Which baby carrier should I buy?
July 26, 2010 9:21 AM   Subscribe

From almost day one, I want to wear baby so that I can move freely through the house, do gentle chores, etc. I also want to avoid dragging the huge stroller with us as much as possible when we leave the house (ie. to go grocery shopping). Comfort rules; cost is not a concern. Which baby carrier should I buy? Will the same one suit the home and non-athletic outings?
posted by kitcat to Shopping (33 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sure other people will be able to give great specific recommendations, but I just wanted to chime in that you will want to be prepared to try a bunch out after having the baby- until you can find one that both of you are happy with. Different babies are just more comfortable in different carriers, and don't be discouraged if the one you initially liked turns out to not be the right choice.
posted by Zophi at 9:24 AM on July 26, 2010

My wife swore by the Zolowear slings and I found them to be really comfortable too. The Baby Bjorn she received gathered cobwebs since it places the baby's center of gravity out further and had a tendency to hurt her back.
posted by crapmatic at 9:25 AM on July 26, 2010

Yeah, from what we can tell baby is the one who actually decides a good part of this, and it evolves as they grow... We have 4 different ones of various configurations because we're not sure which one the little one will like. they are all hand me downs so we've got that going for us...
posted by iamabot at 9:27 AM on July 26, 2010

Yep, it really depends on your own personal body shape and your babies preferences. In Boston there's a group call Boston BabyWearers, where you can borrow and try out the different types, I don't know if there's anything like that around you, but that's your best bet for finding one that works for you. If not, try to borrow from any friends you can.

I loved my Mei Tai when the little one was littler, my husband used the Baby Bjorn, though he said the Mei Tai was more comfortable and easier to put on, he just didn't like the pattern on it (fashion of usage for him apparently). Now that he's bigger I use the Ergo. None of the solid piece slings would work for us, as they were all too small, and we had a ring sling that was ok, but hurt my back way more than the mei tai.
posted by katers890 at 9:34 AM on July 26, 2010

I had a sling (did not like) and a BabyBjorn from a consignment sale (loved!!!). The baby will definitely tell you what he/she likes the best. My baby liked to be out where she could see where she was, so that's why the Bjorn was so great.

In my area, consignment sales are big each spring and fall. You can always find babywearing gear at consignment sales at great prices. Buy a few different styles and try them out when the time comes.
posted by FergieBelle at 9:34 AM on July 26, 2010

Mrs. Q. amassed a large collection of slings, but consistently fell back to the Maya Wrap. As was pointed out above, you'll need to try a few different ones out.
posted by jquinby at 9:37 AM on July 26, 2010

Best answer: Try a lot different carriers. Some you'll find will be good for some ages and others will not. The baby will also like some but not others.

To give you an overview, though, you have:

Maya Wrap, which is your standard ring sling. Others similar to this exist and may or may not be better. I adored my Maya, as did our son, for the first three months.

Ergo is insanely popular, but I found the price far too prohibitive.

Baby Bjorn is okay. I didn't care for it the few months I used it because it's not possible to back carry the baby without a second person.

Moby Wrap is supposed to be good, though I've heard complaints about lots of extra material

There's also the Mei Tai, but when I see babies in Mei Tais, I really worry they're going to fall out. It doesn't look safe to me, though apparently it is very safe.

TheBabyWearer.com has a forum can likely point you to other variations on these particular carriers or entire other ones I'm not aware of.

The one thing 100% to know with baby carriers, though, is to avoid any bag slings. Bag slings carry a higher risk of malpositioning the baby or the baby scrunching up in a bad way. It's best to have someone show you how to use the carrier several times before attempting to use it yourself. If you're in an area with an independent baby goods store, I'd suggest going there than to a larger chain like Babies R Us or something. And keep in mind that what seems like it might be comfortable now may not be comfortable post partum, or immediately post partum. If you know someone who is done with their carrier and it's still in good shape, borrow it for a couple of days and see how it works for you before buying it.

My sister, due in November, all but gobbled up my Maya Wrap when I told her she could have it.
posted by zizzle at 9:45 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I used two:
When she was very little: the tricot slen (http://www.babylonia.be/product.php?main_id=29&sub_id=33&lang=ENG) which was great because I could nurse her and go for a walk at the same time, clean things, wander, whatever and she was close to me.

Now that she weighs more than 25 lbs, I use the ergo as a backpack - the lap belt is awesome and she is pressed against my back (and happy) and my back doesn't get killed.

Best of luck! Baby wearing is great for mom & baby!
posted by zia at 9:48 AM on July 26, 2010

I'd like to chime in and say that for anything athletic, such as hiking, you need a baby backpack. A front-facing carrier can be a little dangerous if you trip.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:51 AM on July 26, 2010

I was all set to use the ring sling and the mei tai, and baby LOATHED them both. Once is was big enough, he thought the Baby Bjorn was basically God's gift to babies. When he outgrew the Bjorn, we tried an Ergo -- he cried hysterically. Tried a Kelty -- he laughed like a maniac the entire time and tries to climb into it on his own. (I actually asked a question about post-Bjorn carriers here on MeFi.) So much for my crunchy soft-carrier parenting. :)

Being able to borrow things to try out was really helpful for us, since my opinion had very little to do with what the baby thought.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:52 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes, the Kelty TCs are fabulous once the kid is big enough, which is usually around six months.

Baby Zizzle loves his (and in fact, Baby Zizzle's dad was the one to recommend it to Eyebrows McGee in that question). I was thinking more of newborns and not older babies with my original post.

A Kelty is worth the investment for older babies.
posted by zizzle at 10:01 AM on July 26, 2010

My little one-year old loves the Ergo carrier and I find it very comfy. She hated it until she was 5-6 months, tho. As everyone else has stated, you'll probably need to try a bunch of different brands and find which one works best for you and the babe. Finding a store with lenient return/exchange policies can be very helpful.
posted by gnutron at 10:03 AM on July 26, 2010

Chiming in to agree that the baby will have his or her own opinion on this. My anecadata: I used a Moby wrap with my son for the first few months. I did not have any issues with extra fabric as mentioned above. I really liked that you could tie the Moby various ways for different positions and to accommodate growing baby. I found the Moby far more comfortable than the babyBjorn that my husband used.

The baby-wearing-around-the-house stage ended earlier than I would have liked, though. As soon as my son was able to wriggle and squirm and roll over, he vastly preferred being put on the floor to explore his world than to be snuggled up to me. sniff. My husband used the baby Bjorn for things like walking the dog, and that lasted a few more months.
posted by ambrosia at 10:04 AM on July 26, 2010

My daughter spent her first year and a half + in a hand-me-down, no-frills sling. I walked, cooked, cleaned, typed, etc with it on. Basically, I loved it and so did she, but it did cause me some back problems after the first six months or so. Slings work better for your back if you can figure out how to use them on your back - which I never did.

Many folks and many babies never get the hang of a sling, so if you've never used one, you can't really know if it'll be perfect for you.

I consistently hear people say you shouldn't use a Bjorn style carrier (front carrier where there is support between the baby's legs) until the child is 6 months or so. Supposedly it has a negative effect on the hips. I've never seen research that supports this though.
posted by serazin at 10:10 AM on July 26, 2010

My wife tried them all, but loved the Maya Wrap the best. It lasted through two babies before the ring broke and we had to buy a second one.

(She got to be a total ninja with that thing - was able to grab the little one with one arm, and have him/her slung up snugly in a couple of seconds.)
posted by jbickers at 10:18 AM on July 26, 2010

We loved our Kangaroo Korner sling. I have no idea why but it seems like the company recently went out of business but I still see them available through retailers. We had the adjustable fleece one which was perhaps even a little too toasty for our newborn but was nevertheless very cozy and comfortable both for the baby and for my husband (5'11") and me (5'2").

Once she was a little older and had better neck control we switched to a Beco and used that for over a year. Becos are similar to Ergos but much more stylish.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:20 AM on July 26, 2010

Like everyone else, we've used a bunch. In the newborn days, a ring sling and the Ergo (with infant insert). Started using the Moby when he was two or three months old and found it to be great for getting him to sleep. It became harder to use once he got really heavy (25 lbs) because the fabric is stretchy and would need retying throughout the outing. There were a couple of months he didn't really fit in the Ergo when he got too big for the infant insert but wasn't comfortable without it -- and it was August, so we used the mesh Baby Bjorn to get us through. I found it painful and didn't like that strangers would kiss him on his outward-facing cheeks! Once he grew back into the Ergo we have been using it constantly. (Baby is now 30 lbs and walking.) I use a Mei tai for dress-up because it looks nicer, but my husband doesn't like to wear it because of all the tying. And then I have a simple pocket-type sling for quick hip carries, like down to the laundry.
posted by xo at 10:25 AM on July 26, 2010

I used a Sleepy Wrap starting at about 1 month old and both me and my daughter liked it. I used it at home and out and about. It worked really well for when I was walking the dog. Since it was a stretchy wrap (but not too stretchy), it worked outside in winter with full soft snowsuit and in spring/early summer when we were both wearing less clothing.

One tip with the stretchy-style wraps. Tie them as tight as you can. Tie them so you think there's no way your baby is going to fit in there. Since the material stretches, you'll get a snug fit that conforms to the baby and the baby won't start to sag after longer periods of wear. (Learned that one the hard way - didn't drop the baby, but had a very sore back. Once the baby was wrapped in so she was higher on my chest, it was much more comfortable.)

I also used a Babyhawk mei tai carrier. I liked it, but didn't use it as much as I thought I would. I never got the hang of doing a back carry. (I was nervous to do it when she wasn't verbal.) It was very well made.

I second the TheBabyWearer.com Forum recommendation. When I was researching carriers, I found the whole site useful. The rest of the site seems to be acting up right now, so hopefully that's temporary.
posted by melissa at 10:29 AM on July 26, 2010

From a Dad's perspective... I would get a sling (Maya) or a wrap (Moby) for when they're younger (ie. before they can keep their head upright), but I'd try both of them in a store that carries both and see which you like better. I'd get an Ergo for when they're bigger, and I'd keep an eye on gently used Keltys for when they're bigger still (especially in the summer they're more comfortable for everyone involved than the Ergo, despite the fact that you can use the Ergo until the kid is giant).
posted by togdon at 11:02 AM on July 26, 2010

Oh god, the Ergo. Please get yourself the Ergo. It's more expensive than some of the other ones but if you're going to use it every day for months and months, it's more than worth it.

I repeat: the Ergo.
posted by tetralix at 11:31 AM on July 26, 2010

Nthing the Ergo.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 12:20 PM on July 26, 2010

Ergo Ergo Ergo Ergo

In re. price: I sold my well-used one for $75 (plus shipping) on eBay. They are in high demand so you can basically 'rent' them.

I also had a Maya Wrap, and it too was wonderful. But if I had to choose one -- Ergo.

I also had a Baby Bjorn (fine for a little use in the early days, then back-breaking), a mei tai (pretty, a pain to untie), an Etsy-seller sling (junk -- the fabric is very important), a $$$ leather and sheepskin front pack (see: Baby Bjorn), a Heart-to-Heart padded ring sling (the go-to until the arrival of the Maya and Ergo c. 6mo) and a Hotsling (pretty, easy to tote in a purse, shoulder-constricting).

At one point I also bought a backpack carrier, which was somehow terrifying; it was shrieked and shouted at and never used. It is not too much of a pain to adjust a tot to a new carrier -- introduce it when they are already in a good mood, get them in and bounce and walk and bounce and walk -- but a backpack carrier was just too weird and too far away from Mum. (I did not use a stroller at all until nearly 2yrs.) I was warned that there was no point to a backpack carrier if you already had an Ergo, and I should have listened to that.

If "cost is not a concern" -- feel free to not limit yourself. These were more "clothes" to me for two years than actual clothes, they all had their uses, and they were all sold for more than half what I paid for them.
posted by kmennie at 12:27 PM on July 26, 2010

We tried several and ended up abandoning all of them except the Ergo.
posted by skwm at 1:01 PM on July 26, 2010

It is next to impossible to figure this out before the baby comes.

My kid? He preferred being close to me like a frog. He HATED slings.

It also depends on you guys - are you tall? Short? Want to use the same one?

We used:
- Baby Bjorn for 2 months (was a gift, Daddy liked it)
- BabyHawk Mei Tai
- Moby (hated)
- Peanut Shell (hated)
- Ergo (loved)

Just want til kiddo arrives, head to local baby store, and try a bunch.
posted by k8t at 1:05 PM on July 26, 2010

Be aware of the CPSC warning on slings issued a few months ago, which led to a recall. Probably not worth getting overly worked up over, but it's something to consider.
posted by cgs06 at 1:45 PM on July 26, 2010

Baby J and I really like our Bjorn Synergy, which I started wearing when he was about two months old. He's eight months old and about 20 lbs now, and I don't find any difficulty in hauling him around the grocery store and doing errands. He's a very friendly, flirty baby and likes being closer to eye level with the ladies. It also adjusts easily for Daddy, who's eight inches taller and about 70 lbs heavier than me.

I wish I'd known about the Ergo, though. We bought a backpack carrier from a friend, thinking we'd need it once J reached the 26 lb weight limit. The Ergo apparently carries up to 40 lbs and beyond.
posted by sillymama at 2:40 PM on July 26, 2010

Until you have the child you really won't know. It may be that the kid will hate being carried that way. Or that you'll discover it ain't the wonderful bonding experience all the hype would have you believe. Our boy loved being carried by my wife in a hotsling. And didn't mind being carried by me in a Bjorn. But neither were all that convenient for us to go about doing what needed to be done. My wife liked hiking with the Kelty, but I didn't.

My advice, wait and see. You'll have plenty of time to figure it out later.
posted by wkearney99 at 3:08 PM on July 26, 2010

Depending on when your baby is due, be careful with the heat factor with the Ergo/Infant insert combo. We found that the insert made our baby very hot in there when it was warm out. The other issue with the Ergo is that it's more difficult to put on/take off-- when she was very small the Bjorn was much easier. We're using the Ergo more now that she's 5 months.

Our baby also preferred facing out from an early age (and had very good head strength) so she didn't like the wrap style.
posted by miss tea at 3:13 PM on July 26, 2010

I used a New Native pouch sling with both of my kids from birth until they were too heavy to carry in a hip carry, so until they were each about 2 years old. I'll be replacing it, since we're having a surprise third. The only drawback is that they are not adjustable, so my husband and I each had one, since we needed different sizes. Otherwise, so very convenient and easy to use.

I'd LOVE to use an Ergo, because so many of my friends swear by them, but I'm fat and I fill it up myself before I ever get a baby in there. I think there are expander straps available for the waist, but it's really my boobs that are taking up all the space and there's no way to expand that area. If you aren't busty or fat like me, this is a great option despite the cost.

We had a Bjorn, and my husband liked it for a bit, but after reading about potential problems caused by the way the baby is carried (all of the baby's weight essentially rests on his/her pelvis) and having it bother my neck and shoulders immensely, we got rid of it and won't be replacing it.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 3:35 PM on July 26, 2010


We own them all (ok, Ergo, Bjorn, Moby, and a Sherpani backpack). If you're going to get just one and you don't have the luxury to try them all at, the Ergo is the one to get. The Bjorn allows the most freedom of movement, as such it's easier to do things like vacuum, make the bed, and pee standing up, but once the baby's more than 15 pounds, I found that it killed my back and I don't even think it will hold a kid bigger than 20 pounds.

I really wanted the Moby to work, it's just so cool and seems so comfy but the few times I got it on, it was a total hassle and the little dude screamed -- too restrictive.

(It's not what you asked but, for hiking, the Sherpani kicks ass, it's super adjustable, and very comfortable, has a storage compartment for all the gear a little dude needs on the trail, rain fly, sun shade, everything. We've snowshoed the Cascades in a blizzard and hiked the Napali coast in 90 degree heat with this thing. It can stand on it's own and we've used it as a chair for the kid while taking a lunch break even though they say not to do this.)

The Ergo is great and I wish we'd discovered it at the beginning. My good friends used the newborn insert and were able to walk all over town in below freezing weather without any problem. It will hold a little dude comfortably until maybe two years old and it has three separate positions, all of which he seems to enjoy. It feels comfortable enough to do trail hiking with, but small enough to do simple chores around the house. Getting it and your kid on your back is a bit tricky without another adult spotting you, but I've done so successfully (with the help of the instructional video on the Ergo website). My experience is that both the hip and front positions are equally comfortable to the back position. I've managed to change from one position to another without waking the sleeping baby.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:48 PM on July 26, 2010

By the way, good luck with avoiding the stroller thing. I still hate the entire concept of strollers and I tried so hard to fight it, but it's too damn convenient. There is nothing more emasculating in the world than a guy pushing a stroller and this has contributed to a great deal of self-loathing.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:51 PM on July 26, 2010

I have to nth the Ergo. It's more expensive, but we use ours almost every day. We go on walks or use it at the grocery store or the mall, etc. It's so much more convenient than a stroller. It's basically as convenient as you walking around with a backpack that just happens to be a baby, as opposed to pushing a huge thing that baby might not even want to be in. I carry my daughter around when I do household chores but that's just because I never think to put her in the Ergo.

Also, everything that I've read about the sling recall (which was basically one type of pouch sling, not even the ring slings) was that you had to position your baby correctly. If you can kiss the top of your baby's head when they're in the sling or whatever, then they're positioned correctly and should be fine.
posted by zorrine at 8:15 PM on July 26, 2010

My wife swears by the Moby wrap, FWIW. She uses it frequently for housework and our 6-month-old loves it, and when we go shopping or out for long walks it puts him right to sleep.
posted by sprocket87 at 6:48 AM on July 27, 2010

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