A Guide to Baby Carrier Styles

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If you are new to babywearing or if you are looking for something different to use with your baby, it can be overwhelming to sort through the hundreds of available options when it comes to baby carriers.

There are both big name and small time companies owned by work at home moms and nearly all of them offer quality carriers that will make any babywearing mama drool. Even still, choosing a carrier that works for both you and baby can be daunting.  Here is my attempt at breaking down the various styles to help you narrow down your choices!

Most carriers fit into one of five categories: slings, pouches, wraps, mei tais, and structured/backpack carriers.  To find out which of these styles will meet your needs, read more about them below:

1. Slings
The ring sling is a long piece of rectangular shaped fabric that is adjusted through two rings to form a pouch for your child to sit within. There is no need to be specifically measured for ring slings since the fabric can be adjusted to fit your body.

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This is a very popular option, particularly for carrying newborns, though it can be used into toddlerhood. The size of the pouch is changed depending on how loose or tight you weave the fabric through the rings.  There are several positions that you can place your child using the sling to suit the activities that you are participating in or your own comfort. Learning to properly put these on does have a learning curve, but once mastered, it is worth it! Ring slings are one shouldered carriers, so this may be uncomfortable for some, especially as your child grows bigger.

Where to buy a ring sling:
Maya Wrap
Balboa Baby
Zolowear
Caribou Baby

2. Pouches
Pouches are similar to slings, except they are not adjustable.  These must be sized appropriately to the wearer or they will not work for carrying baby.

Me with our youngest when he was 1 month old

Pouches are basically pieces of fabric formed into a tube in which you then place your little one. These are extremely simple to put on and can also be used in different positions. Pouch slings do not have the longevity as some other carriers because they typically will become uncomfortable once baby reaches early toddlerhood. They are also one shouldered, so weight distribution is not even.

Where to buy a pouch sling:
Seven Slings (as I’m wearing in the picture above.  Scroll down for a code to get one FREE!)
Peanut Shell
Hot Slings

3. Wraps
This option is by far my personal favorite.  I fell in love with a wrap when I was gifted one while I was pregnant with my second child and it has been my go to baby carrier for every child since!

Me with baby #2 and my oldest with her own wrap for her lovey. 🙂

Wraps are rather long pieces of fabric that are wrapped around your torso in various fashions to make different carrying positions for your child. They are probably the most versatile babywearing option and can typically hold a child well into toddlerhood.  They are (in my opinion) extremely comfortable and are available in several different materials such as gauze, jersey knit, and woven material. Since these come over both shoulders for most carries, they tend to provide better support for shoulders and backs. These do take some practice time to master putting on, but they are fantastic and take just a few minutes to wrap once you’ve got it down. 

Where to buy a wrap:
Moby Wrap
Wrapsody
Cuddly Wrap
Baby K’Tan
Beach Front Baby Wraps

4. Mei Tais
Mei Tais are Asian style carriers that are have a rectangular panel with four straps to tie around your shoulders and waist. Some also have additional ties around the middle for extra support.

My oldest son as a toddler in my homemade mei tai

Mei tais are relatively versatile, allowing the wearer to carry their child in front or in back. They can be used even into the preschool years  and are simple to put on. They can be purchased with various amenities like padded headrests, pockets, and more. Many are even reversible to add some diversity. These are great if you intend on babywearing for a long time or if you live a very active lifestyle. 

Where to buy Mei Tais:
Infantino
Mei Tai Baby
BabyHawk

5. Structured/Backpack Carriers
These are similar to mei tais, only instead of straps that need to be tied, the include buckles for ease of use. They are adjustable and are soft structured for comfort. A padded waistband is a feature that is lacking with a mei tai, so some may prefer this option.  Some of these require a special insert if you plan to use them with newborns.

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This style seems (to me) to be the preferred babywearing option for dads.  My husband said that he enjoyed ours better because it was easy for him to put on and didn’t appear as feminine.  Other men may disagree, of course. Structured carriers tend to have a lower weight limit than some other options.

Where to purchase a structured/backpack style carrier:
Ergo 
Snugli
Baby Bjorn

These represent the five basic categories of baby carriers.  I hope that this brief guide will help to explain them and help you choose which is best for you!

What style carrier is your favorite?

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Day 1: An Introduction to Babywearing and its Benefits
Day 3: The Dos and Dont’s of Babywearing
Day 4: The Ultimate Guide to FREE Baby Carrier Tutorials
Day 5: Babywearing in the Summer (and a Beachfront Baby review)

Make sure you check out some of my other fellow Crew members and their series:

Nicole @ Journey to Excellence ~ 5 Days of Missouri
Kristi @ The Potter’s Hand Academy ~ 5 Days of Spring Studies
Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs ~ 5 Days of  Essential Oils
Annette @ A Net in Time ~ 5 Days of  Science
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker ~ 5 Days of Frugal Fitness
Meg @ Adventures with Jude ~ 5 Days of Homeschooling from the Kitchen
Lori @ At Home: where life happens ~ 5 Days of Favorite Books
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker ~ 5 Days of A Christ-Centered Home

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Comments

  1. So many options! I currently just have a Baby K’tan. I used it all the time when from when my son was a newborn to 4 months and then still but not as frequently a few months after that. He’s 10 1/2 months old now and I haven’t used it for several months but I pulled it out Sunday and did the hip carry for a work day and it was great. I’d love to try a ring sling and another wrap. I also have a Boba or Ergo on my wish list.

  2. My FAVORITE, hands down, is the New Native pouch sling. I still have it, just in case I have another. It’s been through 4 babies so far, and STILL is in AWESOME shape! My second favorite is my Moby. <3 <3 I have a mei-tai like carrier that I’ve never used (because it was packed away, couldn’t find it…) that my mom brought back from a mission trip to Africa. Someday, maybe, but my kiddos all weigh too much, now. ((le sigh))

  3. I love this series! I had a Boba and Mobi and they were GREAT! And our babies were BIG. The Boba was awesome once they could hold up their heads well.

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