Babywearing is quite literally, wearing your baby. Since the dawn of time, mothers and fathers have required the use of both hands while caring for their new babies. Whether it’s to clean, brush your teeth, or attempt to eat a meal while still hot, baby carriers are a MUST for parents everywhere. In many countries, babies are even worn by their older siblings (maybe it’s time to add babywearing to big brother’s chores). Babies have been worn for years and years before it got to this part of the world, using anything from Chinese silks to animal skins and leaves.
This is a super in-depth guide on some babywearing safey tips, our favourite baby carriers, their pros and cons, and some FAQ’s.
Go ahead and read through (what seems like my life’s work) OR jump ahead to a section you need STAT.
No matter the carrier, there are a few universal rules that keep your baby the safest. There are a lot of acronyms out there that can help you do a quick check every time you strap your baby in and my personal favourite is the “ABC’s of Babywearing”
A- Airway clear
Baby’s chin off their chest, you want their head parallel to the ground, not falling into their chest or they won’t be able to breathe
You should keep the baby’s face visible at all times
If your baby is unable to support their own head, ensure it is always supported in the carrier or with your hand guiding them
B – Baby positioning
Baby should be facing you (especially when they are still unable to control their neck and is still recommended afterwards) in a deep squat position, knees above their bum
You never want baby’s legs to be dangling in the carrier, their hips should always be supported in froggy position
In soft carriers/ring slings, leaving baby’s legs/feet out will allow you to easily check for circulation issues and ensure their weight isn’t resting on their feet
Their spine should be supported and form a soft curve. The carrier should be loose enough that this is possible and that their backs are not overarching.
C – Comfort
You and baby should feel supported and comfortable in whichever carrier you choose. Practice tying/buckling baby over a bed or with a support person, or try finding your local babywearing groups to help with a fit.
Trying to decide which baby carrier to choose when you’re a first-time baby wearer is no easy task, especially before the baby even gets here. There is a baby carrier for every occasion, comfort level, baby preference, and even wardrobe – so much so that we’ve accumulated quite the collection in the Haghighi-Seto household. New moms often ask me which carrier I recommend and I always say that asking for baby carrier recommendations is like asking someone what type of tea should they drink – IT DEPENDS is the short answer and this blog post is the long answer.
Scroll down to find my top tips to make the most of your babywearing time!
Our favourite wrap-style baby carrier is by Solly Baby – you’ve probably seen their gorgeous wraps that come in the best colours and patterns (often getting sold out as they roll out new styles). This was the first baby carrier I used and I think it was a great way to transition Etta out of the womb and welcome her earth-side. She would sleep for literally hours and it was perfect to wear around the house when wanting to do skin to skin with guests over – they all literally thought I was wearing a shirt that I tucked her into.
I learned how to tie the wrap watching Elle’s tutorials on the newborn carry and classic carry here – confession, I watched the videos a few times while pregnant and it didn’t make the most sense to me but what did was actually going through the tutorial with the solly wrap and a real live baby. Think of the wrap in 3 layers, one panel that goes around your midsection and an X that creates baby’s seat and gets pulled across her back.
Soft Wrap Pros
Easy-wearing for small/newborn babies
Can be very affordable
Looks like a shirt, super fashionable
It’s made of a super soft material you can throw in wash
Soft and stretchy mimicking the womb
Not bulky at all, easy to wear underneath jackets
The 3 layers keeps baby surprisingly warm, baby would often need just to wear one layer underneath the wrap
Travels easily in a pouch affixed to the end of the strap
One size fits the whole family
Can use the wrap as a nursing cover if privacy needed
Soft Wrap Cons
I could never master breastfeeding in the wrap and would need to fully take baby out
Must spend some time learning the wrapping technique and can take a few minutes to get tied before ready for baby – not ideal with a screaming baby in public
Would stretch out too much if baby wanted to go in and out a lot, would need to readjust
Best to wear high and tight, but baby hated being worn tightly
Difficult to wear longer than a few hours with a heavier baby
Use for babies up to 25 lbs (though the heavier the baby, the harder on your back the wrap becomes)
Front Carry only
It looks SO much more intense than it actually is, in fact once I figured out how to thread the wrap in and around my body I was obsessed. Etta was definitely spoiled by the super soft material (lenzing modal sourced from beechwood trees. All you need to know is it’s soft like butta) that stretched just enough to keep newborn baby in the perfect cocoon where she could sleep for hours. The Solly Baby Wrap was created by mama Elle as an answer to all of the uncomfortable carriers she was used to and boy did she do good.
My baby literally grew from her dainty 7 pound birth weight to 14 pounds almost overnight. Okay, maybe not overnight, but it was so fast that the soft wrap-style carrier didn’t feel as supportive on day-long adventures. To be fair, if you wear baby high and tight in the wrap and spread out the shoulder straps it should be comfortable. However, my 5+ hours of wearing her on adventures was way too much on my back and I never mastered the breast-feeding-in-the-wrap situation. Enter the soft structured carrier. Basically a backpack that can be worn in all sorts of ways and our pick is completely adjustable, from the removable lumbar support to shoulder straps, the entirety of the AseemA soft structured carrier is adjustable. It’s a very intuitive carrier that Bryce was able to pick up right away (I didn’t have the patience to go over the other carriers with him). I also found it really easy to nurse in.
Overall, this carrier is something that gets a lot of use in our house because of how easy it is for both Bryce and I to wear. You can use this carrier right from infancy all the way to toddlerhood. Soul Slings uses pure natural fibres like cotton and linen and baby-safe dyes in all their products while being ethically made and locally sourced (many of their factories use things like solar or wind power).
Soft Structured Carrier Pros
Easily adjustable between multiple wearers
Suitable for front, back, or hip carrying
Intuitive, kind of like wearing a backpack
Easy to breastfeed in
Removable lumbar support (removable for when you back carry)
Can wear straps in an H or X depending on preference and comfort level
Panel fully adjustable (includes neck support for little ones)
100% linen – good for all weather conditions
Removable hood can be used as additional neck support for younger babies
Padded straps for comfort
Easy to adjust while wearing for comfort
Soft Structured Carrier Cons
When wearing the hip band higher it can dig into the top of hip bones if too tight
Not super discrete, can look a bit bulky on a petite person (though I don’t feel this way and my body type is quite small)
Can pull on shoulders if you don’t have great posture
Can’t use for a forward facing front carry
Can be a bit more expensive, but it’s relative to the years of wear you can get from it
The meh-dai is an Asian-based carrier (otherwise known as beh-dai) that is sort of a hybrid of the wrap and the soft structured carriers. In Cantonese, ‘mei’ means carried on the shoulders and tai means carrying strap. There’s a ton of variations on the original meh dai style carrier but they all have one thing in common – waist belt and shoulder straps attached to panel that forms the baby’s seat. The fabric can vary from super minimalist to crazy patterns. This carrier has a few different variations when tying the straps, some that require a not-so-squirmy baby in order to get the carrier tied, but once done it’s comfortable and stylish.
The ring sling is probably one of the most aesthetic baby carriers on the market. It’s available in a huge array of prints and colours to match anything in your wardrobe. Full disclosure, I could really never master this carrier. I think because I felt so not confident about carrying Etta in the sling, she could never get comfortable. I think that once she’s a bit bigger and can be more patient she’ll love this sling and its versatility. The ring sling is a favourite among kids who are always hopping in parents’ arms and hopping out to wander as it’s super easy to get them in and out quickly.
Ring Sling Pros
Enhances an outfit, definitely a statement piece
Easy to pop baby in and out once you get the hang of it
Easy to breastfeed in
Can use from newborn to toddlerhood
Allows for a front, hip, and back carry
Once you thread the tail through the rings, can keep it threaded for faster future uses
Super travel-friendly, can fit easily in your purse
Can use the tail for privacy when nursing
Ring Sling Cons
Lose mobility in one shoulder, difficult to use two arms fully
Found the weight to be a little unbalanced, would make my slight scoliosis/sciatic inflamed
The linen is more structured, is a bit rough the first few wears. You have to wash the sling a few times to soften it out (it took me 2 weeks to first wash mine because I had a newborn and I couldn’t even wash my hair)