Compare Baby Carriers – Soft Structured

Ergo soft structured baby carrier

Adding a few buckles and snaps to a Mei Tai, with some extra padding and structure, will give you a soft-pack or “buckle” baby carrier. Soft structured baby carriers include the popular Ergo Baby Carrier, a favorite for Dad, as well as the hip-carrying baby carriers that are gaining in popularity for toddlers and older babies. Just because baby is getting bigger, doesn’t mean you have to stop carrying them!

A structured baby carrier evenly distributes the weight of your baby across both shoulders and hips, making it comfortable to carry for long periods of time. Most parents find they can carry a baby, especially a heavy toddler, the longest in a structured carrier. Our best-selling Ergo Baby Carrier can be used with a baby more than 40lbs and the Beco Butterfly II can be worn with a child up to 50lbs.

Because the tiniest babies need more support for head and neck, a structured soft pack carrier is best for an older baby with head control (3 months+).

With their comfort, ease of use and mainstream appeal, it’s easy to see why soft-structured baby carriers are so popular among parents. If you do a great deal of walking or hiking with your baby, this is the baby carrier to choose.

This post is part of a series in which we give an overview of baby carrier styles, comparing the specific baby carriers available within each style. Despite the variety of baby carriers on the market today, nearly all fall into one of four basic styles.


Soft Pack Buckle Carriers


Advantages

  • easy to use
  • ergonomic, so weight is evenly distributed to hips
  • very supportive
  • usually Dad’s favorite
  • high resale value


Disadvantages

  • not usually recommended for newborns who cannot hold their heads up well (3 mo +)
  • does not fold compact for travel or in a diaper bag
  • can be more expensive due to the amount of workmanship required in their manufacturing


Soft Pack Baby Carriers Compared

BabyHawk Oh Snap Baby Carrier

BabyHawk Oh Snap Baby Carrier

Style: Soft Structure Baby Carrier
Age: 15lbs to 45lbs
Carrying Positions: Front (in or out), Back

Beco Butterfly Baby Carrier

Beco Baby Carrier, Beco Butterfly II

Style: Soft Structured Baby Carrier
Age: Suitable for newborn to 50+ lbs
Carrying Positions: Tummy to Tummy, Back Carry
Origin: Made in the USA and China

Beco Gemini Baby Carrier

Gemini Beco Baby Carrier

Style: Soft Structured Carrier
Age: Newborn to 35+ lbs
Carrying Positions: Tummy to Tummy, Back, Hip
Origin: Made in the USA and China

Ergo Baby Carrier

Ergo Baby Carrier also in Sport Style

Style: Soft-Pack Structured Baby Carrier
Age: Suitable for newborn (with infant insert) to 40lbs
Carrying Positions: Front (infant to toddler), Hip, Back (with older baby only)

Ergo Performance Baby Carrier

Ergo Performance Baby Carrier

Style: Soft-Pack Structured Baby Carrier, light and durable for activities
Age: Newborn to toddler
Carrying Positions: Back, Front, and Hip

FreeHand Baby Carrier

FreeHand Baby Carrier

Style: Soft Structured Carrier
Age: Newborn to 35lbs
Carrying Positions: Front (facing in or out), Newborn carry, Back carry

Pikkolo Baby Carrier

Pikkolo Baby Carrier

Style: Hybrid Mei Tai & Soft Structured Carrier (A Mei Tai with Buckles!)
Age: Newborn to 40 lbs
Carrying Positions: Forward Facing In or OUT, Hip & Back Carrying

Scootababy Soft Structured Baby Carrier

Scootababy Hip Baby Carrier

Style: Soft Structured Hip Carrier; a cross between a Mei Tai & a Sling
Age: From head control (approx. 5 months) to 40 lbs (toddler)
Carrying Positions: Tummy to Tummy, Hip/Side, Back (short periods)

Compare Baby Carriers – Mei Tai

Babyhawk mei tai baby carrier

The Mei Tai baby carrier is comfort and fashion all in one. Mei Tai is pronounced “may tie” and is also referred to as an Asian baby carrier. Unlike baby wraps and baby slings, a Mei Tai adds padded shoulder straps and waist straps to a small, square body to give the Mei Tai unlimited options for babywearing positions. Because the adjustability is in the long straps, a Mei Tai is a one-size-fits-most baby carrier, easily shared between Mom, Dad and other caregivers.

We LOVE this baby carrier in particular for its versatility in the extremely varied weather of Canada. It can easily be adapted to use over light clothing in the summer time, or over a big, bulky coat when you need to keep warm during a blustery winter day.

Pikkolo hybrid mei tai baby carrier

Mei Tai Baby Carrier is comfortable and versatile like no other baby carrier. You have complete control in the positioning of the baby within the carrier, based on how you tie the straps. Baby likes to be tucked in and hidden? No problem! Your toddler wants to be propped up to see the world? A re-tie here and there, and you’re set! Baby’s arms are out and he can watch as Mom goes about her day. This adaptability means it is easy to get a comfortable fit on any wearer.

This soft, strappy baby carrier is easy to use, comfortable for you, fun for baby, and stylish. What more could you ask for in a baby carrier?

This post is part of a series in which we give an overview of baby carrier styles, comparing the specific baby carriers available within each style. Despite the variety of baby carriers on the market today, nearly all fall into one of four basic styles.

  • Baby Wraps
  • Baby Slings (includes pouch slings and ring slings)
  • Mei Tai Baby Carriers
  • Soft Pack Baby Carriers


Mei Tai Baby Carriers


Advantages

  • our favorite for back carrying a young baby (less than one year), especially when there is a second child to attend to
  • weight is evenly distributed over both shoulders and hips
  • very supportive
  • very versatile, offering unlimited number of carrying positions
  • can be used front and back with a newborn to 30+ lbs (3 years or more)
  • big variety of beautiful fabrics available
  • higher resale value


Disadvantages

  • not as heavily padded as most structured carrier (but this can be an advantage for a parent that wants less bulk!)
  • straps are long and can drag on ground when tying (difficult in the rain or slushy weather)


Mei Tai Baby Carriers Compared


FreeHand Mei Tai baby carrier

FreeHand Mei Tai Baby Carriers, also comes in Embroidered style
Style: Mei Tai Baby Carrier (Asian Inspired Baby Carrier).
Age: Suitable for newborn to toddler.
Carrying Positions: Front, Hip/Side, Back (all positions, infant to toddler)
Fabric: 100% cotton straps/structure. Printed fabric will vary.
Origin: Made in USA


Kozy Mei Tai baby carrier

Kozy Mei Tai Baby Carriers
Style: Mei Tai Baby Carrier (Asian Inspired Baby Carrier).
Age: Suitable for newborn to toddler.
Carrying Positions: Front, Hip/Side, Back (all positions, infant to toddler)
Fabric: 100% cotton canvas straps/structure.
Origin: Designed & created by work-at-home moms in the USA.


BabyHawk mei tai carrier in Calaveras print

BabyHawk Mei Tai Baby Carriers
Style: Mei Tai Baby Carrier (Asian Inspired Baby Carrier).
Age: Suitable for newborn to 35+ lbs.
Carrying Positions: Front, Hip/Side, Back (all positions, infant to toddler)
Fabric: 100% cotton straps/structure. Printed fabric will vary. Reverses to solid (except camo).
Origin: Made in USA


Pikkolo hybrid mei tai baby carrier

Pikkolo Baby Carriers
Style: Hybrid Mei Tai & Soft Structured Carrier (A Mei Tai with Buckles!)
Age: Newborn to 40 lbs.
Carrying Positions: Forward Facing In or OUT, Hip & Back Carrying
Fabric: All cotton (exclusive of trim)

Interested in other Asian-inspired baby carriers? Wondering about pods and onbus? See our post comparing Podaegi and Onbuhimo with the mei tai.

Compare Baby Carriers – Baby Slings

Sakura Bloom baby sling babywearing toddlers

Take a wrap baby carrier and sew it together (pouch sling) or add rings to enable easy adjustability (ring slings), and you have our next category of baby carriers: baby slings. A baby sling is as uncomplicated as any baby carrier gets.

Baby Slings are compact, sleek, and easy to use. Their simple design makes them one of the most popular baby carriers available. We firmly believe that NO new mother should be without a simple baby sling for an easier adjustment to life with baby. You will be an expert at babywearing in minutes.

Using a baby sling or pouch couldn’t be easier. Just put it on and take it off like a shoulder purse. The baby pops in and out quickly, making a sling the perfect choice for a little one who wants up and down (and up again!) all day long.

Slings are a favorite baby carrier for carrying a newborn and for nursing hands-free. When paired with a soft-pack baby carrier, you’ll have the perfect baby wearing combination from birth to toddlerhood.

This post is part of a series in which we give an overview of baby carrier styles, comparing the specific baby carriers available within each style. Despite the variety of baby carriers on the market today, nearly all fall into one of four basic styles.

  • Baby Wraps
  • Baby Slings (includes pouch slings and ring slings)
  • Mei Tai Baby Carriers
  • Soft Pack Baby Carriers


Ring Slings

Maya Wrap baby slings with dad

A ring sling takes the simple wraparound cloth baby carrier a step further. Rather than tying the fabric and using knots to secure it, attach two large rings and you have yourself a ring sling.

When the length of fabric is threaded through the rings, a pouch is formed where your baby will sit. You can adjust the size and shape of the sling through the rings. Baby can be worn snuggled in, laying down, facing out in front like a kangaroo, on the hip, or on the back looking over your shoulder.

Sometimes padding is sewn into the sides (“rails”) or shoulder of the sling, and a tail is left from the fabric that has been pulled through the rings. Some ring slings include a pocket in the tail to carry your extras while out and about.


Pouches

Hotslings adjustable baby pouch carrier

A pouch is a tube-style baby carrier, generally one long circle of fabric sewn with a curved seam to provide a pouch for your baby to sit in. There are no rings for adjustment, so usually a pouch sling is sized to fit the individual who will be wearing it. This is perfect for a baby who wants to sit on your hip.

Innovations to the basic pouch sling design have included zippers or snaps to make them adjustable, and a hybrid pouch—a pouch sewn into a ring sling for both comfort and adjustability.


Advantages

  • short learning curve
  • very compact, so it will fit into a purse or diaper bag easily
  • most loved for the newborn stage – easy transition from snug environment of womb to compact sling
  • easy to move baby in and out of carrier
  • easiest for hands-free nursing
  • pouch has no extra tail fabric to figure out
  • tail of ring sling can be used for a nursing cover up


Disadvantages

  • Sizing is important in a pouch sling for the most comfort. Ring slings make this easier, but some parents find the rings more difficult to adjust.
  • only one-shouldered support, so a sling is less comfortable for extended wearing or for heavier babies and toddlers
  • a pouch is less versatile for carrying in different positions


Sling Baby Carriers Compared

Upmama baby ring sling made in Canada

Upmama Hybrid Baby Slings
Style: Adjustable Unpadded Ring Sling Hybrid (ring sling/pouch)
Age: Newborn to toddler (35 lbs)
Carrying Positions: Cradle, Kangaroo, Tummy to Tummy, Hip/Side, Back (toddler only)
Fabric: Cotton Sateen (97% cotton, 3% spandex)
Origin: Made in Canada

Maya Wrap baby ring sling


Maya Wrap Baby Ring Slings

Style: Adjustable Lightly Padded Ring Sling (padded in shoulder only).
Age: Newborn to 35 lbs.
Carrying Positions: Cradle, Kangaroo, Tummy to Tummy, Hip/Side, Back (toddler only)
Fabric: 100% hand-woven cotton
Origin: Hand-loomed using fair trade labor in Guatemala

Sakura Bloom ring sling for dads


Sakura Bloom Baby Ring Slings

Style: Adjustable Unpadded Ring Sling
Age: Newborn to toddler (35 lbs)
Carrying Positions: Cradle, Kangaroo, Tummy to Tummy, Hip/Side, Back (toddler only)
Fabric: 100% Irish linen
Origin: Made in USA

Hotslings adjustable pouch baby sling


Hotslings Adjustable Pouch Baby Slings

Style: Adjustable Pouch Sling (one-size)
Age: Suitable for newborn to 30lbs+
Carrying Positions: Cradle, kangaroo, front facing in & out, hip carrying
Fabric: 97% Cotton Sateen, 3% Spandex
Origin: Made in USA

Compare Baby Carriers – Baby Wraps

Moby Wrap baby carrier

There are so many choices in baby carriers today that it can easily become overwhelming for someone just starting out. Add to that the vast amount of information available online, and it’s no wonder many parents just purchase the first or most well-known carrier they come across. Unfortunately, some carriers are not designed for extended periods of use or with an older, heavier baby, and they end up pulling mercilessly on your back and shoulders. Some have so many buckles, snaps, loops and straps that they dig into you, the baby, or both. We’ve been there, and we’re happy to compare baby carriers so that you can narrow down which carrier or carriers might work best for you.

For the next few weeks, we will give an overview of baby carrier styles. Despite the incredible variety of baby carriers on the market today, nearly all fall into one of four basic styles.

  • Baby Wraps
  • Baby Slings (includes pouch slings and ring slings)
  • Mei Tai Baby Carriers
  • Soft Pack Baby Carriers


Baby Wraps

Baby Wraps, also known as wraparound baby carriers or just wraps, are without a doubt the most versatile baby carriers available. Simple carrying cloths are also the most common traditional baby carriers around the world because of their simplicity and versatility. The caregiver uses a square, rectangular or long strip of fabric to wrap and tie the baby to their body. Knots are used to secure and adjust the carrier to the baby and to the wearer. Carrying scarves can be useful long after your babywearing days are over.

Carry your baby in unlimited carrying positions with a wrap, and one size will fit any babywearer, from Mom or Dad to Grandma or Grandpa.

Advantages

  • very comfortable for baby
  • most versatile, offering unlimited number of carrying positions
  • ergonomic support for both baby and adult
  • easily adapts to various baby weights and sizes for both front and back carrying
  • one-size fits most baby carrier

Wraparound carriers are particularly suited for kangaroo care, the practice of holding premature and full-term newborns skin-to-skin for optimal neurological development.

Disadvantages

  • lots of fabric can be confusing
  • somewhat steeper learning curve – requires practice to become efficient in tying the baby carrier and adjusting to the baby
  • can get warm in the summertime (but keeps baby warm in cooler weather!)


Wraparound Baby Carriers Compared

Moby Wrap twin baby carrier

Moby Wrap Baby Wrap
Style: Baby Wrap Carrier – Stretchy
Age: Best for for newborn to 30+ lbs
Carrying Positions: Unlimited – Front, Hip/Side, Back
Fabric: 100% cotton double knit-interlock
Origin: Made in Thailand


Cuddly Wrap baby carrier

Organic Cotton Cuddly Wrap Baby Wraps
Style: Baby Wrap Carrier – Stretchy
Age: Best for for newborn to 30+ lbs
Carrying Positions: Unlimited – Front, Hip/Side, Back
Fabric: 100% ORGANIC cotton
Origin: Made in Canada under fair trade labour practices

Ellaroo baby wrap baby carrier

EllaRoo Woven Baby Wrap Carrier
Style: Baby Wrap Carrier – Woven
Age: Suitable for newborn to toddler
Carrying Positions: Unlimited – Front, Hip/Side, Back
Fabric: 100% handwoven cotton. Non-toxic, baby safe dyes
Origin: Handmade in Guatemala under fair trade labour practices

Blue Celery baby wrap hybrid baby carrier

Blue Celery Baby Sling / Wrap Hybrid
Style: Baby Wrap / Sling Hybrid (2 pull-on loops + waist sash) – Stretchy
Age: Newborn to toddler (35lbs)
Carrying positions: Cradle, Kangaroo, Tummy-to-tummy, Forward Facing, Hip/Side
Fabric: Organic stretch cotton
Origin: Made in Canada

Keep Halloween Fun for Babies

Mother and Baby at Halloween

For a baby who can’t yet walk or talk, this Halloween is likely the first she will remember of familiar people putting on costumes and making scary faces. To make this a fun holiday for baby, be sure to give her an easy escape. If you are babywearing, a hip carry can give her choice.


Baby Halloween Costumes

Baby Halloween costumes are for us more than for our babies. We can’t resist how adorable they are, of course. Very young babies don’t care, though, so don’t convince yourself that Halloween is important to your baby. Dress up and costumes are for you and for your older children.

Yes! Dress up the baby. Just know that it’s for your benefit.


A Lot of Stimulation

You know your baby. Does he love excitement? Will flashing lights, glow sticks, and wailing ghosts be fun for him? Or, does he startle easily with load noises and surprises? Even a party baby might find his limit on Halloween.

Make sure your baby has a way to choose to participate or not.


Babywearing Hip Carry

If you wear your baby at a Halloween party or as you walk through your neighborhood with older children, having your baby on your hip will allow her to see what you are seeing if she turns one way or let her tuck into you and hide when it is all too much.

A forward-facing kangaroo carry doesn’t give the baby the choice to look on or look away. It’s all stimulation all the time, which could be great for a baby who loves action. A back carry doesn’t let her see everything at the young child height where a lot of interesting things happen, so an active baby might be straining to see more from over your shoulder.

Hip carry leaves the choice to participate in Halloween up to your baby.

NOTE: Only use the babywearing hip carry once your baby can sit well. Newborns or babies who are just gaining head control will need more support.

Image © Olga Bogatyrenko | Dreamstime.com