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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Types of Baby Carriers

There are a lot of different types of carriers out there, and new ones are being created each day. Most carriers fall into one of these categories:

Amauti from amautibaby.com
  • Babywearing Clothing: Throughout history, people from many cultures simply wrapped their clothing around themselves and their babies. The African Kanga and Japanese Obi are both examples. Now we have new designs, and some custom made traditional clothing available for babywearing use.
    • Amauti Coat: (Amauti Baby) Traditional Inuit coat with a back carrier built in. Used with newborns and up. For use in winter or cold weather climates only. Beautiful, expensive, and custom made.
    • Kangaroo Care Shirt (Nuroo, Vija Designs) A stretchy shirt with a built in baby carrier. Meant for kangaroo care with preemies and newborns. Holds baby similarly to a stretchy wrap. Not for older babies or toddlers
LittleLife Freedom Frame Backpack www.littlelife.com
  • Frame Backpacks: (Kelty, LittleLife, Deuter) for the outdoorsy family, framed backpacks protect the baby from harm. They are comfortable for a day of hiking, and often sold at sporting goods stores. Use with older babies and toddlers. Interior frames (with the frame inside the material of the backpack) are becoming more popular than exterior frames. Dad-friendly
CatBird Baby Mei Tai, catbirdbaby.com
  • Soft Unstructured / Asian Style Baby Carriers: A rectangle or square of fabric with ties that secure baby to you. Easily adjustable to different wearers. Mei Tai (pronounced “May Tie”) is popular, others include Hmong, Onbuhimo, Podaegi, Chunei, and Bei Bei
    • Mei Tai: (Catbird Baby, BabyHawk, Kozy) an easy to use Chinese carrier for all different ages, comfortable for short or long term carries. An unpadded waist strap is a plus here, the bottom can be rolled up to make a smaller body size to fit a younger infant.
    • Podaegi: (FreeHand) A Korean carrier that is traditionally worn on the back. It is basically a blanket with a long strap over the top. The strap goes over the wearers shoulders and back under the baby's bottom. It is used for newborns and up.
    • Onbuhimo: (FreeHand) A Japanese carrier that is very similar to the Mei Tai, except, instead of  bottom straps it has two loops that the top straps are threaded through.

Ergonomic Kinderpack from kindercarry.com
  • Soft Structured: Easy to use and position baby. Great for travel, can be used from birth until toddler depending on the carrier. Often padded for greater comfort. Usually uses buckles or snaps to secure baby safely. Easily adjusted between wearers. Many dads prefer the look of SSCs.
    • Front pack: (Bjorn, Britax) not recommended because they hold baby in a way that stresses their developing bones and joints. Better for short periods of wearing with smaller babies.
    • Structured Hip Carrier: (Scootababy, Playtex) for parents and babies who love hip carries. Structured with one shoulder strap. For babies 6mo+. Many other carriers offer hip carry options, but this one is much more comfortable. Only for those serious about hip carrying.
    • Ergonomic: (Ergo, Beco Butterfly II, Kinderpack) Great carriers hold baby in the correct position with baby front to front with the wearer. Best for older babies and toddlers. Comfortable for both baby and wearer, can take the place of a framed backpack. Men tend to prefer these types of carriers for their less 'girly' looks.
    • Half Buckle: A structured waist supports baby’s weight, and mei tai shoulder straps allow for easy adjustments
    • Reverse Half Buckle: Structured shoulder straps provide total comfort, while a tie waist allows you to place the waist wherever you want
Silk Brocade Zolowear Ring Sling, zolowear.com

  • Sling: a piece of fabric that is looped around the body, usually over one shoulder. Strains shoulder if worn for extended periods of time
    • Pouch Sling: (Hotslings, Slinglings) A loop of fabric folded to create a pouch. Easy to use, but sized by the wearer, so they cannot be shared between caregivers unless everyone is the same size. Not great for newborns.
    • Adjustable Pouch: (Zolowear, Mama’s Milk) A pouch sling with some adjustability in length to help get the right fit. Not nearly as adjustable as a ring sling
    • Bag Style Pouch: (Premaxx, SlingRider) NEVER USE with babies – babies have died in this type of carrier, giving all carriers a bad name. These carriers are pouch slings with elastic edges and a deep pouch. The elastic easily covers baby’s face, causing suffocation. OK for hip carry with a toddler. 
    • Ring Sling: (Maya Wrap, Zolowear, Sakura Bloom) Easily adjustable to different wearers, features a ring over the shoulder, which material is threaded through. Works well for newborns through young toddlers. Easily my favorite type of carrier. AKA traditional or open tail ring sling.
    • Close Tail Ring Sling (Hava, Sling EZee): Similar to an adjustable pouch, this is a ring sling with a strap to adjust instead of the rest of the fabric. Does not adjust evenly like an open tail ring sling, and can be tricky to use with a newborn because of that.
    • Close Tail Buckle Sling (Balboa Baby): Sort of like a cross between a bag sling and a close tail ring sling. Not recommended for newborns – can closely resemble bag style slings.
    • X-Sling (Cashmere Cuddles, Michiko Baby): These are not very common in the US. This carrier has a loop over each shoulder, and is sewn together in the middle. This makes an X on the wearer's front and back. Baby is slipped in to the X for an easy two shoulder carry.
    • Stretchy X-Sling: (K’tan, Blue Celery, Caboo) Like a X-sling, except that the material is stretchy. These can be used to hold one or two babies. Holds baby like a stretchy wrap without the tying. Great for newborns, generally too stretchy for older babies and toddlers.
Didymos Woven Wrap, didymos.com
  • Wrap/Wraparound: a long piece of fabric that is wrapped and tied around the wearers body. Baby is slipped into the fabric for a secure hold. Distributes weight evenly for long carrying. From birth until 40lb +. Easily adjusted for different wearers. Can carry two babies at once.
    • Stretchy: (Moby, Boba, Wrapsody) more popular and easy to adjust, great for newborns, not supportive enough for older babies, hot in warm weather.
    • Simple Piece of Cloth: Exactly what it sounds like, a sheet, blanket, shawl, or length of fabric wrapped around wearer. As long as you test the seams and body, then it is perfectly safe for baby. Jersey, Osnaburg, and cotton jacquard are popular SPOCs. Sometimes people make them into DIY wraps.
    • Woven: (Didymos, Storchenwiege) If you were going to have only one carrier, this would be it. Woven carriers are stronger than stretchy ones, meaning no need to adjust tying during the day. Can be used from a newborn to a young child. Has a steep learning curve.
    • Short Woven Wrap: Rebozo, Kanga > Native carrier, knotted over the shoulder or chest for easy adjustment between wearers. Depending on length, they may be used with some full length wrap carries. Woven wrap companies make wraps in all different sizes to suit different wearers and carries.
    • Mesh/Gauze Wraps: (Wrapsody, BabyEtte) Somewhat stretchy and cool for summer. Many prefer to use a lightweight woven wrap when it gets hot. The mesh ones are often used in water. Less supportive for heavier babies.


  1. I want to buy carrier for my 4 months, I live in asia.What do u suggest ?? I'm wearing boba wrap at the moment. My LO loves it, he always sleeps in it. But it's not practical to me, it's heavy when folded and it's too warm when i use it outdoor.

  2. Hi Hana!

    I agree that stretchy wraps can get pretty hot, not to mention that they are too stretchy to use much past 15lb. You can try a thin woven like a Vatanai or the gauze Gypsy Mama Bali Breeze if you like wrapping.

    If you want something that folds up small and is relatively easy to find in Asia, than a Mei Tai or Onbuhimo could work well for you. I love my MT for an easy two shouldered carry.

    Hope this helps!

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