What are the best plus-size options for baby-wearing?

September 25 2013 | offbeatbride
Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
Babywearing
Photo by Julia.
Courtney recently sent us this question about baby-wearing for the plus-size parent:

I am expecting my second son and I think it would really help my chaotic life if I was able to cart this kiddo around without a stroller. My first son had some health issues that made baby wearing not a possibility for us, so I do not have much experience picking the best options. Since I am a big gal I'm wondering if some products work better for larger bodies. My partner is also chubby and proud so suggestions for big papas would also be helpful!

A quick skim of the baby wearing archives told me we'd never covered this topic before, so I figured it was time to dive in. Here are a few options I found — we'd love to know what your faves are!

I found this link on The Baby Wearer that explains a few key differences pretty clearly:

Since my son's birth (July 24, 2002), I have owned some 35 slings and carriers, helped dozens of parents learn to use slings, including many plus-size parents, and finally opened an e-store specializing in slings and carriers. This article addresses other parents like me. If you are a size 20 (or thereabouts) or smaller, you will probably be able to use slings and carriers in standard large sizes without a problem. However, if you are larger, there are some special considerations you may want address before you begin to buy.

Most slings available today come in larger sizes. I am thrilled that this is so, but as we all know, just making things bigger is only part of what we need. Who among us has not gone to try on a new shirt and found that, although it fit well everywhere else, the neck hole was huge, or the breast pocket was much too far to the left? Just making everything bigger doesn't always work! Our proportions are often very different from those of our smaller friends. We also wear more natural insulation, so many of us tend to be warmer than others, making the weight and padding of a sling an important consideration. Digging and pinching are also bigger problems for us because we are softer all over.

Here are a few ring slings that you might dig:

The Maya Sling.

The Maya Wrap ($68) is lightly padded for maximum comfort.

Snuggy Baby slings run for $78.

According to their website, Snuggy Baby slings "Snuggy Baby slings are completely adjustable so you will get a custom fit for you and your baby every time no matter what your body type is. Plus sized baby wearers will have a shorter tail, and petite wearers will have a longer tail." Win!

But of course, if ring slings aren't your jam, a lot of baby carriers will work, too. Here are a few we've featured before, with additional info for plus size parents, courtesy of Plus Size Birth:

The ERGO Sport runs for $115. Photo from Plus Size Birth.

The Baby K'tan ranges up to size XL (women's size 18-22), which is pictured above.

Another oft-mentioned carrier is the Beco Butterfly, which has a waist belt that can be adjusted up to 57".

Plus-size parents: what carriers and slings work best for you?

  1. Great question, great post. I wish I had thought to ask it when my kids were small.

    I'm a size 20 and was able to use a Baby Bjorn with no trouble (as was my husband who isn't slender, and is taller than me). We were able to get 2 as hand-me-downs (and you can find them for cheap and consignment sales and shops) so we were able to size one for each of us and not have to deal with adjusting straps.

    I considered getting and Ergo, but the waist belt didn't fit. By the time I realized you can buy belt extenders for the Ergo, we didn't really need it anymore.

    • We used a Baby Bjorn as well, the one with the back support. Hubby's tall, I'm 5'7 and, um, well-endowed, with no waist. Plus we had a winter baby and were able to wear the Bjorn over thick coats (bonus: now they make a warm carry sack for the babies; we wrapped blankets and our raincoats — to keep out the wind – over him). My only complaint was that I couldn't switch it around to carry on my back like you can with the Ergo, but it fit me better.

    • I'll also vouch for the baby bjorn. I'm plus sized, and my son's father is plus sized and TALL. The baby bjorn fit us both comfortably and it was a life saver when my son decided he hated being cradled or in a laying down position. Plus it was really easy and convenient to breastfeed in.

  2. There are tons of carrier options for plus-sized parents. Mei tais offer a lot of adjustability between wearers as they usually have long, wider straps, which also make them more comfortable than soft-structured carriers. Ring slings come in different lengths to adjust for size of the wearer, and are awesome for little babies or older kids who want up and down all the time. A wrap has a steep learning curve, but is very comfortable and a longer length would easily work for a plus-sized wearer. Soft structured carriers such as the Ergo may be more limiting for bigger wearers, but some do have waist extenders or longer waist straps. There is also the option of finding someone who makes custom carriers and getting something that is made to your specifications, which would give you the optimal fit.

    • I can confirm this – ERGObaby Performance worked great for us, for years. Also – used the Maya, an Olives and applesauce, and now a Kinderpack with plus size straps for a 2 y/o. I love being able to do the criss cross back straps with a bigger kid.

      • My issue seems to be that it loosens so quickly. Baby starts out up in kiss-range but then droops as I walk around so it starts to hurt my back. Any suggestions?

    • How big is your baby? I found the Moby to only work well when baby was tiny–once she got beyond 4 months or so, she was too heavy and the Moby stretched out quickly.

      • She is 4 months this week, but still pretty small only 11 pounds. I have had the droopy problem from the start though. The moby just might not be for me, maybe its not body type related but I'm getting some good alternative suggestions from this article and comments.

        • You can buy a woven wrap. It should not stretch and droop like the knit ones. That said I just snug up my moby as needed and reload the baby. I wear a 18/20 but I'm super busty and feel like a wrap is the best for getting baby nestled in/around my breasts rather than on top of them and thus further out from my center of gravity.

  3. I don't have a lot to add, except that the picture is incorrectly labelled. I'm not sure what brand the carrier is, but that is not the K'Tan, which doesn't have any buttons or different straps. (For the record, I liked my K'Tan, but my size 16 experience may not be applicable.)

    • Ok, I didn't love the moby. I felt as if I couldn't get it that one more time around my waist and found myself more awkardly tying it either in the back or insecurely in the front based on my size.

  4. I'm a size 18/20 Mama and I wore my son (and still do) A LOT! I love size 7 wraps they work for most carries. And I use my homemade mei tais often. If you are a sewist, there are lots of mei tai tutorials online. Or you could contact someone who is making mei tais on etsy and have one made to your measurements. I've only used my own homemade ring slings, but if you have a wrap converted by someone like Jan at Sleeping Baby Productions, you can have it done to your own specifications.

  5. I wear a 22-24 and have used a Moby which is awesome once you get used to putting it on. I currently use a Mei Tai That I got off Etsy and had made with longer straps and also a Beco Butterfly II. Both fit comfortably, are good for baby and easy on my back. I'm still wearing my 4 year old and 2 1/2 year old EASILY!

  6. My husband is plus-size and he has a few baby wearing options. His first was the Moby Wrap. He found it really comfortable but often complained about it slipping around his mid section and causing the fabric to sag. He also has a Karma Sling that he really likes. They have XL sizes and we just measured him and placed the order. We also have an Evenflo seated carrier that adjusts to fit my husband.

    We returned our mei tai because the one we got had very short straps that didn't have enough slack to feel that they safely tied after wrapping around my husband.

  7. I am a size 16-18ish with large ta-tas. The ERGObaby is my jam. I love it.

    My husband is 6'5" and almost 300 lbs and he does not like the ergo, but loves the BABYBJORN. I'm not a big fan of it because it hangs weird from my boobs. baby ends up kind of tilted down if he's facing out.

  8. I love love love my Moby Wrap! I'm larger chested, and not exactly petite, but it worked phenomenally. My son is almost 2, and I can still use it with him in the back carry position. I did have to modify the way it was wrapped around me a bit so that I could nurse him in it easier, so I'd recommend playing with it some if that's what you choose, but over all it's the best and most versatile baby carrier I've ever owned. An awesome investment that I will be keeping for if I decide to have any more kids in the future.

  9. I am not very big, but I worked in a parenting resource center, and assisted a lot of parents in finding carriers that would work for them. I've also "worn" a lot of friends'/employers' babies! Sometimes, while babies are still little, a Moby-type wrap (one long piece of stretchy fabric, like cotton jersey) can work. I have no particular preference for one brand, but Moby wraps are easy to find, and in their website FAQ they specifically mention that extra-long (and shorter) wraps are available to accommodate parents of different sizes, since their main model is "one-size-fits-many-but-not-all." The extra-long wraps can be ordered via phone.

    Also, not all larger parents need the extra-long wrap–many folks find that tying the knot at their lower backs instead of in front of their waists gives them enough extra inches that the "medium" sized Moby works fine.

    If you're into DIYing something, there are many many great tutorials online that describe helpful hints, such as using/borrowing a serger to finish the edges (if you care about hemmed edges at all!) and tapering the ends to make tying a knot easier. When I was in the market for carriers for my baby, it didn't seem any cheaper to buy the fabric than to just buy the carrier, though. Also, I know some cotton jersey is just too thin to work optimally for this purpose, and cut fabric is notoriously unreturnable : /

    Wrapping can initially look intimidating, but I promise it is not as complex as it seems. It's fewer "steps" than tying shoes, if you don't count tying a knot at the end, which most people already know how to do. There are tons of videos and other resources online to help parents learn to tie all different kinds of wraps. My favorite part about this style of carrier (as someone with extensive nerve damage from a car accident) is that it distributes the kid's weight comfortably, over many inches of width of jersey fabric, evenly over both shoulders, upper back, sides, and waist. You can be as careful about spreading out the fabric as you need to be for comfort. Nothing digs in–it's more comfortable to carry a 3-month-old in this type of wrap than it is to be pregnant with a 7 lb baby! Other benefits: washable, often fits multiple caregivers well, sometimes provides some of the same benefits as swaddling for sensitive babies.

  10. The Ergo sport is a great carrier, and highly adjustable. My husband was also very happy with this carrier.

    If you would be interested in wrapping, wraps come in large sizes (the size you need depends on the type of wrap you want to do and how big you are — this site has some good info: http://paxbaby.com/paxbabys-woven-wrap-guide )

    Just a caution against the popular Baby Bjorn and Snugli — there are warning that these can be harmful to baby, due to the positioning they put baby in. Also, generally wearing front-outward-facing is not considered the best position. These two carriers are not as supportive for the wearer, either, so you may be comfortable for a longer time in an Ergo or Beco or Boba (waistband goes up to 58") or Mei Tei.

  11. The cool part, I think, about a Moby style wrap is that in the end, it's just a big old strip of fabric, meaning that you can very easily DIY one in any size. I've heard the standard Moby is 5 yards long (not sure about that), but you could get 6 yards of fabric, or even 7, and that will give you more options. As for making it yourself, there are tons of online tutorials, and you will probably be able to save a few bucks in the long run too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I have a homemade k'tan that I loved for my last two babies, and I just found albeebaby.com has a sale going on for the Ergo: http://www.albeebaby.com/ergo-baby-sport-carrier-red.html
    so I ordered that for my husband-we're both big peeps, and when baby outgrows the k'tan, I can wrap, but hubby isn't comfy wrapping so had avoided wearing our last two (this is our fourth) This way he can wear baby boy coming in November. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Wraps. Woven wraps are amazing and versatile. There is a bit of a learning curve but they are by FAR my favorite carrier. They come in many sizes and there is a fantastic chart I found in one of the Facebook babywearing groups (I think Babywearing 102) that tells you what carries you should be able to do with each size wrap depending on size – petite/average/plus. Woven wraps can also be used for back carries (Moby and other stretchy wraps should NOT – they are not safe for back carries) and older/heavier children.

    In addition to wraps, mei tais are fantastic. I believe BabyHawk goes to 22 or 24 and you can get longer straps, plus you can have them custom make the carrier, including making it the strap length you need. The Infantino Wrap and Tie has slightly shorter ties but I've still heard of plus sized mamas doing fine with them. You can often find both of these mei tais on Craigslist fairly inexpensively.

    Many soft structured carriers easily adjust to fit plus size people or have waist belt extenders available. The Ergo is the most commonly known, but Beco is fantastic, and the Tula waist belt can extend to 60 inches around, I believe. Tula is VERY popular among babywearers.

  14. I have an option! I live in an Arctic community where ladies carry their babies in "packing shirts" around the house and under sweatshirts/jackets (as long as they're breathable). The ones here mostly tie in the front, but I found this example of a criss-cross style:

    http://www.diaperswappers.com/forum/showthread.php?t=929036

    There are lots of Inuit seamstresses who will custom-make these for you! You can find them on facebook groups such as the Rankin Inlet sell/Swap, the Iqaluit Sell/Swap, Iqaluit Auction Bids, etc. Lots of plus-size ladies wear them here with no trouble at all, since they are made to fit the wearer. They are customized to the size of your baby, from newborn up to 2 years old. My son is 4 months old and I often "pack" him during his naps so that he will sleep soundly while I get chores done. It's also handy for walking in cool weather, as you can throw a large sweatshirt over top to keep baby shielded from the wind. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. I'm a 16/18 & love my Beco Butterfly (which was recommended to us by a dad). Tried my friend's Ergo & found its straps dug into soft areas; the straps themselves weren't quite as wide or padded or something. Just got a Boba Wrap for the early days, and haven't tried it out yet but am excited to!

  16. Babyette slings come in a longer size option that is 84 inches called tall that works GREAT. I especially love their super wide slings, but all of them are awesome and very affordable.

  17. I had a Baby K'Tan that was recommended to me by others. I think it can be a good plus size option, but I had trouble getting a comfortable, secure, fit due to my large bust (I think I might have been an F or G cup while I was nursing).

  18. I have a size XL baby k'tan in sage green just sitting in my house because I prefer my RS and Dad loves the Ergo. If there is a way for the OP to contact me, I would be glad to send it to her to try. I like that it's nice and soft and very simple to use; it just didn't fit for us.

  19. I was a size 20 when my son was born and over the past two years went up to size 24. I've got a big belly & huge boobs. I went with a standard Moby wrap, and it worked great! I used it until he was about 11 months & started walking.

  20. Moby Wrap. If you're having trouble putting it on, there are TONS of videos on youtube to show you how. It fits both my husband (250lbs) and average sized me, he just ties it in the back while I tie it in the front. He can tie it in the front if its stretched out and he really pulls, but I think it's more comfortable when he ties it in the back. If you're in a warmer climate, I would suggest a lighter colored fabric, as we have a brown one and it can get rather warm in the summer. It's nice because there are no straps or buckles to adjust when you trade wearers.

  21. The best option is to find a store with knowledgable sales people who can help you try sifferent carriers — WITH baby. some babies hate certain carriers.

    I love our ERGObaby. Baby likes it better than Bjorn too. Especially nice that the Ergo has the extra straps to take the load off your back. You can get an extender for the waist — my large and tall male friend uses it like this. You can also buy the infant insert if you want to start using it when baby is very small. Just make sure to keep baby's legs in the froggy position for the first several months.

  22. I would say look for Baby Wearing groups in your area for a "playdate" as most usually have a whole slew of different carriers and are more than willing to let you try them on. Go now and get an idea and then go again when baby is born to really see what the both of you like.
    You can usually find these groups on facebook and if you happen to be in Southern California I'm in an awesome one I can show you to. (I'm new to babywearing myself as I only have a 7 week old squish but I'm not plus size so I can't help there)

  23. I'm 6 feet tall and have GIANT EE boobs. The Bjorn was the only one I could wear and nurse at the same time. The hubs liked this one too- it was easy to put on and adjust.

  24. I am probably a size 22 or so and I wear my 16 month old in my ergo every day. He's comfortable, I'm comfortable. I have the waist strap basically at its max, so the waist extender could be helpful if you're worried about it. When he was smaller I wore him in a ring sling everywhere but now he's pretty strictly on my back. I can't afford it but I'd love to get a long woven wrap. They look amazing! If I ever have another I'll splurge.

  25. I think my concern is a health question: I keep hearing that babies shouldn't be worn facing outward because it spreads their hips too much. Is there a significant difference in hip-spreading between smaller parents and bigger parents? And if so, how do either of those compare to wearing the baby facing outward?

    Context: I'm a bigger lady and while I'm not expecting yet, I have no idea what my body will be like when any future babies are born. I'd like the chance to have a plan in place, or at least make an informed decision when the time comes.

  26. I'm pregnant right now and we've been looking for a carrier for my husband who is 6'5" 275 lbs. He tried on the Ergo sport and that fit him well. I was happy to find this new option, Ergobaby X-tra . It has the same features as the sport but is 100% cotton.

  27. I have an Infantino Carrier I am a size 20 and it fits me well It has nice adjusting straps and its only 35 bucks compared to the others which can run into the 100s

  28. I'm so glad this was asked! I'm 34 weeks pregnant and have been wavering on which carrier(s) I should order.

    I would also be interested to know if anyone has any suggestions with the ring slings about the safest way to wear them?

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.