How to Choose a Baby Carrier:
A quick guide to different types of baby carriers. Let’s do a quick rundown of styles and their pros and cons. For more details, check out our product pages and other write ups on the blog! Or, feel free to send us a message for more help. If you haven’t yet, opt in here to get our FREE downloadable baby carrier selection worksheet.
Lenny Lamb newborn Stretchy Wrap baby carrier in color Ruby, a bright red
Stretchy Wraps: The softest, coziest, snuggliest wraps of all, stretchy wraps are made of a stretchy jersey/t-shirt type knit material. (Sometimes you will see “hybrid” wraps as well -- generally they fall into the stretchy category mostly, but it can depend, so read the manufacturer instructions carefully). Stretchy wraps are perfect for sweet newborn babes. They require 3 passes to be safe, thus they have a limited number of carry options, but they are easy to tighten, thin, and fairly forgiving and easy to learn. A great stepping stone before trying other types of carriers. These tend to work best for babies less than 15 lbs. They can feel pretty warm because all carries need 3 passes over baby. An alternative would be the long woven wrap in a thin weight. Check out stretchy wraps here.
Bijou Wear brand long woven baby wrap in blue and white geometric print Roxy Blue Jean Blues.
Long Woven Wraps: Ah, the queen of versatility! A long woven wrap can be used on almost any child/caregiver pair. Options are seemingly endless: front, back, hip, and forward facing are all options, plus 2 shoulder, 1 shoulder, no shoulder/torso carries, carries with or without waist belts, carries with or without chest belts, fancy finish options, and more! The same wrap can be used from the first day of life until your little one no longer wishes to be carried. The most common base size is a 6, but many wrappers find that a combination of a base size and base -2 (in this case, 4) provides a nice wide range of carry options over the years. Some are intimidated by all the fabric and find the learning curve to be steeper than they'd hoped for, but the variation makes this an excellent choice for many caregivers. Check out long woven wraps here.
Baby in a linen Lenny Lamb ring sling in print Lotus - Black
Ring Sling: Most popular with newborns, this carrier can also be used for years and is great for stowing away in a diaper bag, always at the ready for the quick ups and downs of the toddler years (and beyond!). A simple carrier, this is a long piece of fabric with rings sewn into one end. It can be used for front carries, back carries (more advanced), hip carries, and forward facing out. Although the basics are simple, many do find that getting the seat right takes practice. But, once you've gotten it down, this is a great, easy tool to take with you and to even have other caregivers use in a pinch as well! Check out ring slings here.
Meh Dais: An excellent traditional carrier that combines the flexibility of a wrap with the simplicity of a soft structured carrier, the meh dai has a structured panel with 4 “arms”. There are 2 major styles of meh dai out there: Strap or wrap strap meh dais and half buckle meh dais. Strap meh dais have 4 straps for arms. If those straps are wide, they may be called “wrap strap”. You would tie the bottom arms on your waist and cross over your back or front to tie the top arms. You could also tie this style without a waist, especially with wide wrap straps. Half buckle meh dais have a buckle waistband for the lower “arms” and 2 strap upper arms that would be tied off--these could also be wide or narrow. Rarely, you may see a meh dai with a tie waist and backpack arm straps like on a soft structured carrier. Many styles and adjustments of meh dais exist, ranging from newborn to 2 years and beyond! Check the product listing for more detailed information on a specific meh dai you are looking at to be sure it will meet your needs. Check out meh dais here.
Model front carries a baby in print Orange Blossom in Lenny Lamb's fully adjustable soft structured carrier the Lenny Upgrade
Soft structured carrier (baby backpack): Soft structured carriers are what many of us have seen while out and about. These carriers include a pre-made panel with backpack arms, a buckle waist, and a chest clip (in most cases). Sometimes these straps can be crossed. Depending on the carrier (check the product listing for more details), this style of carrier can be used for front, back, hip, and/or forward facing. These carriers can be fully adjustable, which means that the panel height and width can be shortened or lengthened, or fixed panel, which means that one size will have a smaller range but not require adjusting while baby grows within that range. Many can accommodate newborns and small babies with inserts, belts, or other options and some go from newborn to 2 years old. Some even start later for even longer carrying, like the Lenny Lamb preschooler, which goes from 1 - 6 years old. Check out soft structured carriers here.
Onbuhimos: Another traditional carrier, the onbuhimo is a high back waist-less carrier. Perfect for those who have little ones who like quick ups and downs, for those who are pregnant, or anyone who is sensitive to material on their waist. These need to be used with children with very good core strength, sitting well unassisted. They can be used for front carries but are less commonly used that way. Many commercially available onbuhimos have a chest clip and backpack style arms, but some use straps and rings as either onbuhimos or reverse onbuhimos, depending on how the straps are threaded. Check out onbuhimos here.
What would you add? What’s your favorite? This is definitely a “quick synopsis” but I hope it gets you thinking about different styles to try!
Want to see more? Check out our collection here.