February is for Babywearing on a Budget
Happy February! This month we're talking about babywearing on a budget. Choosing a carrier of your own is a big decision and prices can sometimes seem a little daunting. A high price tag doesn't necessarily equal a better baby carrier. With the variety of carrier styles/options available there's a huge number of great, quality options available for less than $100.
One factor you want to consider regardless of budget is which carrier style would work best with your lifestyle. The best fit for you may not be the cheapest option, but it's worth it to find something you'll find comfortable and easy to use. Are you envisioning something that can fit easily in a diaper bag for quick ups? Do you need a carrier that works for multiple body types? Do you need a carrier to take you from birth to toddlerhood or something that works just for the stage you're in right now? Also, find something you like the looks of. Liking something aesthetically can play a role in how likely you are to reach for it.
So let's talk about some of the carriers available in the budget category. Keep in mind, this is by no means an exhaustive list and the options listed below are just a few of what's out there. Also worth noting, if you can make it to a meeting, each library has at least one of each of these style carriers available to try in a meeting or borrow, so even if your location doesn't have the exact one listed, you could still get a feel for whether the carrier style is a match for you.
Ring Sling - Ring slings are great for babies and toddlers, but the weight loads on one shoulder so if you're looking for something to wear for a prolonged period of time a ring sling may not be the best fit. Beco, Maya wrap, Didymos, Soul and Lenny Lamb all make ring slings priced between $40-$100 new. All location's libraries have a ring sling that would fall in the "budget" category to try. The Beco ring sling can be found at Croton, Warwick and Monticello. It's thin, easy to tighten and 100% cotton so it can be thrown in the wash if it gets dirty!
SSC (Soft structured carrier) - Infantino makes several budget carrier options. One of these is the Infantino Flip 4 in 1 (https://infantino.com/collections/carriers/products/flip-4in1). It retails for about $30 and can be used as a narrow based carrier to hold smaller infants then adjusted up to a wider seat position as your baby grows. The carrier can be used for front (facing out and in), back and hip carries for babies 8-32 pounds.
Meh Dei - Meh Dei's are a rectangular piece of fabric with two shoulder straps and two waist straps. They're great for sharing between multiple caregivers as the same carrier can fit multiple body types. The Infantino Sash is a Meh Dei style carrier that retails for about $35 (https://infantino.com/products/sash). It can be used with children from 8-35 pounds for carries facing in, on the hip, or back carries. Brewster, Beacon, Monticello, Nyack, Syracuse and Yonkers all have one of these in their libraries. Catbird Baby also makes a meh dei that doesn't require an insert and can be used for 5 carry positions (legs in, facing in, facing out, hip carries and back carries). One of these is available in both the Beacon and Yonkers libraries to try.
Stretchy wrap- Stretchy wraps are popular for younger babies but approved for use with children up to 35 pounds (check with the guidelines for whichever stretchy you select as the weight limit may vary). Generally, people do not find stretchy wraps as comfortable once their baby hits the 15 pound mark, but everyone is different and some people enjoy wearing their child in them well past that point. Stretchy wraps are generally considered safe to use for multilayer hip and front carries only. Moby, Boba and Solly Baby all make stretchy wraps in a variety of colors and prints with price points around $50 or less. All libraries have a stretchy wrap available to try or borrow.
Woven wraps - Wraps work for every body type and babies from birth through toddlerhood. Price point here is dependent on whether you're looking for a new or used wrap. A lot of people seek out wraps that are already "broken in" or preloved. Little Frog, Lenny Lamb, Soul Slings, Yaro and Smitten with Wovens all have options under $100 when buying retail. I'll talk about carrier Buy/Sell/Trade pages on Facebook in a bit but they're a great place to find deals on wraps (and other carrier styles) that may have retailed for significantly more than their current asking price.
So you've explored some options, have a rough idea of what you're looking for and are ready to purchase your own carrier. Where do you find one?
If you want to buy a new carrier, Target and BuyBuyBaby have options available in store. Zulily often has flash sales with different carrier types. 5MinuteRecess has a variety of carriers under $100, and frequently has flash sales where carriers are significantly discounted. Little Zen One and Birdie's Room are both online retailers that offer payment plans. Amazon can also be a great place to find bargains. Didymos frequently lists new wraps there for far below retail. As another example, Lillebaby recently listed several styles of their carriers for 60% off. However, BEWARE of counterfeit carriers which may not be up to current safety standards and check reviews for the seller if a deal seems to good to be true. If the Amazon seller is the actual manufacturer (in this case, the Lillebaby carriers were being sold by Lillebaby vs, let's say, cheapbabycarriers.com) it's a good sign for carrier authenticity.
The baby carrier Buy/Sell/Trade (BST) market is alive and well on Facebook. There is a huge market for preloved carriers that have already been "broken in" or made softer and floppier compared to "loom state". Most pages listed have a mix of new and preloved carriers. A few groups to explore are:
-Babywearing on a Budget- this is a swap that exists solely for BST of carriers being listed for $100 or less including shipping. It's a great page to scroll to get an idea of what's available. -Babywearing on a Budget America is the same idea with price points up to $150 or $200. -The Babywearing Swap - This is sometimes referred to as the "big swap". Carriers are sorted into albums by size/type and they have a seperate budget album as well. You can usually find carriers for less than $100 in all of the albums though. -Save the 7s and 8s- this group is dedicated to wraps sizes 7 and up. They don't have a budget requirement but there are frequently wraps listed for less than $100.
Brand chatter pages - most weavers/carrier brands have "chatter" pages on Facebook where fans of the carrier can share wearing/carrier photos and information. Most also allow BST. Check with the page rules to be sure. Didymos Love & Appreciation, Bijou Buzz and The Pavo Society are a few examples of brand pages where you can find carriers for far less than retail.
When buying used, particularly when you can't see the carrier in person, make sure to ask the seller about any flaws (for example, tears or thread shifting that may impact safety). If a carrier was a DIY or a conversion (for example, from a woven wrap to a ring sling or to other type of carrier) was the conversion done safely (3 layers of stitching on a ring sling shoulder, "x box" stitching at the straps of an SSC or asian style carrier). To protect yourself as a buyer, payments should be made via the goods and services option on Paypal.
Carrier rental - Carriers are available to check out from the lending library at all meeting locations. For $30 a year, you can check out a different carrier, including doll carriers and season carriers (like babywearing coats and water ring slings) each month. Scholarships and free memberships are available for NY Babywearing as well. Please speak to a volunteer or message the Facebook page for more information. Check out this link to see what's
Wrapfully is a company that rents woven wraps from a wide variety of companies. Rentals go from 1-4 weeks.
So there you go! Again, this isn't an exhaustive list of options by any means, but it can be a starting point as you start your search. Happy babywearing!
Feel free to ask any questions and please share your budget babywearing success! And of course post your pictures to share with #oktoshare!
Blog post by New York Babywearing Librarian Catherine Kehrer