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Awesome that you would like to wear your baby! There are many benefits of wearing your baby which you can read here. Now that you know you want to wear your baby you probably came across different types of carriers. Here I will explain the most common ones.
Type: Stretchy wrap
Weight: birth to 20lbs/8
Average retail price: €25 - €75.
This carrier is made out of stretchy material. It is a long piece of fabric often made with cotton with some elastane. A stretchy wrap is first tightly wrapped around the wearer's body before putting the baby in. This wrap should always be wrapped the same way with 3 layers of fabric crossing over the babies body. A stretchy wrap is not suitable for back carries.
My first wrap was a Bykay stretchy wrap which I used a few times and then change to woven wraps as I like those better.
Type: Woven wrap
Weight: birth to toddlerhood
Average retail price: €50 - €150
Similar to stretchy wraps, woven wraps are also a long piece of fabric. This wrap is not stretchy but is thickly woven. This increases the versatility of the carrier as it can handle more weight and can be used for back carries. Another difference from a stretchy wrap it that the baby is wrapped onto the wearer. Unlike the stretchy wrap which is first wrapped before putting the baby in.
Wrapping with a woven wrap takes some practice. In the beginning, the amount of fabric is overwhelming and it can take a few tries before a certain carry is secure enough to wear safely.
There are many different fabrics and brands so try a few to find out which you like best. To accommodate different body sizes of baby wearers and because of different types of carries, woven wraps have different sizing. Sizes vary from size 2 (2,7m) to size 8(5,7m). Most wearers figure out their base size (click here to find your base size) and then go from that to figure out what size wrap they need for a particular carry.
I have several woven wraps and most of them are size 7. My man is very tall so his base size is a size 7 (mine is 6) and I prefer a long ‘tail’ at the end of my knot so we both have enough wrap to choose from. Currently, we only have cotton and linen wraps because even though wraps with wool, silk, and cashmere are awesome they are a pain to wash. Cotton is much easier.
Type: SSC (Soft-Structured Carrier)
Weight: 7lbs/3,5kg - 50lbs/22kg
Average retail price: €100 €150
An SSC has a padded waist belt that is fasted around the wearer with a buckle. The panel at the back, seats and holds your baby and there are padded shoulder straps. Sometimes there is a chest buckle as well to keep the shoulder straps from slipping off.
Most SSC come in different sizes and although those are mentioned in the weight of your baby, how your baby is supported in the carrier is more important. Your baby should always be supported from knee to knee. Anything less can put to much strain on your baby's hips. This means that a tall skinny baby might be worn in a larger size carrier just to be sure there is proper leg support.
Most SSC's are made out of cotton canvas but a woven wrap can also be converted into an SSC. This creative mom has made several conversions (using this pattern) out of cute canvas or a beautiful woven wrap which I still use.
Type: Mei Tai
Weight: birth to 44lbs/20kg
Average retail price: €40 - €100
A mei tai looks like a cross over between a woven wrap and an SSC. There are no buckles so both the shoulder and the hip straps need to be wrapped. For a newbie, this is less intimidating compared to a woven wrap as there is already a defined seat for your baby. I
personally have never used a mei tai but my friend only uses her mei tai. She prefers it over using a woven wrap so this preference is very personal.
Type: Ring Sling
Weight: birth to toddlerhood
Average retail price: €35 - €120
A ring sling is a shorter woven wrap. It has one gathered end with 2 large metal rings attached. A ring sling is worn across the body like a sash. The rings are near the shoulder and the baby is seated on the opposite side onto your hip.
Most people don’t like to babywear asymmetrically as they think the weigh is distributed unevenly. However, if worn correctly, the weight should rest on your back and not on your shoulders.
I hope this overview gives you a better understanding of the multiple types of carriers and I hope it guides you in your babywearing journey. Be sure to try multiple types and brands to find out what you and your little one prefer.