Let's be honest, most baby carriers are expensive. And even the ones deemed “budget carriers” are not that cheap either. $100 or more is out of the price range for many caregivers. However, that should not deter ANYONE away from wearing.
Babywearing is not about the carrier. It's about using a tool to help you care for a child. It doesn't matter what that tool looks like or how much you paid for it. What matters is that it is safe, that you can use it confidently, and that you and the wearee are comfortable and happy!
There are carriers out there for less than a $100---less than $20 even---that are potentially wonderful carriers for you. These are just a few examples available at many big box stores, baby stores, and consignment stores.
Narrow Base Buckle Carriers:
There was some controversy over narrow base carriers, but please do not let that scare you from using these carriers. There is no evidence to support that a narrow base carrier causes any developmental issues for a healthy baby. Just like with any other carrier, these carriers are safe when used correctly.
They are usually only suitable for front carries facing inward and outward. So keep this in mind if you plan to back carry later on.
They do not usually have many bells and whistles, but they absolutely get the job done. Just like higher priced buckle carriers, they are not a one size fits all. You may need to try on several brands to see which is the best fit for you and baby personally.
Front Carry tutorial
Forward Facing Outward tutorial
Stretchy wraps are not just “gateway” wraps to woven wraps. If used correctly, they can be wonderful for newborns all the way up to toddlers. Some people find that as baby gets bigger they can become uncomfortable; however, there are different carries you can try if you don't want to purchase a new carrier.
They can only be used for front and hip carriers, so keep this in mind if you want to back carry. But they can be used for any combination three layer carry (combination meaning at least two different passes, like two cross passes and a torso pass, or a sling pass and two cross passes). What's helpful to know is that they can do more than a Pocket Wrap Cross Carry.
If you are happy with your stretchy wrap, don't feel the pressure to jump to woven wraps! It's a great versatile carrier.
Pocket Wrap Cross Carry Tutorial
Newborn Reinforced Kangaroo Carry Tutorial
Hip Carry Tutorial
Pouches consist of a tube of fabric that you can pop baby in and out of as needed. They come in a variety of sizes for your body shape and a growing baby's needs. And there some amazing patterns available!
Pouches are easy to load baby into and pop them out as needed. However, it is very important to use the correct size for both you and baby so baby stays in the optimal position at all times.
Some wearers find they are less supportive with bigger babies. But many people use pouch slings from birth to toddlerhood with no issues.
Newborn Tummy to Tummy Tutorial
Hip Carry Tutorial
A K'tan is a stretchy wrap without all the wrapping. It consists of two loops of fabric hooked together safely . They come in a variety of sizes and fabrics, so you can find the perfect one for your needs.
To keep baby in the optimal position in the carrier at all times, it's important to buy the correct size. Keep in mind that you may need to size up as baby or you grow.
They can be used with or without the sash, unlike stretchy wraps which always require the third pass. They can be used for front and hip carries only, so keep this in mind if you want to back carry. K’tans are easy to put on quickly, easily fold up for storage on the go, and can adapt to different carries as baby grows.
Front Carry Tutorial
Hip Carry Tutorial
This is a very affordable Meh Dei option that can adapt as both your skill level and as baby grows.
It can be used for front, hip, and back carries. You can even do some fancier finishes, too.
However, the body panel is not very large, so it may not be as comfortable carrying a toddler. Some do find it comfortable for years, so don't let this deter you if it makes you happy otherwise.
Front Carry Tutorial *Note this video does not use the updated terminology of Meh Dai/Bai Dai. See #NotYourPodBuTai for more information.
Back Carry Tutorial *Note this video does not use the updated terminology of Meh Dai/Bai Dai. See #NotYourPodBuTai for more information.
Hip Carry Tutorial *Note this video does not use the updated terminology of Meh Dai/Bai Dai. See #NotYourPodBuTai for more information.
Fancy Finishes Tutorial *Note this video does not use the updated terminology of Meh Dai/Bai Dai. See #NotYourPodBuTai for more information.
Ultimately the goal is to find a carrier within your budget that makes YOU happy, as that's all that really matters! Happy wearing!
Samantha Reddy, ABE