Babywearing.

Shortly after Navi was born I became totally obsessed with babywearing. I have bought, tried and returned an embarrassing number of baby carriers (seriously. its ridiculous.) and recently an adorably pregnant friend of mine has asked (once, twice or three times ;) about my babywearing experience. Since I started this post way back when I wrote this little number about breast pumping, I've decided its time to finally stop being lazy and finish it up. So here we go... The Big Babywearing Post.

First up, a little lingo of the main types of carriers that I have tried...
  • Ring sling- a carrier that's worn over one shoulder. Hip carry and kangaroo carry are the most common carries for this style of carrier although you can also use it on your back. Depending on the fabric, ring slings can be used from newborn-toddlerhood.
  • Stretchy wrap- A long piece of fabric worn like a woven wrap but with a good amount of stretch to it. Ideal for use with newborns. Can only be used in front carry positions for young infants.
  • Woven wrap- A long woven piece of fabric, typically cotton or linen, that can be wrapped in a variety of ways both in front and on the back, to hold babies from newborn-toddlerhood.
  • Soft Structured Carrier (SSC)- A backpack style carrier with buckles. Most can be used on front or in back. Most can be used from infancy-toddlerhood.
  • Mei tai- an Asian-style carrier consisting of a body panel and long straps. Kind of like a woven wrap and a SSC mixed together. No buckles. Most can be used on front or in back and usually are approved for infancy-toddlerhood. I never found a carrier in this style that worked for us.
First up is the Boba 3g. This is an awesome carrier- I really cant say enough good things about it, we LOVE it! This is probably the carrier that we have used for the longest amount of time. I got it when she was about 3 months old and we still use it almost daily. She is getting quite tall for it now and it doesn't seem like her seat is quite as deep as it once was (see top right picture) but she never complains about being uncomfortable and she one to keep quiet about that sort of thing (she is "off the charts" for height according to her doctor...so I don't think an average sized baby would grow out of this quite so soon). Given her height, we are starting to transition more into our Kinderpack (see below) but we still use this all the time and she often times asks for it. I keep one SSC in my car and one in the house and just use whichever one is available. We use this carrier when doing chores around the house and on longs walks or hikes. I have worn her in here as long as an hour and a half at a time with no discomfort issues whatsoever. This carrier is rated for up to 45lbs I think, but given Navi's height, I would say that this carrier worked best for us until around the 14 month mark. After that she really needed a more heavy duty toddler-style carrier, which is why we are switching to the Kinderpack. The pads that are covering the straps in some of the pictures are called suck pads and are great for a heavily teething baby that likes to suck on the straps. They are easily removed and washable and come in a variety of colors...you can find them, here.
We lovelovelove our Sakura Bloom ring sling. I didn't get this carrier until Navi was 8 months old and I SO wish that I would've had it when she was a newborn because I know it would've made for the perfect go-to-carrier for an infant. At almost 17 months old, we still use this carrier everyday. I have this carrier in the Simple Linen (pictured above) and also in the Simple Silk. It's hard for me to say which is better, but if I had to chose I would probably have to go with the silk because the fabric seems to stay spread out in the rings better. This carrier is perfect for around the house, family functions, or when she just needs a break to relax and be held. Navi is 27lbs and I can still comfortably wear her in this sling. It's super easy to get her in and out of which is helpful since she is in the "up-and-down" toddler stage right now. I recommend getting the Sakura Bloom in either the Simple Linen or any of the Silk varieties because these types have two layers of fabric so they will be able to work well for a heavy toddler as well as for a tiny infant. I have tried out a few different brands of cotton ring slings as well and have just not been impressed with them. They never seemed to hold that well and there was a lot of slippage and readjusting that I just didn't like. I'm sure the cotton type ones would work fine for a young infant but I just don't see the point since you cant use them through toddlerhood like you can with the more supportive silk or linen variety. 
I used this Boba stretchy wrap until Navi was about 18lbs and got to be too heavy for it. Even though you cant use it beyond the first 6 months or so, I really enjoyed wearing her in this wrap and will definitely be using it again the next time around. Its so squishy and soft and holds baby just perfectly every time. It is super easy to wrap even though it may seem intimidating- just a few practice wraps using a teddy bear and you're good to go. Another bonus is that you can put this wrap on and leave it on throughout the day if you'd like so you can take the baby in and out as needed without having to wrap more than once. This is especially nice in those first few months when baby does a lot of sleeping. The only downside that I found from this wrap is that its pretty warm so if I was wearing her around the house I was always sure to keep Navi in just a onesie or a diaper when I used it. Since stretchy wraps are limited and you can't use them from infancy-toddlerhood I can't say that it is a must-have carrier by any means... but as far as stretchy wraps go, its a great choice.

This Kinderpack is a SSC just like the Boba pictured above with a few slight variations. The straps are more heavily padded, the body of the carrier is quite a bit bigger and the straps tighten and adjust slightly differently. Also, it comes in a variety of different sizes (petite-plus for the wearer and infant-preschool for the wearee). I love this carrier and its probably the most comfortable for me to wear of all the ones that I've tried. Navi didn't like it until just recently because the body of it is quite tall and starting around a year old she liked to ride with her arms out. In the last few months or so she has grown tall enough to comfortably ride with her arms out and she now seems to be equally comfortable in this carrier and the Boba, but I think that at her current height this one holds her in a better seated position. We are using this more and more as she is growing and I can't say for sure, but had I bought a smaller size, I may have used this one instead of the Boba. Maybe. Either way, the Boba worked great for us up until this point and this one is working great for us now, so no complaints. These carriers are not super-mainstream and are made by hand in Chicago by a group of work-at-home-moms so the stock is constantly changing and different styles and sizes are available each month. The size pictured above is the "standard/standard".

I wanted sososososososo badly to like woven wraps. They are so gorgeous and hands down the cutest carriers around in my opinion. I watched every instructional video I could find, practiced a variety of wrap styles and even tried a few different brands of wraps and I just couldn't fall in love with them. I never found a wrap or a carry that I found to be more comfortable than my SSC's (maybe I just wasn't doing them right?) and Navi never had the patience (no matter how many times I tried) to sit through a wrap job. I still have one woven that I never sold and I will definitely give it a go the next time around  but for now, its just sitting in the back of my closet. I included them in this list, even though I don't wrap because it is still a carrier option that I would like to give another go with any future babies... I guess I just haven't let go of my dream of being a wrap star quite yet ;)...and who could blame me, look how cute! The one pictured here is an Ellevill Zara that I got off the swap boards (see below). Paxbaby has a great page (here) for helping you decide what size woven wrap is best for you as well as some helpful beginner wrapper tips/lingo.

Other carriers that I've tried and was not terribly impressed with include:
  • Babyhawk- This is a mei tai style carrier and I found it to be very stiff and uncomfortable to wear. It kind of felt like I was wearing a board on my back.
  • Beco Butterfly II- I got this at the same time as my Boba 3g and the 3g just worked better for us. This is a fine carrier with all the bells and whistles we just didn't love it as much as the Boba, so back it went.
  • K'tan- I bought this thinking it would be an easy alternative to a wrap. False. It was super hot to wear, and what you can do with it is pretty limiting. Overall I found it to be uncomfortable and overrated.
  • Ergo- this is a nice carrier and is loved by many, however, it felt like it was just too much for my frame and I kind of felt like it was swallowing me.
  • B'jorn Air- we used this twice when Navi was an infant. It was the very first carrier I ever tried-prior to learning that it actually holds the baby in an unsafe position (see ergonomics articles listed below). This is not a good carrier. Period.
  • Hotslings- very uncomfortable! I used this before I tried out a ring sling. Ring slings had previously seemed intimidating to use but in reality this pouch style Hotsling took much longer to adjust with much poorer results than a ring sling.
  • Kozy- the straps of this mei tai were very uncomfortable and it felt like I was drowning in fabric and Navi fussed the whole time that she was in it.
  • BB Slen Mei Tai- too much fuss for not nearly a comfortable enough wear. Also, it felt very unsupportive.
  • Mesh water wrap- I used this twice during Navi's first summer as a way to take a slippery infant into the lake. The fabric bunched up super bad and it was uncomfortable to wear. I know there are a variety of water wraps, I just tried a plain jersey material one and was not at all impressed.
***This is just from my personal experience. Every mama and baby are different and many of these carriers have a strong supporting fan base, they just didn't work for us.***

The Bottom Line: Based on my experience, if I could only recommend two carriers for a new mama I would say the Boba 3g for long walks and hikes and the Sakura Bloom for around the house or babywearing at family gatherings. Both are great and work well from infancy-toddlerhood and in my opinion, are totally worth the investment. We use our carriers so much at home, in stores and on hikes, that the cost per use is actually quite low. 

A few tips:
  • The most important thing to remember when wearing your baby is that you want them to have a good "seat" in whatever carrier you choose. You want the babies legs to be in a frog type position with fabric extending from knee to knee so they are in a seated position with their weight in their bum...not hanging from their crotch. Basically if they're knees are higher than their bum, you're usually in good shape.
  • The Babywearer is an excellent source for carrier reviews and they also have a very active 'for sale or trade' forum. Things move quickly but if you move fast you can often times find an excellent carrier for a significantly reduced price.
  • BabyCenter's babywearing swap board is also a great source for used (and sometimes new) carriers.
  • Wrap Your Baby is the best place that I've found for advice and instructional videos about how to use woven wraps. She has dozens of videos on her site demonstrating practically every wrap method in the book.
  • You cannot put a baby on your back in the Boba or other buckle-type carrier until they are 6 months old or have strong head and neck control.
  • You can put you baby your back in a woven wrap much younger because you can wrap the fabric in such a way that it supports the baby's head.
  • When wearing a baby on your front, no matter the type of carrier, they should always be high enough on your body for you to kiss their head and their chin should be off of their chest to keep their airway open.
  • When trying out a new carrier give your baby time to adjust. Sometimes the carrier they hate for the first 2 or 3 times ends up being the one they love the most later on down the line.
  • Keep moving! From what I've found, the more I move while babywearing, the happier Navi is. Vacuuming, hiking, grocery shopping and other daily household activities all make for great opportunities for you to babywear and for baby to take a walking snooze :)
  • Depending on where you are located you may be able to find a babywearing group that has a lending library where you can try out different carriers before actually purchasing them... something worth Googling...especially if you're in a metropolitan-type area.
  • Always remember that every baby and every mama are different. Body type as well as personal preference (and the preference of your little one!) will all play a deciding factor as to which carrier works best for you.
  • Paxbaby is an excellent place to buy baby carriers. The shipping is fast and they have the best return policy that I've found. Also, she has a great YouTube channel filled with all the video reviews you could ever hope for.  
  • Here is an article about the benefits of babywearing and you can find articles about seat positioning and babywearing ergonomics here and here

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section and I will answer them as best I can :)

Phew! Still reading? No way!? Congrats...that was a hefty one! ;)

24 comments

  1. You really have tried everything haha! I wish I had gotten my Sakura Bloom much earlier too...when I take it out to use Everdeen gets so excited! My sister is pregnant with her second little one and never could figure out the Moby Wrap so I am bound and determined to get her something she will love and use this time around!

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    1. haha yeah, I went a bit overboard :-0 And your sling pictures of Everdeen from your summer post were soooo cute! I think a Sakura Bloom would be a great choice for your sister, its so easy to use and cozy... I don't think it would be possible to not love it!

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  2. This is a really informative post! I will remember this for when we have our first baby! :)

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    1. I would've LOVED to have stumbled across a big carrier review before I had her so I'm so glad you found it helpful :)

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  3. I've been wearing the ergo for a while now and I get what you are saying about feeling like it's swallowing you. I would love to invest in the Sakura Bloom ring sling though. Does it ever hurt your shoulder with the weight being basically on one side?

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    1. Nope, not at all! She is 27lbs now and since she likes to be picked up and down a lot she is never really in it for more than a half hour or so... And if after a half hour she still wanted to be held, I would probably switch shoulders. As long as you wear your baby high and snug to your body with the fabric spread out nicely across your back, it is super supportive and comfortable. Also, I would recommend getting one of their double layered models, that extra layer of fabric makes a world of difference in terms of cushion, support and comfort. Hope that helped :)

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  4. First off, I made it to the end! woot! ;)

    I WISH WISH WISH I had bought a carrier back when Mason was a baby. We used the Bjorn, which I hated, and it lasted only about a month. Then after reading realized it was probably the worst carrier for his little body.

    The wraps are so gorgeous - definitely will get one when we have another! Great advice. P.S read your breast-pumping post...intense. Pumping was so time consuming! Totally a commitment, and twice the work...can relate like crazy on that post.

    .:Marta:.

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    1. Yeah I hear ya... that Bjorn sucked big time. And I knowwwwwww the wraps are just amazing... a huge learning curve in my opinion but I'd love to figure it out the next time around! Oh, and pumping. Yeah. Good stuff lol. Virtual high five to you fellow ex-pumper friend :)

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  5. I wish I would have read this wheni was pregnant! I think it is time to get a new one! Thanks for the carrier 101!

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    1. haha, definitely!... Happy to be your Professor of Babywearing ;)

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  6. I totally hear what you're saying!! I had a baby bjorn and never really liked it. I had a moby wrap but it was way too hot for summer. I had a boba wrap and it was too stretchy for my heavy baby. We actually just reviewed the Agility Carrier from JJ Cole and I really liked it. It works better for me if I carry my baby facing in (because he's 21lbs) than facing out. It's kind of like a cross between the baby k'tan and the moby/boba wrap. It's the first one I've tried that I actually liked. It's on my blog if you want to check it out. Thanks for the carrier breakdown. Very informative!! Awesome post mama!!

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  7. Wonderful info.
    As we are only a few months away from baby two I'm really glad I read this.
    With our first I tried a few but always went to the bjorn.
    With this baby I was hoping to try another and you've helped huge.
    THANK YOU SO MUCH!

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  8. And now that I've read a few of the other reader comments I have a giggle. I really loved our bjorn. Interesting. The Moby I ended up reselling it, it was too much fabric. I like clean and simple. The Ergo never worked for me, too many staps and clips and all around annoying. For a Mumma with an active 3 year old needing to be on the go to preschool and out an about do you think the Boba 3g makes the most sense? Sorry to double comment.

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    1. Yes! If you like "clean and simple" the Boba would be a great choice for you. there are two clips- one at the waist and one at your chest. It can be worn on your front and on your back after the baby has good head/neck control (6 months-ish) and works for babies from 7-45 pounds so you would probably be able to use it right away. When using this carrier for a newborn you just tuck their legs up inside of it just like how they would normally be positioned against your chest. I think this carrier will really help you while chasing around after your busy preschooler. Hope that helps :)

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  9. found you through casey! y'all are too cute! we LOVE babywearing too :) your zara is so pretty! i'm obsessed with my kinderpack right now in this extremely hot summer.

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    1. Hey Morgan! Thanks so much! And I knowwww, I'm kind of bummed I sold my Zara but it just was not working out for us... I still have a Nati linen that I haven't been able to part with though :)

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  10. Just found your blog as well... your gorgeous by the way. And I too love wearing by baby :)

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    1. Wow, thanks Lynn! And yes, I seriously would've been so lost these last 17 months without a good go-to carrier ... (or a few go-to carriers ;)!

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  11. I loved to read about your comments on all of the carriers. Have you ever tried the beco gemini? I have a 15m old daughter, and that had been my go to carrier, We also loved the ring sling when she was younger, but even my hubby will carrier her in the beco gemini. We started her in it at 6#9oz and now she is 20# of fun, still loves to face forward on the front for short periods of time, nd loves to cuddle close on the front or back the rest of the time. It gets way more use than my stroller.:)

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    1. I haven't tried the Gemini but I've heard a lot of great things. And yeah, our carriers are in heavy rotation over here. When people ask me how much carriers cost they always seem so surprised that they are so pricey but in reality they are cheaper than a lot of strollers and get just as much (or more) use!

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  12. I would love your opinion on which carrier I should buy... I didn't wear my son when he was younger but now that he's 17 months and constantly wanting to be held an picked up everywhere we go I'm thinking of buying a carrier. Would you recommend doing the Sakura bloom or the kinder pack at this stage?? I feel like both of these would work well for his age and weight but I'm just torn on which one to buy... Any advice would help!

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    1. Hi there! Since your son isn't accustomed to being worn, I would recommend the kinderpack at this point. The Sakura Bloom sling is great, don't get me wrong, but I do feel like a toddler being worn for the first time would probably take better to a pack style carrier so they can be less restrained. Also, as he gets bigger you will probably want to wear him more and more on your back so the kinderpack will be great for that. Also, I can't say for sure but I'm thinking of switching out to a toddler sized kinderpack now that Navi is getting so tall... Something to think about. Hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions 😊

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  13. Currently 17 weeks along with our first and I have been excited about baby wearing long before I became pregnant! Thank you for all the advice, I feel very well informed and am looking forward to trying some of your recommendations!

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    1. Congrats, Alison! SO glad that I was able to share some babywearing 411 with you :) have a wonderful rest of your pregnancy and happy babywearing :) !!!

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Thank you so much for your comment, I read and appreciate each one!

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