Babywearing is awesome, and if you are here reading this then you probably feel the same way. But may not be sure what vehicle is right for you.
We are going to take a look at the two most popular styles of babywearing – baby carriers vs baby wraps – and compare what each has to offer so you can decide what is right for you.
The purists may go for the baby wrap. It is hard to match the closeness and snug feeling that you get from a wrap, and if your baby is a cryer the instant calmness a baby feels when wrapped up can become the go-to option in a crisis…. But they can also be a pain in the butt!
Structured carriers are quick and easy, as long as you are ok with buckles, clips, seats and the extra weight that comes with it.
Then there is a third option that you may have not have even heard of before. So stay tuned…
The Baby Wrap
Baby wraps are great for newborns. That snugness you feel right up close to that heartbeat is about as close to being as the womb as you can get once they have entered the world.
It takes a certain skill level to use a wrap well. It is not hard to learn but it will take you a few goes to get it right.
Check out the tutorial below:
It provides a great environment to help get your baby to sleep, and the calming effects of being so close to Mom can be instant. Plus if you are breastfeeding you can feed in public easily and remain covered up.
As the child gets older the stretchy fabric most carriers have can wear down, and unless your weight distribution is sound it can also start to place too much strain on your frame. Leading to back and shoulder pain.
The simplicity of the wrap makes it a very cost effective option for the budget conscious. You can even make your own if you really want to.
Advantages Of The Baby Wrap
- Less Costly
- Snug fit with customizable hold
- Easy access for breastfeeding
- Best for the closeness of bonding
- Creates a soothing rhythm for the baby
- Baby settles in quicker
- Babies tend to sleep longer in the wrap
- Fits easily into the diaper bag
- Creates a soothing rhythm for the baby
Disadvantages Of The Baby Wrap
- Less structure
- Wrapping techniques take practice!
- Time-consuming to put on at first
- The stretchy fabric may not suit larger babies
- Can be harder on the back as baby grows
Soft Structured Baby Carriers
The soft structured baby carrier is more of your grab & go style of carrier. Most are not complex and you can get your baby strapped in after just a few seconds (no video tutorials required!).
You will also find a much larger range of options in this space. A wrap is a wrap, with the type of fabric used is the only real variation. Carriers will have a stack of extra variations:
- Number of positions – 2 to 6
- Quality of straps
- Durability of material
- Fabric used
- Storage space
- Buckles or straps
- Seat design and comfort
- Foot stirrups for baby
- Breathability of the baby seat
- Colour and prints
While these variations can just add to the complexities of your purchasing decision, it does allow you to get a bit more targeted in what carrier will suit your level of use.
If you want to get Dad involved to share the workload you may find that he is more enthusiastic about the carrier than the wrap.
Advantages Of The Baby Carrier
- Great for larger babies
- Some can also be used with a newborn
- Quick and easy to use
- Multiple positions in most designs
- Still a relatively close position
- Padded straps for the wearer
- Guaranteed correct weight distribution
- Easy to adjust
- More stable and structured
- Gender Neutral
Disadvantages Of The Baby Carrier
- More expensive
- Less flexible
- Not as snug to the baby’s body
- Snaps, buckles, and clips can be annoying
- Requires neck strength
- Bigger and harder to fit in a diaper bag
- Heavier for the wearer
Alternative – The Mei Tai
If you are on the fence, there is an alternative that can give you the best of both worlds. The Mei Tai carrier is a hybrid design that has a structured frame, and also a long ribbon to wrap around the wearer for that little bit of extra control over the support level.
The body of the carrier is a bit more familiar with a clear space where the baby will be seated. You then take the ribbons and tie off to where is comfortable.
So you don’t have to deal with the straps, buckles or any other complex wrapping techniques. Just tie a couple of knots and you are done.
It is still a bit larger than a wrap in both size and weight, but still very transportable.
If this is still hard to picture then check out the demo below:
You may end up buying both at some stage through your babywearing journey. Each type of carrier serves a different purpose for the different stages of your baby’s development.
Of course, you need to work within your budget. There are carriers that can accommodate newborns, and there are wraps with higher weight limits. You only need the carrier to outlast your physical capacity to carry them around anyway.
The benefits of babywearing are scientifically proven, and aside from that, it is just a nice feeling staying close to your baby.
Either way, making the most of the opportunity to bond with your baby when they are this small is something not to be missed. You will never get that chance again.