What Baby Carrier Is Right For You? Wearing an infant can be great and challenging

Somehow in those early weeks of having a newborn the baby gear I got talked into was a cloth wrap. We were at a specialty store in Brooklyn and the sales lady touted her own German-made Storchenwiege as the best piece of used kid gear she had ever bought. "In fact," she told me, "you can use this wrap in a variety of ways as your child grows, I even wear my 5-year-old!" I was sold and after paying my $150 I left with a beautiful woven piece of deep blue cloth and a pamphlet of instructions. 

Well, no one told me how hard it would be to take a 20-foot piece of cloth and wrap it around my body in a tight New York City cafe while trying to balance a newborn. I envied the ladies at my mom meet up group who simply plucked their sons and daughters from a cute carrier to feed and change them. It might have not been ideal down the line, but while both my kids were newborns this wrap proved perfect for tying around their tiny bodies and keeping them snug and safe against my bosom. 

Would I have chosen something else if I knew more, you bet. But at the time I knew nothing, and that's why we decided to delve into the convoluted world of wraps, baby carriers and backpacks in order to help moms and dads pick out the best way for them to wear their kids. Try out a bunch of different methods by buying your carriers from a used kid gear shop, that way you can figure out what truly works. Remember, there's no right or wrong answers in the world of baby wearing, just preferences. 

Ring Slings

As you may have guessed, a ring sling is a device used to hold your baby in a pouch by using a single piece of cloth. You adjust the large strip of material usually through a ring, almost like a belt buckle. This way the kid sits on your hip or in front of you. Larger children can even ride in the sling on your back.

You'll find slings in an array of fabrics from cotton, linen, silk and even wool. Some of the top brands making this item include Moby, Maya, Lillebaby and Wildbird. Prices range from $20 to $80 depending on who makes it and what kind of fabric you get it in. 

The downside to this method comes in the lack of choices and, if your kid is squirmy and doesn't want to stay still, it's not the safest way to carry your kid. In general we suggest the sling for babies before they're walking. Most ring slings hold up to 35 pounds, so you can cart around a big baby in these carriers and use until you're ready to let them walk on their own two feet.

Soft Structure Carriers

This way of wearing your baby is what many people think of first hand. We're talking brands such as Beco, Baby Bjorn, Ergo Baby's original wrap, Lillebaby and Baby Tula. These carriers tend to put more pressure on your hips, so it's good if you have back issues or want to distribute some weight down from your shoulders. The straps adjust too, so while you can't get a perfect fit around your baby's body, you can make sure you're wearing it tightly. 

Find these carriers starting at $15 for the Evenflo Infant Soft Carrier to over $100 for the Lillebaby 6 Position, 360-Degree Ergonomic Baby & Child Carrier. There are plenty more options in between, or go the more economical route and purchase one secondhand or from an online consignment shop like Good Buy Gear. 

Mei Tai 

Though the name mei tai might not trigger images of a baby carrier, this name actually has been used to describe a soft carrier with thick straps for centuries. Unlike a sling or wrap this style has a seat built in, but instead of the buckles other soft carriers rock, this one just uses ties. That way you can get the carrier to fit snuggly against your baby and your body, and adjust as they grow. 

Infantino makes a solid option for $35. The Boba Wrap is another type of mei tai carrier that costs around $40 and proves similar to the Ergo Baby Wrap Carrier, which runs closer to $48. On the higher end at roughly $200 is the Didymos, which is woven with organic cotton and comes in an array of fun colors and patterns. 

Wraps

The wrap style can be a little cumbersome to use, especially if you don't have any room to work with it. But, it's the only baby wearing device that truly forms to your baby's tiny body and your own at the same time, making it great for newborns who don't fit in other carriers. It also can grow with your child, so if you plan on carting your kids around this way (say instead of using a stroller) you may want to invest in a solid wrap and learn all the cool ways it can attach your little one to your body. 

Backpacks

If you've ever been on a hike you have probably seen a baby hiking back pack or two, they're great for carting around an infant who is sitting up already and toddlers who don't like walking much, especially on demand. Though many brands exist, such as Kelty Kids, Deuter Kid, Phil & Teds Escape and Osprey Pogo, they all look and act pretty much the same and range from $50 to $300.

Each one has a lightweight aluminum frame with a bucket seat securely attached. There are thick shoulder, chest and waist straps for you to wear that help support your body as you carry your kid. Usually this type of baby gear has a sun shade you can remove, and a little extra storage space in a front pocket or detachable bag. Best part, you don't have to be hiking in order to rock one around town.

Outlier

The Baby K'tan doesn't really fit into any of these categories, or more, it checks boxes in most of them. This soft carrier marries the idea of a wrap and sling, and uses two parts to secure the child to you. Created in 2007 by Michal Chesal and Isaac Wernick, the Baby K'tan came after the two friends searched for the perfect way to baby wear their special needs children (Chesal's son has down syndrome and Warnick's son was fragile after open heart surgery). 

Hence, this device was born, and remains unique in the baby wearing category in that it's soft, comes with two loops connected with a smaller loop, and has a sash to tie around your little bundle to snuggle them closer to you. A baby carrier like this proves great when multiple family members want to wear the kid. There are sizes, but you can get away with one a little small or big as long as your child remains safe. 

 

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