Baby wearing has been practiced for centuries, but modern technology opens up a world of new possibilities. Read on for a breakdown of the pros and cons of the five most popular types of baby carriers.
Wraps are long pieces of fabric that wrap around you and your baby. Wraps are simple, traditional, and come in a wide variety of materials. Knit jerseys are soft for your newborn, while light materials are great for the summer. Wraps can be adjusted in a variety of ways and put in a variety of positions. They keep you extra close to baby and are great for bonding. One downside is that learning to wrap can be a bit of a challenge at first, but you will learn to master it quickly. Another con is that it is very difficult to nurse in a wrap.
A sling is a piece of fabric that goes over one shoulder and forms a pouch to hold baby in front of you. Slings have many of the advantages of wraps but are easier to use. However, many pediatricians and baby wearing experts warn against using a sling because babies can suffocate when a sling is used incorrectly.
A mei tai features a panel of fabric with a set of two straps to wrap around the waist and two straps to go over the shoulders. Mei tai straps are wide to provide extra comfort for the wearer. They are easy to share between wearers, as they tie into a custom fit each time and can be used for a variety of positions. Mei tais work for newborns, but are ideal for older babies and toddlers. Some mei tais offer padded headrests for baby and they are nursing-friendly.
Soft-structured carriers offer padded straps and waistbands, making them comfortable for the wearer. They are designed to be ergonomic, fit a wide variety of body types, and can be worn on the front or the back. Many offer additional features like pockets and sleep hoods. Soft-structured carriers are not hard to learn to use and still offer closeness and skin-to-skin contact. However, infants may require a special insert for use, and soft-structured carriers are not nursing-friendly.
Baby backpacks are metal-framed carriers for use with older babies or toddlers with stable head control. With lots of pockets, these backpacks are similar to a standard hiking and camping backpack and allow you to hold a heavier child more comfortably, as your back and hips can support a lot more weight comfortably than your shoulders alone. These carriers can be a bit bulky but are perfect for a long walk outdoors.