The Best Water Baby Carriers | Summer Babywearing | Baby and Toddler Carrier for Water, Beach, Pool, Showering | Review and Comparison

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Hurrah! Summer!

Summer means water! Neighborhood pools, beaches, lakes, rivers…… ahhhhhh nothing cheers summer on like the warm sun and a cool water spot. Water play is one of the most soothing and fun activities of summer.

For parents with small children, water play can also be nerve wracking. What if they run off? How are you going to carry a squirmy wet toddler AND the towels, sunblock, toys, and snacks?! Will your child handle the long walk between the car and the water area, if you don’t want to drag the stroller along?

Hello water babywearing!

Here’s a spoiler. Despite the catchy title of this post, I’m not going to tell you which of these carriers I think is the best. I will present information about features of water carriers, so you can decide which is best.

Babywearing, and which carrier is best, isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. In the end, it’s a personal choice for what is best for you, your baby or toddler, and your wallet.

Because this site reviews carriers without going into safety arguments, I’m going to trust that if you’re reading here, you’re a parent who loves your child, and wants to be smart about their safety. As a general rule of thumb, baby carriers can be used for water situations where you could otherwise hold your baby in your arms. They are a support device, not a flotation device. When in the water, baby should be worn on the front of your body, and facing toward you, so you can closely monitor water near baby’s face. If you wouldn’t cliff dive or water ski while holding your baby in arms, let’s not make attempts to do so while water babywearing, sound good? And while boating, baby needs a life jacket, just like any other child.

Water carriers can make excellent overall summer baby carriers, as the fabrics are usually lightweight, cool and airy to wear, moisture wicking, and quick drying.

Water carriers can also be used for showering while babywearing. While this may sound extreme to some, if you’re a mom of a newborn, chances are there’s been days you weren’t sure when your next shower was going to come around. Taking baby in with you might be a solution! I have worn my kids in the shower a handful of times. It was always better than having no shower at all!

Water baby carriers come in almost as many types as regular baby carriers. Here’s the ones I’m aware of, and will discuss in more detail in this post.

Ring Sling
– Polyester Athletic Mesh (Beachfront Baby, SweetPea, Comfy Joey, Zolowear)
– Solarweave Nylon (Zanytoes Splash, Going Uppy)
– Solarveil (this fabric type is discontinued, but occasionally available secondhand)
KoKaKi AQUA ring sling (fabric unique to the KoKaDi brand)

Wraps
Beachfront Baby (athletic mesh)
Wrapsody WrapDuO (semi-stretchy repreve)
ByKay AQUA water baby carrier (custom stretchy fabric)
KoKaDi AQUA water wrap (fabric unique to the KoKaDi brand)

Mei Tai
KoKaDi AQUA Tai Tai (fabric unique to the KoKaDi brand)

Soft Structured Carrier
Connecta Solar (solarweave nylon)
BityBean (nylon and polyester)
Boba Air (not marketed by manufacturer as water carrier)
Onya Outback (not marketed by manufacturer as water carrier)

 

WATER RING SLINGS

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Water ring slings are perhaps the most common type of water carrier. They are affordable, and even easy to DIY with a bit of reading, research, and basic sewing knowledge.

A ring sling is fast to get on and off. It is excellent for the age of child who wants to look around, or resists being confined in more structured carriers. It can be worn in a front or hip carry, and mimics the position of the baby as if being carried on the parent’s hip. The tail of a ring sling can be used to cover baby from the sun, or for a little privacy while breastfeeding in public. A tail that is too long (say much longer than the wearer’s hip), may be cumbersome when the carrier is wet.

Ring slings place all of baby’s weight on one shoulder. They are ideal for short periods of time, and not as comfortable for longer periods of wearing (an hour or longer). For a child who wiggles all the time and strains while in carriers, a ring sling is also not ideal, and a carrier with more structure would be better.

Water ring slings typically come in two types of fabric: athletic mesh or solarweave.

ATHLETIC MESH

Click for full review Sleeping Baby Productions mesh water ring sling.

This type of fabric is easily purchased at any fabric store. It is similar to gym shorts or sports jerseys. It is usually 100% polyester, and has holes in the fabric for airflow. It does not stretch horizontally, but will stretch quite a bit in a diagonal direction and possibly vertically. This bit of stretch can be comfortable and bouncy. Some people with heavier babies may find it saggy and unsupportive. It may not grip as tightly in the rings as desired. These are probably the cheapest water carrier.

Sleeping Baby Productions is no longer making water ring slings, but that linked post is my experience with her athletic mesh ring sling, which I purchased secondhand. This same type of polyester athletic mesh fabric, is sewn into ring slings by many other reliable brands such as Beachfront Baby, SweetPea (double layer of fabric!), Zolowear, and Comfy Joey.

 

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SOLARWEAVE

Click for full review Zanytoes Splash Royal Blue color.
Click for full review Zanytoes Splash Solara yellow color.

Solarweave is 100% nylon, and non stretchy. The fabric is opaque and rated UPF 50+. It is lightweight, breathable, cool to wear, and overall a great summertime fabric. It is soft and silky smooth to the touch. It is also slippery, so it would not make a good fabric for a water wrap. It comes in several pretty colors, all solid colors.

Solarweave is my personal fabric fabric type for water carriers because of the smooth texture and lack of stretch.

Two brands using Solarweave for water ring slings are Zanytoes Splash and Going Uppy. Going Uppy is no longer in business, so their slings would only be available secondhand.

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SOLARVEIL

This fabric is no longer being manufactured. Occasionally these carriers are available secondhand, with the primary brand being Zolowear. I found this fabric rough to the touch, and pilly upon washing and use. It looked old and worn out on a broken-in Zolowear ring sling I touched (shown in photo).  Zolowear is now making water carriers from athletic mesh instead.

KOKADI

KoKaDi AQUA fabric is unique to their brand. It is strong, thick, bouncy, and supportive. I found the thickness and fabric hot to wear, when I tried their mei tai made from the same fabric. I have not owned their ring sling.


WRAPS

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Water wraps are made from a few different materials, all of which have some stretch. They are more useful for small babies, and less supportive for heavy infants or toddlers. A wrap is a single, long piece of fabric that may be wrapped around baby and wearer in several different ways. Dealing with a long piece of fabric, while in a wet outdoor location, may prove cumbersome.

A water wrap may be helpful for a case where a two-shoulder carry is desired, for an infant or especially a baby too small to fit into one of the water SSC carriers. Wraps are versatile as far as ways they can be wrapped, and moldeable to the body and baby. The mesh wraps in particular are quite breathable and won’t add heat to wearing outdoors in the summer.

For wrappers who enjoy woven wraps, a water wrap may be a good choice. Water wraps are not as supportive to a child’s weight as woven wraps however.

Regular athletic mesh is easily purchased at any fabric store. It is quite similar to gym shorts or sports jerseys. It is usually 100% polyester, and has holes in the fabric for airflow. It does not stretch horizontally, but will stretch quite a bit in a diagonal direction and some vertically. This bit of stretch can be comfortable and bouncy. Some people with heavier babies may find it saggy and unsupportive. Although my photos show me wearing a toddler in this wrap, it would not be my choice for a toddler. The fabric is slippery against itself, and the wrap is narrow. It may not adequately support a larger or very wiggly child.

Beachfront Baby makes water wraps from athletic mesh. They have an original polyester athletic mesh, and also a mesh made from a repreve blend. Repreve is recycled plastic.

Wrapsody makes a water wrap called Wrap DuO, from a fabric they call “swimsuit” material. I have not tried this water carrier, although I have heard from others who enjoy woven wraps, that they also like this water wrap.

KoKaDi also makes an AQUA water wrap from the same fabric as their mei tai and ring sling. I have not tried this water wrap.


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MEI TAI

Click for full review KoKaDi AQUA Tai Tai.

A mei tai is an Asian carrier style that is sort of a hybrid between a wrap and a buckle carrier. It has a structured body panel, with long straps for waist and shoulder straps. The straps are wrapped around the body, to support baby’s weight.

A mei tai places the child’s weight on both of the wearer’s shoulders, and hips. This distributes weight nicely, and will be comfortable for a longer period of time.

I am a true lover of mei tai carriers, but I didn’t enjoy having long straps to wrap around myself (and drag on the ground) in an outdoor water location.

KoKaDi makes a water mei called the AQUA Tai Tai. It comes printed with the design of various KoKaDi woven wraps. The fabric is bouncy, and supportive. It is durable, and unique among water carrier fabrics. It is a polyester blend. The fabric is on the thick side, and I found it hot to wear compared to the breathable fabrics of other water carriers. KoKaDi states this may be used from newborn to toddler.  I found it fit more like 4/5 months to 18 months. It probably could be used for a close-to-newborn, depending on the the child’s height and weight and trunk control, but would need user knowledge of manual adjustments to the body panel shape and size.

 


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SOFT STRUCTURED CARRIER / BUCKLE CARRIER

A soft structured carrier has a fixed body panel size, with shoulder and waist straps that buckle around the wearer. Buckle carriers are typically quick and easy to get on and off. They can take a little time to adjust, when moving between differently-sized wearers. The straps are short, and won’t drag around on the ground. They are compact and lightweight.

SSC carriers can be worn with the baby on the front or back of the wearer, but should be worn on the front when actively in the water. This photo shows my son on my back in a Connecta Solar, because I was wading and posing for photos, rather than playing in the water. When playing in the water or wading any deeper, I wore him on my front.

 

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CONNECTA SOLAR

Click for full review Surf (mint color) Standard Size petite straps.
Click for full review Sand (beige color) Standard Size.
Click for full review Sage (pale green color) Toddler Size.  (Shows my three year old in the carrier.)
Click for full review Blackberry (purple) Toddler Size.

The Connecta Solar is made from Solarweave nylon fabric; the same fabric used for Zanytoes Splash and Going Uppy water ring slings.

Solarweave is 100% nylon, and non stretchy. The fabric is opaque and rated UPF 50+. It is lightweight, breathable, cool to wear, and overall a great summertime fabric. It is soft and silky smooth to the touch. It is also slippery, so it would not make a good fabric for a water wrap. It comes in several pretty colors, all solid colors.

Solarweave is my personal fabric fabric type for water carriers.

The Connecta Solar is made in standard size and toddler size. My baby fit in the standard size until around a year old. The toddler size fit my baby by eighteen months old, and also fit my tall three year old.

The Connecta does not have a structured waistband, and is worn “apron style” similar to some mei tais. The straps are worn crossed in an “x” shape over the wearer’s back. It can also be worn with the baby on the wearer’s back or hip.

 

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BITYBEAN

The BityBean is made of artificial fibers including nylon and polyester. It is lightweight, quick drying, and cool to wear. It is the smallest body panel size of the three SSCs mentioned here.

There is no padding in this buckle carrier. The body panel (and colored fabric sections) are a slippery, smooth nylon fabric. The shoulder straps are a stretchy mesh type fabric. It was bouncy, and not very supportive to my heavy seven month old. The shoulder straps were narrow, and dug into my shoulders with my chunky baby. I could see it being a possibility for a smaller baby.

 

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BOBA AIR

Click for full review.

The Boba Air is not marketed by the manufacturer as a water carrier. Having used it, I would say it can work for this purpose. It is made of artificial materials including nylon and polyester, which are the fibers used by other water carrier brands. It is lightweight, quick drying, and cool to wear. It has a little more structure than the Connecta, and is also a smaller size than the Connecta.

The fabric is silky smooth nylon. It also rolls up into itself, into a small packet, which is convenient for throwing in a purse or bag.

The Connecta has a small amount of padding in the shoulder straps. The Boba Air has no padding at any point in the carrier, whether waist or shoulders. The black edges of the shoulder straps are a polyester ribbing that I found scratchy on my sensitive skin.

The body panel size is slightly larger than the BityBean, but smaller than the Connecta standard size. It does have quite a different shape to the body panel, than the Connecta, having seat darts, a defined waistband, and other features that more closely resemble other SSC carriers.

 

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ONYA OUTBACK

Click for full review.

The Onya Outback is not marketed by the manufacturer as a water carrier. Having used it, I would say it can work for this purpose. It is made of artificial materials including nylon and polyester, which are the fibers used by other water carrier brands. It is lightweight, quick drying, and cool to wear. It has more structure than any of these other SSCs, a padded waist, and padded shoulder straps. I didn’t test it when completely wet, so I can’t say how quickly the padded sections would dry out if they were soaked.

This would be my choice if I needed a strong, sturdy, supportive carrier, especially for a back carry, where I could be wearing for an extended period of time, and also possibly get wet. When playing directly in water, the baby should be worn on the front of the wearer’s body. This is an overall sturdy, durable, soft structured carrier, made from artificial fibers that should also hold up well when wet. It has several storage pockets on the outside of the body panel. The smooth-looking fabrics are silky nylon similar to the Boba Air. There is also polyester mesh fabric in different sections. It will be more bulky to wear than any of these other options, but also much more supportive for a heavier baby, for an extended wearing time. The body panel is rather large, and would not fit a small infant. My son shown in the photo was wearing 12-18 month size pant size.

 

 

WHEW! If you’ve held in this far, I commend you. Feel free to leave your own review of your favorite water carrier, and why you liked it, on this post.

Now, go enjoy the water, and happy babywearing!

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2 thoughts on “The Best Water Baby Carriers | Summer Babywearing | Baby and Toddler Carrier for Water, Beach, Pool, Showering | Review and Comparison

  1. Great post! What would you suggest for a strong, squirmy, and curious 10 MO boy? I typically use a Lille but want something very breathable and quick drying for hot summer days and trips to lakes that are too deep for him to play in on his own. Thinking Boba Air?

    1. Hi Lisa! It would depend how long you plan to wear him. The Boba Air I found uncomfortable after longer than thirty minutes of use. My favorite that meets your description would be the Connecta Solar standard size. If your baby is wearing 18mth size pants, the Connecta Solar toddler size may be a better fit. Lightweight, breathable, not hot to wear, usable in natural or chlorinated water, and comfortable for an hour plus of wearing. I wouldn’t want to take a three hour hike in the Connecta Solar, but I would survive, which I’m not sure I would survive at all in the Boba Air. Happy babywearing!

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