Every new mom should register for a loose, unstructured baby carrier as well as a structured baby carrier to get the most out of babywearing.
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Let’s talk about why I think you should buy two baby carriers to make the most out of babywearing!
Different styles of baby carriers serve different purposes. While you could get by with one, having both an soft carrier and a structured carrier gives you more flexibility. I’m not into having more options simply for the sake of more options. I think each style of carrier has different benefits. Here’s what I think you should know about soft carriers vs. structured carriers and why I love both. This isn’t really a post about babywearing (and it’s many benefits) but I will say if you haven’t tried wearing your baby, definitely consider it!
These two carriers suited our family at different stages. My husband did not like wearing the soft carrier, but I wore it all the time. I like taking our daughter for walks in her stroller, whereas my husband prefers to carry her during walks in the structured carrier. Below I will discuss why we bought and loved both of our carriers.
Preface: There’s A Learning Curve With Baby Carriers
A hilarious moment in my pregnancy was the time I watched the tutorial videos on sollybaby.com and practiced tying my stylish new soft carrier. It was NOT a success. I wrapped myself and a teddy bear (that did not much resemble an infant) in the stretchy striped fabric and the results were pure physical comedy, complete with that teddy bear pressed up against my chin.
There was a learning curve for me in figuring out my soft carrier, the popular Solly Baby Wrap, and also with my structured carrier, the Ergo 360. Both companies are aware of these learning curves. There are tutorials online and even helplines and babywearing educators you can call or Skype with.
Ideally, you can try on different carriers before you buy. There are a couple of different ways to do this necessary hands-on research!
You can ask your friends and family members if they used a baby carrier that they liked. Ideally you could try different styles and brands this way. My sister owned a Solly wrap and loved it, so that’s where I started.
You can look up your local chapter of Babywearing International, which is an organization dedicated entirely to promoting babywearing. They have 85 chapters nationwide. Many of these chapters give members access to lending libraries, where they can test out many carriers to see which they like best.
Local baby stores can also be a great resource. Once I walked into a local baby store wearing the Ergo and a salesperson there encouraged me to make modifications on the spot because she’d just been to a large Ergo conference. In short, get over the education hurdle as quickly as you can so you can enjoy the benefits of baby wearing soon after your baby is born.
Soft Baby Carriers Are Great For Newborns
Elle Rowley and the people at Solly Baby have built an incredible community around baby wearing and their soft carrier. It’s hard not be drawn in by the warm images of stylish parents keeping their babies close wherever they may be. Through the Solly Instagram and blog, I read about many of the benefits of baby wearing, including reduced crying. They’re the experts, so dive in to their resources!
I used the Solly wrap from 0-6 months. My child preferred the newborn carry style (legs and feet in) and resisted the transition to the classic carry style (legs out). I especially liked wearing the Solly on daily walks, but also used it around the house so that I could be “hands-free”. There are definitely limits to what you can and should do while wearing a baby in a carrier. (You abilities to safely reach and bend are quite limited by having an infant strapped to you.) I found I could type on the computer while wearing my baby, which was helpful for me because I love to write. Doing laundry or cooking while wearing your baby is not advised for safety reasons.
I found transferring my baby in her car seat carrier to and from the car quite painful for my neck and back, so I preferred to wear the wrap to take her out to the car seat, and then again while running errands. After the first few weeks, wearing a soft carrier allowed me to keep my baby’s car seat primarily in the car. I really don’t enjoy carrying babies in bulky infant car seats!
I transitioned away from using the Solly wrap when my baby was crawling. It was also around the same age she could safely sit in the Ergo 360 without the infant insert.
Structured Baby Carriers Have More Longevity
As our baby grew, so did my husband’s love for the Ergo360. In the early days he liked to take her out for walks without a carrier or stroller at all but eventually that caught up to his back. I wear the structured carrier occasionally, but my husband wears it almost daily for walks to the beach or around our small town. We used it inward-facing in the early months but now use it primarily outward facing. Every time before they leave the house, we check for proper posture (straight back) hip placement (the legs should form a letter M).
When we go on outings together as a family, it’s not uncommon for us to bring both the stroller and the structured carrier and switch off. Different things work well in different environments. We like bringing the Ergo 360 to the zoo so our child can actually see into the animal enclosures. At the mall, I like the have the stroller. For parties or weddings or events, when we want to take up less space, we rely on the structured carrier. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to eat a multi-course dinner with a six-month-old baby strapped to you, but it can be done! The structured carrier is a supportive and minimalist on-the-go option that travels much easier than a stroller and keeps your child close for lots of interaction.
The soft carrier is great for the early months, nice for short walks and some hands-free activities.
The structured baby carrier is great for 6m+, supportive carrier for long outings, great space-saving alternative to stroller in some situations.
Buy two baby carriers so you can enjoy the benefits of both styles. There are many different brands of soft and structured carriers to try, these are just the brands I know from experience. My sister-in-law loves her Beco Gemini.
For a more in-depth discussion of various carrier options, I recommend this article from Babywearing International.
Have you tried babywearing? If so, was there a learning curve for you in the early days? The Ergo becomes pretty intuitive after a few wears. However, I don’t think I’d be able to tie my Solly wrap correctly from memory, even just a year later! Then again, I was tying it while running on very little sleep. And sleep deprivation can apparently lead to short term memory loss :).
My name is Kate and I live in a California beach town with my husband & baby girl. At High Low Baby, I review baby products at high and low price points.