Baby on a Budget: Just One Baby Carrier

Wrapsody Hybrid Baby Carrier Wrap


Before you have a baby, you probably aren’t sure exactly what you need. I’m sharing my experience to help you avoid buying stuff you won’t use.

A baby carrier is one of the baby essentials I recommend for you, even if you have a short list and a tight budget. Save money by buying just one baby carrier.

Why Is a Baby Carrier Essential?

  • Your baby gets what s/he wants: being close to you.
  • You keep baby close enough to kiss, so you become atuned to your baby’s needs. (The “attachment” in attachment parenting.)
  • You are free to use your arms and keep moving.

Especially in the first few months, most babies want to be very close to their parents. After babies start to move around, they will still spend a lot of time asking to be picked up. You have a higher vantage point to see the world. You are comfort when there is too much stimulation. Even a toddler wants to be held a lot. I still think of my little boy (before he was 6′ tall) saying, “Hold me,” and me getting out the sling that was sturdy enough to hold a toddler.

You will hold your child a lot. A baby carrier makes that a lot easier.

How to Save Money on Baby Carriers

Baby carriers are an expensive item because they involve a lot of high-quality fabric. I wouldn’t advise you to save money by getting a low-quality carrier or low-quality fabric. This is a safety issue. The baby carrier industry has done a great job in the past few years creating a standard that keeps your baby safe. It’s worth choosing a carrier that adheres to the high standard.

So, my alternative method of saving on baby carriers is to get just one carrier that works for all sizes and situations.

The One Baby Carrier: Wrapsody Bali Stretch Hybrid

The staff at recommends the Wrapsody Bali Stretch Hybrid as their most versatile and economical carrier over the lifetime of your use.

  • Wear newborn to toddler
  • Use as front carrier, hip carrier, or back carrier
  • One size fits all. 6 yards of fabric with hemmed, tapered ends so it is easy to tie
  • Soft fabric doesn’t create pressure points on your body, like heavier wraps or too quick wrapping sometimes creates
  • Compact enough to fit in your bag
  • Includes a DVD to help you learn wrapping

It is perfect for newborn.
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Wrap Aphrodite pattern

Perfect for napping babies.
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Wrap Alyssa

And also perfect for toddlers who really need to see the world.
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Wrap Chronos

What makes this carrier a particular favorite is the soft, stretchy fabric. This 100% cotton fabric is soft like a stretchy wrap but strong and supportive enough to function like a woven wrap.

One of the most important things for about a baby carrier, since you will be spending a lot of time wearing it over the next few years, is what it looks like. I hated my baby sling that had pastel baby patterns on it. I always reached for the one that matched my clothes (black). Think about how you dress, and buy your baby carrier accordingly. You will save yourself having to buy another one because you hesitate to wear the first.

With the Wrapsody Bali, the choices are gorgeous. Each one is unique because of the variations in hand-dyed and batiked fabric (from Bali, Indonesia). You can get a beautiful pattern, if that fits you, or a rainbow stripe, or a more subtle, neutral color. You have choices, and they are all dyed with baby-safe dyes (no heavy metals). You baby will suck and chew on the carrier, so that is important.

You will probably be wearing this carrier every day for a year, most days for the year after that, and occasionally into the third year. You will get a lot of wear out of your baby carrier. Don’t let the price tag scare you into skipping the baby carrier or opting for a cheaper version that you will have to replace.

Choose wisely the first time, and you will save in the long run.

More Baby on a Budget

All this month we will feature posts on saving money with babies.

See my short list of baby essentials and the stuff you will find on all of the other lists but you probably won’t use: “Baby on a Budget: What Do You Really Need?”

What is the best way to save on cloth diapers? Find out in “Baby on a Budget: Cloth Diapers.”

And, simplest of all, what do you need to buy to breastfeed? My answer in “Baby on a Budget: Breastfeeding Supplies.”

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


  • 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


  • 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.

Trends in Babywearing: Asian Baby Carriers

Freehand Mei Tai baby carrier

Pods and Onbus. Have you heard of them but wondered what kind of baby carriers these are? Podaegi and Onbuhimo are traditional Asian baby carriers.

There are more Asian baby carriers becoming popular in North America along with traditional styles of babywearing from Asia. These carriers share a basic structure of rectangle of fabric with straps. Here are the details.

Podaegi from Korea

Podaegi Korean baby carrier

A Korean podaegi baby carrier is wide enough to fit all of the way around the mother with overlap. There is one strap across the top with the ties coming out both sides.

  • The ties go under the mother’s arms,
  • cross in front above the breasts,
  • back around under the baby’s bottom as the baby straddles the mother’s back,
  • then the ties are tied under the breasts in the front.

Onbuhimo from Japan

Onbuhimo Japanese baby carrier

A Japanese onbuhimo baby carrier has a smaller rectangle of fabric with padded ties angled out of the top corners and loops or rings on the bottom corners.

  • The ties go up over the mother’s shoulders,
  • down through the loops (which are under the baby’s legs),
  • each tie goes up over the mother’s breasts and through the opposite shoulder strap,
  • then they are tied in the middle over the upper chest.

Mei Tai from China

Mei Tai Chinese baby carrier

A Chinese mei tai baby carrier is currently the most popular Asian carrier in the North American market. Some widely available baby carriers like the Freehand Mei Tai are soft and unstructured more like traditional carriers. The BabyHawk Mei Tai has more padding, and the Pikkolo carrier has shaped structure and buckles.

The mei tai carrier has a strap coming from each corner of the square of fabric.

  • The bottom straps are tied around the mother’s waist with the baby’s legs hanging over the ties,
  • top straps go over the mother’s shoulders either crossing in front or just over the shoulders,
  • straps go back under the baby’s bottom or across the baby’s back,
  • then straps are tied in front around the mother’s waist.

Babywearing Resources

The Babywearer – A forum and review community for babywearing with a lot of user photos including galleries for Onbuhimo, Podaegi, and Mei Tai carriers.

Babywearing International – A charity promoting babywearing. They provide solid babywearing safety information and they have a few chapters where parents can get face-to-face help.

Baby Carrier Industry Alliance – A trade association for retailers and manufacturers of baby carriers. Just opened last month and already doing great work to ensure that babywearing remains safe and legal in North America long into the future.