I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been wearing my baby at the store and someone who sees me comments, “Wow. That’s so cool. They didn’t have those when my kids were little. I had to carry them around on my hip. That looks so much easier.” Well, they are right and wrong. Yes, it is MUCH easier than trying to carry the weight of a rapidly-growing baby using sheer arm strength while simultaneously trying to get something done. But, no, they weren’t at a loss when their kids were little, they just didn’t realize they were around. Around the entire globe in fact. But we already taped about that. Now I’m going to share some of those styles from around the world with you, along with some of the more mainstream American styles that are on the market now.
There are a few basic styles of baby carriers with as many variations as you can think of as you go from company to company. They can cost you anywhere from $20 to several hundred dollars. I tend to lean towards the international wraps (which are much cheaper), and I have several from around the world.
The first style is a soft-sided carrier (ssc). You may have seen these more in the past than some of the other styles. They are the backpack/front pack style that moms and dads alike used to carry their children a few decades ago. They are still popular and have developed over the years to be more ergonomic. There are several brands on the market. Some require an infant insert for very small babies. You can also purchase accessories for several of these carriers such as drool and suck pads in an endless variety of colorful designs, as well as extra cushions for pressure spots on the wearer. These are a more expensive, but a very versatile and well-loved babywearing option.
I actually had a chance to try on a friend’s Lillebaby this morning. It was only for a short time, so I can’t tell you how comfortable it would be to wear for long periods. I do think it needed to be adjusted slightly to fit me properly. Logan didn’t really care for it because he couldn’t push back and look around, but he was also very tired and hungry at the time, so I wouldn’t base his overall feelings towards it on that one experience. From what I understand though, if you want to carry your baby long term, you will need to get a larger size at some point, which makes this an even more pricey option. I know a lot of people are very attached, and dare I say even addicted, to their ssc.
Next is a stretchy wrap. You may have heard of brands like Moby or Boba. These are the knit wraps that seem to be wrapped around the wearer about 5 times with the baby held snuggly underneath next to the wearer’s body. Personally, I thought these looked far too complicated to bother with, so I never had an interest in them. But a friend had 2, and she gave me one shortly after my son was born. Hey! It was free, so I used it. There is a bit of a learning curve to tying it, but it is very handy once you figure it out. The baby is securely held close to your body where it feels safe and comfortable, and it allows you to have both hands free. I have heard this type of wrap referred to as an extension of the womb because of the close, hugging feel it provides the baby that allows it to hear the mothers heartbeat and feel her breathing. This wrap allows you to carry the baby in several positions that evolve as the baby grows. As a newborn, you can carry in the fetal position or in a cradle hold. When the baby gets a little bit larger you can hold it upright and allow the legs to hang out the bottom. Some people carry baby facing out or on the back. I have seen some who support this type of carrying and some who warn against them. Ultimately, is the parents responsibility to read the research and decide if they want to carry in those positions. The most common way to carry with these is in the front with the baby facing you or sometimes in a hip hold. I really enjoy mine, especially when my baby was very young and couldn’t quite control his head yet. I appreciate being able to push a cart and grab groceries off the shelf all while my baby sleeps in (or chews on) my wrap.
Next is a ring sling. This is somewhat of an adaptation from some of the international styles that I will talk about later. It is simply a long piece of fabric with two rings at one end. The other end is slipped through these rings creating somewhat of a hammock for the baby to sit in. I haven’t yet gotten up the nerve to trust this, but I do want to try it. One big advantage to this style of sling is ease in adjusting the length.
Update: I have now tried a ring sling at a baby expo and LOVED it! It was soooo comfortable that I’m going to be making my own!
There are several other options available from a fixed-size sling to hybrid carriers, but I won’t exhaust you with every single style on the market. Instead I want to share about international carriers that I have and how they can be your most cost-effective option… in my next post. 😉