Carrying your baby offers a multitude of benefits for both you and your little one! When you’re carrying your baby in a carrier, wrap or sling not only will it offer some time to bond, you will also have both your hands free in order to freely tidy your home, prepare some food or even take some time for yourself to get ready and apply makeup.
You’ll also find that a baby carrier is handy for other day-to-day activities like traversing through a busy airport or getting some groceries. No matter what, one thing’s for sure: the addition of a carrier in your life will make your days a ton easier. With a little bit of trial and error, you can even use it to breastfeed!
Plus, babies love being close to their moms and being able to feel your warmth and presence. Not only will it help to keep your baby soothed, relaxed and content, it will also help to strengthen your bond between you and your baby like we mentioned above.
When it comes to picking the best baby carrier for you, we know that the options can be a little overwhelming, especially with all the choice out there on the market today! For this reason, we’ve created this article to help run through all the types of baby carriers to suit your needs and help you make the right choice.
Below, you can see all the basic types of baby carriers that are available to you today, as well as some helpful information about each one, including the pros and cons.
The wrap is the most common and therefore most popular style of baby carrier out there! Just like the name of this style suggests, it is ‘wrap’ or long piece of fabric that you use to wrap around your body and your baby in order to safely secure them to you so you can go hands-free.
After you wrap it around you and tie the ends together, you’re able to create a snug, cozy and very safe place for your baby to sleep, cuddle into you and drool!
However, though this is the most common type it is not always the easiest to use, so it will most likely take some time to get used to while you get the hang of it, especially if you’re a beginner. Luckily, there’s more than one way to use the wrap style, so you can use trial and error to find the easiest way for you.
On the market today, there’s plenty of wrap styles available to you. For instance, some wrap carriers vary in length in order to accommodate different heights and body shapes. As y ou compare and contrast options, you’ll also come to learn that wrap carriers come in different materials, too. The most common types of materials are cotton knit (which is comfy and cool), gauze (which is known for its excellent breathability qualities) as well as cotton, wool, linen and other types of lightweight fabrics.
There’s also what is known as ‘Stretchy Wraps’. To simplify, these types of wraps are made of elastic fabric such as cotton jersey or knit jersey and all you have to do is tie the fabric around your body first and then you can stretch it over the baby. As stretchy wraps are so easy to use, they are loved by moms of newborns and beginners.
On the other hand, wraps that are made of fabrics such as linen, cotton, wool or hemp tend to be called ‘woven straps’. This type of strap is known for its sturdiness and are therefore recommended to be used for toddlers and older children.
Like the sound of wraps? Here are some of the best out there:
- Baby K’tan Original Baby Carrier
- Ergobaby Wrap
- Lillebaby Tie The Knot Wrap
- Boba Baby Wrap Carrier
- Moby Wrap Evolution
The Ring Sling
Much like the wrap style, the ring sling also consists of a long piece of fabric which contains two rings at one end, hence its name! Ideal for beginners or those who don’t like fuss and faff, all you have to do is thread the free end through one ring and then tuck it under the other ring.
By doing so, you can quite easily adjust it to your baby and your body in order to secure and fasten the carrier. Plus, the baby’s weight will prevent the rings from becoming loose, so you don’t have to worry about it unravelling itself.
The Ring Sling style allows you to wear your baby in front of you or even on your hips by creating a pouch for your baby that will stretch across one shoulder to the opposite hip which will secure your baby and free both of your hands. Clever, right?
As a side note, it is important to be aware that ring slings do not tend to be made of stretchy fabrics. Instead, they are usually made of cotton or linen to offer sturdiness and to also ensure that the carrier is breathable.
Do you like the sound of this style? If you do, here are some of the top ring slings to go check out:
- Hip Baby Wrap Ring Sling
- Lillebaby Ring Sling
- Baby Tula Ring Sling
- Pura Vira Luxury Ring Sling
The pouch sling is a variant of a ring sling. It functions similarly to ring slings except the only difference is that there are no rings to allow you to adjust the length, which is why they are a less popular version of a ring sling. They consist of a long loop of fabric that goes across your body – from one shoulder to opposite hip (just think of a sash!). With a pouch slip, it will let you wear your baby on your hip (most comfortable), as well as in front of you (best for newborns). They are usually a lot cheaper than a ring sling.
The main difference between pouch slings and ring slings:
The main difference between the two is that pouch slings do not allow you to adjust it. Therefore, as your baby grows you might not be able to use it anymore and you might end up needing to replace it. As well as this, pouches are known for not evenly distributing weight which may lead to shoulder and back pain.
Soft Structured Carrier/Buckle Carrier
When you picture a baby carrier, this style is likely the image you’ll have in your mind's eye! A soft structured carrier looks like this: it usually consists of padded shoulder straps as well as a thick, padded waistband to secure the carrier safely to your body. As soon as you have done this, a pouch is made for the baby with a panel that will be able to support the baby’s hips and legs.
In general, these straps are adjustable which allows you to get the perfect fit that is most comfortable for you and baby. As well as this, the adjustability feature also helps to evenly distribute weight across your body in order to lower the chances of any back or shoulder strain. Not just that, similar to the other styles of carriers that we have already discussed, what’s fantastic about this type of baby carrier is that you’re free to use it on your front, back and even occasionally your hip.
Most soft structured carriers consist of a wide panel that allows your little one to rest in the most safe position (with their hips bent and spread apart to the side, thighs supported and knees bent - this is sometimes known as the frog position). This position is most natural for infants, it promotes natural hip development and reduces the risk of hip dysplasia or dislocation, so you can have complete confidence in this type of carrier.
Our top tip: in order to get the most out of your baby carrier and your baby’s development, we recommend avoiding a soft structured carrier with a narrow panel because this causes the baby to put pressure on the lower half of their bodies, which can lead to the baby’s back becoming strained, as well not supporting the legs or knees. Not only that, it is also super uncomfortable for your little one!
Generally, many of these carriers are suitable to be used from around 5 months upward as this is when the baby has control of their head and neck. However, some soft structured carriers can be used on newborns but sometimes they require adding an infant insert.
If you have a newborn baby and you like the sound of this type of carrier, we recommend going for one that doesn’t require the need for an additional insert because they will be less bulky, heavy and hot. Alongside this, adding an additional insert can sometimes make it difficult for a newborn baby to find the correct position to lay in.These types of carriers are also adjustable! Most models allow you to change the sitting area’s width in order to find the best position for the baby as they grow. For this reason, you can use one baby carrier from infancy to toddlerhood - making these styles great value for money. Alongside of this, many soft structured carriers also have storage pockets which can be used to keep all your baby essentials inside..
The Meh Dai (Mei Tai) Carrier
Next up we have the Meh Dai Carrier! This is what is known as a hybrid carrier because it is able to combine both features that are seen in wrap and buckle carriers.
For this reason, a Mei-Dai carrier looks very similar to a soft structured carrier, the only difference being the two long pieces of material on the Meh Dai that you use to safely secure around your body.
As well as this, there are also two shoulder straps and two straps positioned lower down that are meant to be tied around your waist to safely secure the baby to you.
Plus, the Mei-Tai style is also super adjustable and can be easily shared between mom, dad and others! All you need to do is adjust its tightness level according to whoever is wearing it and make sure that the ties are secure. Not only that, you can wear this type of baby carrier on your back, hips and front and they are usually suitable from babies 6 months and up (when worn on your front), although you may be able to find some that are suitable for newborns, too.
The Backpack Carrier
The last type that we are going to be talking about are backpack carriers. This type of carrier is ideal for active parents and, like the name suggests, is made to be worn just like a backpack. For this reason, backpack carriers are only suitable for older children that are able to sit upright unassisted with control over their neck.
Typically, the backpack carrier design usually contains padded shoulder straps as well as additional straps that you need to fasten around your waist and chest in order to safely secure your baby, free up your hands and encourage more even weight distribution across your back and shoulders to minimize strain for as long as possible.
If you love to go hiking on the weekends and want to bring your little one along with the gang, a backpack carrier is perfect for this type of activity. In fact, many of them are designed for walking and hiking. Another cool feature that backpack carriers offer are storage compartments! You can easily keep essentials like your child’s sippy cup stored safely so that they stay hydrated, while some even have a stand that you can easily fold out when so required.Top Tip: If you don’t need a carrier for hiking, but you love an idea of carrying your toddler on your back, a buckle carrier (the type we mentioned above) will probably be better suited to you. Plus, with this type of carrier you have the option of carrying your little one on your front and side, too.