There are several types of baby carriers, each with their own specific qualities, but all for the ultimate goal of holding your babies close through the critical period of early childhood development, while allowing the caregiver to be hands free.
Here is more information on the types of baby carriers that are commonly used:
Stretchy wraps are long pieces of knit jersey fabric that you wrap around yourself in a specific way to assemble a baby carrier. These wraps contain a large amount of stretch and are ideal for newborns and smaller babies. With strechy wraps, you pre-tie the wrap prior to positioning baby, and there are just a couple of safe carries (i.e. ways to tie the wrap). Stretchy wraps are relatively inexpensive and provide a nice and tight custom fit for younger babies. Due to the stretchy nature of the fabric, these wraps can feel “saggy” with heavier babies, making them less comfortable for wearing older babies. Nevertheless, they are a great, affordable option for newborns through infancy. Popular brands of stretchy wraps include Moby Wrap, Solly Wrap, Boba Wrap, and K’tan.
Woven wraps are made of a tight woven fabric of various fibre content, ranging from cotton to yak (no joke)! The woven pattern in the fabric, as well as the type of fibre (or combination of fibers) that it is made of, will change the wrapping qualities of the wrap and therefore the feel of the carrier. For example, a thin wrap, often determined by density ( i.e. 200 gms/m2) will usually feel flowier and easier to drape around your body to create the passes needed to assemble your carrier than a thick wrap (density of 300 gms/m2) would. However, some wearers find that thinner wraps offer less support for larger babies and toddlers. Unique properties can be attributed to the fibre content as well. For example, wool can offer a stretchy property to a wrap, tencel can make a wrap super soft, yak provides strength, and so on. Therefore every wrap can have a distinctive feel due to fibre content, weave design, and density. The other cool thing about woven wraps is that there are TONS of carries you can do depending on which size you have (different sizes based on length). This versatility allows woven wraps to be used for a wider range of ages, from newborn to preschooler! So many possibilities with woven wraps!! That being said, the world of woven wraps can seem daunting at first, but with a little bit of research and practice, it will all soon become second nature.
Ring slings (RS) are one shoulder carriers made from a piece of fabric with a pair of metal or nylon rings attached to one end. The other end of the fabric is threaded through the rings to create a loop that drapes around your body with baby in front or at our hip by sandwiching the fabric between you and baby. Ring slings can be made of woven wrap fabric (known as a wrap conversion ring sling, WCRS) or other fabrics and they can be used with newborns to toddlers.
Soft structured carriers (SSC) or buckle carriers are convenient and easy to use. There are a variety of brands and designs, each with different specifications and instructions for use my their maker. If possible, it is best to try on SSCs to see if they’re a good fit for your body type. Popular brands include Ergo, Tula, Lillebaby, and Beco.
Mei Tai (pronounced May Tie) are carriers that are essentially hybrids between SSCs and wraps. They have a body panel and waist band similar to SSCs, but the straps and waist tie off. Sometimes made of woven wrap fabric, the straps can be padded or not. This allows the wearer to tie it in various ways and can give more of a snug custom fit feel, similar to woven wraps.