We are about to feature Ally’s first baby carrier review, and as a timely lead up we are very pleased to present a guest post by Meredith McKay of Frangipani Baby about the various types of baby carriers on the market. Meredith takes us through each of the different carriers available with an outline of the pros and cons and some examples of each. Thanks Meredith!
Baby carriers on the market today
There are so many types of baby carrier out there that it can be overwhelming and hard to know where to start. Here is a brief run-down on types to look out for that will give you the most comfortable, safe and satisfying experience:
A Pouch is a continuous loop of fabric with a curved seam sewn in the middle providing a “pouch” for baby to sit in. Pouches sit like a wide sash around the wearer’s body spreading the carrying weight very evenly across your shoulder and back which makes them very comfortable to wear. Pouches are traditionally fitted to the wearer. This means they will be a perfect fit for you, but may not fit others. They are now available in adjustable styles, so the sizing can be changed between wearers.
Age range: Recommended from 4 months. They may be worn comfortably until around 2 years of age.
Weight range: 3.6kg to 15kg approx.
Positions: Front, back and hip.
Pros: Easy to learn to use and quick to put on and off. Folds up compactly so is easy to carry around. Can be used in a number of carrying positions.
Cons: Fitted pouches must fit the wearer well and so are not so easily shared (this is not a problem with the adjustable ones now available). Not recommended for use with newborns. Not fully adjustable, so it can be hard to get it really snug around baby’s back. One-shouldered carriers can get uncomfortable after long periods of time or with heavier children.
Great for: Supermarket, library, public transport, anytime you would be holding your child on your hip, breastfeeding on the go.
Brand examples: Hotslings, Jazslings
Maya Wrap ring sling
A Ring Sling is a rectangle of fabric with two rings at one end used to adjust and secure the carrier. Ring Slings require some practice but once learnt their adjustability gives them a snugger hold than the Pouch. Choose a ring sling that gives a good spread over the shoulder and back as this is crucial in spreading the carrying weight and thereby making your carrying experience a positive one.
Age range: Most can be used from newborn. They may be worn comfortably until around 2 years of age.
Weight range: Depending on type, from around 3kg to 15kg.
Positions: Front, back and hip.
Pros: Easy to learn, quick to put on and adjust, fold up compactly so are easy to carry around. They are fully adjustable, making them ideal for breastfeeding and easy to share. Many different features and types available. Can be used in many different carrying positions.
Cons: One-shouldered carriers can get uncomfortable after long periods of time or with heavier children. Can take a little time to master adjusting them.
Great for: The supermarket, library, public transport, doctor’s office, school drop off/pick up, anytime you need to pop your child in quickly, breastfeeding on the go.
Brand examples: Maya Wrap, Sakura Bloom
babyHAWK Mei Tei
These are Asian-inspired carriers, which in their most basic form have a rectangular or square shaped body and four straps – one coming from each corner – that tie to hold the carrier on. Some modern variations include padded shoulder straps and the option of a clip to do up the waist straps with.
Age range: Depending on type, from newborn. Most can be worn comfortably until at least 2 years old.
Weight range: Depending on type, from around 3.5kg to around 18kg.
Positions: Front, back (from approx. 4-6 months) and hip (although are not ideal for this).
Pros: Easy to learn. Easy to share between wearers of different sizes. Petite and larger wearers often find they can get a better fit than carriers with buckles and webbing. Many types and features available. Two-shouldered carriers so can comfortably be used for longer periods and with heavier children.
Great for: Shopping, public transport, going walking, playgroup, hanging out the washing, housework, extended periods of time.
Brand examples: AngelPack, Kozy Carrier, BabyHawk
Manduca baby carrier
These are inspired by mei tais, but have buckles and clips, rather than ties. They are easy to use and the weight distribution over both shoulders and waist make them very comfortable carriers especially for longer journeys and toddlers. Straps are adjustable so they can be worn by different people of different sizes.
Age range: Depending on the type, from newborn with an additional insert, which may need to be purchased separately. Many can be comfortably worn until around 3 years of age, or beyond, especially if they are sized or have an expandable or larger body.
Weight range: Depending on the type from around 3.5kg (with infant insert) to 18-20kgs.
Positions: Front, back (from approx.. 4-6 months) and hip (although are not ideal for this).
Pros: Easy to learn, easy to share between wearers. Many types and features readily available. Two-shouldered carriers can comfortably be used for longer periods and with heavier children.
Cons: Fit and comfort can be quite individual between brands. Newborn positioning is not ideal. Adjusting buckles and straps can take a while to get used to.
Great for: Shopping, public transport, playgroup, going walking, hanging out the washing, housework, extended periods of time.
Brand examples: ERGObaby, Manduca, Tula, AngelPack, Boba.
Ellaroo woven wrap
These are long rectangular pieces of fabric that wrap around your body and the baby. Wraps come in both woven and stretchy fabrics. Stretchy fabrics (e.g. Hug-a-Bub) are suitable for front carrying only, and are best suited to younger babies. Woven fabrics (e.g. Ellaroo) are suitable from birth to 5 years and can be used for back, front and hip carries. While they are harder to use than other carriers, they are by far the most versatile and well worth the effort.
Age range: Depending on type, from newborn until 3-4 years or even beyond (with a woven wrap)! Stretchy wraps are suitable until around 6 months.
Weight range: Depending on type, from around 3kg to 20+ kg for woven wraps, and around 3kg to 8kgs with stretch wraps.
Positions: Front, hip and back carrying (hip and back with woven wraps only) with a huge variety of tying techniques.
Pros: Easy to share, the most versatile carrier available. Distributes weight well so can comfortably be used for long periods of time or with heavier babies. Very quick and easy to use once they are mastered.
Cons: Take more time to learn than other carriers and can seem overwhelming at first. To get the most out of them it is best to learn a few different tying techniques.
Great for: Shopping, library, playgroup, going walking, public transport, hanging out the washing, housework, extended periods of time (longer wraps) or quick up-down (shorter wraps)
Brand examples: Ellaroo, Natibaby, Didymos, Girasol (woven), Hug-a-Bub (stretch), Caboo (stretch hybrid carrier)
Whichever type, brand or colour you choose, there are a few important things to look out for:
The material of the carrier should hold your child’s back so that the spine is well supported and at the same time held in its natural slightly rounded posture.
The carrier should allow the legs to be in the squat-spread (‘M’) position, with the knees higher than the bottom (your baby’s knees should be at about the height of their belly button). The material between your child’s legs should spread from knee to knee. This will ensure that your child’s legs, hips and spine are supported in the best position for their development and comfort.
The carrier should distribute your child’s weight evenly across your body. This makes the experience more comfortable and enjoyable for you.
Wishing you and your baby happy carrying!