Babywearing – What is Babywearing? (Part I)

Jen Hoover - FWBWWhat is babywearing?

Let’s face it moms.  Between the dishes, dirty diapers, laundry, cooking breakfast/lunch/dinner/ snacks, errands, running to the post office, grocery shopping, full/part time jobs, shopping on the internet, keeping up with fabulous blogs such as this, and generally keeping the kids alive and the hubby happy, it’s a tough job being mom.  How many times have you stood there, holding a screaming baby, settling a disagreement between your toddlers, and chatting with your BFF SIMULTANEOUSLY, and thought “gee, I wish I had an extra set of hands!”

Babywearing is your answer to that.  Babywearing is exactly as it sounds – wearing your baby on your body with the help of a safe, sturdy, and supportive carrier.

Is babywearing safe?  When done properly, carrying a baby in a soft baby carrier can be safer than carrying a baby in your arms. Your carrier doesn’t have muscles that get tired, and your carrier doesn’t have arms that instinctively reach out to balance you or catch you when you fall. But, as with anything concerning babies, good safety practices are of paramount importance. As no set of guidelines can anticipate every circumstance, you are responsible for your child’s safety as well as your own.

There are 4 main types of carriers you will see “out there”: Wraps (woven and stretchy), Slings (ring slings and pouch slings), Mei Tais (and other Asian style carriers, but this is the most common), and Soft Structured Carriers (SSC’s or buckle carriers).  Let’s talk about each one.

WRAPS have no clasps or rings; they contain a simple piece of long cloth wrapped around your body and your baby, and offer many different positions for holding your baby.


  • optimal head/neck support, great for when baby falls asleep
  • complete back support
  • correct leg support, fabric is stretched knee to knee
  • 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


  • may have a slightly longer learning curve
  • may not be as fast to throw on
  • male partners may not care for wrapping
  • difficult to keep off the ground when tying outside
  • back wearing is not safe with stretchy wraps
  • woven wraps have multiple holds and positions, but fabric may dig and not be as conforming as stretchy wraps


SLINGS are a piece of fabric that goes over one shoulder to form a pouch to hold your baby.


  • easy on and off
  • ideal for quick errands
  • 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
  • ring slings provide adjustability as baby grows


  • can exacerbate back or shoulder problems
  • fitted pouch slings do not grow with your baby
  • may not fit your partner
  • rings can be unpleasant or form a pressure point
  • when you bend forward baby moves away from your body
  • no back carry


MEI TAI CARRIERS have four straps coming off the body of the carrier, which can be tied to wear your baby on your front, back or hip.


  • it is not bulky and can fit into a smaller purse
  • simple design
  • fits infant to toddler
  • pulls baby close to you
  • Front, hip, and back carries possible
  • easy to learn
  • bilateral, goes over both shoulders


  • 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 unless a hood is attached


SOFT STRUCTURED CARRIERS have structure and buckles, 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.


  • easy on, easy off
  • easy to learn
  • back and hip support
  • adjustable
  • foam in shoulders and in waistband
  • supports legs in flexed abducted (froglike) position
  • naturally aligns hips, pelvis, and spine


  • weight distribution on waist and shoulders
  • shoulder straps may dig or slip off shoulders
  • may not adequately support legs of toddler
  • nursing may not be as discreet as other carriers

With such variety, it is important that you feel comfortable with babywearing in general as well as the carrier that you’ve selected for your family.  In the next babywearing post, we will discuss safety and where to find additional information to aid you in your babywearing journey – so check back tomorrow!


What is your favorite babywearing product?



Jen Hoover - FWBWJennifer Hoover is the Vice President and Librarian for Fort Worth Babywearers in Fort Worth, Tx, an organization that aims to provide instruction and support in safe babywearing through monthly meetings, special events, a carrier library, and scholarships to families in need.  Jennifer enjoys her time as a mommy to 2 year old Ryleigh and spends her daytime hours serving the children of a local elementary school as an Assistant Principal.  She is very involved in the natural parenting community and has many interests, babywearing being one of her greatest passions.



  1. I could not have survived without my Moby but it does take some work to get on and also is hot, so for fast and easy, my Boba is my go-to. I made myself a ring sling for about 10 bucks and that is a great one just to keep always in my car for quick runs into a store ( and cute fabric from sale rack of JoAnn’s – only need about a yard and a half). There are so many people that I know are intimidated or just don’t think babywearing is for them. After to trying it and seeing how lovely it is to have that little one close and to be HANDS FREE – they never go back. BUT, I do think getting the right carrier for you is also a huge factor.


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