Varieties & Brands of Baby Carriers
There are so many baby carriers on the market, it would be a full-time job to try them all. So naturally, my experience is limited. I have worn the Bjorn, Ergo, Peanut Shell, Seven Slings, Infantino Sash Mei Tai, and the Infantino Ergonomic Carrier.
I used many of them when my daughter was growing up but my favorite was the Ergo. This backpack will carry a baby from birth through 3 or 4 years old. Yes, really 4 years old! It’s not as difficult as it may seem to carry a kid that age because you build the muscle as they grow.
Ring slings are composed of a single, very long piece of fabric and a couple of rings. It takes a bit of practice to properly fit and adjust them. Some women prefer ring slings to the backpack style of babywearing, believing them to be more fashionable.
- Maya wrap
Ring slings look a little better but still, they are so bulky and expensive. A new sling costs about $80.
Unlike ring slings, pouch-style slings are sized for a customized fit. Usually, you will buy them in small, medium, or large. They do not adjust so you must be sure of the size before you buy. They do not contain any extra fabric, making them compact enough to fit into a purse or backpack.
- Peanut Shell
- Seven Slings
The Peanut Shell is simple. There are no straps, no adjustments, no ties. It’s a single loop of fabric that drapes over one shoulder. There is a small pocket for keys and wallet, but that’s it. I didn’t like this for the newborn. As you can see in the picture, she was kind of lost in there. I found myself constantly checking to see if Maya was alive while wearing her in this. It’s a good one for a slightly bigger baby with head control, though. The child sits instead of lays in the sling. It is compact, functional, and super cheap. I got mine for $5 on sale. New in stores they cost around $15.
Seven Slings are a lot like the Peanut Shell but the fabric is cheaper and there is no pocket.
Wrap-style baby carriers are versatile. Most can be worn in many different ways, and they are somewhat compact. Wraps work very well for a newborn baby and equally well as the baby grows into a toddler.
- Moby Wrap
Wraps look funny to me. I haven’t tried them. They completely cover the woman’s body. I understand they are exceptionally comfortable but I don’t like the way they make women look.
Soft Structured Baby Carriers
Soft-structured baby carriers are adjustable backpack-style carriers. As with many carriers, there is a learning curve for placing the baby on the back, but once you get the hang of it, they are great for carrying children long distances or for long periods.
- Infantino Ergonomic Carrier
The Ergo is the carrier I wore when Evelyn was 6 months to 3 years. While it’s kind of bulky, it is perfectly functional. It even has pockets for your keys and wallet and stuff. I never wore it with her in front. I think it would have covered her and me both! I carried Evelyn in this carrier almost every day for 2.5 years. The longest distance I carried her was on a backpacking trip. We went 8 miles in one day. She was one and a half years old. The biggest fault with these is the price. New, they cost $110.
The Bjorn has been found to affect proper spine development because the baby is held up by the crotch instead of by the butt. I used this carrier when Evelyn was a baby, not knowing about the spine thing back then. She doesn’t seem to have come out with any problems. Her posture was always perfectly straight but, whatever, this is what science is saying, so I’ve chosen to steer clear of the Ergo this time around. Besides this, the carrier isn’t even all that comfortable and definitely not too stylish. The baby’s legs dangle ridiculously below.
The Infantino Ergonomic Carrier was cheap and the fabric was hard and rubbed my baby’s face. They do make different versions, though, so one of the others may be alright.
Mei Tai Baby Carriers
Mei Tai, or Asian baby carriers, are easy to use, adjustable, and versatile. Many are also reversible, so mom can have a fun print, and dad can have a solid color!
- Infantino Sash Mei Tai
- Mai Tai Baby
The Sash Mei Tai is almost perfect in my opinion. It easily carries a brand new six-pound baby with no need for one of those infant inserts (for head support). The baby fits perfectly behind the pouch with her head safely against mom or dad’s chest. Since it is a tie carrier, there are no straps to adjust so it can be easily shared between mom and dad. The front fabric is a little slimmer than some of the backpacks on the market, so if you feel totally eaten up by the Ergo (which I always did) this is a good alternative. The only thing I don’t like about it is that the ties lose their tightness ever so slightly after walking around for a long time so that the baby kind of dips lower and lower. It only takes a minute to bounce the baby back up and retie so it hasn’t been enough for me to switch. Oh yeah, and the price is amazing. Instead of paying anywhere from $45-$110, this thing only costs $35. The Infantino Mei Tai comes with a headcover to protect the baby from cold and sun but it doesn’t have any pockets, boo. maybe I’ll attach a fanny pack to the waistband. Do they even make those things anymore?
What Happened to Baby Wearing?
Traditional cultures around the world continued to carry their babies for 2.2 million years, even after they designed beds and rockers. But in Western culture, the tradition passed in all but the poorest households. In Europe, the poor continued to carry their babies while the rich placed their babies in carriages.
A stigma grew around the ability to leave one baby alone versus the need to carry it around. Poor, working mothers had to carry their babies while they cooked and cleaned. Rich mothers could leave their babies virtually unattended in a crib while socializing or doing other activities that the poor could not afford to do, in rooms that the poor could not afford to have.
Even today, all around the world, carrying a baby is often still associated with low social and economic status. Baby slings have been replaced by strollers, baby swings, bouncers, and walkers. This trend is worldwide as countries become more Westernized.
However, with the resurgence of interest in the ancient practice of baby carrying, mothers of all classes are beginning to nurture their babies with this ancient human practice.
Baby Wearing Finds Its Way Back Into Modern Culture
Carrying a baby in a sling was popularized in the United States by Dr. William and Martha Sears in 1985. The Sears’ noticed how cultures around the world regularly carried their babies and that their babies seemed more content.
Benefits of Baby Wearing
- The rhythmic up and down movement of walking is akin to being in the womb, which was a safe, warm, ideal place to grow. The movement also helps to develop a baby’s inner ear.
- Wearing a baby calms a baby. Calm babies do not cry and fuss as much.
- Infant brains are more organized due to the rhythms of heartbeat and walking.
- Babies are active members of everyday duties and conversations. They are able to pick up more about the world while being immersed in it. While calmly sitting in a sling, they can watch facial expressions, learn the language faster, and become familiar with body language.
- Because babies are learning more about the world they live in, independence is established earlier.
- A mother’s sensitivity to her baby’s needs is heightened with the baby so close by.
- Breastfeeding is convenient and discreet.
- Physical contact with a baby increases a mother’s oxytocin. Oxytocin facilitates breastfeeding and deepens the bond between a mother and child.
- Wearing a baby is good exercise!
- A sling makes it easy to take a baby out in crowds to places where it may be difficult to push a stroller.
- With the use of a sling, a dad can share childcare and develop an early bond with his child.
- The sling makes it possible for a mother to care for other children without neglecting the new baby.
- Wearing baby decreases the risk of developing positional plagiocephaly (“flat head syndrome”) which is caused by extended time sitting in car seats or laying on the back