Continuing from the previous post, since I do get to review and try many carriers and also recommend carriers to the parents who come to the South Mumbai wing of the Mumbai Sling Library meet ups, I thought I’d dedicate a comprehensive space on this blog and add brands/ carriers on here as and when I receive for review. This post also serves as a first time baby wearer’s guide to what she should go for.
What are the Indian carriers and brands out there?
Anmol Baby carriers: The reason why Anmol has been mentioned so often on my blog is because it’s my first wrap and my first introduction to the real world of baby wearing in India. Rashmee has become a good friend and her passion and love for baby wearing is contagious. She puts her heart into her products and most of her fabrics of her carriers are handwoven with the softest, cushiest feels ever and the colours are just to die for. Anmol is the only Indian brand that has the stretchy / hybrid wrap that I recommend all pregnant and new parents (that I council for lactation issues) to have or parents with newborns. Now with their recently launched low budget handwoven wraps, that could be a great option for newborns as well.
Cuddle n care: I had a chance to sample a few of Smita’s carriers when she came to my home to lend me some for a Mumbai Sling Library and loved them. She has a wide range. Fully reversible and adjustable Meh Dai which can truly be used from new borns to toddlerhood, ring slings, really beautiful jacquard wraps and SSC’s whose size can be adjusted by drawstrings, a true novelty!
Kolkol baby carriers: I recently tried the full buckle or soft structured carrier from Kol Kol and loved it. It looks super stylish, unisex, and has the cushiest shoulder strap,
great for carrying heavier babies but slightly bulky to grab and go. it was a super well made and high quality carrier but Soul’s full buckle seemed slightly larger in standard size. I also tried their Meh Dai and though it’s nice and adjustible I preferred Cuddle n care’s Meh dai (reviewed below) for comfort.
Maaeri Artisanal Embroidered Ring Slings: I have written a detailed review of this brand and their slings here. Please read it! but to cut the long story short, I LOVE this sling so much that when i am not wearing my baby i am wearing my doll!
Easy feel: I had a carrier sent for review. Love the designs this brand has. They use a lot of ikat and are lovely . They sent me a toddler carrier instead of the standard and the panel was HUGE for my 1 year old though he fits into the toddler Tula and Anmol toddler SSC very well. If I do get another standard SSC for review will update here.
Soul Slings: I have tried a full buckle from Soul sent for review. Do have a look at my review here. Soul carriers are really stunning to look at and have tons of varieties. They clearly have the most new launches and the most restocking happening and are probably the only truly professional baby carrier makers in India. I loved the Soul Meh Dai when i tried it recently. even with my tall 4 year old it was weightless. I just didn’t feel him. As you can see in the accompanying picture, the straps can be adjusted to go almost knee to knee in a tall preschooler and can easily fit a young baby from 4 months onwards too.
Nao for baby : This very new brand from Manipur boasts of carriers made from traditional materials that have been used for baby wearing for centuries! the ring sling I tried from them was extremely light and so exquisite! I didn’t find it toddler worthy but an awesome buy for babies from 0-1 .
Dulaar: I am happily using my first meh dai from them sent for review. I was wondering all this time why should I recommend a meh daii when I have ring slings, wraps and SSCs, until I did a back carry! Totally fell in love with this meh dai after that and the back carry was so easy and so high. What I love about Dulaar is that is it fully customizable ie. you can choose your fabrics and also reversible! So you feel like you have two carriers in one.
So! Which carrier should you choose?
Well I’d say attend a few meet ups and try out carriers before you choose.
However here are a few recommendations.
Expecting or new mammas:
Hybrid wraps or stretchy wraps are my number one recommendation for newborns.
The Moby is a very popular wrap in the US and its Indian cousin the hybrid wrap by Anmol is one step further. Since it has the non-stretchy front it can hold much heavier babies without sagging. Here I am with my 12 kg one year old and a mom with a couple of weeks old baby in the same hybrid wrap.
Since Anmol and Soul now have woven wraps in a lower budget (Anmol’s are hand woven and Soul’s are machine woven) these can also be a great first and last carrier. The versatility of woven wraps is un paralleled. You can use it from newborn till easily the age of 2 or 3, you can do front carries, back carries, hip carries, It is truly the only carrier you need to use.
Just to prove that point have a look at these pictures with the same handwoven wrap since when A was a few days old to a few days ago.
The difference between a hybrid or stretchy wrap and a woven wrap is that the woven wrap has more of a learning curve. With the hybrid wrap you just put it on you and put the baby in. since it’s stretchy it will shape itself to the baby. With the woven however you have to drape it on, then put in the baby, then tweak and adjust and finish until you get the perfect fit. Of course practice makes perfect and you honestly don’t need another carrier. Ever.
Updated to add: Anmol has launched a really amazing handwoven wrap in a budget called Reyansh. it’s thin enough for the weather, cushy enough for bigger babies and newborns alike and super soft with the new weft.
Here’s me in an Anmol handwoven woven wrap with my one month old and now my 13 month old and in both he is happily breastfeeding in these pics!
Cuddle n care has a really nice adjustable meh dai, which can be used from newborn to much older toddler or preschooler.
In these pics you can see me wearing a 3 month baby sized doll by adjusting the carrier and pulling the draw stings, picture of the biggest and smallest size, and me wearing my 18 month old in the same carrier. The shoulders are well padded and when spread out cup your shoulders well, the weight is distributed beautifully and thanks to the straps it can fit a much older child as you can adjust the straps on the legs knee to knee.
3 month plus:
If your baby is already past the 3 month mark and you are a first time babywearer go for the SSC or full buckle carrier. Anmol, Soul and Kol Kol are are great Indian brands! Take your pick.
The advantages of an SSC are: they have a far easier learning curve, great for front and back carries, and great for dads. It’s super easy to pop your baby in and out!
Meh dai’s are also great if your baby is around the 3 month mark or older. They are more customizable than the SSC, a perfect blend between a wrap and a SSC. More structured than a wrap, less structured than a SSC. However between an SSC and a meh dai, I’d still pick a ssc for the simplicity and no brainer on and off.
Woven wraps still fit the bill here.
Ring slings are great for a baby post 5 months though many parents happily wear their newborns in them too. Super easy to pop in and out when babies want to explore and easy for baby to look front and back and all around as she gets older. The only flip side is that since it is only one shouldered, the weight bearing is not that equal. So if you’re going to wear an older baby for longer times then it may not be the ideal carrier. Having said that my Anmol wrap converted ring sling is my current favourite carrier with my one year old as I use it for quick ups and downs, putting him to sleep, when I’m out and about and he wants to turn his head 360 degreed etc. not to mention, in this heat Ring sling’s are probably the lightest and least fabric around wearer and wearee.
1 year plus:
Toddler sized SSCs available with all the above brands, mai teis and woven wraps and not to forget the always lovely and economical ring sling.
I recently tried the buckled Onbu (short for onbuhimo) by Cuddle n care. Onbus are without a waist belt and only for back carries so perfect for older babies and toddlers and perfect for pregnancy with your second baby as there is no pressure on the tummy. This particuular onbu felt a little diggy on the shoulders with my now heavy toddler so I would like to see slightly more padded shoulder but otherwise I loved it as a super simple back carry for a older baby. This particular onbu is adjustable whereby you can pull drawstrings to make the seat narrower or wider.
If you are a first time baby wearer you may not have a clear picture about how much or wear you will babywear. You may find that you babywear a lot at home, out and about, it just becomes your go to tool for everything like it is mine. I nurse in my slings, put him for naps in my slings, go for walks, keep him in a sling if he is fussy or cranky. If you feel you will use it outside a lot and your significant other and/ or other caregivers would love to wear the baby and your baby is around 3 months or older a SSC is a worthy investment.
As mentioned above a woven wraps is always a great deal and so is a hybrid or stretchy wrap and if you have a newborn or are pregnant then don’t even think twice about buying one of these.
If you have doubts about baby wearing and you want an option where baby doesn’t feel too hot, or you are unsure if your baby would like to be so snug or facing inwards then a ring sling is great. Babies 6 or 7 months onwards just love looking all over the place. A ring sling is also good if your baby is super active and may keep changing his mind about coming on and off. The learning curve is more than an SSC but less than a wrap therefore great for a dad! (sorry dads, there are some awesome baby wearing dads out there, but from experience I’ve seen a lot of you enjoy SSCs more)
If you are looking for a particular purpose like if you’re traveling and will be doing a lot of walking then go for an SSC either on rent or to purchase. You won’t regret it!
One observation I have made is that the more versatile the carrier the higher is the learning curve,
for example : wraps : high learning curve, high versatility, Ring sling: medium learning curve, medium versatility, SSC: low learning curve, lower versatility!
Whoa! This has been two exhaustive posts on the babywearing scene in India and I plant to continue adding to the above reviews as I try more and more brands.
If you live in Mumbai, I also do personalised babywearing consults with families to help them figure out which carrier is best suited to their needs, so do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org
Try before you buy: Attend the Mumbai Sling Library monthly meet ups all across the city!
Thanks for reading and please leave me a comment if you found my posts useful. Is there anything else you’d like me to cover with regards to babywearing in India?