Baby carriers have been around for eons and they are just getting better all the time. From simple wraps to slings, Mei Tais and soft-structured carriers, parents love these handy accessories because they keep babies safe and give parents the freedom to do all sorts of stuff while they are taking care of their little one.
However, not everyone is enthusiastic about baby carriers. Many parents are hesitant about babywearing. They worry that baby carriers are not safe or that they will be awkward to use, especially on your own.
If you’ve ever tried to put on a baby carrier by yourself you know it can be frustrating. Hold the baby, clip these buckles, put baby in it, reach behind your back… it can get messy! There are however some tips and trick that can help you choose the best baby carrier that you can put on yourself.
Let’s take a look at some of the different types of baby carrier and how to put them on by yourself.
For more information on the different types of baby carriers, check out our complete baby carrier guide.
Wraps are the simplest of all the baby carriers. They are basically just a long strip of material that you tie around yourself and your baby. This carrier is suitable for infants and toddlers. Wraps are made from woven cotton or linen and cotton knits or other stretchy fabrics. The cotton and linen wraps are cooler to use, but the stretchy kind is softer and snugger for little ones.
This is a carrier that allows you to carry your baby in the front, on your back or on your hip.
Wraps are suitable for newborns and children up to 3 years old.
How to put on a wrap baby carrier by yourself
- Take the wrap, find the center, and hold that against your chest.
- Hold the fabric so it hangs down like a center panel.
- Hold the fabric on each side and take it to your back. Cross the fabric on your back and bring the left part over your right shoulder and the right part over your left shoulder. Now you have one piece of fabric hanging over each shoulder.
- Take these two pieces of fabric and tuck them under the center piece that goes around your waist.
- Pull the center piece fabric down over your stomach.
- Pull the two pieces down also, so they fit like a snug T-shirt.
- Take the two pieces of fabric hanging down and cross them again over your stomach.
- Take the two pieces of fabric to your back and tie them with a double knot on your back, or you can bring it to the front and tie them on your front.
- You fit the baby in under the two pieces of fabric that go across your chest. The center piece will go over those two pieces of fabric for further security.
Slings are another very simple way of carrying an infant. Slings are made of a long piece of fabric with two rings at one end. To secure your baby, you simply pull the other end of the sling through the two rings. The most popular way to carry a baby in a sling is on the hip. The sling goes over one shoulder and the baby rests on the opposite hip
Slings are great for breastfeeding offering secure support and privacy.
Slings are usually made of woven fabrics like cotton and linen. There are also more luxurious ones made of silk.
Slings can also be used from day one until your child is around 3 years old.
How to put a sling baby carrier on by yourself
- Decide on which shoulder you want the ring sling to be. Put the ring end of the sling high up over that shoulder and let the fabric fall to your back.
- Make sure the fabric lies flat on your back – look in a mirror if there is one handy.
- Bring the fabric under the opposite shoulder and up to the rings.
- Thread the end of the fabric through the first ring. Make sure the fabric is not twisted.
- Pull it through and then thread it through the second ring.
-look at the two rings, there will be a fold of fabric between the two rings. Pull it out for about 2 -3 inches. Make sure all the little folds that form are even, then pull the fabric through the rings again.
- Now there will be a pouch to put your baby in.
- Put your baby in in the frog position and pull on the fabric to create a snug fit.
Soft-Structured or Buckle Carriers
Soft-structured carriers (SSC) are constructed from fabric. There is a padded rectangle for the baby’s body to which four straps are attached: two shoulder straps at the top and two waist straps at the bottom. The straps are usually adjustable to allow for the best fit for you and your baby and also for your baby’s weight to be distributed evenly.
Soft-structured carriers are very popular and there are many brands on the market.
When you are thinking of buying an SSC, look out for a carrier that has a wide panel for the baby to sit in. This ensures that the baby’s legs are in the optimal health position – with knees bend, legs apart and knees higher than the hips (the so-called frog position).
These carriers are easy to use and comfortable to wear. You can carry your baby in any position, front, back and hip.
These carriers are most suitable for babies from 4-5 months when babies are strong enough to hold their heads firmly.
How to put a soft-structured baby carrier on by yourself
The reason why it may be difficult for some people to put on a SSC by themselves is that they can’t reach the back strap to clip it in. Here is a fantastic video that shows two safe ways to do it all by yourself.
- First fasten the carrier around your waist with the help of the Velcro strip.
- Pull out the shoulder straps to the maximum length.
- Take your hands to the back and fasten the back strap – it is easy this way because you don’t have to hold the baby as well while reaching for your back.
- Take your baby and hold him in front of you against your chest.
- Put your hands under the waist strap and the shoulder strap on each side and put your baby’s legs through there, and guide your baby to sit in the pouch.
- When the baby is seated, put your arms through the shoulder straps which are very loose, so pull on the shoulder straps to fit you on each side.
- To remove the baby, just reverse the process, starting by loosening the shoulder straps.
- The carrier is still fixed around your waist.
- Shorten the shoulder straps by pulling on them.
- Put your arms through the shoulder straps.
- Fasten the back strap, which is easy to do without the baby in the carrier.
- Put your baby high on your shoulder.
- Pull the carrier away from your body in the front and maneuver your baby in the carrier from that high position.
- Pull the carrier up over your baby’s body and pull his legs through the sides.
- Tighten the shoulder straps if needed.
Mei Tai carrier
The Mei Tai has a square panel in the center that forms the seat for the baby. To the seat are attached two padded straps that go over the shoulders of the wearer and two straps that go around the wearer’s waist.
The shoulder straps are usually tied in a cross over the back of the wearer and then around the wearer’s body, then you secure the straps with a knot. This distributes the weight of the baby evenly which makes for a comfortable and secure experience.
Mei Tais are mostly used from 6 months, but some styles are suitable for newborns. With a Mei Tai, you can carry your baby on your back, your hip or the front.
How to put a Mei Tai baby carrier on by yourself
- Hold the Mei Tai with the right side facing you, hanging down. The Mei Tai should have a label on it that indicates this step.
- Take the waist straps to the back and tie them with a double knot.
- Now, bring the Mei Tai up and put your baby in the pouch that is formed.
- Hold your baby with one hand and drop one shoulder strap to the back. If it’s the right shoulder strap, drop it over the right shoulder and cross it over to your left side and bring it to the front. Make sure it lies flat on your back. Do the same with the left shoulder strap. Drop it over your left shoulder and bring it to the front on your right side.
- Now, cross the two straps under your baby’s bottom and take the straps to the back and tie them. If you are small or your baby is small and there is enough fabric, you can bring it to the front again and make the knot on the front.
Best baby carriers to put on yourself?
Wild Bird ring sling
The Wild Bird Ring Sling is super easy and quick to put on yourself and put your baby into.
Wild Bird ring slings can be used for newborns and toddlers. Users find that they can put their babies in and take them out quickly and easily and the same with toddlers who want to be in and out constantly.
The wearer simply threads the one end of the sling through the two rings and put the sling over the left shoulder. Before you put the baby in, pull on the end gauging how much material is needed to fit the baby in. Then you put the baby in and for the final snug fit pull on the end strip some more.
You can carry your newborn in a cradle position in the sling and as he gets older and stronger you can carry him in a more upright position.
What makes this carrier so easy to use it the fact that there is no complicated wrapping involved. All you have to do is pull the fabric through the rings, put the baby in and tighten the sling by pulling on the end bit. The sling comes with clear instructions and there is also a very helpful instruction video on the website.
The Boba Wrap is a top-favorite with users who rave about it on online forums. The fabric is super soft with a luxurious feel to it and the wrap is long enough to fit all body shapes.
Best of all, it’s super easy to use. There is more than one video online that clearly demonstrates how to wrap and tie the Boba Wrap and it’s really straightforward. The fact that the wrap is a top-seller means that many parents are using it, so you can be sure that it’s not difficult to learn how to use it. There are different ways to tie the Boba Wrap; try them all out to see which way suits you the best.
The Boba Wrap is suitable for newborns and babies up about 18 months old. The fabric is stretchy, but thanks to its spandex content, it doesn’t start giving too much leeway with regular use.
If you are not into wrapping at all, then the Baby K’tan is for you. This simple multiple award-winning wrap basically consists of two loops of material that you put over your neck to look like a necklace. When you have followed the instructions, the baby is held safely in the fabric with some of it fitting around your body – it ends up looking like other wraps but without any ends that are tied. This is a neat job!
There is one thing to keep in mind though. Because of the looped design, the wrap is not adjustable for different people to use. The Baby K’tan comes in different sizes. You wear it like your favorite T-shirt, says the company.
Ergo Baby 360
This baby carrier comes out tops every time; it’s hugely popular with both moms and dads. This is a soft-structured baby carrier that is super easy to use and very ergonomic for baby. The carrier is designed to support all carry positions and there are videos that illustrate all these positions.
One of the outstanding features of this carrier is its wide Velcro waistband that fits all sizes. You can fasten it on your waist where it suits you and your baby. And there is an extra safety strap that goes over the Velcro strap. This carrier fits all body types.
The ergonomic design makes this carrier a good choice for parent and baby.
Infantino Sash Wrap
The Infantino Sash Wrap is in the style of a Mei Tai. This easy-to-wear carrier is a buckle-free wrap that uses only straps to create a custom fit for you and your baby. The extra-wide padded straps make it very comfortable for the wearer and the ergonomic seat is healthy for your baby’s development. The long straps are simple to tie and means multiple people can use it for the same child.
You can carry your child facing-in, on your hip or on your back. Enjoy this carrier, it is easy to use and very comfortable for parent and child alike.
Don’t be intimidated by babywearing. All the different styles of baby carriers have some learning curve, but most parents find one, or even more carriers that work for them. We have reviewed some of the easiest carriers for you to try out.
Paul is a passionate dad who founded Upside Dad to share his parenting journey with other new parents. He graduated from Concordia University and worked as a test engineer for over a decade. Paul loves dad jokes and craft beer.
Learn more about Paul and Upside Dad here.