Babywearing has been around for several decades now and is quite practical with loads of benefits to offer. The sheer ease of going hands-free when doing household chores or playing with the elder children as you carry the younger one in a sling or wrap is incomparable.
Baby carriers are also a godsend when you step out for shopping, use the bus or train or try to steer through crowded areas such as concerts or airports. A little practice can also help you ace breastfeeding while the baby clings to you in the carrier.
Close proximity to caregivers helps in strengthening the parent-baby relationship. This allows the babies to feel warm and calm themselves with the heartbeat of the caregiver.
However, with so many baby carrier styles and brand available on the shelves, it can be quite daunting to find the right one for your baby. Here are some basic types of baby carriers that you can analyze to find the one that suits you best:
Types of baby carriers explained:
Below are the major 5 categories of baby carriers:
- Baby wraps
- Ring Slings
- Pouch carriers
- Soft structured or buckle carriers
- Meh Dai
- Backpack carriers
The wrap style carrier has been traditionally around across cultures and for several years now. There however is learning come when it comes to tying the wrap. It is a long fabric that you need to wrap in order to secure the baby to your body. There are several wrapping styles and you can choose based on your baby’s age, weight and comfort. It may seem daunting and unsafe to beginners but gets better after a few rounds of practice. It helps to give the cosiness of the womb to the child.
When it comes to choosing the right wrap you need to choose the material and length based on the type of tying styles you want to follow or the weather of the area where you live. Cotton knit, gauze, wool, linen, jersey, elastane are some fabrics available. Stretchy wraps are awesome for newborns.
Woven wraps made of cotton, linen or wool are sturdier and work better for older babies. They also work better when you need to carry the baby on your back.
Wraps are very versatile and you can try several wrapping styles. They can be adjusted infinitely and are available in gorgeous prints and fabrics. They are perfect for newborns and very easy to clean. All you need to do is to toss them in the washing machine.
Wrapping can be done with any long piece of fabric that you may have at home or a specialized wrap available at the stores or online.
Baby Ring Sling
A Ring Sling is also a long fabric but with 2 metal rings attached to one end. In order to secure your baby in a ring sling, you need to pass the loose end through one ring and then secure in under another ring. You can tug on this end or loosen it to reach an ideal fit for the baby. While you may be scared about the unfastening of the sling, stay assured that baby’s weight will not let the rings slip.
The ring sling allows you to wear the baby to the front or on the hip with the pouch from one shoulder to your hip.
Ring slings are not available in stretchy fabrics but only cotton, linen or luxurious silks.
Ring slings have a lower learning curve as compared to wraps as there are no wraps and knots involved. You don’t need to tie with Ring slings but only secure using adjustable fastening.
These are very easily adjustable to make for a perfect fit based on your body type and size of the baby. They are available in lovely colours and designs. These are newborn friendly and go upto several months. Using the ring slings is very easy and can be aced with very little practice. The one-shoulder style may, however, be uncomfortable to some wearers and is not recommended for those with shoulder pains.
There are many brand offering ring slings and you can also get one customized for yourself.
Baby Pouch Sling
A pouch sling is similar to a ring sling except that there are no rings. It is pre-stitched with a long loop of fabric around the wearer’s body. It extends from one shoulder to the opposite hip. These are very affordable and easy to wear. Pouch slings are perfect for newborns and can be worn on the front.
Pouch slings come in various sizes and are not adjustable. It is not always possible to share pouch slings with other caregivers. They may also be harsh on your back due to the uneven distribution of baby weight across the body.
Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) / Buckle Carrier
Most parents visualize soft structures carriers when thinking about baby carriers. These are pretty convenient with no learning curve. Soft structured carriers have thick shoulder straps with padding and a waistband that needs to be tied around the waist. The waistband is padded too.
After buckling it, you end up with a pouch for the baby. A good ergonomic soft structured carrier must offer knee to knee support to the baby. This means the bottom panel fabric, where the baby sits must be wide enough to extend knee to knee.
The straps are easy to adjust and one can achieve a fir based on their body type and size of the baby. These can be used to carry the baby on the front as well as back and also help distribute the baby weight evenly across the body. They offer natural hip position and aid in healthy and natural hip development as the position they offer is the most natural for babies.
Soft structured carriers with a narrow hip area must be avoided as they leave the legs dangling and do not offer knee to knee support.
These are easy to use and adjust and can be easily shared with other caregivers. They can be used to a longer span of time and offer comfortable padding for the wearers. On the downside, they are expensive.
Meh Dai (Mei Tai) Carrier
A Meh-dai is a hybrid carrier that combines the features of a wrap with a soft structured carrier. It looks quite similar to the buckled versions except the waistband needs to be tied and not buckled. It comes with 2 shoulder straps and long pieces of fabric that need to be tied around the waist.
The scope of adjustment with Mei-Tais is very wide and they can be easily shared by several people. Each person just needs to adjust the tightness.
These carriers are designed to be worn only on the back but are ideal only for kids that can sit without support and can control their neck.
The seat is structured and the baby stays seated. There also come with straps and waistband that can be buckled and thus help to distribute the baby weight evenly across the body.