Babywearing is da bomb.

Seriously.

Photo by Mats Eriksson under Creative Commons License
Photo by Mats Eriksson under Creative Commons License

However, the wide array of options can feel very overwhelming and intimidating. This guide will help you figure out what questions to ask, so that you can find what works best for your body, your needs, and your lifestyle. There’s even a handy table at the bottom to sort some of it out for you! The best analogy I can draw to think about finding a carrier, though, is this:

Carriers are like shoes. We can shop for carriers by asking ourselves similar questions that we would when shoe shopping. It’s easy then to remember everyone has different preferences, one size/style does not fit all, and you may have different styles for different activities. Let’s walk through this.

1. Fit

When it comes to babywearing, one size does not fit all. As a relatively petite person, I sometimes find some carriers fill up my entire torso and can lead to a baby head-butting me in the chin. Alternatively, some people with long torsos can find that their babies sit too low on their bodies (they should be visible and kissable).

2. Comfort

This is another area where a person’s musculature can make a big difference. For example, on my own body the classic Baby Bjorn carrier is not comfortable because it strains my shoulders and upper back. However I know other people (men especially) who LOVE their Bjorns. Typically speaking, more points of contact to your body mean more support. A ring sling that sits on one shoulder will be the least supportive, while a wrap that sits on both shoulders and crosses across the back will be more supportive, and anything with a hip belt will be most supportive. However, just because something is less supportive doesn’t mean you should write it off, unless you have existing back issues.

3. Activity

Different carriers can be good for different activities, as with shoes. Personally, I love ring slings for quick in-and-out of the car errands (love to keep one in the diaper bag), wraps for cuddly housework, mei ties for strolls, and soft structured carriers with hip belts for long walks or for back-carries with toddlers. When hiking, a frame pack can make it feel like you’re not carrying a child at all. Certainly one carrier can fill many of these roles; it’s all about balancing your own preferences and needs.

4. Ease of use

ANY carrier can get easy with practice! Some are easier to learn than others, and some people feel preferences toward ones with fewer carrying positions while others like the idea of endless possibilities. Woven wraps are probably the most versatile carriers out there, with dozens of ways to tie and wear them. However, they have one of the steepest learning curves. Soft structured carriers can feel most comfortable to those who want fewer options and a secure click. Slings are easy to throw on and off, once you get the hang of them, and mei ties can be a great blend between a wrap and a structured carrier.

Final note: there are many different carrier options out there because there are different right answers for different people. No matter what you choose, make sure you read all instructions thoroughly, and if your baby does not feel secure, trust that instinct! You can always take your baby out, readjust, and try again! Check back soon for some in-depth carrier portraits, and happy baby-wearing!

Pouch Slings Ring Slings Stretchy Wraps Woven Wraps Mei Ties Soft Structured Carriers Frame Packs
Small/compact

X

X

Multiple wearing positions available

X

X

X

X

X

X

Newborn-compatible

X

X

X

X

X

X*

Can wear baby on your back

X*

X

X

X*

X

Comfortable to sit down while wearing

X

X

X

X

X*

Good back support

X

X

X

X**

X

Excellent back support

X**

X

Baby can face out

X***

X***

X*

X*

X*

Easy to use (Anything an be easy with practice!!)

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

*Depends on the brand
**Only true if the carrier has a hip belt
***…sort of!

Do you babywear? How did you find the carrier that was right for you?

Baby Carriers Are Like Shoes

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