March 22, 2011

Baby Carrier Bonanza

I have become obsessed with baby wearing and am becoming known as the girl with the baby on her back in some circles. While I am no expert, I do get a lot of questions from new and soon-to-be moms, so I thought I’d give a rundown on some of the common types of baby carriers. Please keep in mind that these are my personal opinions, I am not an expert, and I am not recommending any particular brands. Any details about brands/pricing are just to give you some reference points.

As a new mom with a deployed husband, baby wearing was a necessity. I literally could not have made life work without it. The hours and hours that H spent sleeping contentedly in her Moby Wrap were a blessing at the time and a sweet memory for me still. It’s something that’s grown with us, and I still wear her on a pretty regular basis. The benefits throughout her life for both H and I have been huge.


Fitted Slings
This is definitely the simplest option when it comes to baby carriers. It is literally a tube of fabric. You wear it like a Miss America sash. Baby can be cradled or sit up on the hip. The only problem with this one is that you have to have the right size. They are not adjustable. Sizing can be tricky and some brands have as many as nine sizes! I got one as a baby shower gift and it was great for the first three weeks. After that it just wasn’t the right size. I wouldn’t recommend this one unless you actually have the baby with you when you try it on.

These run around $40. Some brands include Peanut Shell and Seven Slings.

Ring Slings
This particular sling is made for going in the pool, but all ring slings work the same.

Much more versatile is the ring sling. This is also a Miss America style carrier. The difference is that ring slings are adjustable. The fabric is threaded through a set of double rings (like a belt). While ring slings also come in sizes (so you can choose how much of a tail you want to hang down), it’s more of a small, medium, or large menu. They come in a lot of different styles as far as how the shoulder is sewn—gathered, pleated, padded, etc. They are great for little babies because they’re very easy to use and they’re quick in and out. You can also nurse with these while baby is in the sling and you can use the tail as a cover. Even though H is bigger I like to use mine in the mornings when I need to make breakfast, but H is sleepy and wants to be held.

These start around $65. Ring slings abound from Maya Wrap, Storchenwiege, TaylorMade, and Comfy Joey, just to name a few.


Stretchy Wraps
 I love to kiss the sweet head!

A lot of you may have heard of the Moby Wrap. That is a stretchy wrap. It’s a long piece of fabric that you wrap around you and the baby. Stretchy wraps are usually made from a jersey type material and are, you guessed it, kind of stretchy. I started with a Moby and I loved it for the tiny stage. You can pre-tie it and pop the baby in and out because of the stretchy quality of the fabric. This is fantastic for trips to the grocery store and errand running. The shelf life on these is rather short. Once baby gets to be about 15 pounds they start to sag in the stretchy material, and it becomes hard on your back. That being said, they are also one of the least expensive options, starting at $40. This is a great way to get started if you’re not sure if baby wearing is for you. But once you try it, you’ll probably like it.

As mentioned above, these are around $40. The most well known is the Moby Wrap.

Woven Wraps

 Wraps work on front or back.

Once you like it, you’ll probably be looking at a woven wrap. These are also a really long piece of fabric, usually with tapered ends. The difference here is that the fabric is much sturdier. Think jeans instead of t-shirts. That being said, I have three different brands and they all wash up to be buttery soft and smooth. These are strong enough to support a baby into the 30 pound range.

If you’re only going to get one baby carrier for birth to toddlerhood, you want a woven wrap. You can use it for every carry position—front, back, and hip. Because you tie it around the wearer, you get a custom fit no matter who is using it. They do come in several sizes. Longer wraps give you more flexibility in the number of carries you can do. Most wrappers I know tend to go with shorter wraps as they get more experienced.
These are a bit pricey considering that you’re buying a piece of fabric. I cannot stress enough, however, that you are paying for fabric that is specially woven to hold babies. Please don’t go to the fabric store and buy a bolt of fabric thinking that you’re saving money. While you can make your own carriers, you have to make sure that you’re using the right fabric. You want something that is designed to be load bearing. Much safer to stick with letting the experts do the weaving. On the flip side, if you buy just one and use it for as many as 3 years (and/or multiple kids), you’re getting a really good deal.

The good ones are all around $100. They do become an obsession, and I have three of them now. (And believe me, that is not a lot compared to some!) Brands include Storchenwiege, Girasol, Neobulle, Ellevill, Didymos, and BBslen.

These are also known as Asian-style carriers. They’re an oblong of fabric with waist and shoulder ties, and they look kind of like an apron. You tie it around your waist, baby has the fabric oblong along her back, and the shoulder straps get criss-crossed.  I find this to be a compromise between wrapping and more backpack-style, soft structured carriers. These can be used front or back.

Now this is one that you can make yourself. I have one that a friend made me. I will stress—do not attempt this as your first sewing project, please! There are good and reputable patterns available online. This is for experienced sewers who know how to choose the right fabrics and to reinforce everything properly. Our local baby carrying guru checked mine out and marked it approved.

It’s a little faster than a wrap and not quite as bulky to carry around as either a wrap or a soft structured. They also tend to come in super cute patterns. They sometimes also have nice features like a sleeping hood or reversible fabric. Mine has a masculine side and a feminine side.

These are around $80. Both Mei Tai Baby and Baby Hawk allow you to build your own, so you can customize the colors/patterns.

Soft Structured Carriers
Out with some other baby wearing moms.

These are more backpack, buckle type carriers. There’s a buckle at the waist, backpack style straps, and a chest buckle. I personally have an Ergo, so I’ll talk about that style. The pluses are that it’s very fast and easy to use. You don’t have to have any special knowledge. It’s one of the more masculine options, so dads sometimes prefer it. There’s no sizing involved. They do sell a strap extender for the waist in case your hubby is a big guy. You can use them front or back and they have a sleeping hood and a zippered pocket.

I love the Ergo for the airport. I was flying alone to see my in-laws when H was about nine months. They had a stroller and car seat waiting for me. I had a backpack full of our diaper bag stuff on my back and H on the front in her Ergo. I tucked my cell phone, wallet, and boarding pass in the pocket and we were ready for anything. It made life much easier as far as getting through the airport, not having to worry about finding the elevators, and having hands free. My Ergo lives in my car and I use it quite often for grocery shopping and errand running. H has only recently gotten to an age where she’ll sit in the grocery cart, and I’m kind of sad about it. I miss that little warm body on my back.

These start around $100. The Ergo and the Beco are the best known brands.


No matter what carrier you want to go with, I highly recommend trying it on. Do a web search and see if there is a baby wearing group near you. Most have carriers for loan, and baby wearing moms are usually pretty willing to let you try different carriers out. If you don’t have a group like this locally, then make sure you check the return policy.
Happy baby wearing!

1 comment:

  1. I finally decided on the Beco and it came in the mail today! So far I love it!!! The real test will be flying w/ Little Guy in April!


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