Baby carriers are amazing. They allow you to be close to your baby, keep them calm, and also keep your hands free. They’re perfect for any sort of shopping trip (amazing to have your hands free when grocery shopping), outdoor activities and festivals, and just walks to the park or around the block. They can be especially helpful if you have another little one to care for. I know both my husband and I wore K-Bear A LOT during those first few months especially, and continued to use our different carriers until he preferred to walk on his own and was able to keep up. We tried out numerous different kinds to narrow down what we liked and didn’t like, so I’m sharing with you my baby carriers – overview and reviews of the different kinds and our favourite ones.
Wraps are the most basic of the carriers and normally the least expensive. They come in all sorts of lengths and fabrics and can be used in a variety of positions to carry a child from newborn stage to a toddler – front, hip, or even back carry (if they are made out of a knit jersey material). Wraps can also be adjusted to fit the needs of every individual. They can be daunting to master at first, but there are a ton of videos online. The Baby K’tan, Moby wrap and Boba wrap are the three most popular wraps out there and the prices are also really reasonable. I used the Blue Celery wrap (a Canadian company) constantly for the first couple of months for any walks or outings. Another great thing about wraps is that they are also fairly easy to breastfeed in.
Ring slings are great, especially for the newborn stage, as they keep baby snug and close to mom or dad. They can also be tricky to get the hang of. I won’t lie: my husband mastered the ring sling far better than I ever did. There are so many different types of ring slings out there, from homemade ones on Etsy to the more expensive ones like the Sakura Bloom or the Maya wrap ring sling. A ring sling is basically a more modern version of the traditional one shoulder carrier, consisting of a long piece of fabric with rings at the end (that can also be covered up, like shown below). The end of the fabric threads through the rings to adjust to each individual’s body. You can find ring slings in almost any type of material, from cotton or bamboo to beautiful linens and silks. I’m a big fan of Sakura Bloom’s how-to videos as well. We used our ring sling a lot when K-Bear was very small, but I did find it started to get hard on my back as he got bigger and outings were longer.
Pouch Slings are much easer to master than ring slings, as they are just a simple tube of fabric worn like a sash, over one shoulder. The downside is that there is normally no ability to adjust the size of the sling. They are easy to use and inexpensive though. We borrowed one when K-Bear was a little baby and I really liked it for ease of use, but I do wish it had the ability to be adjusted. However, Hot Sling has recently come out with a newer model that adjusts, which is awesome. Pouch slings can also fit a child from the newborn stage all the way up toddlers.
Mei Tai Carriers
There are so many different companies making Mei Tai carriers (pronounced “may tie”), a traditional Asian-style carrier that has been modernized. It consists of a main panel of thick fabric with four straps – two shorter ones to tie around the waist, and two longer ones to wrap around the shoulders. The straps are normally padded and wide for extra comfort. They can be easily adjustable to the individual wearer since the straps tie to a custom fit. The learning curve for these is not too tricky, and they can also be used for front, back or hip carries. They are better for older babies and toddlers but can also be used with newborns, although I do prefer a wrap or sling for the newborn stage. Baby Hawk makes some beautiful mei tai carriers in a variety of different fabrics and designs and they also have some great how-to info graphics on their website. I’ve used one of the Baby Hawk carriers and really liked it.
Buckle or Soft-Structured Carriers
Buckle carriers are one of the most popular type of carriers for both mom and dad, and especially for older children. I find them to be the best in terms of ergonomics as they distribute the weight evenly while also taking strain off the wearer’s back and hips. Because of the comfort factor as well as convenience and ease of use, they are a top pick for many caregivers. Most soft-structured carriers have a thick padded waistband and shoulder straps that can be adjusted for proper fit, and the carriers can be used for front, back and sometimes even hip carries. I am a huge Ergo fan and their new Ergo 360 model allows for the use of the hip carry as well as an ergonomic front-facing-out position. Many of these carriers also have additional features like sleep hoods and pockets. There is a really low learning curve for these since they essentially go on and off like a backpack. Some soft-structured carriers, like the Ergo, require a special infant insert for newborns and babies up to 3 months. The best part about this type of carrier is that they can be used for a long period of time until the child is basically big enough to longer want or need to go in one. The Ergo is hands down my favourite baby carrier and well worth every penny. You can also sometimes find them used, and the quality is so great that they last for a long time.