Babywearing Basics: Learn Your Baby Carriers


A very popular comment I often hear when wearing my daughter around town is, “Wow! I wish they had that back when my kids were little! She has the best seat here!” The truth is, babywearing was available back then . . . and before that time . . . and even before that. Babywearing has been around as long as people have. Its recent surge in popularity could be attributed to many things—like social media and a more widespread knowledge of baby carriers and carrying your children.

Babywearing 201 | Nashville Mom's Blog | Types of Baby Carriers

When you first enter into the Babywearing world—usually through a “gateway” The baby an Infantino or Bjorn—you are immediately immersed into an overwhelming and altogether wonderful community of women across the US (and the world!) who all have two loves: wearing their babies and a deep love of textiles. It can be so confusing at first. You while stare at the Babywearing swap, trying to decipher what “dphi 5 fsot in euc” means (for the record, it translates to “Didymos Petrol Hemp Indio in a size 5 for sale or trade in excellent used condition”).

To start off with the basics, there are two main types of carriers available: wraps and soft structured carriers (or SSC). Within these two categories are many more classifications for carriers, and some are a blend of both. Today we’ll be dealing with the most popular ones and the ones more sought after and used by mothers.


There are two types of wraps: woven and stretchy. Stretchy wraps are made of a jersey-like material that—you guessed it—stretches to form around mom and baby. These are extremely limited wraps in versatility and many babies outgrow them within six months. Stretchy wraps are not meant for things like back carries or for heavier babies since the material tends to sag with extended use. Examples: Moby wraps, Happy wraps, and Solly Baby wraps.

Woven wraps can be further broken down into machine woven wraps (factory produced on heirloom dobby looms or another type of loom) and handwoven wraps (hand woven by a weaver—can’t make a description much simpler than that). Woven wraps are extremely versatile—many lasting from infancy to preschool—and can be woven out of a vast array of materials. Many popular brands include Girasol, Didymos, Pavo, and Kokadi.

Babywearing 201 | Nashville Mom's Blog | Types of Baby Carriers

For simplicity’s sake, I’ve added ring slings in with wraps. Why? Because they’re typically made from wrap material and can be used as a wrap in a pinch (for experience wrappers ONLY). A ringsling is a length of fabric that has two rings sewn into one end. The taper of the other end is threaded through the rings to create a pouch or seat for baby to be placed in. Ringslings are a practical choice for quick trips in and out of stores and for tiny babies, and they are extremely easy to breastfeed in.

With wraps in general, there is a steep learning curve. It takes precision and practice in order to master wrapping, but the work is incredibly worth it as the versatility of woven wraps cannot be matched.

Soft Structured Carriers (SSC)

There are many types of SSCs in our world. They range from buckle carriers (baby carriers that are buckled on) to more traditional, Asian-style carriers that are a mix of both. The most popular carrier (and the easiest to find and most accessible) are buckle carriers. (Tula Baby Carriers, Lillebaby, and Ergo.) Buckle carriers have a waist buckle and a chest strap buckle. There is a soft structured seat for baby, then the straps are buckled, and you’re good to go. There is a minimal learning curve with this type of SSC making them a favorite of mothers everywhere!

Babywearing 201 | Nashville Mom's Blog | Types of Baby Carriers

Many SSC’s can be worn for front or back carries. Some can also be used for hip carries. And yes, some can have baby facing out as well. (Ergo 360 is a popular carrier for this).

From there, we have half buckles (baby carriers that have either a chest strap buckle or waist buckle while the other part is two lengths of fabric to wrap around baby) and mei tais (a carrier with a soft structured seat and lengths of fabric at the shoulders and waist to tie around baby; a good cross between woven wraps and SSC’s).

While SSC’s are not as versatile as woven wraps, they are easier to use and can also be used from infancy (with the help of infant inserts) to preschool age.

These are the most basic of basic baby carriers that you will see around Babywearing pages, and it’s all you need to get started. There are so many resources (such as your local Babywearing groups — check out your local chapter of Babywearing International!) that can help you learn what carrier will fit you and your little one best.

As always, regardless of what babywearing method you choose to use—
carry them safely, and carry them with love.


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