If there’s one item I couldn’t have lived without in the last couple of years, it’s a baby carrier. Being able to wear my babies has been an absolute joy and necessity for me. I have a stroller, but I really do not enjoy using it. It takes up too much of my trunk space, and I hate having to go in and out of stores with it. Not to mention the fact that the basket is not nearly big enough to store the contents of a real grocery haul or target trip.
When my son was a few weeks old, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a babywearing group. There I learned how to safely and effectively use my carrier. I also met some wonderful mama friends in the process. Now, I’m a Volunteer Babywearing Educator with that same group. I love helping other caregivers keep their babies snuggled close while keeping their hands free.
One question we get a lot is about which baby carrier is best. As you might imagine, “best” is subjective. Here’s a rundown of the different types of carriers and what they might be “best” for.
Soft Structured Carrier
This type of carrier, also known as a buckle carrier, is what you probably see most often on moms that are out and about. That’s because they’re readily available at big retailers, and there are tons of different brands to choose from. Some buckle carriers will work great from birth to toddlerhood and others that are really good for smaller or bigger babies. One benefit of using an SSC is that once you know how to use it, it’s super quick to get baby in and out of it. I love a buckle carrier for hiking.
Meh Dai/Bei Dai
A meh dai is a traditional Japanese carrier. It’s similar to an SSC in that it has a panel that goes over your baby’s body, but instead of webbing and buckles, it has straps that tie. This means it’s more adjustable and customizable than a buckle carrier because you can more easily change the placement of the waist or the shoulder straps. This is my husband’s favorite carrier.
A ring sling is made up of a long piece of fabric and two large rings through which the fabric is threaded. Unlike an SSC or a meh dai, ring slings are single-shouldered. They are often made of linen or cotton, and they provide very cozy snuggles. A ring sling is currently my favorite way to carry my five-month-old daughter. They have a slightly steeper learning curve than buckles and meh dais, but they’re the quickest way to get my girl up so I can run around after my toddler. They’re also great for nursing newborns and newly walking babies who want to get up and down a lot.
Wraps are considered the hardest to learn but the easiest to customize. That’s because a wrap is just a long piece of fabric that you tie around yourself and your child. There is an almost endless number of ways to tie a wrap. They come in every fabric blend, pattern, and length imaginable. There are two subcategories of wraps – stretchy and woven. Stretchy wraps are perfect for newborns and smaller babies. Woven wraps are much more supportive, so they’re a better choice as baby gets heavier. One important note is that stretchy wraps cannot be used to back carry. I love woven wraps because they are so pretty and so comfortable to wear.
So if you’re still wondering which carrier is “best” for you, join us at a meeting with Babywearing International of Rockland and Westchester, or look here to find a group near you.