Baby Carrier Selection for Beginners

Basic carrier styles and recommendations
mom holding newborn in sling carrier
© Can Stock Photo / halfpoint

Babywearing is very popular and there are dozens of options, but how do you choose the right baby carrier? They all belong to 5 basic types, which makes it much easier to narrow your choice. Recommended types all place your baby in a position that’s ergonomic, comfortable, and safe for him to be worn and for you to carry him. They also provide the best value for your money in terms of the price and how many months or years of use you’ll get out of them, and these styles and brands will offer you ample, but not overwhelming, choice. Styles not mentioned on this list, including front packs and bag slings, do not provide the same benefits.

Ring Slings

These are one-shouldered carriers that adjust quickly. They are the best carriers for nursing. Since the weight is unevenly distributed over your body, ring slings are best for newborns and then for short hip carries with a toddler who wants up & down frequently. You’ll want to choose a brand with no padding. Maya Wrap and Sakura Bloom are good options.

Stretch Wraps

Wraps are another good option for the newborn phase. Most brands begin to sag around the 12-15 lb point and are not safe for back carrying, so their long-term usefulness is limited. I recommend Moby Wrap and Beluga Baby.

Woven Wraps

These, on the other hand, provide great support for you and your baby from birth to preschool, for front, hip and back carries. If you’d prefer to buy one carrier for all your babywearing, we recommend choosing a woven wrap. ChimparooDidymos or Ellevill are excellent brands.

Mei Tais

Mei Tais are a favourite of parents! It can be tricky to use them before your baby has head control, so they’re best from around 3 months into the toddler years. They can be easily tied in front, hip and back carries as well. Chimparoo and Maman Kangourou are great choices.

Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs)

These are also very popular. Their wider bases and taller backs make them best for older babies, from 6 months to preschool. They can be used for front and back carries. Most have hoods designed to keep your sleeping baby’s head from falling, which is great for napping on the go. ErgoBoba and Beco are all recommended.

This simple guide should help you begin to figure out what will best meet your needs as you do your research. Most parents find that two carriers – a ring sling or stretch wrap, plus a two-shouldered carrier – will meet all their needs. Check out our guide for laundering your baby carrier here!

*Originally published March 1, 2013