Kinds of Baby Carriers

Historical Note: This was one of the first pages on my original educational website, long before I added a store.  WrapYourBaby.com was one of the earliest websites providing photo tutorials for wraps (and originally mei tais as well) before YouTube came along and provided video tutorials.  I created this page to help explain the most popular kinds of carriers when they were less well known.  Note that ABC was the popular descriptor for Asian-style carriers in 2005, and pouches were much more popular at the time – they are safe, ergonomic carriers and not another name for the dangerous bag carriers in which baby dangles by the parent’s hip. This page did not include descriptions of Soft Structured Carriers as the Ergo had not yet become so well known at the time that I wrote this (2005) and other brands of SSC were yet to follow.

Wrap (Wraparound Baby Carrier)

Kangaroo Carry in a Woven Wrap 2005

A wraparound baby carrier, or wrap, is the simplest baby carrier. It is a long piece of fabric that is used to tie the baby to you. This very simplicity also makes it the most versatile of carriers. There are literally hundreds of ways to wrap your baby, though all you need to do is to learn one carry for years of happy baby carrying!

I find the wrap to be the most comfortable of carriers, in part because of it’s versatility: if any part of the wrap becomes uncomfortable, I can easily adjust it for comfort, and if any particular wrap style is just not comfortable for me, there are plenty of other wrap styles that are. I can choose to distribute more or less of my baby’s weight to my shoulders, or to my waist, as my body prefers. Additionally, the width of the wrap tends to be very comfortable over shoulders and around waists and little legs–much more so than the skinny straps of some other carriers! And no buckles or rings, or metal or plastic, just soft fabric everywhere.

Wraps come in a variety of beautiful fabrics, and in fact, any appropriate piece of fabric can be used in a pinch–it doesn’t have to have been sold as a “wrap.” Scarves, sarongs, and blankets have all been used.

I like the traditional look of these carriers. And I don’t mind the amazed stares of onlookers when I wrap my baby to me in public, either!

Different ways of tying the wrap can be found in the menu under Learn to Wrap.

 

ABC (Asian Baby Carrier)

Front Carry with a Mei Tai Carrier

There are several styles of carrier that fall under the heading of Asian Baby Carriers, or ABCs. The mei tai is the one I am familiar with and provide how-to instructions for. The mei tai appeals to many Western parents because of its similarity to a backpack–it is easy and quick to learn to use. The mei tai is a rectangle of fabric with four straps–one coming off of each corner. To wear, you simply tie the waist straps around your waist, bring the body of the carrier over your baby, bring the shoulder straps over your shoulders and tie under baby, or cross under baby and tie around your waist again.

The mei tai is much less versatile than the wrap, but with one great front carry, one great back carry, and one great hip carry, it will meet most needs! Some people find a mei tai equally comfortable to the wrap, and mei tais are made with lots of different features so that you can pick the ones important to you: padded waist straps, padded shoulder straps, padded body, longer straps, shorter straps, head rests, etc.


 

Onbuhimo Carrier

Other varieties of ABC include:

The Onbuhimo which is very similar to the mei tai, but instead of two waist straps, the Onbuhimo has a ring at either lower corner of the body. You use the shoulder straps to secure baby over your shoulders, then loop through the ring on either side and tie around your middle.


 

 

Podegai Style Baby Carrier

Narrow Body Podegai

The Podaegi, a korean carrier that is essentially a blanket that wraps around both mother and child, with two shoulder straps that wrap around the mother’s shoulders, and the child’s body. This one tends to be too warm for climes such as ours (in Florida), though narrow body podaegis (right) have also been made with the same style, but a blanket that does not wrap around the mother, instead just covering the child’s back similar to the mei tai.


 

 

Hmong Baby Carrier

The Hmong, similar to the podaegi, but with a smaller body,is a symbolic and traditional carrier from the Hmong culture which is famous for beautiful art and sewing passed on from generation to generation.


 

 

Ring Sling

Ring Sling Hip Carry

 

The ring sling is a one-shoulder carrier that emulates a one-shoulder (rebozo) carry in a wrap. Instead of a knotted piece of fabric, the ring sling has fabric pulled through rings for adjustments. Many people love their ring slings, however I find them to be more difficult to adjust and was unable to nurse hands free in my ring sling.  If used correctly, a ring sling is secure and great for nursing, but as a new babywearer without any group nearby to help me, it was difficult.

Use this tutorial page to learn how to use a short piece of fabric or wrap for one-shoulder carries similar to the ring sling, and how to use a slip knot for adjustability.

 

Pouch

Hip Carry in a Hotslings Pouch

 

The pouch is similar to the ring sling in that it mimics a wrap one shoulder style carry, but instead of rings the pouch is popular for having no adjustability. Instead you buy a pouch that fits exactly, and then it is ready to put on and put baby in at any moment without any tying or adjusting. There are also adjustable pouches that have snaps or zippers to change the size of the pouch.

 


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