So up to now we’ve gone over many of the benefits of wearing your baby. You’re literally re-creating the womb when you wear your baby in a carrier after they are born and allowing them to interact with you at eye level. The boost to their neurological development is huge. We talked about pouches, ring slings, and asian-style carriers in our last post, if you missed that one, go here to see it. In this post we’re going to cover the last 2 categories of baby carriers: Wraps, and Soft-Structured Carriers. I wanted to save these two for last because these are some of my favorite carriers out on the market right now. So let’s dive in!!
Wraps….very intimate and secure hold for your baby. Carry your baby on your front, back or hip…
1. Wraps: This is probably one of the most intimidating types of baby carriers because of the “complex” way you have to tie them to cinch baby onto your body. But they’re really not as hard as you might think and after you get the hang of them, they will be one of your go-to carriers for sure. There are several different companies that make these type of carriers but lets take a look at a few.
Moby Wraps are probably my favorite of all the wraps out there. First because it’s the one I’ve used the most and am really comfortable with it and second because it is so versatile and comfortable to wear. These wraps take a little getting used to before you can comfortably carry your baby in it totally hands free. You have to have a little more ninja training to be able to tie them, but once you see it done once or twice, you’ll totally have it down. These wraps are basically a super long piece of material that you wrap around you to create a sort of kangaroo pouch for your baby to hold them against your stomach, back, or whatever position you want them in. Check out this demo on the Moby Wrap:
So see?? It’s really not that hard. The wrap itself comes with an instructional book and there are several tutorials online to show you how to do the different ties. Notice in the video how wide the wrap is across her shoulders?? This is one of the features that I love about the Moby and other wraps so much is that it is very supportive of your back and neck. You can do front, back and hip carries with these wraps. I never tried the other two and just stuck with the front carry with Harper and he loved it. When he was really little I just had him facing my chest, and when he got old enough to care about looking out, I faced him out away from me. This wrap style just takes practice and patience. You’ll usually put the wrap on when you leave the house so that way you’re not trying to put it on while you are out.
Moby is not the only company that produces and makes a wrap around carrier. Sleepy Wrap also makes a good carrier. They are very similar to the moby but with different fabric. The Sleepy Wrap is made of 95% cotton with 5% spandex to give it a stretchier functionality to it.
I Introduced Ellaroo to you guys in our last post about carriers because this company pretty much makes one of everything and you guessed it, they also make a wrap around. Also similar to the moby, this company does not have organic options, but is a good company with good reviews and they are easy to find online. The fabric on the EllaRoo is actually handwoven, made in Guatemala.
Wrapsody Bali Baby Breeze Wraps (phew, a mouthful!!) are the thinnest wrap around carriers on the market. They are made out of a strong gauze so that they are totally breathable and a lot cooler to wear especially in warmer climates. I have not personally tried one of these wraps before, but they look amazing. They have incredible reviews and some awesome colors and choices. Wrapsody also makes a water wrap which I thought was really cool so that you can carry baby while swimming. It has quick dry material that wicks moisture away from your skin and also is SPF 45!! So that is a really neat option for going to the pool or the beach with your new baby and keeping them protected at the same time. These wraps since they are made out of gauze must be hand-washed and hung to dry.
Another company I’ve discovered making high quality wraps is Storchenwiege (you’d think I was making up these names!!). These wraps are super supportive (they boast that you could use their material for a hammock!) and have many different fabric options including organic. One of the things I really really like about this company is that they give you 5 different options (2.6 meters up to 5.2 meters) on what length you want to buy your wrap in. That is really nice because the Moby Wrap for instance there are only 2 options. So if you’re alot taller (longer torso) or are larger around the middle, the sizes might not work for you as well. But the Storchenwiege carriers have many different sizes. More material gives you more freedom to do any type of positional hold you want with your baby. Running out of material limits you from doing some of the holds you may want to try.
Baby K’Tan: Ok, before one of you comments, this carrier is more of a wrap/pouch hybrid carrier. It’s not a full wrap carrier, but it’s not really a pouch sling either. It is really like having 2 Kharma Baby slings that are connected. This is a very popular carrier for several different reasons. The first reason is that it gives you the hold of a wrap, much like a Moby, but it is much easier to use. Watch this video on using the K’Tan and you’ll see how much easier it is to use:
So the way the K’Tan works is alot easier overall. There are 10 different positions you can put your baby/child in with the K’Tan. There’s alot less material to the K’Tan so it is much more comfortable in warm weather. It is also a double shoulder carrier as well so it disperses the weight across the shoulders evenly. One thing I don’t like about this carrier is that because it is two separate slings connected by a support loop in the middle, there is less overall support in certain carriers, like a back carry for an older child. Watch the back carry here and look how low the little girl hangs on her mom’s back. I don’t like how she hands down around the mom’s pelvis. For a back carry, I really like the Mei Tai or the Obuhimo much better because it is a lot more supportive. If baby is that low on mom, he/she can’t see over their shoulders to see anything at all either.
Ok, so overall the pros to wraps are:
1. Comfort: since they have so much material they are really really comfortable to wear. They go over bother of your shoulders so it is easier to carry your baby for longer at a time without experiencing neck, shoulder or back pain.
2. Security: These carriers really hold baby snug to your chest or back (except for K-Tan on back, not as much a fan) to help them really feel supported.
3. Convenience: These carriers are convenient to carry with you during the day and convenient to put away when you’re done.
1. Learning curve: It takes a little bit of time to really figure out how to really use these carriers. They aren’t just a click and go carrier for sure, you have to take your time to get it right.
2. Temp: If you’re hot natured, these wraps may be a little warm for you…especially in this Texas heat we’re having this summer. The Wrapsody slings should be a lot better with the different type of material they use, but they are still a little warm regardless. The K’Tan would be easier and not as hot because there i much less material and it isn’t wrapped around you as much.
3. Time: These carriers (until you get the hang of it) take a few extra minutes to get them on and get baby positioned perfectly like you want. So you want to have them on you when you leave the house for sure.
Rugged and easy to use….sounds like the perfect carrier for guys!!
Soft-Structured Carriers (SSCs): These carriers are built like back-packs. As far as baby carriers go, these are really easy to use because you pretty much just buckle them in where you want them. These are typically not carriers for infants though. I’m sure you could make one work for that, but they’re not designed to hold a child who isn’t crawling or walking on their own already. Your baby needs to at the very least be sitting up comfortably on their own. Just like every other sling, wrap, or pouch we’ve talked about so far, there are many different types of SSCs so we’re going to cover a few here.
Boba Carrier: Ok, so I’m going to start with our favorite SSC that we’ve found so far. This is one Cindy researched and purchased for Harper and she reallylikes it for him. I’ve carried him in this one as well and really like this carrier. One of the bonuses of this carrier is its 100% Organic Cotten construction. Some of the other carriers both an organic option, but all Boba carriers are 100% organic so that’s nice. The length of the material is more than other carriers for extra support up your baby’s back and it also has stirrups for them to hook their feet in to feel more secure! This carrier has extremely good lower back support and padding and the shoulder straps are completely adjustable and are wide enough and padded enough to not cause any undue shoulder tension. One of the downsides to this carrier….only 2 carry positions: 1. Front 2. Back. Boba as a company doesn’t support or recommend side carries (nor do I really) because of the way it offsets the weight of the baby and puts uneven stress and strain on the parent’s pelvis and spine. Another thing I like about the Boba is the way it holds the baby. Many of the back-pack style carriers create pressure on the pubic bone and are more of a “crotch carry” (for you Kim!!) than where they should be: under the baby’s bottom. The Boba creates a perfect little seat for the baby to sit on and supports under the baby’s bum, not their crotch. These carriers do separate their legs quite a bit though, so your baby needs to be at least sitting up on their own comfortably to be able to use these carriers.
One of the closest to the Boba Carrier is the Ergo Baby carrier. Similar in hold position and the way it carries the baby, but with some minor differences. Go here to see a comparison chart between the Ergo and the Boba. Now I know you’re going to say “Well yeah! Boba wrote the comparison chart…” I checked out every spec difference they list on there and they list them exactly off of the Ergo site so simmer down! The Ergo is a great carrier as well, but there are some subtle differences. The price difference on the two is about $30. The Boba runs around $120, while the Ergo is right under $100. So if that is a factor then you should think about that.
Some of the most popular baby carriers on the market (because they are the cheapest mostly) are carriers like the Infantino, Baby Bjorn, Maclaren, and Evenflo SSCs. If price is what you are buying on, then these are pretty much the cheapest carriers on the market. They start at around $30 and you can easily buy them atTarget or Babies-R-Us. These carriers keep baby in close to the parent, but these are the “crotch carriers” that I mentioned higher in the post. Go to each of the links I provided and look at the position the carriers hold the babies in. It places all the weight of the baby onto their pubic bone. The Infantino and Evenflo go even further and baby is in such a vertical position that it places huge amounts of pressure right at the base of their spine, where the spine and the pelvis come together, risking injury to this area. The Evenflo says you can carry your baby from 7-26 lbs in it. Please, DO NOT carry your 7 lb baby in a carrier in this position!! I mean, your baby can’t even hold their head up (there’s no head support for a small infant) at that weight usually (Harper was 7 lbs 5 oz at birth!) and they are for sure not even crawling yet. Why on earth they think you can take a baby that early in their development and sit them upright to where every step the parent takes is going to put immense amount of stress and pressure into the baby’s lower spine is beyond me. In case you didn’t know, I do not recommend these carriers for your baby. For infants 7 lbs or who do not have head support, go to my Baby Wearing Options Part 1 blog post and look at the slings and pouches, or even better, go with a wrap like a Moby or Sleepy wrap. These cradle your baby verses “strap” them into a compromising position.
So with the SSCs, the biggest draw is that they are easier to figure out (buckle a couple buckles and shazam!!), and dad’s don’t mind carrying them. Again, don’t get me started on dad’s that won’t wear their kids, I could write an entire blog series on that….but I’ll spare you my rantings. The Boba and Ergo are both good carriers and have good support for baby and good support for the parents, but again, these aren’t made for babies that aren’t sitting up on their own. You should really wait to get a SSC at all until then. The boast that you can put a 7 lb baby in a SSC like what the Infantino says is ludicrous and dangerous really for the baby’s lower spine. The other issue we talked about is the “crotch hold” the cheaper carriers have that is hard on the pubic bone area on babies…not a good idea. Another thing is remember you can really only do 2 carry positions with these carriers, front and back. With the cheaper carriers not even that, just the front but with baby either facing in or out from the parent’s chest. So this is going to limit you some. With older kids that are a little heavier, you’re pretty much going to be wanting them on your back anyway so that shouldn’t be a big deal.
Specialty Back-Pack carriers: I came across these and will only mention them by name and show them to you, but am not going to elaborate much because honestly, I’m not very familiar with them. These carriers are true “back-pack” carriers and are for hiking type activities. These combine having baby on the back with extra storage built into the carrier to help out with carrying gear or clothes or whatever you need on the trail. The companies that make these type carriers include (not exhaustive list): Dueter, Kelty, Sherpani, kokopax, Chicco, LittleLife, Phil&Teds, and a couple that I know I’m missing. The best place to check these out is here, so go there and you can surf through all the options on these. These are hard-core carriers for the avid hiker, traveler so these aren’t your typical ‘out to the grocery store’ carriers. They get pretty pricey, but there’s a lot to them, not just a handful of fabric! They are really bulky and I’m sure very heavy once you get baby into them.
So that pretty much covers most of the babywearing options. Now there are many many carriers I’m sure I didn’t cover but we covered most of the styles of carriers. The truth is, you need different ones for different things and for different ages. So you need to try them out and see what you like. Don’t be intimidated and don’t be frustrated if you don’t get the “perfect tie” the first time or two…it takes a little time so don’t sweat it. Babywearing is so important for you and your baby that it’s worth the effort and the time to get it right. Isn’t your baby worth it?? So do yourself and your baby a favor and go buy a wrap/sling/pouch/ASC/or SSC so you can keep them close, both physically and emotionally.
You’ll be glad you did.