Brief Guide to Types of Baby Carriers and Slings

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This guide gives a brief description of some of the main types of baby carriers and slings currently available. Essentially all baby carriers are designed to help support parents carry their babies and give them the freedom to get on with other things. The main types available are:
  •  front carriers

  •  framed back packs

  •  ring slings

  •  pouches

  •  wraps

  •  soft carriers


Many retail outlets stock front carriers and framed back carriers and used ones are readily available here on eBay, so it’s a great way to see if these are the right types of carriers for you. Many types and brands of ring slings, pouches, wraps and soft carriers are available on the internet and some brand new ones are also readily available on eBay.

front carriers

These are structured, rigid baby carriers that use buckles and straps to keep young babies facing inwards or outwards. The baby’s torso is held in place in a vertical position with arms and legs hanging out. It is usually used up until the baby is about 3 - 6 months old. May be made from polyester, nylon, plastic or leather.

Pros: readily available, sleek modern look. Cons: short life-span, limited carrying positions.

framed backpacks

These are typically used with babies who have good head control and can sit up by themselves, usually around 6 months until age 3 or 4. The baby is secured in a harness within the frame so the parent carries the baby like a backpack. Backpacks can be free standing or non-freestanding. May be made from nylon, polyester, plastic and metal.

Pros: good availability, ideal for hiking with older babies and toddlers. Cons: expensive, can only be used with older babies, heavy and bulky.

ring slings

A shaped piece of fabric, usually around 2 meters long has 2 rings secured within it. When worn over one shoulder, a pouch is formed in which the baby is carried. Can be used from birth until age 2 – 3 in at least 5 different carrying positions. These adjustable slings can be unpadded or padded, have closed or open tails, usually have nylon or metal rings and come in various fabrics including cotton, linen and silk.

Pros: versatile, comfortable, long life span, discreet breastfeeding possible, portable, can be stylish, cost effective, good resale value. Cons: slight learning curve


A piece of fabric shaped into a tube that the wearer wears over one shoulder. Used like a ring sling, without the rings, it’s usually unadjustable. Can be used to carry a baby from birth until around 2 or 3 in at least 5 different carrying positions. Fabrics are usually stretchy or woven, cotton, fleece or silk and may have some padding.

Pros: simple, versatile, long life span, breastfeeding possible, portable, comfortable, can be stylish, cost effective, good resale value. Cons: exact sizing important, usually not adjustable


These are very long pieces of fabric that the wearer ties around herself in a variety of different ways to carry babies from birth until age 2 – 3. Babies can be carried in at least 5 different positions. It’s usually worn over both shoulders and around the waist. The fabric may be stretch or woven cotton, linen or fleece.

Pros: comfortable, versatile, even weight distribution, discreet breastfeeding possible, portable, long life span, cost effective, good resale value. Cons: learning curve

soft carriers

These include various Asian Baby Carriers (ABCs) like Mei Tais, Podegis and Onbuhimos which are based upon traditional carriers and other soft carriers that generally tie around the wearer at the waist and over the shoulders securing the baby in the front, back or sometimes hip. Some can be used from birth, others only with older babies and toddlers up to around age 3. May include some padding and fabrics vary widely.

Pros: versatile, comfortable, even weight distribution, breastfeeding possible, can be stylish, portable, long life span, cost effective, good resale value. Cons: learning curve

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