Discover the basic kinds for ergonomic baby carrier and learn which type of baby carrier is the best for you.
How to choose a baby carrier ?
To help you choose the baby carrier that suits your needs best we prepared for you a short description of each baby carrier type.
What are the baby carrier types ?
There are many different baby carrier types. Below you will find a list of the basic types of baby carriers that you can find on the market today. The list is followed by description of main features of each kind, it's pros & cons and our babywearing expert's tips and recommendations. After reading this article you will surely know which baby carrier type is the best for you and your family.
Types of baby carrier:
- Baby Wrap / Sling
- Ring Sling Baby Carrier
- Meh Dai / Mei Tai Baby Carrier
- Buckle Carrier / Soft Structured Carrier (SSC)
- Onbuhimo / Backpack Baby Carrier
- Babywearing Aid
Keep reading to learn:
- What is a Baby wrap ?
- What is a Ring Sling ?
- What is a Meh Dai Baby Carrier ?
- What is a Buckle Carrier / Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) ?
- What is an Onbuhimo ?
- What is a Babywearing Aid ?
What is a Baby wrap ?
A baby wrap is the simplest type of all types of baby carriers. Is is basically a long piece of fabric that you wrap around you and your baby. By tying the loose ends you create a cozy and secured place for your baby. There are different ways of tying, some are easier then others. Most of parents even if they find it a little difficult at the beginning, with practice they find it easier and easier. Some parents however are not willing to learn to tie or find it too hard and/or too long to do. Certainly a baby wrap is not the easiest neither the quickest way to fix on. You can find on the market many different wraps. They may different with the size and the fabric.
How to choose the right size of baby wrap?
You should choose the size depending on the ties you want to practice and the size of the caregiver. The table below should help you to choose the right size for you.
- size 3 (XXS): 2.7 m long – suitable for petite and small moms (less than 1.55 m), suitable only for certain wrap knots
- size 4 (XS): 3.6 m long – suitable for small moms, suitable only for certain wrap knots
- size 5 (S): 4.2 m long – suitable for small and medium caregiver (less than 1.7 m)
- size 6 (M): 4.6 m long – standard size wrap suitable for most wearers from XS/34 to XXL/44.These wrap size is the most popular with parents and is suitable for all types of knots.
- size 7 (L): 5.2 m log – for large size and tall wearers: min. XL/42 or min.178 cm high women and 185 cm high men.
- size 8 (XL) : 6 m long – for large wearers and to use fancy wraps and knots, suitable for experience baby wearers.
Which baby wrap to choose? Woven or stretchy?
Wraps that are made of cotton, linen, wool or hemp are called woven wraps. These types of fabrics make the wrap a bit harder to tie but they support better the weight of your baby so you can use them longer.
We recommend the following woven wraps:
Wraps that are made of elastic fabric (eg. cotton jersey), are called stretchy wraps. They are great solution for babywearing-beginners. With stretchy wrap you tie the fabric around your body first and then you stretch it over the baby that make it much easier to learn. Stretchy wrap’s soft fabric makes it a perfect carrier for newborns and small babies. However as a stretchy wraps is less supportive then a woven wrap you can use it till your baby wight depending of the wrap. Always follow the wight indication of the wrap manufacturer!
If you wan to go for a stretchy wrap these are the best ones of the market:
Baby wrap carrier advantages
+ perfect for newborns : wrap is not only suitable for newborns but it is the most ergonomic way to wear a newborn.
+ multiple carry positions : front, hip and back carry
+ multiple ties
+ adjustable newborn-infant-toddler : wrap is growing with your child
+ adjustable to the wearer (perfect fit each time you put it on, small mom and large dad can use the same wrap)
Baby wrap carrier disadvantages
- proper tying takes practice : at the beginning some parents may find the wrap difficult to use and you need to practice it few times to learn how to make the secure tie.
Our babywearing expert tip : If you are a babywaering beginner and you want to try a baby wrap. Go for a stretchy wrap rather then a woven wrap as it is easier to use.
- many layers of fabric keep you worm
Our babywearing expert tip : Keep in mind that a wrap is an extra layer of clothing – some times it is even a few layers of fabric. It may be too much during hot summer wearer. If you want to practice wrap babywearing when it is hot choose a wrap made of a breathable fabric like: bamboo, or cool ect. (give more)
What is a Ring Sling ?
Ring sling is a long piece of fabric which has two rings at one end. The rings are used to fix the tail of the sling and to adjust it. When fixed the sling creates a pouch for the baby, that comes from a shoulder to the opposite hip. Because of the asymmetrical weight distribution on your back, we recommend using the ring sling for maximum 15-30 minutes on one shoulder (depending on the age and the weight of your baby) and changing the shoulders frequently. The ring sling allows you to wear a newborn, a small baby and a toddler. The sling allows you to wear your baby in front of you, on your hip (most popular way) and even on your back (for more experience babywearers).
Advantages of ring sling baby carrier
+ quick and easy to use (no need to learn tying). We recommend this carrier for all babywearing beginners.
+ very compact (easy to take with you)
+ suitable for newborns, babies and toddlers. Always check the manufacturer instruction and age/weight recommendation.
+ one-size fits all : you can easily adjust the sling to your body type and baby’s size. It fits parents of different body size and can be used for kids of different age.
+ breastfeeding friendly : most of the babycarriers are suitable for breastfeeding but a ring sling is particularly handy to support a baby for nursing.
Disadvantages of ring sling baby carrier
- asymmetrical weight distribution : ring sling is not for you if you suffer form back problems or shoulder pain
- asymmetrical weight distribution may become uncomfortable if you want to wear a baby for a long periods of time.
If you think this type of carrier suits your needs best, you should try these top ring slings:
- LennyLamb RingSling
- Babylonia BB-Sling Woven Ring Sling
- Love Radius (JPMBB) Little Baby Wrap Without A Knot Ring Sling
- Neobulle Ring Sling Organic Cotton
- Neobulle Ring Sling Jungle SeaCell
What is a Meh Dai Baby Carrier?
Meh Dai Baby Carrier also called Mei Tai is an East-Asian style of soft-bodied carrier, originally from China. It is a hybrid carrier that combines features of a wrap and buckle carrier. The meh dai carrier has a square or rectangular body panel with four straps, one on each corner of the panel. The baby is seated in the body panel and the straps of the meh dai are tied around the wearer.
For who Meh Dai is perfect for ?
This type of carrier is wonderful for babies through toddler age and is especially great for caregivers with back issues, as the carrier distributes weight over your entire upper body and uses 2 shoulders. Mei-Tai is highly adjustable and can be easily shared between different caregivers. Of course you have to learn how to make a secure tie, but it’s not that difficult and definitely takes less practice than for example wrap carrier. You can wear this type of baby carriers on your front, back or hip. Depending of the size some of the Mei-Tais are suitable from birth. Always check the manufacturers recommendations. Some models have nice padding on the straps so wearing the baby is less painful for the shoulders (very important especially with older kids).
Advantages of Meh Dai carrier
+ fully adjustable : all straps need to be tied around your body, you can easily adjust it to your body type, as well as share it with other caregivers
+ versatile : Meh Dai carriers can be used for front and back carries as well as for hip carries.
+ comfortable : great for people with back and shoulder problems since they distribute weight over both shoulders
Mei Tai disadvantage
- using it takes practice : it’s not very difficult, but you still need to learn how to tie it to keep the baby safe and how to distribute baby’s weight evenly
In our experts opinion these are the best Mei Tai carriers available of the market:
What is a Buckle Carrier / Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) ?
Buckle carriers come with buckle-and-go east to to use system. It consist of a buckled, padded waistband, buckled padded shoulder straps and a back panel often with a baby hood. It is quick to pop on and very supportive. Soft structured carrier do not require any learning or technique in the way a woven wrap or mai tai does. This type of carrier is very popular with parents looking for a carrier that's quick and easy to put on, take off and adjust. Soft structured carrier comes usually with padded shoulder straps and thick, padded waistband that you need to fasten around your waist. Usually shoulder straps and waist belt are adjustable which allow wearer to find most comfortable fit.
The back panel should be wide enough to provide the support for baby’s hips and legs, from one knee to knee.
An ergonomic soft structured carrier helps to evenly distribute baby’s weight across caregiver’s body.
Soft structured carriers that have proper, wide panel allow the baby to rest in most healthy position – with the hips bent and spread apart to the side, thighs supported, knees bent and higher than bum.
It is important to avoid non-ergonomic soft structured carriers with narrow panel where baby’s weight puts pressure on baby's crotch with legs straighten and dangle. This position strains baby’s spine, doesn’t support his legs and hips and may have negative impact on your baby's development. More about why to choose an ergonomic baby carriers you can read it the following article: What Is An Ergonomic Baby Carrier ?
When is it safe to start using a buckle baby carrier?
Most of the buckle carriers are suitable from 3 -5 months, when the baby has better neck and head control:
Some soft structured carriers are suitable for newborn babies however often they require adding an infant insert.
Not many are suitable from birth, without any additional inserts:
But only few are design for newborns and very small babies:
Babywearing Expert Advice: If you are searching for a buckle carrier for your newborn baby we recommend you getting one that does not require this additional insert.
The newborn ready buckle carriers are less bulky and hot. Besides, with an insert may be more difficult to find the proper position for the baby.
If you are searching for a buckle carrier for your newborn you may want to read the following article: Best Newborn Baby Carriers 2020.
Some of the buckle baby carriers offers really huge adjustability and versatility.
For example some models allow you to adjust the sitting area in width to find the best and safest position for the baby as he/she grows. Thanks to that you can use one baby carrier from infancy to toddler-hood. Here are some widely adjustable buckle carrier:
Moreover, many soft structured carriers have storage pockets which are actually quite useful. Thanks to that you can keep some tissues or a teether always at hand. If you like to keep many thinks withing a reach the Infantino Carry On Multi-Pocket Carrier may be the one for you.
Advantages of a buckle carrier
+ easy to use : You just put the baby carrier on, buckle it and adjust the straps. It’s probably most user-friendly type of baby carriers. This type of baby carriers fits wearers with different body type.
+ versatile : Most of the buckle carrier you can use on your front and back and sometimes even on your hip and in front facing out position (eg. Tula Explore Versatile Baby Carrier, Ergobaby 360 All Positions Baby Carrier)
+ long-term use : many buckle carriers grow with the baby. Some models offer adjustable seat width, some are newborn-ready, while other can be used from birth with special insert
+ comfortable padding : the shoulder straps are often padded for wearer’s comfort. Some models have even special featured in a waistband called lumbar support that reduced lower back strain.
Main buckle carrier's disadvantage:
- price : usually this type of baby carrier is quite expensive or at least more expensive than a wraps or ring sling.
- not all baby carrier are ergonomic. To be sure the baby carrier is ergonomic you can visit the The International Hip Dysplasia Institute website to see the list of hip healthy approved, ergonomic baby carriers or simple order on our website. All baby carriers we offer are ergonomic.
What is an Onbuhimo?
Onbuhimo is a traditional Japanese-style baby carrier without a waistband. Also called a backpack carrier as it is use for back carry and looks a bit like a rucksack style backpack. This waist-less soft carrier is very appreciated by pregnant women that wish to carry their second child.
For who Onbuhimo is perfect for?
It is ideal for older babies, toddlers, and children that love to be up and down. With a little practice, Onbuhimos are one of the quickest carrier types to put on and take off perfect for children who is always up and down. It is designed to wear a baby high on the back allowing you baby see over your shoulder.
Expectant mums who want to keep wearing their older children while pregnant with a younger sibling love Onbuhimos due to no waistband to cut in on a growing tummy or add extra pressure on their rib cage.
But it’s not just pregnant mums who enjoy the no waist belt feature of Onbuhimos. Anyone who do not like pressure on their tummies is likely to appreciate having an Onbuhimo as an option. Babywearing dads also often enjoy the simplicity of this type of baby carriers.
Advantages of Onbuhimo carrier
+ no waist belt makes it perfect for pregnant moms
+ quick ups and downs
+ compact and travel-friendly : with a small panel and two shoulder straps, Onbuhimos are one of the most compact carrier option available
+ perfect for tandem carrying : Onbuhioms are a great option for parents looking to carry two babies at once whether twins, or children of different ages.
Disadvantages of Onbuhimo carrier
- almost excursively back-wearing : if you need a versatile baby carrier, the Onbuhimo is probably not going to work for you. If you and your little one love front snuggles, onbuhimos are probably not for you. Although they could technically be used on the front, they are not designed for front-wearing, so can be difficult to adjust in this position, and won’t be as comfortable as your other alternatives.
- suitable only for children who are already sitting : Onbuhimos should not be used on small babies who are not yet able to sit unassisted. Onbuhimos are usually recommended from six months old or from when the child has excellent head and trunk control.
- not suitable for longer periods of babywearing : no waist belt means that the baby weight isn’t distributed to the hips. If you tend to only wear for long periods, an Onbuhimo might not be right for you.
- not comfortable : as Onbuhimo has not waistband is not for you if you suffer form back problems or shoulder pain. If your shoulders are extremely picky, you have a shoulder pain or back problems you should settle for a carrier that spreads the weight throughout your torso a little more, like an SSC with a waistband, a meh dai, or a woven wrap.
We recommend the following Onbuhimo carriers:
What is a Babywearing Aid
Babywearing Aid is not designed for hands-free use. Always keep a hand on baby's back whilst using the aid. Babywearing aids are useful when you need a short time help to support you little one.
Babywearing aid's pros:
+ small price
+ ultra compact
Babywearing aid's cons:
- not suitable for hands-free use
- not suitable for longer periods of babywearing
Which type of baby carrier is the best?
There is no best carrier type for everyone. Each family is differed and have different needs. The best carrier type for you is the one that meets best your expectations.
The best type of carrier for you depend of you needs: your’s and your baby’s body size, the frequency and the circumstances you plan to use, ect.