When I was pregnant with my son Oliver in 2011, I hadn’t really thought about newborn baby carriers, or even traveling with him in any other way than with a stroller… that is, until I stumbled across Greenpoint store Wild Was Mama (formerly Caribou Baby). I was around five months pregnant when I entered Adriane Stare’s store and “discovered” babywearing. My mom laughed because having grown up in Guatemala, that was the only way women carried around their children. Somehow -- and luckily -- this ancient method of babywearing became on trend. As did the gorgeous woven wrap colors and patterns that line the walls of the shop.
After all these years, I still can’t imagine having taken on our streets (and stairs) of NY without the joys of babywearing. In those newborn days, when all Oliver did was sleep, I would pop him in the carrier and take him for long walks or on the subway without hesitation (or elevator mapping). We were even able to enjoy the wonders of brunch with him snuggled close to me. These may sound like small triumphs, but it’s all about the small triumphs in the beginning. I truly believe babywearing helped me regain little pieces of my pre-baby life quicker. Plus, I got almost as many compliments on my wrap as I did on my baby. So to share the wealth, we asked our friends and babywearing experts at Caribou Baby to tell us all about their five favorite baby carriers.
Nothing beats the full-body distribution of weight like a woven wrap, a long piece of woven fabric that wraps around your body and ties around you and the baby. One of the only carriers that is actually supportive from infancy through toddlerhood, a woven wrap like the Didymos, is adjustable to each parent and also to each size/stage of your child. It’s not nearly as hard to use as it seems and it’s comfortable! Downside: long fabric tails can feel cumbersome to new parents just learning how to use it and the wrap fabric will definitely drag on ground at some point.
Beloved for their quickness and simplicity, ring slings are worn over one shoulder. A shorter piece of fabric adjusts through two rings below the shoulder. These are great carriers to nurse your baby in, and surprisingly supportive, depending on which brand you choose (and shoulder style). Sakura Bloom ring slings work well in the house or for quick trips around the neighborhood, but you may additionally want a two-shouldered carrier for longer ventures. Downside: Although they can be amazingly easy carriers, they can be finicky and lose position when you are first learning how to use them. Don't give up!
This soft and snuggly carrier is adjustable to each parent and each size and stage of baby. Similar to a woven wrap, this carrier is a long piece of stretchy fabric that wraps around your body and ties. Baby can be popped in and out without removing the carrier, as fabric stretches around baby’s body. It's great for taking babe in and out of cars. The stretchy fabric can also have nice compression on a newly-postpartum situation. It’s pretty snuggly in the winter, but can get a little sweaty in warm weather. Downside: Depending on the brand and weight of your baby, stretchy wraps may only be supportive for infancy.
ADJUSTABLE-BASE MEI TAI'S
This carrier feels similar to a woven wrap in support, but can be a little more user-friendly. You can cinch down the body panel of these carriers small enough to support very little babies properly from knee-to-knee, so that they can have their legs out of the carrier from infancy. We like the Didymos brand Didytais because it has wide straps that give great support and nice lateral support for newborns that don't yet have good core control. Downside: If you find long straps frustrating or can’t stand straps grazing the ground, probably not for you.
A buckle carrier has a structured waist belt, padded body panel and two shoulder straps. We like the Beco Gemini best for newborns. The base has a snap down in the crotch, so a newborn can be worn without an insert, legs out of the carrier. The straps can also be crossed behind your back, which tends to be more comfortable for many wearers, as it gives middle back support. It fits a wide variety of body types, and it's significantly smaller, therefore fitting younger babies appropriately, rather than trying to jerry-rig it for babies of all sizes. Downside: This carrier can only be worn about up to about a baby’s first year. Though the brand Tula, which offers infant carriers, has toddler options that can securely hold children up to 60 pounds!
*Every body, carrier and person is different so please make sure to visit your local baby wearing specialist for guidance on the proper use of your carrier.
Also special shout out to Adriane and Greg Stare's son Loren, when he was a baby.
PHOTOGRAPHY by EVAN GUBERNICK