Many are adjustable from newborn to toddler and can be used for both front and back carries. This styles combines the convenience of a buckle carrier with the comfort and fit of a woven wrap and is easy to use between caregivers as you will get the perfect fit every time.
A woven wrap is a piece of woven fabric that ranges from 2.7m (size 2) to around 5.7m (size 8). There is a huge variety of options from the fibres used to the beautiful designs available. Different kinds of material will offer their own features owith different patterns, fibres, and each with different textures including thin, floppy, thick, cushy, grippy or soft.
Woven wraps can be used right from newborn and can be used for front, back and hip carries. They do take some practice to use comfortably and there is a bit of a learning curve. But once you have mastered the basic of a Front Wrap Cross Carry there are 100’s of different ways to wrap which offers so much versatility. Different carries offer different distribution of weight, support and more. For this reason they can offer the most personalised fit of all carrier types in my opinion.
This type of carrier is a traditional Japanese style back carrier that has no waist band. They are suitable for use with babies who can sit unassisted and wonderful with toddlers for quick carries from A to B. This style of carrier is worn up higher on the back than a soft structured carrier which gives your child a much better view of the world. Having no waistband makes Onbuhimos quite compact, fast to put on and good for pregnant women or those with tummy discomfort.
So, how to pick the right baby carrier for you?
Look at what your needs are and what you are looking for out of a carrier. Who will wear it? How often and for how long? How old is your baby? Try out different styles if possible or ask trusted peers for their reviews on a style. Then pick the carrier type that best fits your needs.
Once you have picked your carrier type then the fun begins! You can download our free guide 5 Essential Tips for Babywearing Success which will see you carrying your baby comfortably and safely!
A baby carrier is such a fantastic tool for any parent of caregiver to have! Enjoy!