Second only to nursing, babywearing has been the most life-changing help in parenting for me thus far. Truly, I don’t know how we would be able to function without it sometimes, and that isn’t hyperbole.
From grocery shopping and errand running with ease, no stroller necessary –
And facilitating nap time anytime, anywhere –
To playing at the park with my toddler while baby is safe and secure – no lugging car seats or juggling baby on a hip needed –
And nursing baby while out on walks, at the park, and running through airports and making dinner – babywearing has been the gift of a little extra sanity and another set of arms for me, and I had a feeling from before Philomena was even born that I was going to love it… but it turned out not quite as I imagined.
Without further ado, here’s my best babywearing advice and my favorite carriers!
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The BEST Baby Carrier Is:
So everyone wants to know, what carrier is the BEST. The answer? Whatever you like best. There is no one, universal best carrier out there because everyone’s body is different and how they need to wear will be different. Some people love Ergo carriers – I find them super unsupportive and uncomfortable on my shoulders. Babywearing is very individualized!
Before Philomena was born, I always pictured myself with some of those gorgeous, several meter long handwoven wraps, doing cushy carries with beautiful finishing knots.
In the end I am not much of a wrapper – I guess I’m too impatient to learn it well, and I feel like I’m always switching from nursing to not nursing in a carrier, so I like options that let me do that quicker.
If you try out one carrier and it’s uncomfortable or you hate it, don’t give up! There are so many different types and brands, with time you will likely find something that fits you and your child like a glove!
If you have a Babywearing International chapter in your area you can try out all kinds of different carriers for free, and learn to use them safely with the help of an educator.
If you don’t have a chapter nearby, try calling any baby boutique stores in your area to see if they do babywearing classes or can help with trying on carriers they sell, or at least try to find a local mom who wears a lot who could help you out. Any sort of attachment parenting or breastfeeding group like La Leche League will usually have women who love to babywear and would be happy to help you start. There are also lots of videos available here from Babywearing International so you can see how to safely use each carrier.
I currently own three different types of carriers: A stretchy wrap, a ring sling, and an ergonomic soft structured carrier (also called SSC’s or buckle carriers). How does that look in real life?
The Stretchy Wrap (Solly Baby)
If you’ve ever said, “I hate stretchy wraps – I had the Moby wrap and it was so hot and bulky and loose no mater how tight I tied it” then my friend, let me introduce you to the Solly Baby.
This wrap is so light, breathable, and stretchy, that it’s almost in a class of its own. I use it most with little babies, around 6 mo and under. It’s so amazing during those first days postpartum to wrap baby up for some skin-to-skin time and just be close.
This wrap will very nicely and evenly distribute baby’s weight across both shoulders which is great. Nursing in this is a bit tricky, so I never use it for that, but after baby is fed and ready to be settled, this is *the* way to go for a longer time wearing of sweet little ones in our home. (And their website has a video to show how to adjust for nursing if that interests you!)
The Ring Sling (Sakura Bloom)
My most versatile baby carrier from the start is my ring sling. I love Sakura Bloom slings because they’re thin enough to be light and breathable, but the linen is super supportive, soft, and easy to sling with right out of the box.
Unlike the Solly Baby that I reserve for wearing for longer periods of time because of the longer bit of time to get baby in, the ring sling is *amazing* for quick uppies as they say. I love this for Mass, running errands, and household chores.
This is also great for nursing on the go! You can nurse with baby upright if you lower them a bit and have on a nursing shirt, but I just cradle carry to nurse.
Now, there is sometimes controversy in the babywearing community about nursing in a cradle carry so let me say right now – this is a Babywearing International approved way to hold the baby ONLY when nursing, and you MUST keep your arm cradling their head. Once they are done nursing or have fallen asleep, you then need to bring them back upright in the carrier.
So, this isn’t technically hands free, but it’s super comfortable and easy, especially for a tiny baby to latch, and I can push a shopping cart, walk to the park, and do basic stuff around the house with ease this way, and most of baby’s weight is supported by the sling!
I also use this to front face sometimes, using the kangaroo carry. Once again, there is lots of controversy about this but my babies love safely forward facing for short periods of time when they’re old enough (not needing any sort of neck support at all). I learned this carry from a Babywearing International educator as well – you do criss-cross-applesauce with their legs and make sure all of the weight is on their bum. This is really nice when you’re working with your hands and baby wants to see!
The Soft Structured Carriers (Lillebaby)
I. love. Lillebaby carriers. They fit Ethan and I well. They’re ergonomic. They’re supportive. They’re affordable. They’re high quality. We love them so much we own three of them!
Wearing proper nursing clothes makes it easy to nurse in a buckle carrier. You can just latch baby on since you can easily unlatch your nursing bra if you’re wearing a nursing top, and it is life changing to be able to nurse anywhere. And believe me, I have nursed everywhere with a kid in my Lillebaby carriers!
I have the Lillebaby Essential found here on Amazon, which is just a great, basic carrier. This is a great budget option for a well made, ergonomic SSC. It is just for front and back carries, child facing in, but it’s comfortable and high quality!
A going out of business sale at Babies R Us lead to us picking up one of the Lillebaby Airflow Complete. We were living in Cleveland with such muggy, humid summers that this mesh, breathable carrier is a treat! It has a bulkier feel than the essential but also feels like it bears a bit more of baby’s weight! Both are valued in our home.
Finally, last summer we added a Lillebaby CarryOn to our stash. This is a big kid carrier that we haven’t used with Philomena many times, but that has been incredibly useful when we have needed it.
We have owned or tried out many different carrier types and brands, but these core carriers have proved to be most useful to us so far, and our favorites. You may not love these brands, but again, don’t give up. There are carriers from Ergo, Kinderpak, Tula, Bjorn, Moby, Maya, Lenny Lamb, Beco and countless others, so keep trying if you want to wear.
I hope this has been helpful, and please comment with any questions you may have or to share how you love to babywear.