Baby wearing is convenient, which makes it easy to see why so many parents love it. Baby wearing with a sling or soft structured carrier allows you to carry your baby with your hands free for other tasks. Wearing your precious little one for a few hours a day can help you burn an extra 300 calories per day, helping you shed those last few stubborn pounds of baby weight.
As beneficial as baby wearing is to you, the advantages to your baby are even greater, especially if they’re colicky. Wearing your baby keeps them vertical, keeping milk and gastric juices in the stomach and helping release wind and gas.
Easing symptoms of colic is only one of many benefits of babywearing. Laying baby in a crib or car seat places excess pressure on the back of their head. In extreme cases, this can lead to the head becoming misshapen. This does not happen with babywearing. In addition, babywearing puts them in a position that promotes hip and leg development.
Babywearing also keeps them close to mom or dad, which promotes bonding. It also lets them hear your heartbeat, which is soothing for many babies.
- 1 Types of baby carriers
- 2 What to look for in a baby carrier
- 3 So what are the best baby carries?
Types of baby carriers
There are a variety of types of carriers to make baby wearing easy and comfortable for most parents. Find out which is the best baby carrier for you:
Baby wraps are perhaps the simplest type. A wrap is simply a long strip of fabric with no clasps or rings. The fabric is wrapped around the bodies of the wearer and the baby to hold them tightly and securely. The best part of a wrap is that there are a variety of ways to use it and can be worn in a variety of positions close to you. Check out my page on the best baby wraps. You could also try a woven baby wrap as an alternative.
There are a couple of different types of baby sling. The first is a simple pouch that is worn over one shoulder and the baby is supported in the pouch facing in or out. The second works similarly, but the fabric slips through a pair of rings to secure it.
A mei-tai is basically a square of fabric with straps at each corner that go around the wearer’s body. A mei-tai can be used to carry the little one in front, back, or on the hip. The mei-tai is portable and easy to use and the straps help to distribute the weight across both shoulders and the hips. The most popular is the Infantino Sash Mei-Tai.
A soft structured carrier looks a bit like an open backpack. Some soft structured carriers can be used to carry small babies in front, but most are used to carry older babies and toddlers on the wearer’s back.
Front facing carriers are similar to soft structured carriers, but are worn in front and allow the baby to face out so they can see the world while the parent is busy. These carriers are popular, but some of them can place excess pressure on the baby’s hips.
Are you planning to go hiking with your little one, but you aren’t really sure where to find a carrier that was designed for hiking? One that not only gives you comfort, but your little one as well, and is it ergonomically designed? Check out my page on baby hiking backpacks to find out more.
What to look for in a baby carrier
The Mayo Clinic warns that slings can lead to certain health problems when not worn properly. The most important thing to look for in baby carriers is to ensure that it fits, is comfortable, and includes clear instructions on how to use it safely. Other things to keep in mind are material and design, as these will directly influence comfort for both of you.
Baby slings are available in a variety of materials ranging from breathable mesh to insulated. The material you’ll choose will depend on the environment where you live. If your weather varies, you might consider buying a carrier in a light material for summer and a second in a heavier material for winter. Check out my page on the different materials used in baby carriers.
There are a variety of designs. Some have extra padding for comfort and support at the shoulders. Some have a belt that goes around the waist so that your hips support a majority of the baby’s weight. Some are designed to grow with your baby and can be worn until well into the toddler and even preschool years. When considering designs, think about how often you plan to use it and whether you want to keep babywearing after they start walking.
Any baby carrier can be unsafe when worn incorrectly. Look for a product with clear safety instructions and weight limits. When not positioned properly, the airways can be obstructed, making it difficult for them to breath, sometimes cutting off the airways completely. Making sure you are familiar with safety instructions and visually checking that your baby’s airway is clear and unobstructed, you can be sure your precious little one is safe. You should also ensure that any sling you buy is appropriate for your baby’s weight.
As convenient as babywearing is, and with all the benefits to parent and baby alike, it’s easy to see why is has become so popular. Here are some reviews of some of the more popular models to help you find the top baby carriers for your needs.
Click here to read about more safety.
So what are the best baby carries?
Baby Bjorn Original
The Baby Bjorn may well be the simplest carrier to use. It’s easy to put on and take off, especially when left semi-intact when taking it off. The Baby Bjorn can be used with baby facing in or out. It can be used with newborn babies with no need for any kind of insert. Babies love being able to watch the world while staying close to mom or dad.
The downside of the Baby Bjorn is that it can get heavy. It places pressure on the lower back, and the shoulder straps can hurt. Imagine carrying a backpack that weighs several pounds (or more) on your chest. This can lead to what I like to refer to as “baby back”, which can be painful. Some models, such as the Baby Bjorn Active and the Baby Bjorn Miracle are designed a little bit better, but are quite expensive.
There are also concerns with the position of baby’s legs in the Bjorn, leading some to refer to it as a “crotch dangler”. The Bjorn places baby in an ergonomically poor position which could, with heavy use, lead to dysplasia. This is not a concern for most babies with casual use, but talk to your doctor if you are concerned, and consider another type of carrier if you plan to use it a lot.
With that in mind, many users love the Bjorn for its ease of use and convenience. When you have a bundle of joy that doesn’t want to be put down, it’s nice to be able to empty the dishwasher, tend to older siblings, or take care of other tasks around the house without leaving baby to cry. After they get to be about 15 pounds, however, it is painful to use for more than a few minutes at a time.
I wouldn’t recommend buying one new, simply because they run a bit expensive for something that you probably aren’t going to use all that much or for very long. If you can borrow one or buy a used one (be sure to check it over well!) at a yard sale, you’ll enjoy it. Baby Bjorn does have a newer model called the Baby Carrier One. It’s more expensive, but being advertised as “the only carrier you’ll need from birth through toddlerhood”. It is designed more along the lines of a soft structured carrier, like an Ergo, but with the ease of use that has made Bjorn a favorite.
ERGObaby is another well known brand. The ERGObaby Original is one of the most popular models from ERGO. The features of the ERGObaby Original have made it one of the most popular and top selling soft structured models on the market. Some of these features include:
- Supports wearing baby in front or back positions
- Made of 100% cotton, so it’s machine washable with mild detergent and comfortable
- Shoulder straps are padded for added comfort
- Simple design keeps your baby comfortable and close
- ERGO is a well known and trusted brand with a solid reputation the world over for their products for babies and children
The ERGObaby Performance Baby Carrier is an awesome baby carrier.
The Moby is a simple strip of stretchy fabric. It’s complicated to learn to use, and can be difficult even after you have the basic idea figured out. Once you do, however, it’s a joy to wear. With the Moby Wrap, your baby is literally wrapped against you, giving you a closeness that cannot be matched by any other type of baby wearing product. It feels like your baby is moving with you, almost like an extension of your own body.
It takes quite a bit of practice to become proficient with wrapping the Moby and getting your baby into it, but once you get it, you’ll love it. It distributes the baby’s weight so effectively that you can wear it for extended periods without pain or fatigue.
Learning to use the Moby is the hardest part. It comes with an instruction manual, but you may need to watch a few videos to really understand how to wrap the fabric.
If you don’t get it right away, be patient and persistent. Search YouTube for some videos for more detail on how to wrap it. You might want to experiment with a baby doll or teddy bear until you get comfortable with it.
The Moby is perfect for babies to about six months and is reasonably priced at about $45.
The Moby is not the only wrap of its type. The Boba wrap is similar, but stretchier and not as bulky.
ERGObaby recently introduced a wrap of their own. It has a pocket for storing extra fabric to keep it off the ground. At $80, it’s quite a bit more expensive and not really worth the price.
Snugli baby carrier
Another popular option is the snuglie baby carrier. Check out the full review here.
The Gemini by Beco Baby Carrier
The Gemini is a really comfortable baby carrier but it is also expensive. To find out more read my Gemini by Beco Baby review.