What’s in our Lending Library
There are many types of baby carriers and many ways to wear them. We’ll help you learn to carry your baby safely and comfortably from birth through toddlerhood. You’re welcome to come to our meetings and play with the many carriers in our lending library; BWIFayetteville members are welcome to borrow carriers, as well.
WOVEN WRAPS are the most versatile carriers, as they are long, seamless pieces of fabric that can be wrapped in various ways to create different carries. They range from approximately 2 meters to 5.7 meters, with sizes 4, 5, and 6 (3.7, 4.2 and 4.7 meters, respectively) being the most common. They can be used in a rebozo (similar to a RS), a front carry, hip carry, back carry, or high back carry. They are the most customizable form of carrier and can be used from birth to big kid, but they have a bit of a learning curve and can be fairly pricey. This is a great carrier from birth until preschool.
STRETCHY WRAPS are a long wrap made out of a stretchy jersey knit. They are less versatile than woven wraps, as they can only be used to carry the baby on the front (back carries are not safe in stretchy wraps!) and tend to be less comfortable after the baby reaches about 15 lbs. They also tend to be hot, since the knit material doesn’t breathe as well as a woven material. The good news is that they are attractively priced and can be great for snuggling newborns. This is a great carrier from birth through approx. 15 lbs.
RING SLINGS (RSS) are a made out of a woven material or a woven wrap, but are often more convenient than wraps as they are less material (and are therefore more packable) and because they’re quick to put on and easy to use. They are wonderful both for nursing a newborn or for toddlers who want to be up/down/up/down all day. The downside is that, although they distribute the baby’s weight across one of the wearer’s shoulders and back well, some people prefer that weight is distributed over both shoulders when they’ll be wearing for a long period of time or for when the baby is heavier. Depending on the material, RSs can range greatly in price. This is a great carrier from birth through toddlerhood, although most parents won’t want to carry heavier babies for long periods of time.
SOFT STRUCTURED CARRIERS (SSCs) are soft, flexible carriers that use buckles to fasten a waist belt and shoulder straps onto the wearer. They are one of the fastest carriers to put on and one of the easiest to use. They are used primarily for front carries and lower back carries – because of the set length of the shoulder straps, they can’t be used for high back carries. Several brands make SSCs that are specifically intended for infants, however if your SSC is not manufactured for an infant it can be unsafe for them. Some brands also have extended sizing available. This is a great carrier for older babies through big kids, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
MEI TAIS are shaped similarly to SSCs, but are held in place via straps that tie rather than buckles. This replacement sacrifices some of the ease of buckles, but allows the wearer to customize the carry according to their preferences and the ability to do high back carries. Traditional mei tai straps are a few inches wide, but some mei teis feature wrap straps, which are quite literally straps made from approximately a half-width of a wrap; wrap straps can be more comfortable for some people due to the way they distribute the child’s weight, while other people prefer classic straps. This is a great carrier for older babies through big kids.
PODAEGI or pods are similar to mei tais, except that they lack the waist straps. In function, wearing a pod is like wearing the perfect ruck wrap. They’re less versatile than a woven wrap, but easy to use. This is a great carrier from infancy through toddlerhood.
What’s Not in our Lending Library
BAG SLINGS – These slings are essentially small hammocks that the baby lies in. They appear easy to use (just lay the baby in it) but the reality is that they are extremely difficult to use safely. The concern with these slings is that they are a suffocation hazard – they tilt the baby’s chin to his chest (which restricts his breathing) and due to the deep pocket of cloth that he lies in, limits circulation (and therefore oxygenation) of the air that he’s breathing. Additionally, they tend to be uncomfortable for the wearer, as the baby’s weight is poorly distributed. Here is more information on oxygen saturation levels using these carriers – http://babyslingsafety.blogspot.com/ Specific brands have been subject to recalls after infant deaths, but others are still on the market.