Baby Carrier 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Baby Carriers are becoming more and more popular but venturing in to the world of babywearing is overwhelming at first and can become very, very addicting just like cloth diapers!

When I had my first daughter, I was so confused by all of the terms – half-buckle carrier, SSC, wraps, and ring slings. I didn’t know where to begin or even what to try first.

I did know that even then I didn’t have a very strong back, so I had to find something that was supportive and didn’t pull too much on my back. That is when I decided to try a soft structured carrier (SSC).

There are quite a few brands of SSC carriers out there so it is hard to decide which one to try first. I ordered one, tried it and sent it back because it hurt my back so much.

That is when I found out about baby wearing meetings. 

Get Babywearing Support Near You, it’s a Game Changer!

Babywearing meetings are located in many counties around the country. Your best bet is to do a search for a baby wearing group in your area or ask your local baby carrier retailer if you’re lucky enough to have a small shop near you.

This is a great way to try many different carriers and receive training and assistance on how to wear your baby. These meetings give so many helpful tips on how to wear. If there is not a baby wearing group in your area make sure you watch a few videos on YouTube, or even on the websites of the baby carrier you are looking to buy to help with proper technique to carry your baby.

Once I had some one-on-one help I realized it wasn’t the carrier, just my use of it. After working the placement and a new carrier (this time a soft structured carrier) figured out, my 13 plus year adventure in baby wearing began.

I have to say, it is one of the best things I have ever done!

My babies have all loved to be worn. Now, I am not one that wears them all the time, but I do wear my small children when we go places that are busy.

I have worn babies around countless aquariums, zoos, and parks. It is so nice to be able to hook them in the carrier and stand in line for 45 minutes waiting for a this or that without have to switch them back and forth from hip to hip. Plus, it is like I am hugging him non-stop for a few hours. It is a great way to feel like you are bonding with your child the whole time you’re participating in the world.

It’s not for everyone, but it can be fun and beneficial for both parent and baby. Personally we find that baby wearing results in a happier baby and can be very comfortable and convenient for the parents too.  

How to Choose a Baby Carrier

These days there are SO many options out there for baby carriers. The prices can range from $40-$500! So keeping in mind the following considerations when choosing a carrier may save you some money and backache:

  1. Who will primarily be using the carrier? Will it be shared?
  2. What is your budget?
  3. How long do you plan on wearing your baby? 

Now, let’s talk about the three main types of carriers and how they fit these questions:

1)Wraps (Stretchy and Woven)

An Oscha Basic Baby Wrap Carrier.

There are two types of wraps – stretchy wraps and woven wraps.

Stretchy wraps work well for the newborn stage, but as the baby gets older and more specifically heavier – they can feel not as supportive.  Stretchy wraps can be anywhere from $40-$100.

Woven wraps are not stretchy material, but soft pliable cotton blends which usually come in beautiful colors or patterns. They have many wearing options and can be used for infants through toddlers. Woven wraps can be priced starting at $180 and UP.

All wraps come with a lot of material and a lot of intimidation, but with some patience and practice they can be a wonderful way to carry your baby. Two popular stretchy wrap brands are the Moby and Baby K’Tan.

2) Ring Slings

An Oscha Ring Sling.

A ring sling is a long piece of fabric attached to a set of metal rings, which offers a supportive one-shoulder carry.

Ring slings come in fabrics ranging from linen, cotton, woven material to even silk. The ‘tail’ of extra fabric from a ring sling carry is great for a sun shade, nursing cover or easy blanket.

Ring slings are great for quick up/down carrying. They can be just as easily used for a newborn as a toddler. Ring Slings range in price from $80 up to $600 (the silk!).

Popular sellers of ring slings are Tula, Sakura Bloom, and Maya Wrap. 

3) Soft Structured Carriers / Buckle Carriers

Basic Soft Structure Carrier by Kinder Hop.

A soft structured carrier (SSC), also called a buckle carrier, is a “backpack” style carrier that has a padded waist band with shoulder straps and a panel.

SSCs use buckles to connect and can be tightened with straps, and have lots of extra features like hoods, pockets, adjustable seats, and lumbar supports.

The learning curve is is pretty low to use a SSC, but they have options for front and back wearing and sometimes hip carries or even facing out.

Typically a SSC can be used from 7 pounds up to 45 pounds (not all carriers have a 45 lb limit – some are lower!) However, some SSC require an insert for a newborn until they can fit the carrier properly.

Additionally, there are a few companies that have Toddler carriers which can be used upwards of 60 lbs! SSCs range in price from $100-$600.

The popular SSC companies are Lillebaby, Tula, Ergobaby, Onya, and Beco. 

4) Meh Dai (Mei Tai) Carriers

Doubleface Rosalinde DidyTai (Meh Dai) by Didymos.

A Meh Dai carrier is an East-Asian style soft structured carrier. Most often these have a square or rectangular front panel attached to a tie waistband and long shoulder straps that you cross on your back and tie underneath or behind the baby’s back. 

In between a structured carrier and a woven wrap, the meh dai is a versatile baby carrier. Meh dais are suitable for newborns through toddlers, they are simple in design and they provide wonderful support. 

This type of carrier shapes easily to the body of the wearer and the baby or toddler being worn, making this a very comfortable option.

Fidella’ Fly Tai carrier and the LennyLamb WrapTai carriers are very popular options. The cost of a good Meh Dia wrap can run anywhere from about $100 to $250.

5) Half Buckle Carriers

Half Buckle Carrier from Kinder Hop.

A half buckle carrier is one step closer to a SSC thank a Meh Dai carrier. It still has the front pouch but also combines the ease of a clip buckle at the waist with the adjustability of long shoulder straps for a truly snug fit, without the need to reach for back or side clips. 

Of all the different types of baby carriers, half buckles are the most versatile and easiest to learn. Even better, because they are so highly adjustable they can be worn by different wearers — even a petite mom and a large-built dad can share!

There are lots of variations between the brands. Some have wrap-strap shoulder straps (like Didymos’ Didyklick and Girasol’s Wrap Mysol), some have padded shoulder straps and waist straps (like Tula’s Half Buckle Carrier and Girasol’s Mysol).

Half Buckle Carriers and Meh Dai carrier are often listed together and cost roughly the same.


My children LOVE to be worn, especially in the winter when you can keep them cozy and warm.

My two youngest almost fight over who gets to be worn (some carriers you can wear two though at the same time)! We’ve invested in one of each of these types of carriers so far and they all have wonderful uses in our daily life.

But baby wearing is not for everyone, though it is definitely something you should think about.

You can go as crazy as you want with baby wearing. I am warning you now….if you can’t swing another addiction (like cloth diapers), move along and forget baby wearing. It is another way for you partner to strip you of all of your credit cards (joking… sort of).

Either way, do what is best for you and your little one. Have fun looking at all the carriers and joining in on yet another mommy addiction! Happy Babywearing!