Choosing a Baby Carrier

Buckles and Straps, Rings and Wraps: Which One for Me?

Choosing a baby carrier can be a difficult business. Not only are there plenty of brands, colours and features out there: there are so many types. Different carriers are great at different stages, others are great from birth until you take them to school. Here’s a quick run-down!

There are four basic types of carrier: Soft Structured Carriers, Mei Tais, Ring Slings/Pouches and Wraps.

Soft Structured Carriers:

These are carriers with buckles, they are easily adjustable and generally shareable between parents (one size fits most). Fit can be very personal and many people have strong preference for a particular brand. They are very easy to use and learn.

Age Range: Depending on type, from newborn with an infant insert which may need to be purchased separately. Many can be worn comfortably until around 3 years or older, especially those with sized, expandable or larger bodies. They are fantastic from around 3-4 months of age.

Weight Range: Depending on type from about 3.5kg to 18 kg.

Positions: Front and back carrying (from 4 months), sometimes hip carries, but not ideal for this. Some few carriers allow for a front facing out carry.

Positive Aspects: Easy to Learn, many different features and types easily available. Easy to follow the TICKS safe baby wearing guidelines. Two shouldered-support means they can be worn for long periods and with heavier children.

Negative Aspects: Fit can be quite individual and they are not the perfect carrier for a newborn as newborn positioning is not ideal in an insert. Adjusting the buckles and straps can take a little while until you���re used to it which makes them harder to share between wearers than mei tais.

Babywearing Australia on Facebook has an album of brands available in Australia (including online places to buy them) and one of action shots of SSCs. You don’t need a Facebook account to view their albums.

Mei Tais:

These are carriers with straps, they are tied rather than buckled so fit is good for every wearer. They are generally shareable between parents (one size fits most- XL straps can be ordered). They are very easy to use and learn.

Age Range: Depending on type, from newborn. Many can be worn comfortably until around 2 years old. They are great from around 3-4 months of age.

Weight Range: Depending on type from about 3.5kg to 15 kg.

Positions: Front and back carrying (from 4 months), sometimes hip carries, but not ideal for this.

Positive Aspects: Easy to Learn, easy to share, many different features and types easily available. Easy to follow the TICKS safe baby wearing guidelines. Two shouldered-support means they can be worn for long periods and with heavier children. Because they are tied rather than buckled with webbing, very petite wearers find them very comfortable and larger wearers can get a better fit with properly-sized straps. Less-structured padding can make them a more comfortable fit for many people. They are usually made of 100% natural fabrics throughout so are great for those with sensitive skin.

Negative Aspects: They are not ideal for babies under three months, although some brands can be used with or without adjustments from newborn.

Babywearing Australia��has an��album of brands available in Australia and one of action shots of mei tais.

Ring Slings:

These are carriers with a long piece of fabric with two rings at one end. They are very easy to use and learn, cool to wear and shareable between wearers.

Age Range: Depending on type, from newborn. Many can be worn comfortably until around 2 years old.

Weight Range: Depending on type from about 3 kg to 12+ kg.

Positions: Front, hip and back carrying (from 4 months).

Positive Aspects: Easy to Learn, easy to share, many different features and types easily available. Easy to follow the TICKS safe baby wearing guidelines. They are usually made of 100% natural fabrics throughout so are great for those with sensitive skin. They fold up very small and are easy to carry around. They are very quick to put on and adjust.

Negative Aspects: One-shouldered carrying can become too uncomfortable for long periods or with heavier children.

Babywearing Australia has an����album of brands����available in Australia and one of action shots of ring slings.

Pouches:

These are carriers shaped as a tube of fabric. They are very easy to use and learn, cool to wear but not easily shareable between wearers.

Age Range: From around 4 months onwards.

Weight Range: Depending on type from about 6 kg to 12+ kg.

Positions: Front and hip.

Positive Aspects: Easy to learn. Often made of 100% natural fabrics throughout so are great for those with sensitive skin. They fold up very small and are easy to carry around. They are very quick to put on and adjust.

Negative Aspects: One-shouldered carrying can become too uncomfortable for long periods or with heavier children. They are very specific to the size of the wearer and not easily shareable between parents. They are not suitable for newborns unless very well-sized.

Wraps:

These are carriers made from a long piece of fabric varying in size from 2 metres to more than 5 meters. They can be of a stretch or woven fabric. They are harder to learn than other carriers, but are the most versatile. Depending on the carry and type used, they are very cool. One wrap is shareable between wearers.

Age Range: Depending on type, from newborn. Many can be worn comfortably until over 5 years old! Stretch wraps are only suitable until around 6 months of age for most brands.

Weight Range: Depending on type from about 3 to 20 kg for wovens, 3 to 8kg for stretch wraps.

Positions: Front, hip and back carrying (back carrying with woven wraps only).

Positive Aspects: Easy to share, the most versatile carrier. Easy to follow the TICKS safe babywearing guidelines. They are usually made of 100% natural fabrics throughout so are great for those with sensitive skin. They are very quick to put on and adjust once they are mastered. They offer ideal newborn positioning.

Negative Aspects: They are a little harder to learn than most carriers. Depending on the carry used, they are not always a quick to put on as other carriers, but can sometimes be faster! The longer sizes can be quite bulky to carry around, but short sizes fold up very small.

Babywearing Australia has an album of action shots of wraps – both stretch and woven.

If you’re new to babywearing, there may be some things you’d like to find out. For trouble shooting, always feel free to drop into our forum, our Facebook page or Facebook group.

Perhaps as a new babywearer you might be worried about babywearing safety? What’s safe? How do you find a safe carrier brand? Check out this link here from our friends at the baby wearer’s circle.


4 Responses to Choosing a Baby Carrier

  1. Pingback: COCAM I - Week 2! | Kanga Collective

  2. Ash says:

    What a comprehensive guide! I’ll be referring the next person who asks me about carriers to this! I have a manduca carrier which I love to bits, and a jazzsling for when they’re teeny 🙂

  3. Pingback: Baby Carrying « Mummy On A Learning Curve

  4. Pingback: Tips and Tricks for the Baby Wearing Beginner | A busy Momma's guide to the latest buzz.

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