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Ask Kelly: Baby Carriers

HotSlings4_645We are madly in love with our little one, but he hates to be put down. I’m thinking a sling or carrier might help me. When I look online I find the choices overwhelming. What should I even be looking for?

When thinking about purchasing a carrier of some sort, first think of what you will be using it for, how large your child is, your health (i.e. do you have a past shoulder injury that could be aggravated by a sling?), and your child’s favorite positions. Choosing a carrier or sling is a very personal choice and being comfortable is your primary objective. The main types of carriers, Pouch Sling, Ring Sling, Wrap, and Back Carrier are outlined below:

Pouch Sling (pictured)
Most families looking for something basic in the first 4-6 months of their baby’s life tend to be very happy with a pouch sling. It is one-piece, usually fitted for your body, and is very easy to use (no snaps, rings, or buckles). This is the type of carrier that can be balled up inside of your diaper bag and within seconds pulled out and used. The sling gives baby a cradle-like carry that provides parents hands-free baby holding. See more styles at Hotslings.

Ring Sling
If your child has reflux or needs to be upright to be happy, a ring sling is your best option. Also, if you are looking to share the carrier with your partner (who likely has a different body shape), this works well because it is adjustable. However, the adjustability is also a drawback for some families because this carrier can sometimes seem bulky due to the extra fabric. See more styles at ZoloWear.

If you have shoulder or back issues, the wisest carrier for you is a wrap. At Bellani Maternity, our favorite is called the Moby Wrap. The wrap uses your entire back and evenly distributes the weight of your baby throughout your shoulders, hips, and torso. The wrap can be used in a variety of positions on the front and hip during baby’s first eighteen months.

Back Carrier
When traveling for extended times or hiking, a back carrier is often needed. However, the frame on hiking carriers can add an additional fifteen to twenty pounds to the baby’s weight. A lightweight alternative is the Ergo carrier, in which the child’s weight is evenly distributed using padded shoulder straps and a waist belt. This carrier can be used effectively until your child reaches forty pounds (usually around three years old).

Your best bet for enjoying the carrier is to use it before making a purchase. Find a location that offers a variety of carriers that you can experiment with in the store. (At Bellani Maternity, we make sure you’re set with the fit before leaving the store.) Also, a class on “babywearing” may be helpful as well. For classes and product information, check out www.bellanimaternity.com, hotslings.com, or ergobabycarrier.com, just to name a few helpful sites.

Kelly LaChance-Guertin BA, CCE, CD (DONA), CLC, has been a birth and postpartum doula for the past five years. She is currently a certified birth doula through DONA (Doulas of North America) and a certified childbirth educator. As the co-owner of Bellani Maternity and the mother of two, she experiences first-hand the struggle of balancing work and family, as well as the realities of raising children. Visit to learn more about Kelly’s one-stop resource for pregnancy and parenting.

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  • Don’t forget about mei tais! (sounds like May tie, not like the drink 😉 These Asian inspired baby carriers are a much better alternative to most mainstream carriers on the market. They can be worn on the front or back (and even hip!)and used from infancy up to childhood! Some are reversible w/ differnt patterns on each side, so it’s like having 2 carriers in 1! BabyHawk and Kozy are a popular choice among the babywearing community. Mei tai carriers can easily be made from patterns found online for the avid sewer. For more info I suggest mamas and papas mosey on over to thebabywearer.com, you’ll be glad (and amazed!) you did!

  • I used the MayaWrap pouch for both of my kids and loved it! It became an essential part of my wardrobe for years and it even comes in black! I loved wearing my babies – I’ve yet to find a better accessory.

    Check it out at http://mayawrap.com

  • For nursing a little baby (under 15 pounds or so) the Moby Wrap and Zolowear Ring Sling are the easiest, once your baby is larger a front carrier or the Ring Sling are a best bet.

    The front pouch can be nursed in, but the fit can be a little tight. Best of luck in your search!