HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT BABY CARRIER FOR YOU AND YOUR BABY.
If you are new to babywearing, choosing the right baby carrier for you and your little one can seem like a daunting task. There are four main types of baby carriers to choose from: wraps, ring slings, buckle carriers and meh dais. All of these styles of carriers have their merits and faults.
With any carrier that you choose, the main thing is that it needs to fit you and your baby well. You want your baby to be upright, secure (snug and supported) and have their head close enough to kiss. You also want to make sure their face is visible and kissable at all times (ie. nothing covering their face). Let’s get right into it and learn about the different types of carriers.
BABY WRAPS: WOVEN, STRETCHY AND HYBRID
Baby wraps are a popular choice. There are three types of baby wraps to consider: Stretchy, Hybrid and Woven. If you are new to babywearing, a stretchy wrap is a great way to learn how to tie a wrap and they are perfect for keeping your baby close and comforted. Stretchy wraps are very soft and can be pre-tied making it easier to get your baby in and out of the carrier. Stretchy wraps can only be used for front carriers and they tend to become less supportive when your baby reaches the twenty pound mark. If you are interested in a stretchy wrap,
Hybrid wraps are a great choice if you are looking for a soft and cuddly wrap like a stretchy wrap but you would also like to do back carries down the road. Hybrid wraps are thin, soft and supportive and can be used for both front and back carries. Since it is a hybrid, it is thinner than a traditional woven wrap making it easier to learn on. This is a great wrap choice to get you through your babywearing days or to use as a stepping stone on the way to using woven wraps.
Woven Wraps are a great choice if you are looking for a wrap to get you from newborn to preschooler and don’t mind a little extra work in the beginning to perfect your wrapping and tightening technique. It can be a bit overwhelming at first learning to use a woven wrap but if you persevere you will not be disappointed. With a woven wrap you can do front, back and hip carries. There are many different ways to tie a wrap making it very customizable to your body’s needs as well as your baby’s. The size of woven wrap you need depends on your body size as well as what type of carries you plan on doing with your wrap. Most people start out learning the basic front carry called Front Wrap Cross Carry or FWCC for short. If you are a petite you normally need a size 5 (4.2m) to do FWCC, an average sized person would need a size 6 (4.6m) and a large person would need a size 7 (5.2m).
Ring Slings are a great carrier for wearing a newborn or a toddler. Once you learn the technique for setting the seat and tightening, they are a quick carrier for being on the go and frequent ups and downs (ah toddlerlife). Most ring slings can be used from birth (8 pounds) to toddlerhood. Linen ring slings are great if you are looking for a thin but supportive sling that will keep your baby cool (perfect for summer). Woven wrap slings are a bit softer than 100% linen and can be a bit cushier due to the increase in thickness of the material.
BUCKLE BABY CARRIERS
Buckle Carriers are the most popular choice for parents and caregivers looking for a carrier that is easy to put on. Most carriers are designed to fit babies from birth (7-8 pounds) through to toddlerhood (45 pounds). Some brands make carriers specific to Toddler and Preschool wearing as well. A Standard Sized baby carrier will last you through your babywearing journey and it is not necessary to purchase a toddler sized carrier. Some parents do choose to upsize however it is not necessary or required for most wearers.
When using a buckle carrier, many carriers can now be used from birth without the need for an infant insert. Depending on the carriers’s design, it may have a build in insert or my be able to be adjusted in width and height to fit a newborn. With any carrier (buckle or otherwise), your baby should have knee-to-knee support from birth until 1 year (or when they start walking if this is before a year). Knee-to-knee support is not necessary once your baby is over a year. There is no need to buy a toddler carrier if your older baby or toddler is not being supported knee-to-knee unless they are having a comfort issue.
But what buckle carrier should I choose? The answer is that depends on a lot of things. Different buckle carriers fit differently and we all have different bodies. What one person may recommend as the best carrier may not fit or be comfortable for someone else. The best way to determine the right carrier for you is to have a Carrier FItting (what Babywearing educators specialize in) but if that isn’t possible, you can contact me and I can help you figure out a solution.
MEH DAIS AND HALF BUCKLE CARRIERS
Take a buckle carrier and cross it with a wrap and you’ve got a Meh Dai (also known as an asian style carrier or mei tai). These carriers have a panel similar to a buckle carrier but have wrap style shoulder straps and either wrap style waist straps (traditional meh dai) or a buckle waist (half buckle). Meh dais offer a bit more customization than a traditional buckle carrier and because of that they are able to fit more body types than a buckle carrier can. If you are particularly petite, a meh dai might be a perfect option for you. Meh dais can be used from birth to toddlerhood for both front and back carries.