Good news- we’re adding a Connecta (full buckle carrier) to the library!
I know there’s so many different carriers out there it does get very overwhelming sometimes, so I thought I’d do a little run down of the usual types of carriers, slings and wraps that you might see with a few pictures to help too.
Stretchy wraps area ideal for babies up to around 6 months and come in a variety of colours. They are made from a kind of t-shirt fabric and have multiple passes around the body to support the baby. They can often be pre-tied which makes it easier to get the babies in and out.
Karen showing off her stretchy
Woven wraps are probably the most versatile and can be used from newborn up to toddler age (there are also many pictures on the internet of adults being carried in them to show how strong and supportive they are!). They come in different fabrics, patterns and lengths. The length denotes which carries you can do. Wrap Your Baby have a useful size chart and also talk about what different carries you can do with each size. A woven wrap can be bought for around £40 and high end wraps go for hundreds. The high end ones are often hand woven and limited edition styles which boosts up their price. You can do both front, back and hip carries with woven wraps, though some may take a little practice. The longer the wrap, the more different carries and ties you can do. With very long wraps (i.e 7&8) you can do more decorative tie offs.
The fabrics vary and different blends have different visual and structural properties. For example bamboo isn’t so supportive and not recommended for toddlers, whereas something like hemp or wool is more supportive but can be rough or stiff when brand new and require a lot of breaking in. Silk can give wraps a beautiful shimmer but some people get nervous about washing wool or silk wraps. Some need ironing of tumble drying whereas others benefit from being braided, lay on or used as hammocks to break the fibres in and make them soft.
Nicola using a size 6 for a front wrap cross carry
A shorter carrier can be used succesfully for hip carries
Full Buckle (FB) carriers/ Soft Structured Carriers (SSC)
Full buckle carriers consist of a rectangle of fabric that the baby sits into, with a waist strap that clips up and two shoulder padded straps. Some of them also have a chest strap which can help take pressure off the shoulders. These are particularly popular because there are no long tails of fabric to get tangled in or drape on the floor and get muddy so they are very practical. They tend to come in baby, toddler and pre-school size so you can upgrade the size as your baby gets bigger. They can be worn front and back which makes them versatile and comfortable.
A local Daddy with a toddler size Connecta full buckle
A mei tai is similar to a ssc/fb but instead of clips to secure it, it has fabric straps which you tie. There are three kinds- standard straps, padded or wrap straps (sometimes called infinity straps), though you can also get “padded to wrap straps” which start out padded at the shoulders then spread into wider straps. The padded and wrap straps help cushion or spread the weight of a heavier baby or toddler. These usually come in baby, toddler and pre school sizes and can be either made from standard cotton fabric or can made made from the same fabric as woven wraps or converted from wraps (same with many full buckle carriers)
Standard mei tai straps
Woven wrap strap mei tai
Ring slings are popular with with babies and larger toddlers because of the speed and ease of “quick up and downs”- particularly handy for toddlers that want to walk but get tired quickly. These are one shouldered carriers that go around the shoulder and the baby sits on your hip (or your chest when they are small). The fabric threads through the rings and can be tighened up to secure the baby in. These are usually made from woven fabric similar or the same as wraps, and some with “picture” print on sit on one specific shoulder or the other to get the print the right way up. They do take a little practice but can be very secure and comfy.
Newborn quite high on the chest in a ring sling
Woven ring sling (in our library!)
Those are probably most of the main style of carriers you are likely to come across but there’s a huge number of other things out there too.
Pods are a bit like a mei tai but without a waist strap
-Bag sling/ pouch
These are similar to a ring sling but cannot be adjusted in the same way. When used correctly they can be very comfortable though you must be careful to follow the T.I.C.K.S guidelines for safe babywearing.
These full buckle carriers are readily available in high street shops. They often advertise three ways (on your front facing in, on your front facing out and on your back). Whilst these are very popular and help enable a lot of parents into babywearing, the baby’s position isn’t necessarily particularly comfortable for parent or child, and isn’t recommended for long periods of time as it’s not particularly ergonomic.
These are African carriers which are pieces of cloth that go around the waist.
Onbus traditional Japanese carriers that look a bit like a mei tai but with rings at the waist.
Hope that was actually useful- it’s all correct to the best of my knowledge but please let me know if there’s any errors or anything I’ve left out and I can correct and update. I’m still learning about all this too!
Let us know if there’s anything you’d like to know about in more detail and we can certainly blog about it.