People often ask me how to choose the best baby carrier for them and their family. The truth is that just like car seats, the best baby carrier is the carrier you’ll use. Me? I’m a wrap girl primarily, and a ring-sling girl secondarily. My husband prefers wraps and mei tais equally. My three tween and teenagers love to wrap, but my oldest will also grab the mei tai occasionally.
In 2008, we asked our retailers to rate Wrapsody carriers along with several other broad categories of baby carriers. Wrapsody retailers sell a huge variety of brands and work every day to help families choose the best baby carrier for them, and I consider them the on-the-ground experts. For those of you not “in-the-know” with the different styles of baby carriers, you can read more about the various styles of baby carrier in our Babywearing 101 post, “Types of Baby Carriers.”
Download pdf here
Q. What is the best baby carrier for my family?
A. No baby carrier is perfect for every family. Some families prefer one or two styles of carrier above all else – Kristi, the owner of Wrapsody, is like this. Over and over again, she reaches for Wrapsody carriers, and occasionally, for her ring sling or a traditional rebozo. If your family prefers a minimalist approach to babywearing for financial or lifestyle reasons, it is a good idea to have at least two carriers available for carrying your baby. Babies need to be held much of the time, and they also tend to be damp – leaking milk, poop, pee, drool, zwieback toast.
If you are going to have fewer than four baby carriers, choose carriers that are easy to wash. Kristi always suggests, “One for the wash, one to wear, and one as backup.” As a parent, free time can be hard to come by. The last thing you want to do is spend an hour hand-washing, wringing, and drying your only baby carrier!
Some families prefer to have a variety of carriers — one or more of each carrier in an assortment of styles and colors to suit their wardrobe and mood. Some relish the minute differences between brands and love experimenting, or they have a love affair with one particular brand and joyfully collect the different styles and prints (Wrapsody has several customers like this!). If this is your style, there are many to choose from!
In spite of all this, Kristi has created some guidelines to help you choose the best carriers for your family. Since our retailers have told us that Wrapsody brand are the best all-around baby carriers, we think a great ultra-basic stash begins with Wrapsody – however, our guide will help you plan your carriers around whatever brands you choose. After our general recommendations for the two or three basic carriers you’ll need, we’ve added a list of “if you want one or two more” ideas. Though it is possible to make any of the carriers recommended below work from newborn to preschool, some fill certain niches better than others. We hope this will help you to make the best decisions for your family based on your needs and budget. The best news is– you will get far more use from a quality baby carrier than you will most travel stroller systems, and yet the carriers recommended below cost far less than most strollers! And, if a particular carrier is not for you, you can always resell it on your local Craigslist or pass it on to a friend.
For the perfect ultra-basic stash from birth to age 5, Kristi suggests:
- A Wrapsody Breeze or Hybrid
- A ring-sling for quick ups and downs and quick breastfeeding
- A second wrap or mei tai for hiking, and especially for versatility with children over 12-18 months old
(we prefer wraps, but some prefer mei tais)
Perfect ultra-basic newborn stash:
- A wrap and a ring sling
- Two wraps (we love the Wrapsody WrapDuO as a second wrap – it’s excellent as a general purpose stretchy wrap in the first 6 months or so of life, with the benefit of doubling as both a water wrap and a great carrier for special occasions)
Your newborn baby is born requiring your arms to hold him; for optimal brain development he needs lots of skin-to-skin contact. For this, we love wraparound carriers, especially a Wrapsody Breeze or Hybrid wrap for naps, hot days, and ergonomic, 2-shouldered snuggles. A ring sling, on the other hand, is great for those times you want something you can put on and take off in an instant, and most people find it easiest carrier for hands-free breastfeeding once baby is 3-4 months old.
Perfect ultra-basic toddler stash:
- A wrap (we recommend Wrapsody Breeze, though any woven wrap or a Wrapsody Hybrid will work as well; we recommend avoiding other stretch wraps for the toddler age)
- A mei tai
A wrap is generally the most ergonomic baby carrier, spreading a child’s weight across your whole torso. They are versatile and packable, which is great for a child wanting to be carried part-time and walk part-time. They also continue to be magic for naps and sick days when your little one is feeling extra cuddly. For long walks and hiking, or times when you want comfort but a little less fabric to deal with, mei tais excel in this age group. They have the added benefit of being an extremely dad-friendly carrier and, like wraps, are easy to share between caregivers of two different sizes.
Expand your “ultra-basic” stash with these add-ons:
- A WrapDuO or other water carrier for the beach and showers
- A compact pouch sling to keep in the car for errands or in case you forget your carrier
- A WrapDuO, silk or linen ring-sling or fancy mei tai for special occasions
- An adjustable pouch or SSC to share with sitters and caregivers
- A mei tai or soft-structured carrier for hiking
- A special carrier for your partner to call his/her own
- A child’s toy sling for older siblings
- Baby legwarmers and soft-soled shoes
- A coat or vest designed for use with your baby carrier
- A pouch sling for quick toddler hip carries
- Toys that clip to your carrier
- A nursing necklace to occupy baby
Ready to shop? Head over to the Wrapsody store, or check out our list of Authorized Retailers to find your local Wrapsody dealer! To learn more about how the features of each Wrapsody collection, you can also check out our Product Comparisons page, which has another great chart (can you tell I love charts?)!