Baby carrier comparison

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
July 24, 2015
baby inside black backpack carrier

There are 6 different types of baby carriers.

Why so many?

Because baby carriers are very personal and are designed to suit your individual lifestyle. A carrier that is perfect for one parent may be entirely useless to another. To help sort out the confusion I have written up a handy guide that looks at the advantages and disadvantages of each. By the time you have finished reading, you will be able to identify the ideal baby carrier for your lifestyle.

Okay, let’s jump right into it…

Baby Wrap

Man lying and baby wrap
Image Source: Flickr

What is a baby wrap?

And I’ll never let my baby have an ego.He’ll be nice to everyone, wherever we go…

No no no… Not baby rap. Baby wrap

Basically little more than a long cloth, a baby wrap is most basic kind of baby carrier. As the name suggests; you wrap the cloth around your body to form a snug carrier for your baby. The wrap can be worn in a variety of different ways, called a ‘carry’. While wraps are the most versatile of baby carriers they also have the highest learning curve as an improperly wrapped carry can be dangerous to your baby.

Carrying Positions

Across the hip, on the back and the more familiar front carry among many more options. It entirely depends on how you choose to wrap.

Who is it suitable for?

Parents who:

  • Are looking for a cheap baby wearing solution
  • Who have the time to learn to wrap properly
  • Want a baby carrier that will comfortably fit any body size

Age group: Newborns (yes, even preemies) onwards

Pros and Cons

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of baby wraps.

PROS

  • Easily fits in your diaper bag, folds neatly for storage
  • Cheap and come in a wide variety of colors and designs
  • Can be wrapped to provide the perfect support suitable to your baby’s age
  • Baby worn close and can be reassured by parents heartbeat
  • Hugs the parents and baby’s curves and contours
  • You can use the wrap as a nursing cover to breastfeed in public

CONS

  • Takes time to learn to wrap properly
  • Does not have a Dad friendly look
  • Can be difficult to stop from dragging along the ground when wrapping outside
  • Can be slow to put on and take off, not good if you are in a hurry
  • Does not fold down small, takes up a fair bit of storage space
  • Incorrect wrapping can cause serious injury to your child
  • Not suitable for older and heavier children

Soft Structured Baby Carriers

woman carrying baby

Also known as a buckle carrier; a soft structured baby carrier (or SSC) is similar to a basic backpack that can be worn on your front or back. Inside the backpack sits your baby. Rather than waste time wrapping your baby in (or learning to) you simple slide the baby carrier over your shoulders strap yourself in using buckles and clips.

Out of all the baby carriers, soft structured are by far the most popular.

Who is it suitable for?

Parents who:

  • Want a baby carrier that can be taken on and off in seconds
  • Share baby wearing
  • Carry an older or heavier child

Age group:

Soft structured baby carriers are suitable for newborns although depending on the carrier you may need an infant insert to pad out the extra space. Some soft structured carriers can even be worn comfortably until your baby reaches 3 years of age.

Carrying Positions

Positions will vary from carrier to carrier. While some only allow you to carry your baby on the front, others will allow you to back or hip carry. Some soft structured carriers will allow you to swap between multiple carrying positions.

Pros and Cons

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of soft structured baby carriers.

PROS

  • Very easy to take on and off
  • No learning curve
  • Padded straps provide extra comfort to the wearer, straps don’t dig in
  • Dad’s still feel manly when they strap a SSC to their body
  • Baby is worn close
  • Easy to adjust, makes them suitable for sharing between different sized users
  • Wearer is still comfortable for older and heavier children

CONS

  • Shoulder straps can dig in, particularly on cheaper carriers
  • Doesn’t cling to your newborns shape
  • May not adequately support babies with unusual body shapes
  • More expensive than simpler baby carriers
  • Can feel bulky on petite parents
  • Don’t easily fit in diaper bags
  • Buckles and clips can rub against you uncomfortably

Mei-Tei Baby Carrier

a woman carrying baby in the forest

What is a Mei-Tai carrier?

If a baby wrap and a soft structured baby carrier were to have a baby, the result would definitely be the Mei-Tai Carrier.

While it looks incredibly similar to a soft structured baby carrier; the Mei-Tai is actually a rectangular piece of fabric with 4 straps (one on each corner). By tying the 4 straps to your body, the fabric will create a pouch for your infant to sit inside. Due to the simple design, you can pick Mei-Tai carriers up at a bargain price.

Mei-Tai carriers are much less bulky than soft structured baby carriers. This allows you to perform housework and other activities that would be difficult with larger carriers.

Carrying Positions

Front carries (facing in or out), back carries and hip carriers. Just be mindful that the hip carry can be a little awkward unless you choose a Mei-Tai carrier specifically designed for hip carries.

Who is it suitable for?

Parents who:

  • Like the look of a soft structured baby carrier but not the price
  • Parents who want to wear their child while doing chores like cleaning or gardening
  • Want a versatile carrier that can be worn in a variety of positions

Age group:

6 months through to preschoolers. No head support is offered making this carrier unsuitable for babies that cannot support their neck.

Pros and Cons

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons Mei-Tai baby carriers.

PROS

  • Slim and can easily be stuffed in your diaper bag or purse
  • Baby is worn close to the body, providing comfort
  • Can be worn on front or back
  • Easy to put on or take off
  • Very adjustable
  • Good to share since straps have to be tied each time carrier is worn
  • No buckles or clips to rub against you

CONS

  • Straps often contain little or no padding and can dig into your shoulders
  • Not suitable for smaller babies due to open sides
  • Will not support the head of your sleeping baby
  • You will have to learn to tie knots properly
  • Long straps can drag on the ground
  • Can be time consuming to take on and off, particularly if your toddler want’s to get up and down a lot

Baby sling carrier

woman carrying baby
Image Source: Flickr

There are two different types of baby slings:

  • Sling pouch - A piece of sewn fabric that sit across just one of your shoulders and forms a pouch. Your baby sits inside the pouch. Sling ouches are suited to newborns that can be carried while in the laying down position. Sling pouches are bought according to your body size.
  • Ring sling - (pictured above) A rectangular-shaped piece of fabric that gets threaded through two metal rings to create a pouch your baby can sit in. Unlike sling pouches, ring slings are adjustable.

Carrying Positions

Baby slings are generally designed to carry your baby on your front only.

Who is it suitable for?

Parents who:

  • Want a cheap baby carrier
  • Only want to wear their baby in the early years
  • Want a wrap with a low learning curve

Age group: Newborn to early toddler (or until to heavy to wear).

Pros and Cons

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons baby slings.

PROS

  • Easy to put on and remove
  • Ideal for shorter periods of baby wearing
  • Baby sits close to your body
  • Can breast feed your baby discreetly while in a sling

CONS

  • Less supportive (weight is carried on a single shoulder)
  • Not suitable for parents that suffer from back or shoulder pain
  • Sling pouches not suitable for sharing between different body types
  • Baby is not strapped close, will move away from your body as you bend over
  • Not suitable for back carries
  • Not suitable for heavier children
  • By far the least common of baby carriers

Front facing baby carrier

man carrying baby

What is a front facing baby carrier?

If you can tear your eyes away from this dad’s dreamy smile (I saw him first!) you will notice that he is wearing a front facing baby carrier.

A front facing baby carrier is worn the same was as a soft structured baby carrier except that rather than face towards your chest, your baby faces away from you.

While many soft structured carriers will also allow your baby to face outwards, front facing carriers have been designed to provide your baby with maximum support while facing away from you. The result is a more comfortable baby and wearer.

Carrying Positions

Front carry only with your baby facing away from you.

Who is it suitable for?

Parents who:

  • Want to provide their baby with an awesome view
  • Only want to wear a carrier in their baby’s early years

Age group: Newborn to infant.

Pros and Cons

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of front facing baby carriers.

PROS

  • Easy to put on and remove.
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Male friendly design

CONS

  • Sleeping infants have no head or neck support.
  • Baby’s weight is entirely supported by your shoulders (bad for back or neck pain)
  • Only fits a very small age bracket
  • No leg, pelvis or hip support (baby dangles by crotch)
  • Fabric can press or dig into baby’s thighs and be quite uncomfortable
  • Throws of wearers center of gravity making bending over quite difficult
  • Baby constantly facing forward can lead to over stimulation
  • Baby’s own weight is supported by spine while natural spinal curves are still developing

As you can see there are way more disadvantages than advantages for front facing baby carriers. If a front facing baby carrier does appeal to you then I strongly recommend a soft structured baby carrier that will also allow your baby to face forwards. You will thank me.

Baby Carrier Backpack

man and baby in the forest

What is a backpack carrier?

A backpack carrier (also known as a hiking carrier) is incredibly similar to a camping backpack. Instead of having an area to store camping gear, there is a baby seat instead. As the name suggests, backpack carriers are carried on the your back; allowing you to comfortably carrier your baby (soon to be toddler) as he gets heavier and heavier and heavier

If you have ever been on an extended walk while wearing a baby carrier, you will realize just how heavy a baby can be. Since your back can support a lot more weight than your front, a backpack carrier has been designed to carry your baby without tiring yourself out over long distances

Important: Do not confuse a backpack carrier with a baby carrier that can be worn on both your front and back. These do not provide the same support and comfort as a purpose made backpack carrier.

Carrying Positions

Due to the bulky nature of backpack baby carriers; you will only be able to carry them on your back with your baby facing forwards.

Who is it suitable for?

Parents who:

  • Enjoy outdoor hiking, camping or long walks
  • Want a durable baby carrier that will last years
  • Find wearing backpacks incredibly comfortable

Age group:

Backpack carriers are suitable for children that can sit upright without assistance on your part (typically around the 6 month mark).

Pros and Cons

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of backpack baby carriers.

PROS

  • Like a regular backpack; there is plenty of storage room for baby gear
  • You will not get as hot since the child is not pressed against wearers body
  • Sun canopies will prevent your baby from burning during extended use
  • Your child will get an amazing view of the world

CONS

  • Not suitable for preemies, infants and smaller babies
  • Can be difficult to keep an eye on your cheeky child
  • The most expensive of all the baby carriers, even at the low end
  • Can be slow to put on and take off, not good if you are in a hurry
  • Does not fold down small. Takes up a fair bit of storage space
  • Limited design options due to being the least popular of baby carriers

Related Post: The best twin baby carrier

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