top of page

This blogpost may contains affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra costs to you. 

Copy of World Earth Day 2024 Badge (1).png
  • Writer's pictureValinda

6 Types of Ergonomic Baby Carriers

Updated: Jan 17

Awesome that you would like to wear your baby! It is not only amazing to have your baby close all the time, but it is also very convenient when grocery shopping or doing your regular household chores. When you have decided you want to wear your baby you find that there are many options. Here you can read about each type of baby carrier and what the pros and the cons are so you can decide which baby carrier suits you and your lifestyle best.

Benefits of Babywearing

When you become a mom, your whole world changes. Your maternal instinct kicks in and you want to keep your baby as close as possible all the time. This is normal as humans are carrying animals (just like monkeys). For the first few weeks, this is still doable as your partner might still be at home to do something in and around the house for you. But when they go back to work, you suddenly notice that you are about 2 hands short. Wearing your baby in a wrap or carrier might be the solution. Besides having your hands free while keeping your baby close, there are other benefits of wearing your baby.


You get to know your baby better

When you have your baby close to you all the time, you learn to recognize small signs your baby makes. Research has shown that babywearing moms are more likely to interact contingently in response to their baby's cues meaning these moms will respond sooner when a baby requires some attention from their caregiver.


baby in a carrier

Bonding with your child

This research shows that new moms who dislike wearing their babies experienced postpartum bonding difficulties. The same study also shows that moms who wore their babies frequently experienced more bonding and calming benefits. This research confirms that mothers who wore their baby often in a soft baby carrier responded faster to vocalizations for their child. They conclude that there may be a causal relationship between increased physical contact, achieved through early carrying in a soft baby carrier, and subsequent security of attachment between infant and mother.


Less crying

Newborns who are worn for at least 3 hours each day will cry less. That is the conclusion of this research. They will not only cry less during the day, but they will also be less fussy during the night giving both parents a more decent night of sleep.


Reduces reflux symptoms

Wearing your baby in a carrier or wrap has the benefit of reducing reflux symptoms. This research has shown that although there was no significant difference in the total refluxes per hour between the upright and lying positions, reflux-related respiratory symptoms per reflux were significantly fewer in infants kept in an upright position than in a lying position increasing the comfort of the child.


Skin-to-skin contact

Lots of skin-to-skin contacts is important, not only right after birth but during the entire baby period. When a mother has skin-to-skin contact with her baby right after birth, it initiates strong instinctive behaviors in both mom and baby. The mom will experience a surge of hormones and begin to smell, stroke, and engage with her baby naturally. Babies’ instincts after birth will drive them to follow a very unique process, which if left uninterrupted will result in them having their first breastfeeding. If they are enabled to familiarise themselves with their mom's breast and achieve self-attachment, it is more likely that they will recall this in subsequent feeds, resulting in fewer breastfeeding problems down the line.

On average, moms who have lots of skin-to-skin contact with their baby breastfeed longer compared to moms who don’t

A baby who receives lots of skin-to-skin contact either through babywearing or otherwise constantly hears the soothing sound of mom's heartbeat and breathing. This has a calming effect on your baby as these are the sounds and movements the baby also experiences in the womb. This research shows that the touch and motion while carrying your child have a calming effect on your baby.


Babywearing not only benefits your baby there are lots of benefits for the parents as well. When there is lots of skin-to-skin contact, we produce a hormone called oxytocin. This is a natural response and helps us bond to our baby. Not only that it helps us be more calm and relaxed as well as a new parent.

mom with baby in carrier

Development of the Vestibular system

Babywearing stimulates the vestibular system and as such the development that is related to this system. The vestibular system starts to develop in the womb and is responsible for balance in the human body and good development is important for lots of functions in our body like

  • Coordinating eye and head movements (like following a moving object through the air (ball/plane)).

  • Helps to develop and maintain normal muscle tone (to be able to hold the body in one position).

  • Improve a child’s balance (otherwise we would remain clumsy and fall often).

  • Coordinate both sides of their body simultaneously.

Throughout baby and toddlerhood, movements like being rocked, gently swung, rolling, crawling, walking, and running all provide input for a healthy vestibular system.


In the book: ‘The Attachment Parenting Book” Bill and Martha Sears also state that babywearing stimulates the infant’s vestibular system: “the stimulation helps babies breathe and grow better, and improves motor development” )Sears & Sears (2001) The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby).


Neck muscles development

Babywearing allows a baby to exercise their neck muscles much more compared to lying down in a crib or stroller. When lifting the head, the baby is not only training the neck and back muscles, but also the interaction between the eyes, the nerve system, the vestibular system, and various groups of muscles. (Regeling, M. (2015) Sensorische informatieverwerking; het vestibulaire systeem)

Carrying babies in your arms or in baby carriers may also be beneficial to neck muscle development, while prolonged time spent in car seats or containment devices may be detrimental to spinal development.


Speech development

By wearing your baby you have more interactions with your child. You speak to them more often which is a practical way to encourage more engaging, language-enriched developmental opportunities in the critical first year of your baby.

mom with baby in carrier

Brain development

It is even mentioned that lots of skin contact could help with the development of your baby's brain, especially in babies who have been born prematurely.


Better for your body

When you compared babywearing to carrying your baby in your arms, the latter is about 16% heavier compared to using a carrier. Parenting, a newborn is hard enough already, using a carrier or a wrap could lighten the load a little.


Freedom

The last benefit of babywearing I want to mention is freedom. Everywhere I go, I can also go with my baby worn in a wrap. When my girl was a year old, we went on holiday to Slovenia for a couple of weeks. We didn’t bring a bulky stroller but opted to bring a few wraps. This resulted in a holiday that was not that different from the ones we had before we had kids. We hiked up mountains and through forests and visited lovely villages and busy cities. All this was easy as our little girl was on my or my partner's back and we weren’t fiddling with a stroller.


Ergonomic babywearing

When you are shopping for a way to wear your baby, you want something comfortable for both you and your baby. It should evenly distribute your baby’s weight and shouldn’t put unnecessary pressure on your back and shoulders. But even more importantly, you want an ergonomic baby carrier because it properly and safely supports your little one.


What is an ergonomic baby carrier?

An ergonomic baby carrier should support the natural posture of your baby while encouraging healthy hip development. It should support your baby’s legs up to the backs of its knees, so the legs don’t dangle. An ergonomic carrier has a wide base that is comfortable and supports your baby’s weight so more of it is on their bottom rather than the crotch area. It should hold your baby’s hips and legs in a frog leg or M position. In this ergonomic position, your baby’s bottom is lower than their knees, while their knees and hips are at levels with one another and the hips are spread. This position benefits their comfort and proper hip development. It benefits the wearer's comfort as well as helps uniformly distribute the weight across your hips, back and shoulders.

Types of Ergonomic Baby Carriers

Why choose an ergonomic baby carrier?

With an ergonomic baby carrier, you are sure that their developing neck, spine, pelvis, hips, and legs are being supported correctly as these are made to provide the best support for babies and babywearers. A baby’s body is still developing. Too much pressure on their spine, joints, ligaments, and/or hip sockets from improper positioning will not only be painful for them but can cause future growth and health problems.

Types of Ergonomic Baby Carriers

Different types of babywearing carriers

Each of the baby carriers mentioned below is an ergonomic baby-wearing system.

Stretchy wrap

Weight: birth to 20lbs/8kg

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 to make it stretchy. A stretchy wrap is first tightly wrapped around the wearer's body before putting the baby in the wrap. This wrap should always be wrapped the same way with 3 layers of fabric crossing over the baby's body. A stretchy wrap is not suitable for back carries as this provides insufficient support for your baby. Once your baby grows you will notice that it may become too heavy to wear with a stretchy wrap and you may want to switch to a woven wrap. 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.

Types of Ergonomic Baby Carriers - Stretchy wrap

Pros

  • Suitable for newborns due to the flexible material

  • Easy to use as you first put it on your body and place your baby in the wrap afterward.

  • Comes in a variety of prints and patterns to suit your taste.


Cons

  • May be too heavy when your baby grows.

  • Only one type of carry is possible.


Woven wrap

Weight: birth to beyond toddlerhood

Average retail price: €50 - €150

Similar to stretchy wraps, woven wraps are also a long piece of material. This wrap is not stretchy but is thickly woven. This increased the versatility of the carrier as it can handle more weight and can be used for back carries. Another difference from a stretchy wrap is 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 and then go from there 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 (while mine is 6) and I prefer a long ‘tail’ at the end of my knot so we both have enough wraps 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. Natural materials are much easier.

Types of Ergonomic Baby Carriers - Woven Wrap

Pros

  • Versatile. You can wear your baby in a variety of positions: in front, on your hip, or back.

  • Suitable for newborns to big toddlers

  • Variety of fabrics. Choose a wrap that is most suitable for you and your baby. If both of you are hot easily a linen wrap may be more suitable as it is thinner while one with wool might be more suitable if you are cold easily.

  • Adjustability. As woven wraps come in multiple sizes, you can adjust the wrap to the individual wearer's needs and preferences, as well as his body type.

  • Lots of styles option. Woven wraps come in a great variety of styles, patterns, and designs to suit everyone's style. Some are girly while there are also lots of prints out there that even men would wear.

  • Newborn-friendly. A woven wrap is suitable for even the smallest of newborns as they allow for a natural rounded back and M-position of the legs and knees.

  • Comfortable. When put on correctly, they don’t strain the wearer’s back and shoulders as they allow for even distribution.

Cons

  • Practice. To most new parents a woven wrap seems difficult and takes some practice to get used to. Some specific (back) carries may even require a specific tutor to teach you how to do them safely.

  • An extra layer of clothing. This extra layer of fabric may be too warm for some parents. Especially the ones who live in a warmer climate. Those could opt to go for thinner material like linen.

  • Washing. If you choose a wrap with sensitive material like silk, washing can be an issue as this can not go into the washing machine and needs to be washed by hand.


Ring Sling

Weight: birth to toddlerhood

Average retail price: €35 - €120

A ring sling is a shorter woven wrap. It is usually about 2 meters in length (2 yards). A ring sling has one gathered end with 2 large metal rings attached and is worn across the body over one shoulder while your baby is seated at the opposite side on your hip.

To fasten a ring sling you need to thread the free end (without the rings) through one ring and then tuck it under through the other ring. This way you can adjust it to your body and find the perfect fit for both you and your baby. You don’t have to worry the sling will unfasten itself as your baby’s weight prevents the rings from slipping.

Most people don’t like to wear their baby asymmetrically as they think the weight is distributed unevenly. However, if worn correctly, the weight should rest on your back and hips and not on your shoulders.

More experienced baby wearers are also able to use a ring sling to wear their baby on their backs however, the hip carry is the most popular way of wearing with a ring sling.

Types of Ergonomic Baby Carriers - Ring Sling

Pros

  • Adjustability. A ring sling can grow with your baby as it is easily adjustable with the rings. The same is true for different body sizes for the wearer as both curvy and skinny people can wear the same ring sling.

  • Great Variety. A ring sling comes in the same variety as woven wraps meaning there are lots of different materials and prints to choose from. Ranging from regular cotton to luxurious silk and from plain colored wraps to intricate designs.

  • Suitable for newborns. Just like woven wraps, ring slings are great to use on newborns as these can keep your babies back in a natural position.

  • Easy to use. A ring sling is much easier to learn compared to a woven wrap.

  • Easy to combine with breastfeeding. By lowering your baby a little in the ring sling you can use it while breastfeeding your baby.

Cons

  • Takes some getting used to. A ring sling is much easier compared to a woven wrap however, it still requires some practice to get used to.

  • Asymmetrical wear. Even though a ring sling should distribute the weight to the hips rather than the shoulds, it could still be uncomfortable for the ones amount us with sensitive shoulders and or back.

  • Long. The tail of a ring sling can be very long (although sizes differ) so it may become caught up in something or catch dirt along the way.

SSC (Soft-Structured Carrier) or Buckle Carrier

Weight: 7lbs/3,5kg - 50lbs/22kg

Average retail price: €100 - €150

The is the most well-known type of baby carrier out there. An SSC has a padded waist belt that is fasted around the wearing with a buckle. The panel at the back, and holds and seats your baby. When you put it around your waist, a pouch is created where your baby will sit. If you put on the carrier correctly, your baby should be supported from knee to knee. The shoulder straps are padded and adjustable to suit all different body types and sometimes there is also a chest buckle to keep the shoulder straps from slipping off.

Most SSC comes in different sizes because for a newborn you will need a smaller size compared to a one-year-old. Although sizing is often mentioned in the weight of your child, how they are supported in the carrier is more important. Your baby should always be supported from knee to knee. Anything less can put too much strain on the hip area. 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 SSCs are made out of cotton canvas which is great for breathability but a woven wrap can also be converted into an SSC if you are or know someone handy with a sewing machine.


Important: Avoid soft structured carriers with a narrow seating area. In this case, the baby’s weight is mostly on the crotch area, and their legs dangle. These are not ergonomic carriers as this position strains the baby’s spine, and doesn’t support his legs from knee to knee. It puts lots of pressure on their hips and may hurt their development. And, most importantly, it’s not comfortable for the baby.

Types of Ergonomic Baby Carriers - SSC soft structured carrier

Pros

  • Adjustability. The waist and shoulder straps are easily adjustable to suit any body type.

  • Easy to use. As there is no need to tie anything making it a very user-friendly carrier.

  • Easy to share. Because of its ease of use and adjustability, this makes it easy to use by other caregivers.

  • Great Variety. Just like woven wraps come in a great variety of patterns and colors, so do SSCs. Your choice becomes even greater when you are considering converting a wrap into a carrier.


Cons

  • Pricey. The starting price of an SSC is usually higher compared to a wrap.


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 and tied. These straps are sometimes padded for extra comfort. For someone new to babywearing, this is less intimidating compared to a woven wrap as there is already a defined seat for your baby.

Types of Ergonomic Baby Carriers - Mei tai

Pros

  • Easy to use. Much easier to use compared to a woven wrap as there is less tying involved.

  • Adjustable. All straps need to be tied around your body making it easily adjustable to suit different body types.

  • Versatile. A Mei Tai can be used for small babies with a front carry while a Mei Tai is also suitable for a one-year-old and a back carry.

  • Great Variety. Just like woven wraps, they come in a great variety of patterns and colors. Your choice becomes even greater when you are considering converting a wrap into a Mei Tai.

  • Comfortable. Just as comfortable to wear as a woven wrap without much of the hassle of tying.


Cons

  • It takes practice. Even though it is less complicated compared to a woven wrap, there is still a learning curve on how to tie a Mei Tai correctly.

Types of Ergonomic Baby Carriers

Backpack Carriers


Weight: - Your baby needs to be able to sit on their own and have good neck control.

Average retail price: €200+

This type of carrier is more common for male caregivers as it feels more familiar like a backpack. A backpack carrier usually has padded shoulder and waist straps and an extra chest strap. To make wearing more comfortable and to distribute your baby's weight evenly. As these are rather large, there is often sufficient space for storage like small toys, a water bottle, and some snacks. Another great feature is that this type of carrier can stand on its own making it easy for your child to get in and out.

Types of Ergonomic Baby Carriers - Backpack Carrier

Pros

  • Easy. Your child can get in and out on its own. You just have to put the carrier on like a backpack.

  • Well-equipped. They usually have lots of storage pockets for water bottles and snacks

  • Good weight distribution. Due to all the straps, the weight of your child can be distributed to your liking making it great for long walks.

  • Great for curious toddlers. Compared to a carrier, your child is a little higher giving them a great view of their surroundings.


Cons

  • Heavier. Compared to the other types of carriers, a backpack carrier is heavier because your child is further from your body making it heavier to carry.

  • Big. This is very bulky compared to the other carriers making it harder to store or carry with you when your child wants to walk on their own.

  • Heavy. Because this carrier has a frame it is pretty heavy even when there is no child in there.


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.


More Attachment Parenting


Comments


Do you use

Unpaper Towels?

Unpaper towels - zero waste etsy shop

Visit our shop with over 50 different prints of reusable kitchen towels. These not only look super cut but they are also very eco-friendly and save you money.

Valinda - Natural Parenting Blog - Eco-friendly mom - Cloth diaper - sustainable pregnancy

Meet Valinda

Hi there, I am the founder of the green and happy mom blog and green and happy shop. After battling severe depression, I am determined to make the world a little better and I want to take you along that journey with me. 

Free Ebook?

ebook side bar.png

Free Ebook?

ebook side bar.png
zws banner-1.png
bottom of page