Confused about the difference between a Mei-Tei and an SSC? That sounds so complicated right?! To make life a little easier we’ve created a complete guide to the different types of baby carriers, plus we’ll tell you which is our favourite and why!
Why Parents use carriers
It’s not a secret; Babywearing is one of the best things you do as a new parent, both for the healthy development of your baby and for you as a mum or dad.
Carrying your baby against you has so many benefits, from the obvious like less crying and more ability to get things done for mum, to the more scientific, such as development of your baby’s spatial orientation and motion (but we’ll save that for another blog!)
Once you’ve decided a baby carrier is a must have, you just need to decide what type is best.
Well apparently not! With so many different variations of baby carriers available, choosing the right one for you is more than a little overwhelming…
- The Complete Guide -
Soft Structured Carriers (SSC’s)
Probably what most people imagine when they hear the words ‘baby carrier’. Soft structured carriers (or SSCs for short) slide on or off just like a backpack. They’re generally more bulky than other types of carriers, usually with a thick padded waistband and shoulder straps.
SSCs are definitely a popular form of carrier, mainly due to their ease of use. One problem with a structured carrier however is that you generally need a different carrier for newborns compared with when your baby is a little bigger, meaning you might find yourself having to re-invest into an upgrade as your baby grows. Parents also find buckles and clips on SSCs tend to be quite uncomfortable.
SSCs are probably the most expensive type of carrier you can buy, although cheaper does not always mean better, we think there are better options that are more suited to most budgets!
Less bulky than an SSC, but more than a wrap, we have the Mei-Tei Carrier. The Mei-Tei is something of a halfway house, originally of Asian design, the Mei-Tei features a rectangular piece of fabric with four buckles. The buckles wrap around your body creating a ‘pouch’ for your baby to sit in.
Mei-Tei carrier’s advantages include their slim design, which makes it easy to take with you day to day. They are also significantly cheaper than Soft Structured Carriers.
From experience, we tend to find the straps very uncomfortable with a Mei-Tei carrier, they could definitely do with a bit more padding for extended use. Mei-Tei carriers also can’t be used for small babies due to the ‘open-sided’ design. So its not an option for newborns.
Introducing wraps! Wraps are specially designed, long pieces of fabric, which can be tied in a variety of ways to suit both baby and parent.
First up, we have woven wraps. These are usually made of a thicker fabric with a slight diagonal stretch. Woven wraps come in a variety of different sizes so it’s worth checking your size properly before buying.
Wraps are excellent solutions to babywearing due to a number of reasons. They ‘grow’ as your baby does, so there’s no need to buy multiple carriers. They are also the closest you can get to skin-to-skin contact, which research has proved is very beneficial for the development of your baby.
One issue with woven wraps is their lack of comfort for extended periods of wearing. They tend to start to ‘dig-in’ to mums shoulders after a while.They’re also quite thick which means they can get pretty hot in the warmer months and compared to a stretchy wrap, they tend to be quite expensive!
Stretchy wraps are very similar, but with one big difference, they’re stretchy! (No kidding). Stretchy wraps are generally one size fits all, the only difference for different sizes is in the way you tie them.
Stretchy wraps have tonnes of advantages over any other carrier, not only are they super lightweight and super easy to throw in your bag, the biggest benefit is that babies have a fundamental need to be supported in the early months, a wrap gives a baby physical and emotional security allowing them to feel most comfortable in their surroundings. They also allow mama to get on with any daily activities – including coffee mornings with the girls, or wandering around the park. The slight stretch allows for maximal comfort, even after long periods of wearing.
Most people hesitate buying a wrap because they’re worried they won’t be able to get the hang of tying it. However, it’s actually super easy to master and once you’ve had a couple of attempts, it quickly becomes second nature. If you’re looking for video tutorials for tying a stretchy wrap, definitely check out our ‘Tutorials’ page.
A ring sling is made of an extended piece of fabric that features two metal rings at one end. One end of the fabric is threaded through the rings, which sit just below one of mum’s shoulders.
Ring slings are relatively quick to actually put on, although difficult to adjust to fit your baby’s size once they’re in there.
Our main issue is the lack of symmetry with a ring sling. The rings sit on one shoulder and the sling almost comes across your body. This lack of symmetry is not great for your posture as it increases the force through one side. Unless you plan on continually switching shoulders (too much hassle for us) you could end up quite imbalanced.
So, to wrap up...
As you can see, there are a whole load of different options for carrying your little one. As with most things in parenting, choosing the right carrier for you is important and we hope we have given you a bit of insight to the many options. Due to the endless positive physical, cognitive and behavioural attributes a wrap encourages, for us it is a no brainer. We chose to specialise in carrier wraps because we truly believe these carriers are the best for a babies wellbeing.
We’ve spent loads of time creating the perfect solution for a soft-yet-supportive wrap that looks great too! Each of our different ranges are made with different fabric compositions to suit different needs and advised ages, which no brand in babywearing has done yet! We’ve also just released a new range so make sure you check them out here!