Babywearing 101: Choosing the Right Carrier

By Louise Anne Manuel-Portillo of Babywearing Philippines

Mommy Louise wearing baby Joaquin
Choosing the right carrier is probably the biggest dilemma of first-time parents or novice babywearers. Given the long list of good brands, cute designs and different types of carriers, picking what’s best for you and baby may really prove to be challenging.

So, where should you start?

Lifestyle
Are you usually on-the-go? Does your daily routine involve going in and out of the house, to places, with baby on tow? Would you be wearing baby mostly in front or on the back? Do you like experimenting or learning new types of carries, or would you like a snap-and-go type of carrier? All these and more would help you narrow down your choices.

Soft-structured carriers, which are among the most recognizable and easiest to learn, are a common choice for both new and experienced babywearers. They look like backpacks from afar, primarily because of the paddings, straps and buckles. Although they are easy to put on and off, SSCs don’t usually come cheap because of the type of components or materials, and the level of craftsmanship required in manufacturing them.


On the other end of the spectrum are woven wraps. A woven wrap is a long, continuous piece of fabric that is specifically woven for the purpose of carrying your baby. It is versatile as you can do many types of carries with it – wearing your baby in front, on your back, on the hip or with another baby (tandemwearing). However, wrapping may need more practice.

There are many more different types of carriers, all with different pros and cons. Personally, lifestyle is one of, if not the biggest factor, one must consider in choosing the right carrier.

Budget
Although we could all agree that baby carriers are a good investment, most of us have very limited budget. If you cannot afford an SSC, don’t feel too bad. There are more affordable types such as ring slings, pouches and hybrids. You do not have to settle on a substandard or fake SSC, or one that has not passed international safety testing standards. We at Babywearing Philippines are actively spreading awareness on responsible babywearing. A lot of substandard carriers are pretending to be surplus, factory overruns or class A versions, but there is no such thing. These things can suddenly break and fall apart, so please don’t use them. It is better to make and sew a carrier yourself rather than purchase a carrier that has not passed or undergone safety testing.

Other Factors
Other factors that cannot be neglected are: comfort, overall design or aesthetic, and availability. All recommended carriers are designed to be ergonomic and comfortable for both wearer and baby, but in some special instances, for example, in a hot and humid country such as the Philippines, most parents prefer light and breathable or moisture-wicking fabric for their carriers. Another special case are parents with scoliosis or those who have picky or sensitive shoulders. These parents should choose a carrier that evenly distributes the weight on both shoulders, back and waist (e.g. padded SSCs and meitais, woven wraps, etc).

Most parents also consider the design or print of the carrier. Some prefer a more neutral look, while some love bold and unique designs. Last but not the least, is availability. Some carriers are very hard to acquire and are not available locally. Although some avid babywearers like the thrill of hunting for that one perfect carrier, others would want to have the option to try the carriers first before purchasing. Some are also not very comfortable with shopping online and would like a more traditional trip to the mall instead.

Hopefully, all of these factors would help you determine which type of carrier is best for you and baby. Even though there are countless of reviews online, babywearing articles (such as this one!) and first-hand inputs from your mama friends, the end decision is still up to you. Ultimately, you would know yourself and your baby best.

Good luck and happy babywearing!

About the Author:
Louise Manuel-Portillo is a part-time photographer, studio owner and full-time breastfeeding, cloth diapering and babywearing mama to Joaquin.

Let me know your thoughts...

Consolacion Seyer said...

Hi moms!I was wondering if there are babywearing group of moms donating used /old carriers? Thanks!

Dette Zulueta said...

Hi! There's an active group of babywearing moms on Facebook - Babywearing Philippines and Babywear Because You Care. Please feel free to ask the admins how to go about this. :)