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Overview of baby carriers

There are multiple styles of baby carriers to choose from, like choosing a type of cloth diaper, it is a matter of lifestyle and personal preference that will determine the direction you take. I am a big fan of the Ergo Baby carrier but I have used every type there is with the exception of the more commercial Baby Bjorn style carrier. The basics styles are:

  • Ring Slings
  • Pouches
  • Mei Tai’s
  • Wraps
  • Soft Structured

A ring sling consists of a long piece of fabric that goes over your shoulder and around the opposite side of your waist. You can adjust the length by using the two rings, similar to a canvas style belt. Some are made with padding at the shoulder and/or along the rails. The rings can be made of metal, nylon, plastic or wood but I would recommend metal or nylon. Ring slings have a smaller learning curve compared to some other styles of carriers, but once you get the hang of them they really easy to use. Slings are a more affordable way to go or, if you are so inclined, are a carrier that you can make yourself.

A pouch is a piece of fabric folded in half lengthwise to create a pocket. They are worn over one shoulder and around your waist like a ring sling. You can find several pouches made of all sorts of fabrics such as organic cotton, fleece, silk and solarveil. Some are made to be adjustable with the use of Velcro or snaps in order to be worn be several people and to accommodate a growing baby. Essentially no learning curve, basically wear and go.

Mei Tai’s are a two shoulder, unstructured soft carrier consisting of a square piece of fabric with straps at each corner. The two bottom straps tie around the wearer’s waist and the other two straps go over the wearer’s shoulders, under the arms, and tie around the baby’s back or to the carrier itself, depending on the manufacturer. These tend to be a little pricey, there is a little more to them, but will last you well into toddlerhood. I would recommend this style for someone with any back issues as the weight is evenly distributed.

Wrap style carriers consists of a long piece of fabric that is you can wrap around your body in a number of ways. The most common wrap method is to find the center point of the fabric and place this point around your belly or waist. You then cross the fabric across your back and take the two ends up around your shoulders. At this point you have created a pocket for the baby to rest in, you then take the tails and can either cross and tie them around the baby’s bottom or back around your waist again. I know this may sound complicated, but once mastered you can get quite creative to find the position that you like the best. Most manufacturers provide detailed instructions to help you through the tying techniques. This another style of carrier you can make yourself, you basically need 3-7 yards of hemmed fabric, that is all there is to it.

Soft structured carriers have two straps that go over both of your shoulders to hold the baby against your chest/stomach or back and a substantial waist strap to support the baby’s weight. The baby is supported by across their entire bottom and the back of their legs. Some can be modified to accommodate a hip carry as well. This style, like the Mei Tai’s, can be a bit more pricey than some of the other carriers but can carry a child up to 35-40lbs.

As I mentioned initially, I have personally tried or own all of the above mentioned carriers and have used them all at different points of my daughter’s growth. The slings and pouches are great during the newborn phase up until 6 months or so. I have back problems and the off position of the weight became too much as Evalee got older. Around 6 months or so that I started using my wrap more often if I was going to be wearing her for an extended period of time. I didn’t discover Mei Tai’s or the soft structured style until Evalee was 10 months or so. Honestly, if I had found my Ergo Baby sooner, I probably would have stopped there. I absolutely love it and still use it regularly. But, to each his/her own.

Look for retailers who offer 30 day return options as long as the carriers are still in new/sellable condition. Some even allow longer if you received it as baby shower gift or purchased it while pregnant. All in all, wearing your baby is a wonderful experience that I enjoy thoroughly.

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