We often get asked “what is the best carrier?”. This is a hard question as there is no easy answer. What works for me and my family, may not be the best choice for you and your family. That is one of the great things about our organization, you can ask lots of questions at our meetings and on our Facebook discussion group and try out a variety of carriers through our lending library. When choosing a carrier (or carriers) for your family, keep in mind if one does not seem to fit you or your lifestyle there are many options out there! Below is an over view of the different types of carriers on the market as well as links to resources for babywearing.
Pouches are the most compact carrier. Similar to a ring sling, they wrap over one shoulder and rest diagonally across the torso. While some are adjustable, they’re highly dependent on being perfectly sized to be worn safely. Many people will throw a pouch in their diaper bag or vehicle as an “backup” carrier. Popular carries are Tummy to Tummy and Hip.
Ring Slings (Ring sling optimal positioning)
Ring slings consist of a long piece of fabric which is threaded between two rings. The most popular carries are Tummy to Tummy (front carry) and Hip, though you can do a back carry as well. They can be used from birth through toddlerhood, but as your child gets heavier you may find that carrying all of their weight on one shoulder becomes less comfortable.
Buckle/ Soft Structured Carriers (SSC) (Buckle optimal positioning)
SSCs are one of the most popular carrier styles. They have a buckle waist, soft fabric panel, and shoulder straps that buckle. Most SSCs allow for front and back carry, and some also give hip and forward facing out options. While some SSCs can be used from birth, they generally shine once your child develops some head control. They can be worn well into the toddler years and beyond.
Meh Dais (Meh Dai optimal positioning)
Meh Dais are similar to SSCs, except they have long fabric straps instead of buckles. While they have a slightly higher learning curve you gain greater flexibility in carrying options and a more custom fit. They can be used for front, back, high back, or hip carries. They can be used from early infancy through the toddler years depending on the size of the body panel.
Wraps (Wrap optimal positioning)
There are three main types of wraps: stretchy, hybrid and woven wraps
Stretchy Wraps are very popular for newborns and can be used until your child weighs about 15 pounds. They’re generally about 5 yards of jersey (t-shirt like) fabric that you wrap around your body. The most popular carry is the Pocket Wrap Cross Carry. Stretchy wraps may only ever be used for front or hip carries.
Hybrid Wraps Much like the name implies, they are the best of both worlds between stretchy wraps and woven wraps. Like the stretchy wraps, they have some give and stretch to them, but not as much as a traditional stretchy wrap. Like the stretchy wraps they are generally one size and quite long. They can be used for front, hip and in some cases back carries. They can be used from birth into the toddler years.
Woven Wraps have the highest learning curve but also the greatest versatility. Gaining in popularity in recent years, they’re a simple piece of cloth, generally 24-32” wide and 3-5.5 meters long. The wearer will wrap the fabric around themselves. This distributes weight across the entire torso and hips. Most name brands are woven to allow a very small amount of diagonal stretch.
This page goes into more details on wrap terminology, including parts of a wrap and the different passes.