This babywearing glossary will demystify all of the terminologies that you will find when shopping online for a baby carrier.
While this is a great place to start you may want more information on some of these topics so we have included links to a number of our more in-depth resources if you want to go deeper on any topic mentioned.
Here are 39 of the most common phrases that you will find in the babywearing world. Starting with the two most important (and most obvious!)
The practice of carrying or wearing a baby in a sling or other type of carrier. This can be done using a variety of different carriers – which we will cover shortly.
A device used to carry a baby that is attached to the body usually on the body. This can include anything from a simple piece of cloth to a more complex structure.
Baby Carrier Design Terminology
Check out our post on the different types of baby carriers if you want more information on any of these:
All-In-One carrier: A carrier that can be used in multiple positions without the need for an insert.
Hiking Baby Carrier – A hard-framed backpack carrier with a cockpit for a baby seat that sits higher up than a regular carrier. Most models also include large storage space and cooler compartments.
Hipseat Carrier – A type of structured carrier that has a removable seat built-in to the waist band to help support a heavier baby.
Hybrid Carrier – Any carrier design that uses elements of different carrier categories. The most popular example of this is the Baby K’tan that has pre-formed shoulder loops but operates like a wrap.
Mei Tai – A type of hybrid carrier that combines the body of a structured carrier with a length of fabric used to tie off the base of the carrier in a similar way to a wrap.
Pouch Sling – A type of ring sling where the fabric is already sewn into a tube or pouch shape.
Ring Sling – A sling that uses two rings to attach the length of fabric to the wearer.
Shoulder Strap Carriers – These have two straps that come over the shoulders to distribute weight and often include a waist belt as well.
Soft Structured Baby Carriers – The more commonly used term for the shoulder strap carrier described above.
Stretchy Baby Wrap – A baby wrap made up of a blended material (usually cotton + spandex) that provides some stretch that improves the tightness of the fit.
Waist Stool – The waistband portion of a hipseat carrier so you can wear the seat only and not the full carrier frame.
Waterproof Carriers – Baby carriers made from quick dry material that is designed for swimming with an infant.
Woven Baby Wrap – Usually a pure cotton baby wrap that is strong and sturdy but less flexible.
Baby Carrier Positions
If you want to learn more about baby carrier positions and at what age they are appropriate then check out this post.
Back Carry – Baby is positioned at your back facing inwards, like you are giving them a piggy back supported by the baby carrier.
Hip Carry – Baby is positioned to the side with your hip supporting most of the weight. This is suitable for older babies that will benefit from being able to see more of their surroundings.
Inward Front Carry – Baby is positioned in front of the wearer with the face pointing towards back towards your chest.
Outward Front Carry – Baby is also positioned in front of the wearer but facing outwards. A baby must have developed full neck control for this position.
Baby Carrier Accessories and Features
Adjustable pouch: A pouch which uses snaps, zippers, ties or other similar means to adjust the length of the loop of fabric, allowing the overall size of the pouch to be adjusted to fit different wearers, or accommodate weight gain/loss, bulky winter clothing, etc.
Babywearing Coat – Specially designed coat that allows the wearer to wrap the sides of the coat all the way around the baby carrier to keep baby warm in cold weather.
Chew Pad – An extra layer of fabric that can slide up and down the shoulder straps on the baby’s side, that is there to be chewed on and protect the fabric underneath that is supporting the weight.
Footrest – A footrest is often included on structured carriers and can be used to support a sleeping baby’s legs, or help an older toddler sit more comfortably in the carrier.
Headrest – A piece of fabric at the top of a carrier’s structure that is there to cushion and support your baby’s head.
Kick Stand – Used to hold a hiking carrier upright when not in use, and holds it steady when getting your child in or out of the cockpit.
Pockets – Many carriers now include pockets as standard so that personal items can be within reach at all times.
Privacy Hood – Most soft structured carriers include a built-in or removable hood that is designed to give your baby’s face some protection from the sun, or just shield their face at nap time.
Rail – Describes the edge of the fabric that is with baby carrier designs that do not have a set structure (wraps and ring slings). The inner rail is the rail next to the wearer’s body and the outer rail is the rail supports the baby on the opposite side.
Waist Belt – Structured carriers will usually have a clip on waist belt that sits over the hips that is a key attachment point that helps distribute the weight of your baby to the hips.
Other Babywearing Terms
Apron style – The process of attaching the waistband of a structured carrier first prior to putting your arms through the shoulder straps.
Blend – A baby carrier fabric that is not a pure material. Examples include stretchy wraps made from cotton and spandex blend, or environmentally friendly blends that consist of bamboo and linen.
Chest Belt – Some carriers have an extra buckle that joins the two shoulder straps in front of the chest. This is most common in hiking carriers that typically carry more weight.
Tandemwearing – When you wear two babies at the same time. There are twin baby carriers designed specifically for this purpose.
Hip healthy: Hip healthy is a common term associated with the correct positioning of your baby to improve hip development and avoid hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a general term for infant hip instability, dislocation or shallowness of the hip socket. Babywearing can correct or worsen this condition depending on whether a baby is positioned correctly in the M position.
Infant Insert – Some soft structured carriers will require an infant insert so that the carrier can be used with a newborn. This design would otherwise only be useful from around the four month mark.
Lumbar support – Extra cushioning and padding shaped in an ergonomic fashion that provides extra support to the back.
M-position – Reference to the correct positioning of your baby’s hips when in a baby carrier (see hip healthy terminology above).
T.I.C.K.S.: A popular acronym relating to the safe use of a baby carrier. This stands for Tight, In view at all times, Close enough to kiss, Keep chin off chest and Supported back.
While this is a great place to start, we have only just scratched the surface with all there is to know about babywearing.
So check out our baby carrier info hub where you will find more information on just about any babywearing topic you can imagine.