As a brand spanking new mom, I lust after baby carriers the same way fashionistas drool over pain-inducing heels. But with so many amazing baby carrier options on the market, the selection can be overwhelming. Baby sling vs. baby wrap? Which brand is right for my babywearing lifestyle? Gorgeous prints, sturdy fabrics, smart functionality, oh my!
Thankfully, I had the support of the amazing Babywearing LA group and its founding goddess, Babywearing Institute graduate, Laura Brown. I asked her to help me break down the options and introduce y’all to a few carriers you probably didn’t know exist. By the end of this post, you may consider upgrading your baby carrier like I did.
TYPES OF BABY CARRIERS
When many people think about a buckle carrier, a Baby Bjorn may come to mind, a brand that many babywearing educators do not endorse because it doesn’t allow baby to get into a comfortable seated position – knees aligned with bum. Here are some options that Laura from Babywearing LA prefers.
- BECO GEMINI + BUTTERFLY 2 – “Beco has two carriers, the Gemini and the Butterfly 2 although the latter is being replaced by the Soleil, which will debut this month. “Their carriers have no lead, no toxic dyes, no phalates, and no flame retardants. The Gemini has a foam type body more similar to a bjorn type carrier, but you have the option of having a nice supported seat and you are able to snap the base down for smaller babies and unsnap it for larger babies. It also has a crossable shoulder straps making it very comfortable, which is why me and my husband like it. But they tend to be hotter because of the foam body and they don’t have a hood so for some people that’s a deal breaker although paxbaby.com and other retailers will make you a custom hood for it. The Beco Butterfly 2 is an awesome carrier for hot weather it comes with an internal y panel which is the first of its’ kind and allows you to buckle baby in and easily life them onto your back without assistance.”
- BOBA 3G + AIR – “I love that the 3G has a tall body. They are one of the few tall body structured carriers so I like them best for the late infant to toddler stage. They are really well made. The company is in Denver and they’ve always done a great job to take the time to create really great blogs about the pros and cons of babywearing. It’s really great that they came out with camo and pinstripe patterns for the 3G, which are really appealing to the men. The new Boba Air model is a really nice nylon soft-structured carrier that’s marketed for being super great for rolling into a bag. It comes with a carrying case that you can easily stuff into a bag when you’re on the go. It may not be best for toddlers because it doesn’t have the same level of support. It doesn’t have the foot supports for the regular soft structure carrier comes with but it’s a great option especially here in Los Angeles and other hot weather climates.”
- ERGO – “Ergo is one of the most popular soft structure carriers because they are so widely available now. It’s a really nice carrier, the Sport model has a shorter body so they tend to be outgrown despite their limit of 45 lbs. I like them but it’s good to get it custom made. So often I see a woman carrying the baby too low on their baby. The Performance model is great for longer bodied parents or bigger babies. It’s are a lighter weight fabric and is good for hot weather. WARNING : You have to watch out for counterfeits. Ergo is one of the most counterfeited carriers on the market. A lot of online retailers are not authorized to sell them including Amazon.”
- SCOOTABABY – “It’s a one-shouldered carrier and it allows you to carry your baby on your hip, which not a lot of soft-structured carrier are designed for…but scootababy allows you to wear baby on hip and the weight is divided on one shoulder but they have a really neat fleece panel that spreads across your shoulders and back. They are a great option that’s often forgotten about and they are even available at Babies “R” Us so they are easy to get!”
- TULA – “Tula has two soft structured carriers – a standard and a toddler. They run a little large so that’s what makes it an excellent toddler, preschool carrier and there aren’t too many options out there except for some custom companies. Tula offers great special adjustments. They have an adjustment over the straps at the top of the body and some under the arms so you have a double adjustment option. They are a little bit wider, and have a great pocket in the waistband so you can quicky leave the house with your keys and your phone and a place to put your stuff. Also, they are just really well made and use cute, modern fabric.”
- ONYA BABY CARRIER – Laura hasn’t had much experience with this carrier, but I have and I must say, it’s a thoughtfully designed carrier for the active and busy babywearer. They have two soft-structured carriers, the Outback and the Cruiser. Both can be worn on your front (cross-shouldered!) or back and each have an integrated chair harness, which allows you to quickly, easily and safely transform almost any adult chair into a safe seat for your baby!! How awesome is that? The Outback is the sportier version for hikers like myself. It’s made of water-resistant nylon and has a mesh lining that wicks away moisture on a hot summer day.
“A woven wrap is a wrap woven specifically for baby wearing. It’s woven on a loom, sometimes by hand. They are in cotton, hemp, silk, bamboo and a variety of linen blends. And they are super supportive and lovely from birth to toddlerhood. That’s what makes wraps so special. There are hundreds of different carries from the front , to the hip, to the back.”
- KOKADI – “They make a really nice variety of wraps, cotton and hemp blends. Very bright and fun and graphic as well as being high quality and for the most party fairly accessible Perfect “storm” for popular.”
- NATIBABY, BB SLEN, DIVA MILANO, + GIRASOL are other popular woven wrap brands that can found at the online babywearing mecca Paxbaby.com.
“A stretch wrap is a wrap made of jersey cotton, so that would be a Moby wrap or a Boba wrap, which used to be a Sleepy Wrap. They are all nice and really lovely for the first few days or months because they really mold to the baby and they are really soft and cuddly. It’s almost like tucking baby in to your t-shirt. But unfortunately they aren’t good for the long term, we only recommend them up until 15 lbs. You can only use them for a few limited front carries because it’s dangerous, baby could lean out and possibly fall.
- BABY K’TAN – “I like K’tans but they are just like the Moby in that they are stretch material and you are limited in what you can do with them and how to wear them. The thing that make it difficult is that they are sized Most people buy their t-shirt size when they really should be going down a size because it stretches out.”
“Essentially a rectangular panel with 4 straps. They look intimidating but they are actually really easy to use. You simply tie the waistband around in a double knot and then you are able to cross the straps across your back and tie it under the bum. They are really easy to use and they are very friendly to wide variety of body types because you are able to snug it up and be bound by buckles and they tend to be daddy friendly. My husband put one on by himself. They definitely shouldn’t be ignored. They are one of the earliest carrier designs. A great way get into babywearing without a lot of money.”
- BABYHAWK – From Oceanside, CA, and have an awesome owner and great backstory. They are still handmade and you can have them designed any way you want, you can choose custom fabric and they are reasonable price wise. And often times you can find them on craigslist. I’ve found them for $30 to $40!”
- OBIMAMA – a company run by a sweet lady named Jen. She designs her own pattern for a mei tai but it’s made from woven wrap materials. And she’s famous for her eye for design. She does beautiful appliques and she’s really able to work with the colors and the style of the fabric. They are just eye-catching works of art that you can put your baby in. When she first started you were able to buy her carriers on Etsy. The carriers are now auctioned off at $1200 to $1500.”
- HOPPEDIZ HOP TYE – “I LOVE them. They have the advantages of a wrap, ease of use of a mei tai and an excellent price for a wrap conversion mei tai. Plus, it’s really nice you can use it pretty much from birth on.”
This is a carrier that is a piece of fabric – typically woven fabric with 2 rings attached to one end. The fabric is threaded through the rings to make a pouch for the baby and a tail which can be adjusted. It can be worn by different sized people. WARNING: Make sure your ring sling is using the right materials as well as a Sling Ring brand sling rings which are aluminum and molded instead of welded. Even if you leave them in the car, the rings don’t get hot so you are able to pull them out of the car and use them right away so that’s a huge change within the community, but that’s something you need to look for when you purchase a ring sling.
- SLEEPING BABY PRODUCTIONS – “The company is run by an awesome woman named Jan who makes them all by hand. She’s located in New Hampshire. She’s awesome because she has patented a lovely pleated shoulder design that has become really popular in the community for being super supportive. She does a lot of customs and you can order almost any kind of fabric from linen to cotton to a wrap conversion ring sling. She’s my favorite by far because she’s also reasonable a fast. But I also like Comfy Joey or Kalea…there’s a whole line of manufacturers out there.”
- WRAP CONVERSION RING SLING – These are simply woven wraps that have been converted into a ring sling.
- COLD WEATHER COVERS – Try the Peekaroo, fleece vest which has two holes in it, one for you and one for baby that zips over you and baby. Another top pick is the Kowalli, which has just one hole and is held in place with a drawstring opening for the top and bottom – it also makes breast feeding on the go a breeze!
- POCKETS – The Mai Pokketo is a great option to attach addition storage to your baby carrier
- DROOL PADS – Essential to prevent drool from bleaching your carrier and it’ll help baby when teething
- DOLL CARRIER – Both Ergo and Beco produce an awesome doll carrier for your little one.
PIMP MY CARRIER
Pimp my carrier is an offshoot of paxbaby.com and it allows you to add any fabric to any soft structured carrier. They even do custom suck pads, hoods and pokketos. College t-shits or sports jerseys can also be added to a carrier. A great idea for the dudes!
ASK FOR HELP!
A lot of moms get frustrated with carriers in the beginning, but there are awesome babywearing groups who want to help you! Not to mention, the Internet is a tremendous babywearing resource. A couple views on YouTube and you’ll be on your way to becoming a babywearing pro. However, if hands-on help is what you need, Laura says, “Having an educator come to your home is like having a lactation consultant come to your home — it may be the difference between wearing and not wearing.”
MONEY SAVING TIP $$
Check out Craiglist or Ebay to find used carriers. I bought my used Beco Butterfly on Ebay at 40% off. Some babywearing groups or website even hosts exchange or rental programs so you can
out a carrier before you commit the cash.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Sadly, I can’t fit all the awesome baby carriers on the market into one post. Please give me feedback on which baby carrier is your favorite and how babywearing has impacted your baby bond in comments.
If you have more babywearing questions contact babywearing educator and postpartum doula Laura Brown at her facebook page. She’s awesome.