Oh-so-many ways to wear your baby … oh-so-many carriers. Try our mini-tutorial to find what’s right for you.
It’s a wrap
Overview: An extra-long piece of cloth that can be wrapped and rewrapped, while holding Baby close to Mom. Wraps are made of a variety of materials, from light, stretchy fabrics to heavy, woven textiles.
Use: Wraps hold newborns and babies weighing as much as 20 pounds. Because the fabric length can be draped in a variety of ways, wraps work for couples of different heights. Wrap Baby on your front, back or side; twins can go on both back and front.
Pros: Wraps offer a hands-free option. Parents with back problems may like a wrap’s even distribution of Baby’s weight.
Cons: Wraps have a learning curve. And it’s almost impossible to nurse in a wrap – Baby needs to come out first.
the sling thing
Overview: A long piece of cloth looped into rings and worn over one shoulder. Extra fabric hangs down
from the rings and can be used to provide nursing privacy.
Use: Most slings are designed for babies up to 40 pounds, with weight limits varying by brand. The sling increases skin-to-skin contact for preemies or difficult nursers, and twins can lay side by side inside.
Pros: A sling’s main benefit is its flexible use for multiple ages: Newborns recline in front and toddlers sit on the hip, depending on how the sling is worn. Discreet breastfeeding’s easy.
Cons: Some women don’t like the ring sling’s pull on their necks and shoulders. Ring slings tend to be plagued by an unstylish reputation, partially due to those tails of cloth, and most dads aren’t hip to them.
pouch & go
Overview: Like a sling, but without rings or a tail. A piece of fabric sewn in a loop, the pouch is a fixed length and may require measurements to get the right size.
Use: Babies with enough upper body control can sit up on mom’s hip or up front with a pouch sling, kangaroo-style.
Pros: Pouch slings are sleek and stylish. They tend to come in trend-setting patterns that complement urban wardrobes.
Cons: Most types are a fixed length, so you can’t adjust as you keep losing weight or when your infant gets bigger. And your partner can’t wear the same sling, unless he happens to be exactly the same weight and height as you.
pack your progeny: Backpack-style carriers
Overview: Like an external-frame backpack, these carriers hold a sitting child inside a perch.
Use: Let’s face it – often, they’re for the teched-out guy in your life. Backpacks are also for babies older than 6 months with stable head control, but can carry kids up to 40 – 50 pounds.
Pros: You will never have to nag your husband to wear it. Pockets and packs transform it into an all-in-one catch-all for guy goods, and the all-weather rain and sun hood is particularly attractive.
Cons: They’re often difficult for shorter people (even with adjustments), and the large frame feels unwieldy. You may have to ready your “sorry” for when you’ll accidentally whack fellow pedestrians.
i’ll take a mei tei: Mei tei carriers
Overview: Pronounced “MAY tie” (not “my tie,” like the cocktail), the mei tei is made of a fabric rectangle and four corner-located straps that tie around mom and baby, origami style.
Use: Babies and toddlers of all sizes, using front, back and hip carrying positions. Very young babies tend to sink into the mei tei, but many parents love using them for all ages.
Pros: Mei teis have all the pros of a wrap-style carrier, but are easier to put on and often come with padding in the shoulders. Some mei teis offer padded headrests for babies, and there’s not as much hardware as in an Ergo. They’re nursing friendly, with plenty of privacy.
Cons: You’ll need to seek out some personal assistance for tying these pretty packs, as there’s no one “right” way to put them on. The accent straps and bows can feel fussy for some parents.
front & center: Soft-style carriers
Overview: These carriers offer a soft sheath with a stable, secure seat for Baby, and wide, soft backpack-style straps.
Use: Bjorns are for infants weighing up to 25 pounds, while the Ergo can tote babies through toddlers up to 40 pounds. Bjorn babies can face either toward or away from the parent on the front. Ergo-ported infants can go on the back, front (facing inward only) and hip.
Pros: Dads dig the muted tones of Ergos and Bjorns. Both go on quickly and allow for hands-free activities. Parents love the Ergo’s built-in zippered pouches, and the adjustable straps and waist-extension clips work for many body types.
Cons: Many parents stop using the Bjorn early on, due to back pain or because baby becomes too big, too quickly. The Ergo doesn’t seem to cause similar problems. Colors and fabrics are limited, and neither are nursing friendly, unless you have curiously stretchy breasts.
Lori Shinn is a mom and freelance writer.