By: Susanne Rau

Many years ago, our ancestors were used to holding onto their parents’ fur to not only be carried to wherever they were going but to be carried to safety from predators or dangerous situations. It was about survival and thus babies were really good at holding on to the long hair of their parents. Biologically, we are parent clingers.

But why babywear in the first place?

Apart from being biological parent clingers, babies get carried for nine months in a warm and somewhat constricting space that smells and sounds familiar. After birth they are in a bright and unfamiliar environment, so getting close and being held tight by their parents, whose sounds and smells they know, seems like a logical conclusion for comforting a newborn.

In some cultures babies are carried all day, every day, out of convenience. Not only as a cultural custom but also to make sure the parent can do what needs to be done for everyday life. In the western world, we prefer to push strollers. But why? They are big, heavy, expensive, and are only used for a limited amount of time in a child’s life. The same may be said of a wrap or carrier but in the following paragraphs, I’ll go into detail about the various benefits. See the table below for a comparison of pros and cons. Also, please see the disclaimer below.

Monkey carrying baby in wild

Emotional benefits:

Have you ever heard of bonding and skin-to-skin contact? Ideally, that’s what happens between newborns and their parents after birth; you make a connection, get to know each other and cuddle up naked which gets all the hormones going (e.g., oxytocin: lessens pain, helps with lactation, makes you and your baby feel good). Bonding is a fundamental part of your baby forming a safe attachment to you as their parent and a way to help process birth which can give you a headstart to a healthy postpartum period. Research has shown so many benefits of skin-to-skin contact and bonding. Physically carrying your baby is just one way of bonding.

Babywearing can also help to comfort your baby. Think about lying down on your back and you hear a loud noise next to you. You get really startled, right? Now imagine being held by someone you love and hearing that same noise. You probably look for the origin but feel safe and secure regardless. That’s the same for babies, especially with their initial sensitive startling reflex (Moro reflex). Being carried prevents that intense startling and makes your baby feel safe, which can lead to less crying and deeper sleep.

Physical benefits:

Carrying your baby is something you will want to do just because you love them and want to cuddle up constantly but your arms are going to get heavy and your back is going to hurt from trying to cradle your baby perfectly. By using a wrap or carrier you get the best of both worlds: cuddles and bonding but with the additional benefit of being hands-free without hurting your back. Being able to do things while your baby is either awake or asleep in your wrap or carrier can be very helpful postpartum as well!

Wraps and carriers are also great for your baby’s hip development, limiting plagiocephaly (i.e., flattening of the head), and soothing colics. If the wrap or carrier is used correctly, it can help to prevent hip dysplasia. Ideally, the angle of a baby’s thigh to hip should be 100-110°. Wraps and carriers achieve this by utilizing the squat spread position (also called the M-position). Additionally, by carrying your baby, you provide a soothing, comfortable environment with consistent motion. This helps to prevent the development of plagiocephaly by limiting the amount of time they are lying on their backs while simultaneously providing the close, physical comfort needed to soothe colic. Furthermore, by babywearing from the start, you will get you used to carrying their weight (which should not be exceeded in the postpartum period regardless of your decision to babywear or not). Once you feel ready to do so and have been cleared by your medical health provider, you can start to do more physical activities and even work out while carrying your baby!

Practical benefits:

Lastly, it’s just easy! Like I said before, a stroller can get quite expensive and it is big and heavy. Do you want to go for a walk or meet some friends? Think about the differences between bringing a wrap versus a stroller down the stairs and to your car. The best thing is, you can do it as early in the baby’s life as you want. No need to wait for your baby to gain a certain weight nor do you need to get rid of it once your baby hits a certain weight or age.

A wrap (not a carrier) can get used for so many more things (depending on the fabric you chose). Are you still pregnant and have pain in your pubic bone? Use your wrap to stabilize your pelvis. You have a home birth planned and your midwife or doula are trained in rebozo techniques? You can use the wrap for that too. There are too many benefits to list!

Parents holding children in carriers

So what types of carriers and wraps are there?


Wraps can be inexpensive, are adjustable to both your and your baby’s bodies, and allow for multiple styles of babywearing. Different thicknesses, lengths and designs are always available. One key difference between the different types is fabric choice. Elastic wraps are made out of stretchy materials like jersey and are perfect for wearing almost like a shirt. Because of its versatility, you can take your baby in and out of it with ease. One of the downsides of its elasticity is that you have to watch out for a max weight limit. On the other hand, woven wraps are more structured which makes them great for heavier babies and newborns. Having to wrap it every time might be a disadvantage but it’ll last for many months and even more configurations (e.g., back wrap cross carry) are possible.

If you’re a doula, I would ultimately suggest owning an inexpensive elastic wrap. Wraps work well with newborns and are easy to clean properly after every client. Once it gets worn out, it’s easy to replace as there are a ton of cute designs at a reasonable place out there.

Soft structured carriers/buckle carriers:

These carriers may be the more common/mainstream products used for babywearing. There are many different types and if wraps are not for you, you can definitely find a carrier that fits your body type and budget (though they do tend to be more expensive than wraps). In general there are two different types: half-buckle carriers and full-buckle carriers.

Half-buckle carriers only have one buckle (usually made out of velcro) which wraps around your waist. Often, they are upholstered and adjustable to your body. The shoulder straps and panel have some similarities to a wrap in that they are not rigid, therefore granting the ability to fit both your body and your baby’s body, even as they grow. You may be able to wear half-buckle carriers on your front or your back.

Full-buckle carriers usually have the same main buckle around your waist as but no wrapping is needed since the top straps are fastened with buckles as well. Some types cross over your back while others are worn like a backpack in reverse. Usually, these carriers are adjusted to one person in the front or the back to assure a secure and comfortable fit. Once you’ve achieved this, it is very fast and easy to put on, however, adjusting it to another person will take some time. The structure of these carriers can be rigid so make sure to find one that will support your baby’s natural squat spread position and curvature of the spine. Additionally, due to the rigid structure, these carriers may have a minimum weight limit. Lastly, there are many different styles available! For instance, there are some full-buckle carriers with no waistband that solely rely on shoulder straps as their main structure.

Other types:

  • Mei Tai (crossover between wrap and carrier; has the best of both worlds)
  • Slings (wrap that acts like a pouch or is adjustable with rings for carrying your baby on one hip)
  • Carriers with support or seat underneath the infant like hiking backpacks

Comparison of Pros and Cons:

Type Pro Con
Elastic wrap –        Once you know what you’re doing you will live in it, you have to only wrap it once per day

–        Will fit you and your newborn perfectly

–        Pretty inexpensive

–        Small to pack and bring along

–        Lots of configurations are possible

–        Your baby will grow out of it rather quickly, max weight limit

–        It can seem difficult to learn how to wrap properly

–        Takes longer than a carrier to put on

–        Only use it in front of you


Woven wrap –        Small to pack and bring along

–        Can be inexpensive

–        Even more configurations are possible (front and back)

–        Will fit you and your baby perfectly, regardless of their size and weight

–       Can be very expensive

–        You will have to wrap it every single time you want to use it

–        It can seem difficult to learn how to wrap properly

–        Takes longer than a carrier

Half-buckle carrier –        Can be used over years (there are some models that grow with you baby by exchanging only some of the parts)

–        Easy and fast to put on

–        Check for types that can be worn in the back and front

–        Sometimes they have built in headrests and teething guards

–        On the more expensive side

–        Sometimes there is a minimal weight limit

–        Sometimes only for front or back use

–        Easier to adjust to different body types than a full-buckle carrier

Full-buckle carrier –        Can be used over years (there are some models that grow with your baby by exchanging some of the parts)

–        Probably the fastest to put on and easy to use

–        Check for types that can be worn in the back and front

–        Sometimes they have built in headrests and teething guards

–        Can get quite expensive

–        Sometimes there is a minimal weight limit

–        Can be rather stiff to wear for you and your baby

–        Adjusting it to another person can take some time

–        Sometimes only for front or back use

Other types –       Might be the perfect carrier that doesn’t fit into one of the main categories like the Mei Tei (my personal favourite)

–        Can be very inexpensive (e.g., slings)

–        May be more suitable for older babies and toddlers

–        May lack some benefits (e.g., the “M” position)

–        Can be very expensive (e.g., hiking backpacks)



If you’re a new parent it really comes down to preference. Even though there are so many benefits to babywearing, it is completely okay if it is not for you. Since there are so many options out there, choosing a wrap or carrier may seem daunting at first but once you try some on, you will quickly learn what works for you! Just do you!

If you’re a doula, you can benefit from having a baby wrap or carrier so you can babywear. Babies love to be carried and will often fall asleep while you have your hands free to do whatever needs to be done for your client. What about a client with multiples? Carrying one baby will give you more flexibility to take care of the others or to finish other to-do items. Babywearing can also be a great educational moment. Your clients will see you doing crazy wrapping techniques and will trust you to teach them those techniques properly. Meanwhile, you can explain the countless benefits of babywearing. With your help, your clients will learn how to wear their baby safely and in time, can progress to their own wrap or carrier.


Please check with your and your baby’s primary healthcare provider if babywearing is recommended as there are certain circumstances where a stroller may be a safer option. Make sure you use a wrap and carrier with the correct positioning of your baby (M-position or squat spread position). There is currently controversy surrounding carriers featuring side-lying position or front facing forward carrying. Lastly, by purchasing used carriers or wraps, there is no guarantee they are still fully functional and safe, so please act with caution in that area.

Further reading:

For more evidence-based information on the benefits of babywearing, read this article by Norholt, H. and others:

For more information regarding the biological side of things, read this article by Nicolai, K.:

Some companies that offer multiple wraps and carriers:;;;;