I can’t remember if I have done a post on babywearing and the different types of carriers yet, so if I have, bear with me. I wanted to give a basic rundown of the different types of carriers (as well as specifically the brands of each type that we carry). Hopefully this will help some people choose the carrier that is right for them. Remember, you can always come by the store and try on any and all carriers for yourself before you buy.
One-shoulder carriers (slings).
There are two types of one-shoulder fabric carriers, called slings. One is the pouch sling, and one is the ring sling. The pouch sling, made ubiquitous by the Hotslings brand, is a sized (non-adjustable, you must buy the size that fits you) sling with a deeper “pouch” on the side where the baby goes. They are the lightest and smallest of the slings as they use the least amount of fabric. These are not the slings that were recalled several years ago, and if proper sizing and proper positioning is used they are quite safe. They can be inexpensive, easy to make if you’re a DIY kind of person, and are overall uncomplicated. Since they are sized, however, they can’t be shared between people of different sizes (like a mom and a dad, usually.) We do not carry any pouch slings at this point although we hope to get back to making custom pouch slings to order for our customers once our newest baby get a little bit older.
Ring slings are kind of like pouch slings except that they are adjustable, with a long tail of fabric that can be shortened or lengthened (thus making the body of the sling larger or smaller) by pulling through a pair of rings. They are often quite beautiful, sometimes made of luxury fabrics like linens and silks. Because they are adjustable, different-sized people can share a ring sling. Proper positioning is important for safety and comfort, so be sure to either have someone show you how to position the baby in different ways or watch a lot of Youtube videos showing you how. We carry the Zolowear, Baby Holdings, and Hava lines of ring slings by special order. (around $40-75)
Two-shoulder Carriers (Stretchy)
There are two kinds of stretchy, tw0-shoulder carriers that we have in our store: Mobywrap and Baby K’tan. The Mobywrap is a long, stretchy (but sturdy) piece of fabric that can be wrapped around you and your baby to create different holds, like facing in or out while upright, laying down in the “cradle” hold, or for older babies sitting up on your hip. The Baby K’tan can do almost all of the same holds as the Mobywrap, but instead of being one long piece of fabric it is sewn to cut down on (a) the amount of fabric used and (b) the amount of wrapping required. Many parents (including myself) cannot comfortably wear a heavier baby in a one-shouldered carrier for very long, but find the two-shoulder support of these carriers very comfortable and the baby’s weight well-distributed. They are great carriers for tiny babies because of the way they wrap the baby tightly, almost swaddling them to your body. My kids always go right to sleep in their Mobywrap. In fact, one of the earliest memories I have of my second child is putting him securely in the Mobywrap so I could chase his sister all over the playground and even go down slides with her… and he slept through it all!
Both of these carriers can be used with twins!
Pro’s of the Mobywrap include more color choices, lower cost, one-size-fits-all sizing, and the fact that it can be easily cinched up and retied if your baby’s weight starts to make it fit too loosely on you. Also, it rests some of the baby’s weight on your hips instead of only on your shoulders. (starts at $39)
On the other hand, the Baby K’tan is lighter weight, both because of the amount of fabric and because it comes in a breathable sport mesh version (the Baby K’tan Breeze). It’s quicker to pop on and off and can be simpler because it doesn’t require wrapping. (starts at $63)
Non-stretchy, woven wrap carriers are also available. We carry the Dolcino woven wrap by special order.
Mei Tai Carrier
The Mei Tai carrier is an Asian baby carrier that distributes the baby’s weight much the same way as a wrap carrier, but it is built differently. Instead of a long piece of fabric, the Mei Tai is a rectangle of fabric that forms the seat and back of a “chair” for your baby, which is then tied onto your body by a waist strap and two shoulder straps. Mei Tais can be used to carry a baby on your front, hip, or back. They are especially good for older babies (though can be used for newborns too) because they are not stretchy and so can support heavier weights without sagging. We carry the Babywearing Essentials line of Mei Tais by CatBirdBaby, a great value at only $69. We also can order their fancier Mei Tais by request.
Soft Structured Carriers (SCC’s)
Soft Structured carriers have a design based on the Mei Tai, but have buckles instead of tied and often have extra bells and whistles. I’m getting tired so I’ll edit this later and explain the differences between the Beco Butterfly, Beco Gemini, and CatBirdBaby Pikkolo!