Different baby carriers are appropriate for different needs. There are hundreds of different kinds of carriers out there for any size child, any kind of weather and any budget. The trick is finding the right one (or set of two or three) for your family.
It is entirely possible to only buy one sling or carrier. That being said, many people find it convenient to have several different carriers around (in the diper bag, for hiking, etc.). Especially when baby is heavier (20 lbs or so), many people purchase a carrier that spreads the weight over both shoulders.
Before getting started, ask yourself:
Will you be sharing your carrier with someone much larger/smaller than you?
Some carriers are very adjustable, while others are sized an cannot adjust between different sizes.
Adjustable: ring slings (if unpadded), wraps, buckle carriers (mostly), mei tais, adjustable pouches (somewhat). Fitted: pouches.
Read more about carriers for petite wearers
Read more about carriers for plus-size wearers
How much learning time are you willing to invest?
If you don’t feel like you have the time, patience or energy to do much learning with a new carrier, a buckle carrier is probably the way to go!
Do you want to be able to breastfeed in the sling?
Many carriers offer some ability to breastfeed while using them, but the level of comfort and discreteness varies greatly.
Read more about choosing a carrier for breastfeeding.
What is your planned activity level while wearing your baby? How long do you want to carry your child on each outing?
A great feature of using carriers is that they let you live your life. But different carriers offer different levels of convenience and comfort for different activities you may be doing.
Are you looking for a carrier mostly for quick carries (e.g. in and out of the grocery store, a child who is constantly up and down, etc) or for longer carries (e.g.. Hiking or a baby who hates to be put down)? For quicker carries, convenience and ease of use may take priority, whereas for longer carries, you may choose a different carrier.
Shop carriers for different babywearing activities.
If you STILL can’t decide, click here for a chart of our personal quickie recommendations!