Friday, July 15, 2011

Baby carrier 101

While there are hundreds of different types of baby carriers out there, they all perform one (or more) of the following three functions--front carry, back carry, and side or "sling" carry. The list of pros and cons of each type are endless and if you're looking for an exhaustive overview, check out the chapter "To have and to hold" in Attachment Parenting by Katie Allison Granju.

Pocket sling

This is the most basic type of sling and probably what you think about when you think of slings. It drapes diagonally across the body and there are no rings or buckles. The advantage of this carrier is that it is very easy to put on and therefore is more likely to be used around the house or for a quick trip to the store. The disadvantage is that it is not size-adjustable. I ordered a pocket sling three weeks ago, dropped about 8 or 9 pounds (thank you pregnancy weight
for FINALLY starting to come off) and it already doesn't fit very well. So, probably not your best bet for the long haul. It is also the most difficult to get baby into proper positioning because, again, it doesn't adjust.

Ring sling

This style of sling is also worn diagonally
across the body but is adjusted with a set of two rings. This style of sling also has the advantage of being easy to put on though it does take a little more time than a pocket sling. The rings allow for easy adjustment to the body as well as to the top or bottom of the baby by simply tightening the cloth through the rings at the top, bottom, or both ends of the ring. Most people who babywear and use a sling prefer this style of sling because the adjustments make for a safer and longer-lasting sling.


Wraps are made from many different types of fabric. However, the two most common styles of wraps are ones made from stretchy, knit material (i.e. Moby wraps) or from sturdy, woven material (Didimos). The advanta
ge of wraps is their versatility. They can be tied in a variety of ways and therefore are great for babywearers that want just one wrap for every occasion. However, they're generally a little more difficult to learn how to use and perfect each of the different holds and obviously since they have to be wrapped, they take longer to put on.

"Stretchy" wraps are generally easier to use and are significantly cheaper than woven wraps. However, they cannot hold nearly as much weight as a woven wrap. While a Moby wrap states that it can carry a baby up to 35 pounds, most people find that they need to replace their stretchy wrap around 4-6 months and/or 15-20lbs. Woven wraps will easily carry a baby through the toddler years.

Soft structure carriers

Even if you're not a "babywearer" you may
have one of these at home. These are your standard backpack-like carriers that can carry a baby on the front or the back of the wearer. The most popular styles are Baby Bjorn, Infantino, Ergo Baby, and Beco Baby. While they each have their individual advantages and disadvantages, many people prefer this style of carrier because it is easy to use and to get your baby into a proper position. My personal favorite is the Beco Baby because of its wide shoulder straps, minimal padding around the baby (and therefore easier to adjust baby to proper position), it's easy to nurse in it, it can be used as a backpack or a frontpack, and it is remarkably comfortable.

Mei Tai or Asian Backpack

This style of carrier is similar to the soft-structure carriers except it is much simpler, using ties rather than buckles and straps. Many people find this carrier to be easier to use than a traditional wrap because the "pouch" is already created for you, it can be easily adjusted with the ties, and is generally more comfortable than a soft-structured carrier because it does not have buckles or thin straps.

1 comment:

  1. I have an infantino carrier that I like but don't love, a ring sling that I use all the time and I love, and had a moby wrap that I hated and never did get the hang of. As my baby gets bigger I think I'll go for a meitai.
    Oh, and here is a blog post that I used to help me narrow down what I thought I'd like (which is how I decided to get my sling that I love), and companies to buy from