I've said it many times on here, so not to sound like a broken record, but I'm a HUGE fan of babywearing; not only for the closeness to baby, but also for the incredible convenience. Babywearing was a life-saver for me when my second son was born, and my older son was just about to turn 2. To be able to have my little guy safe and happy but still have my hands free to help my 2 year old was huge! BUT, I know not everyone is interested in babywearing; this is not me pushing it on anyone. This is just intended to be a an overview of the benefits, the great options out there highlight and some of my personal favorites. Keep in in mind that different carriers work best different people. The fit is very much individual based on your size & build, and the preference is totally personal, often based on ease of use, experience babywearing, look & feel, lifestyle, and many other factors. Here's a round-up of popular styles and examples and some of my favorites:
Wrap carriers are a great option as they are extremely convenient (they can be rolled up in your diaper bag), really comfortable, and easily adjusted to get a perfect fit. There is a bit of a learning curve, but there are a number of videos out there and babywearing groups to help! Once you learn different carries, wraps can be the most versatile babywearing option.
Stretchy- soft and cozy they are perfect for new babies through their first couple months (dependent on weight). They are usually an affordable option, but note the lifespan is not great b/c they typically start to sag as baby gets heavier.
Moby- likely the most popular, great starter wrap, but can be heavy and warm
Boba- similar to the Moby but slightly lighter in weight
Baby K'Tan- lightweight and extremely user friendly, but make sure sizing is accurate; I recommend using your pre-pregnancy size
Hybrid-awesome wraps, particularly great for newbies...soft like stretchy wraps but more supportive. You won't get the sag, and can often get a tighter fit that with a traditional stretchy wrap
Wrapsody Stretch Hyprid- This is a personal favorite of mine- its t-shirt like soft but very supportive and easy to work with
ergobaby wrap- this is a brand new wrap that's just hitting the market. I have not personally tried this, but from what it advertises, it looks to be a great option
Woven- Woven wraps come in many different fabric blends including cotton, linen, and wool. These wraps can be very pricey but can last from birth to toddlerhood. The are extremely supportive and can be used for vast number of carries based on the length (including back carries). There are so many great wraps out there I couldn't possibly touch on them, but here are a couple good ones to start with:
Lets be clear, ring slings are not the same as pouch slings which are not safe for babies. Ring slings are great carriers that allow you to carry baby tummy to tummy from birth through toddlerhood. They are probably the most convenient and portable carrier. I always leave one in the car and find them perfect for running errands and quick trips etc. I personally don't recommend for longs walks or extended periods, but great for short trips, and very airy in the warmer months. They are also great for nursing in and the tail can act as built-in nursing cover. Ring slings do take a bit of practice to get the right seat for baby and get it comforitable for you; don't give up on them if you can't get it right at first.
Sakura Bloom Linen- one of my personal favorites, very airy and breathable, was my go-to this summer and always found in my car or tucked in my diaper bag.
Maya Wrap- these slings are a great starter sling as they can be found at a good price point
Sleeping Baby Productions- offers really great slings and ring sling wrap conversions
I am a big fan of Mei Tais. They are a very simple Asian inspired carrier. They offer great support and comfort like an SSC with front & back carries, but because the waist and straps are ties, I find that you are able to get a more customized fit which is ideal for my petite frame. You can also roll the waist very easily to customize the height for baby. This is also a very portable option, I typically travel with one and roll in up easily into my bag. Another Perk is that Mei Tais can be a little bit cheaper than most SSCs
Babyhawk- great basic mei tai that's soft and easy to work with and comes in some really great fabric options including the new ahoy which I'm in love with :-) they make a standard size an a toddler size both of which can easily be rolled for a good fit
Catbird- also a great mei tai option one added benefit is the option of a hood with this carrier to cover the sun or while baby is sleeping
Baby SaBye- these are definitely a more pricey mei tai option, but they are handwoven, really beautiful, extremely supportive, and I found it to be very comfortable as the straps spread over your shoulders it nicely distributes weight
SOFT STRUCTURED CARRIERS (SSC)
SSC's /buckle carriers are likely the most popular baby carrying options. All SSCs below can do front carries and back carries, and many can do hips carries as well. Many people find them the most comfortable option for long walks and extended carries, they are extremely user friendly with very little learning curve. Most SSC's also have a fairly long life span and are easy to care for. One downside is that SSC's aren't always the best for new babies. When baby is big enough and sturdy enough to be in a carrier with no insert, keep in mind that baby should be in a seat where their bum is lower than their knees, and the carrier supports them knee to knee. Many people like the combo of getting a stretchy wrap or ring sling as well as an SSC. There are SO many great SSC's out there, but these are ones that I'd consider especially at first:
Beco Gemini- I'm a huge fan of Beco and really love the Gemini. Its the first carrier I recommend to new moms as its easy to use, really comfortable and supportive for mom and baby, the straps can cross in the back (which is really important for petite people like me), it offers great head support for baby, and it uniquely allows you to make the base of the seat smaller with snaps to accommodate small babies without an insert. You can use this carrier from soon after birth to likely 18 months(ish) depending on the size of your baby. The Gemini does accommodate baby facing out as well, but I'm not a fan of that for long periods...One downside is that while the body is very tall and can mostly cover baby, the Gemini does not come with a hood.
Beco-Soleil- Another great carrier from Beco- the Soleil will likely have a longer life span than the Gemini with a wider base, however to use it with a baby under 3-4 months (ish..depends on size) you really need the infant insert. The Soleil also allows you to cross the straps in the back. If you have a small waist, the Soileil might now work for you...in says it cinches in to 27 inches, but I think its more like 28 inches, and remember you'll be wearing it up at your natural waist.
Ergo Baby- hugely popular carrier and beloved by a lot of people. Ergos are great, they are easy to find, priced well, and come in really cute options like my favorite new Sea Skipper print. I will say that Ergos are not designed well for petite people. I can use an Ergo carrier as a back pack just fine, but as a front carrier it does not work on me. The straps fall down my shoulders and I find it difficult to put on myself... But for those who are not petite it can work really well. The Ergo is fairly lightweight and its very soft but the body has less body structure thank other carriers which some have a perk and some don't like at all... If you are having a summer baby or live in a warmer climate I will warn that the infant insert can be very hot... but perfect for the cold in Maine right now :-)
Tula- really well loved and respected carrier in the babywearing community. their prints are out of this world cute, and they are known for being really comfortable carriers. Note that Tula does not offer an infant insert and the seat base will be wide for a new baby.. They also offer a Toddler Tula if you are interested in carrier a bigger baby well into toddlerhood...
Angelpack- these are terrific handmade carriers- they also offer great custom options.. Angelpacks are lightweight yet still offer a bit of structure in the body. I find them well made and really comfortable. They do don't have infant inserts available thought but do come with hoods. They also make an Angelpack Max carrier for carrying babies well into toddlerhood- Which I find unbelievably comfortable for carrying an almost 2 year old!
Boba 4G- I have never personally used this carrier, but it without a doubt deserves to be mentioned in this roundup. I know so many people that love and swear by this carrier. It is extremely versatile accommodating babies 7-45lbs, it includes an integrated infant insert, and has a comparitivey high body among other features. The Boba does not allow you to cross the straps in the back, which is one reason I have yet to try it. It advertises that in accommodates parent's with small waists, but I can't speak to the fit personally.
Lilebaby Complete- this is a carrier I have not tried but its getting a lot of buzz...it allows you to cinch in the base, and also allows baby to face out among many other great features..not to mention they have a new designer collection that is super cute!
**keep in mind this is just an overview of some of the popular and basic options out there...but there are so many fabulous carriers and styles I couldn't possibly hit on all :-)
Remember I am an avid babywearer, but certainly no expert. I highly recommend checking out TheBabyWearer.com and Babywearing International for more information and to find an expert and/or babywearing group near you. If you are looking for a group in Maine, please feel free to message me and I'll help you connect with one. Would love to hear about your babywearing experience, and I always love to talk baby carriers!
What's your favorite carrier?
Thanks as always for stopping by!
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I'm Rebecca, a Maine mom of three energetic young boys and wife of a lobsterman, living in my favorite place, the coast of Maine. You'll find me here talking about my parenting journey, mom style, recipes, running and exercise, travel, stories from our life in Maine and so much more! Most days I'm just figuring it out as I go - Thanks so much for stopping by!