For the month of October, our Ask the Experts topic is babywearing. Today, Amber Stevens, owner of Heavenly Hold Baby Carriers, an online one stop babywearing shop, lays out the different types and styles of carriers available to moms and dads exploring babywearing for the first time.
There are 5 main types of baby carriers today that are commonly used and are ergonomically correct for both babywearer and baby.
• Soft structured
The first type is probably the most popular and most similar to those that you can purchase at the “big box” type stores. Soft structured baby carriers are baby carriers that have just that—a padded, structured waist. Soft structured carriers are referred to as SSCs for short and are very versatile. You can wear small babies on the front (facing in), bigger babies and toddlers on the back and some even allow you to wear them as hip carriers as well.
These carriers are very popular because even heavy toddlers or preschoolers can be worn comfortably in the same carrier they were worn in as an infant! The soft structured waist on the carrier is what provides the optimal support to the babywearer. The padded waist does an excellent job of distributing the weight of the baby equally and off of your back to your hips and most powerful muscles—your quads! They are a bit pricey, but for the amount of use and comfort they provide, they are more than worth it! A soft structured baby carrier is a carrier that buckles, so there isn’t too much of a learning curve when learning to use them. Some have advanced or extra features that may take a bit to learn, but for the most part, they’re just buckle and go!
Read P&N’s parent reviews of the following soft structured carriers:
Belle Baby Carrier
BabyBjörn Baby Carrier Original and Organic
BabyBjörn Comfort Carrier
Snugli Soft Carrier
• Mei Tai
The second type of baby carrier is the Mei Tai. The Mei Tai is a traditional Asian style baby carrier that instead of buckling like the SSC, ties to secure baby’s fit. It still can be worn on the front, back or hip with newborns through toddlers, but it does have a bit of a learning curve because there are many different ways to tie the straps. An advantage to a Mei Tai is that it is usually very lightweight in construction and folds up nice and small!
A third type of carrier is a wrap. Wraps are a long piece of fabric that you wrap around your body in various ways to hold your baby. Wraps are either stretchy or woven. A stretchy wrap is ideal for a wearing a newborn and younger baby. It does a fantastic job of mimicking the womb by snuggling a baby down in the soft fabric. A stretchy wrap doesn’t work so well long term because it is the nature of the fabric to be stretchy and to not provide as much support for heavier babies. A woven wrap is a wrap that is made from tightly woven fabric. They can be hand woven or machine woven and are super supportive because they distribute the weight of the baby all throughout your back instead of to just one part of your back or shoulders. Woven wraps are more expensive than stretchy wraps, but they can be used for much longer.
• Pouch slings, ring slings
The fourth and fifth types of carriers are pouch slings and ring slings. Slings are carriers that are worn over one shoulder. Babies can typically be worn from infancy through toddlerhood in slings in 5 basic positions. A pouch sling is a carrier that is sized only to one babywearer. A ring sling is an adjustable sling that can be shared with another user. When wearing a baby in the sling, the lowest point of the sling should be either right at or a little above the babywearer’s belly button. For babywearing safety: your baby’s airway should be open and your baby should be close enough to kiss.
More about Amber:
Amber Stevens is an Atlanta mommy, babywearer and owner of Heavenly Hold Baby Carriers, an online one stop babywearing shop. Amber enjoys playing Barbies, making muffins and helping mommies babywear! Have questions about babywearing? She invites you to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for babywearing help.