In honor of International Babywearing Week (Oct. 5-12, 2014), today on the blog we’re featuring some babywearing basics, our top carrier picks, and the top online resources for buying baby carriers and learning more about babywearing. 🙂 We are passionate babywearers, so whether you’re an experienced babywearer or just babywearing curious, our goal is to help you discover at least one new thing to help you to wear your little one just that much more comfortably or for just that much longer. <3
For those who are not yet sold on babywearing, the answer is, in a nutshell: because it’s awesome! Your baby will love it, because it will enable him or her to stay closer to you. Studies show that babies who are carried cry less and are healthier than babies who aren’t. And you’ll love it too, because your arms won’t fall off, and you’ll be able to keep your hands free for other things — so you can actually GET. STUFF. DONE.
Not yet convinced? Check out these articles on the benefits of babywearing from Babywearing International, Dr. Sears, and La Leche League International.
What type of baby carrier is right for me?
There are a ton of options available, so selecting your first carrier can be a bit daunting. Here is an overview of some of the main types of carriers from Babywearing International (BWI), to help get you oriented to the basic lingo.
In general, the best type of carrier for you will depend on both your baby’s age and your personal preferences.
For newborns (birth to 4-6 months or so), your basic options are a wrap (either stretchy or woven), a sling or pouch, or a newborn-friendly soft carrier (e.g. mei tai or Soft Structured Carrier/buckle carrier). Newborn-friendly soft carriers include both infant-sized carriers (which are sized for smaller babies) and one-size carriers that can easily adjust to accommodate smaller babies well (for example, the base might cinch or snap in, or an integrated infant insert might be included).
For the baby stage (approximately 6 to 18 months), your best options are woven wraps (stretchy wraps will no longer be supportive enough) or a standard-size soft carrier.
For the toddler stage (approximately 18+ months), woven wraps and toddler-size soft carriers are your best bet (the latter will have a wider base and higher back to better support your child as compared to a standard-size carrier).
In general, if you want something that’s easy to learn to use and/or want to be able to pop baby in and out frequently, a soft carrier is probably a better option for you than a wrap. Wraps are infinitely adjustable, but have a much steeper learning curve and can be challenging to put on in places like parking lots. Also, if you have shoulder or back problems, avoid one-shouldered carriers (such as ring slings/pouches).
Our top picks for baby carriers
We’ve spent hours upon hours researching and testing out baby carriers for our upcoming baby carrier buying guide. It hasn’t been published yet, but we’re happy to be able to share with you here a sneak peek of our absolute favorites.
Top newborn carriers (birth to 4-6 mo.)
The Boba Wrap ($38 at Amazon) is a favorite for newborns. It’s similar to the popular Moby, but features a more stretchy, airy fabric (due to its 5% spandex content) which bounces back and is more forgiving to tie (though you need to be extra sure it is tied securely). It’s also more reasonably priced, and less toasty than the Moby in hot weather.
Ring slings are some of the easiest carriers to get in and out of. Sakura Bloom ring slings are stunning — they’re definitely pricey ($88-198), but they’re gorgeous and incredibly luxe. Both linen (sturdier) and dupioni silk (lighter weight) versions are available, and in both single (lighter) and double layers (more supportive). If you’re looking for something cheaper and easier to care for, also check out the Maya Wrap Baby Sling ($80 at Amazon).
Sized smaller than most Soft Structured Carriers, the Beco Gemini ($130 at Amazon) is a fantastic option for the first 10 to 12 months. It accommodates a newborn with no insert, has an adjustable crotch width, and features a substantial padded headrest that provides excellent head and neck support. The Gemini is more versatile than most carriers, allowing four different positions: front-facing-in, back, hip, and front-facing-out. The only thing about the Gemini we don’t like is the safety buckles, which sadly are a two-handed operation for most people.
The Boba 4G, described below, is a standard-size Soft Structured Carrier that also elegantly adjusts to fit newborns well.
Top standard (6 to 18 mo.) and toddler-size carriers (18+ mo.)
Tula carriers don’t yet have mainstream distribution (you won’t find them on Amazon or at Target), but they are extremely popular in the babywearing world — and for good reason. They are extremely comfortable for most wearers, and their quality and craftsmanship are undeniable. The standard-size Tula ($149) fits babies from 15 lbs.; it can also be used from birth with infant insert (sold separately, $40). The toddler-size Tula ($169) is designed for use from 18+ months (or 32″ tall and 25 lbs.).
The redesigned Boba 4G ($128 at Amazon) is a great choice that elegantly accommodates newborns through toddlers. It includes an integrated, two-position infant insert that allows you to wear smaller babies legs-in (one setting is for newborns 7-10 lbs., the other for infants 10-15 lbs.). After 15 lbs., you remove the insert and wear baby legs out. Toddlers are also made fairly comfortable in the Boba 4G, despite the fact that the carrier body is not huge, through use of the Boba’s unique stirrups.
Top woven wraps (all ages)
Woven wraps come in so many different materials, patterns, and lengths that it simply doesn’t make sense for us to recommend individual products. So instead we’ll focus on introducing you to just a couple of our favorite wrap brands. (It’s a slippery slope — once you get into wrapping, you’ll discover lots more wrap brands that are also great!)
Didymos is the gold standard of German-style wraps. Their wraps are somewhat expensive ($130+ for a standard size 5), but are high quality and supportive and have high resale value. Didymos wraps are available many different designs, including their classic “Indio” geometric pattern as well as various stripes and jacquards. They also release gorgeous Limited Edition models. You can’t go wrong with a Didy!
Girasol is a German company that produces wraps woven in Guatemala using the traditional weaving methods of the Mayan Indians. Girasol wraps feature stunningly beautiful designs (e.g. rainbow stripes in gorgeous tones), are thin-to-medium in thickness, are reasonably priced, and require no break-in period — making them a great choice for beginners.
Best places to buy baby carriers
As always, for convenience, and also often price, our favorite online retailer for baby stuff is Amazon.com.
If you want a wider selection and/or a more personal touch, you may find it worthwhile to visit a specialty baby carrier retailer. Their owners are very knowledgeable; many offer free consultations to help you find the best baby carrier for your needs. Some of our favorites include PAXbaby, Marsupial Mamas, Granola Babies, Heavenly Hold, QuirkyBaby, Wovenwraps.com, and Wrap Your Baby.
Some more narrowly distributed brands may be easiest to buy directly from the manufacturer for the broadest selection (e.g., Tula).
If you’re interested in testing out a carrier (or several) before you buy, PAXbaby, Granola Babies, Heavenly Hold, QuirkyBaby, and Tula all offer carrier rental programs.
Here are some of the top destinations online for buying, selling, and trading used baby carriers:
TheBabyWearer (TBW) FSOT board (registration required… 30 posts required before you can sell anything)
Facebook B/S/T groups (you must join each one individually…many also have a sister feedback thread that you must join before you can sell anything)
Your local Craigslist board (as always, be wary of authenticity and deals too good to be true)
Where can I learn more about babywearing?
Check out these helpful resources to learn more:
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.
Hope you got at least one new piece of information to convince you to try something new! Happy babywearing! 🙂
Note: All featured products and brands are editorially selected by our editors; we do not accept compensation in exchange for coverage. This post does contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support! See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.