How to choose a baby carrier

The world of baby carriers is confusing especially when youre just starting out. Here at Funky Giraffe, we want to make things as simple as possible by helping you answer the question of how to choose a baby carrier. Below, weve outlined the some of the main types of baby carriers wraps, slings, soft structured carriers, and mei tais. First, however, there are some considerations to take into account when you're choosing a carrier to suit you and your baby, such as:

Who will be using the carrier?
Will it just be you, 100% of the time? If there are multiple caregivers, you probably want to look at something that's either a tie-up carrier (see woven wrap, mei tai) or easily adjustable (see soft structured carrier).

How long do you plan to babywear?
It pays to look at whether you only want something to get you through those first couple of months at home with your newborn (see stretchy wraps), or whether you want something that's built to last your baby as they grow (see woven wraps, mei tais and soft structured carriers).

What is your budget?
Baby carriers can be expensive, but many of them are designed to last your baby right up until they reach preschool age (and in some cases, beyond). The more affordable stretchy wraps are perfect for those who want to wear for a short time. For the investment wraps, for approximately 3 years of fewer tantrums, easier travelling, and happier, more content babies, we think thats money VERY well spent!

Also called: woven wrap, stretchy wrap,carry sling
There aretwo types of wraps woven and stretchy.

Stretchy wrapsare made from a soft jersey or fleece fabric, and usually come in one size fits all. They are best with babies 6 months and under, though if you have a particularly heavy baby, you may not even make it to 4 months before you want to switch to something with a bit more support. With stretchy wraps we also recommend you only use front carry, and adjust for nursing as needed. Back carry is not recommended for stretchy wraps.

Advantages:Very comfortable and excellent for beginners, tying methods are limited but you can pre-tie them to get your baby in and out more easily.

Disadvantages:These tend to have a lot of fabric, so if you live in a warmer climate, you will probably find a stretchy wrap to be too hot to wear. Recommended up to 15kgs by most manufacturers, but from experience we can say youll want to switch when your baby is around 7-8kgs (approximately 17-18lbs).

BEST FOR:newborns and smaller babies
Woven Wrap

Woven wraps are the most versatile baby carrier you can own. There are a number of ways you can tie them, so you can find a method that suits you and your baby best. They can be used for every size baby from preemie through to a sleepy 4 year old whose legs are too tired to walk! They come in a variety of lengths, but the most common is around 4.5m. You can carry your baby on your front, hip, or back, and they also allow you to comfortably breastfeed.

Advantages:You can do just about anything with a woven wrap, from wearing a premature baby; all the way up to wearing a near school aged child (back carry, naturally). The beautiful patterns are strangely addictive (master this type of carrier, and you WILL end up with more than one, just wait), and because you tie it, it will fit you perfectly every time.

Disadvantages:Has a bigger learning curve than any other carrier and requires more practice to find a type of hold that suits you best. However, we would urge you to stick with it woven wraps are well worth the effort for their durability, versatility, and all-round awesomeness.

BEST FOR:all-round babywearing

Ring Sling

Slings, or ring slings, are a more modernised version of the baby carriers traditionally used in cultures in Indonesia and Mexico. Its a one-shoulder carry, pieced together with a pair of nylon or metal rings, and baby can be worn on your front, hip, and (for toddlers only) back. Easily adjustable, this carrier is quite a bit easier to use than a woven wrap, but still has a bit of a learning curve.

Advantages:the long tail of the sling can be used as a nursing cover, sun shade, emergency rain shield, or even a light blanket. Its quick to put on, great for breastfeeding, and quick to adjust. The Amazonas Ring Sling even has a handy pocket!

Disadvantages:You dont have a lot of options with different holds, its not great for people with back or shoulder problems (due to the one-shoulder carry), and the tail can be annoying for some people.

BEST FOR: people who need a fast on/off; who want to breastfeed on the go

Soft Structured Carrier

Also called a buckle carrier
Structured carriers are probably the easiest, most user-friendly baby carrier on the market today. Because they have buckles, theres little to no learning curve, theyre super easy to adjust (ever had a backpack? Its the same principle) and they are really popular with dads as well. You can use them with newborns, right through to pre-school age children.

Amazonas also offer an ultra lite vesion of the structured carrier. This design is super popular with baby wearing dads as its made with parachute silk and is super light and very strong!

Advantages:Comfortable for longer carries with heavier children, great for beginners, feel very secure, widely available.

Disadvantages:Not as cosy, buckles and padding can feel very bulky (especially for petite people), too large to throw in nappy bag, newborn inserts can be cumbersome, dont adjust easily for breastfeeding.

BEST FOR:beginners, reluctant babywearers, heavier children, people who dont have the time/desire to learn how to tie a woven wrap.

Mei Tai

Pronounced may tie, themei tai carrierhas been used for centuries by mothers in Asia. It resembles a soft structured buckle carrier, but with ties in place of the buckles. The straps are often very wide, to provide extra comfort for the wearer, and they come in a range of gorgeous designs. Theyre perfect for wearing while doing housework, or for longer carries, as they are built to be comfortable for longer.

Advantages:provides a custom fit every time, many carrying positions, easy to learn, suitable for all age groups, easily adjustable shareable amongst caregivers, very comfortable

Disadvantages:Knot tying can feel less secure for beginners; can be frustrating for toddlers who want quick on/off options, long straps can be cumbersome

BEST FOR:all-round baby wearing.

Whatever you decide it is important that you pick the best carrier for you and your baby as baby wearing is a wonderful bonding experience that parents can have with their children.

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