Here’s the breakdown.  There are 5 basic types of baby carriers: Baby Wraps, Baby Slings, Mei-Tais, Soft Structured Carriers and Front-Facing Carriers.  Below are the pros and cons of each of them.

stretchy baby wrap

1.   Baby Wrap – a baby wrap has no clasps or rings. It is a simple piece of long cloth wrapped around your body and your baby. Wrap baby carriers offer many different positions for holding your baby at various ages. pros:
  • optimal head/neck support, essential for when baby falls asleep
  • complete back support
  • correct leg support, fabric can be stretched to the back of the knees to ensure proper sitting position
  • legs flexed and abducted (froglike position)
  • naturally tilts the pelvis, fills out the hip sockets, and aligns the spine
  • clings to wearers body and to the contours of the baby
  • fine tuning possible without retying in stretchy wraps
  • no pressure points on carrier or on baby
cons:
  • may have a slightly longer learning curve
  • may not be as fast to throw on
  • male partners may not be too enthusiastic about the wrapping process
  • may be difficult to keep off the ground when tying outside
  • back wearing is not safe and it is not recommended with stretchy wraps
  • woven wraps have multiple holds and positions, but fabric may dig and not be as conforming as stretchy wraps
baby sling 2.   Baby Sling – a baby sling is a piece of fabric that goes over your shoulder to form a pouch to hold your baby . pros:
  • easy on and off
  • ideal for quick errands
  • your baby has your scent, your movement, and is close to your heart
  • can be worn in horizontal or upright position
  • spine is supported in convex position
  • provides the most discreet nursing especially if the sling has a tail
cons:
  • only goes over one shoulder, can give you lopsided feeling or exacerbate back or shoulder problems
  • fitted or custom made slings do not grow with your baby
  • may not fit your partner
  • rings can be unpleasant and have been reported to break
  • when you bend forward baby moves away from your body
  • when baby gets bigger the bottom rail of fabric is sometimes unforgiving on little hamstrings
  • no back carry
mei tai baby carrier 3.  Mei-Tai Baby Carrier – a mei-tai baby carrier has four straps coming off the body of the carrier, which can be tied to wear your baby on your front, back or hip. pros:
  • it is not bulky and can fit into a smaller purse
  • simple design
  • fits infant to toddler
  • pulls baby close to you
  • front and back holds possible
  • easy to learn
  • bilateral, goes over both shoulders
cons:
  • may have no shoulder padding/usually has no waist padding which may cause digging or pinching
  • no chest strap, although some straps are long enough so you can tie your own
  • not ideal for newborns or smaller infants because of the open sides
  • usually doesn’t provide adequate head support for sleeping infants
soft structured baby carrier 4. Soft Structured Baby Carrier – these carriers are more like a backpack and are generally designed for older babies and toddlers to be worn on your body’s front, back or hip. pros:
  • easy on, easy off
  • easy to learn
  • back and hip support
  • adjustable
  • foam in shoulders and in waistband
  • baby held close
  • proper sitting position
  • supports legs in flexed abducted (froglike) position
  • naturally aligns hips, pelvis, and spine
cons:
  • weight distribution mainly on waist and shoulders of carrier
  • shoulder straps may dig
  • may not adequately support legs of toddler
  • doesn’t provide clinging contoured support for a newborn or infant
  • nursing may not be as discreet as in a wrap or sling

front facing carrier

5.  Front facing carrier – these carriers are like front packs that go over the carrying individuals shoulders.  Baby’s legs are placed through leg holes.  Baby is worn facing out.

pros:

  • baby is in contact with your body
  • straps go over both shoulders
  • easy on/easy off
  • male friendly design
cons:
  • no head/neck support for sleeping infants
  • all of the baby’s weight is placed on the shoulders of the carrying individual
  • fits infants only up to fifteen pounds
  • legs are not supported at all
  • pelvis and hips are not supported
  • baby is not in a seated position, pressure at base of spine
  • weak infant abdominals and front facing position can hyperextend baby’s spine
  • pressure of every step the carrying individual takes is absorbed by compromised infant spine
  • baby’s own weight placed on spine when the natural back curves have not even developed
  • thermoregulation more difficult
  • fabric can dig into thighs of infant
  • throws off the carrying individual’s center of gravity
  • baby is fixed facing forward and cannot turn away if overstimulated
Babywearing will change your life.  All of the carriers above will bring you and your baby together.  But at the end of the day, especially if you’re going to carry your baby for most of it, finding a supportive carrier for you and your baby will really pay off. Do your research and find a carrier that you will wear and love! Can’t decide whether you want to carry you baby in a boba wrap or a boba carrier? We have a pretty good write-up for your consideration.