I was recently asked this question via Facebook email:
“Your profile picture reminded me that I’ve been meaning to ask you about baby carriers/wraps. Which ones do you like best and for what stages? Etc. I’m completely uneducated but have been really wanting to learn. Any advice you can give would be great!
After I typed up my response, I realized it was a pretty good answer and decided to preserve & share it here.
Okay, check out The Baby Wearer — they have forums which are nice (and one is a buy/sell/trade in case you’d want to pick up a used on for cheaper, easier to try out a variety that way!) and good videos and tutorials on putting on each of the different styles. But here’s my 2 cents!
I’m also a big fan of wraps with newborns. It’s basically a 5-yd long piece of fabric, which sounds really simple, but I’ll admit there is a learning curve for how to tie them and feeling comfortable with getting the baby nice and snug. If you’re new to babywearing, probably not the first choice or what I’d advise if you’re only going to buy one carrier to start with. The wrap I’ve got at the moment is an Ellaroo on loan from a friend – because she ONLY used it during her newborn phase and thought I would as well. I’ve used it on and off for 8 months, but Susannah is now heavy enough –and my other carriers are working well enough– that I’m not reaching for it constantly, so it’s probably time for me to send it back.
Little baby, with neck control: this is when the fun begins! I have 3 ring slings in various fabrics. These are the best, most versatile babycarriers out there. If I had to recommend a single carrier if you’re only gonna invest in one, I’d recommend a ring sling. Don’t get a padded one (ie, that “Original Baby Sling” they carry at Babies R Us) — the padding gets in the way of the rings and a lot of mamas can’t get a truly perfect fit. I adore my linen one (by TaylorMade), and I have a few friends who have silk ones they like. Go ahead and pick a fabric you love because you can wear this every.single.day. for a year! It is workable for newborns too – but because I own way too many carriers (heehee) I just don’t reach for my ring slings at first. You can carry baby in the cradle, or “sitting” upright with feet criss-crossed Indian style up against you, or on your hip, and even in a back carry with these. This is also the only carrier I’ve ever been able to nurse in while babywearing, so if you’re planning to breastfeed that’s something to consider too!
The other great style you can use once they have a little neck control is a mei tai. Mine was custom-made by a friend, but a popular brand is BabyHawk. You can tie them on in front or in back, and there are several different ways to wrap the ties. These are also referred to as ABCs for “Asian Baby Carrier” and there are a lot of brands that make really pretty ones! The nice thing about a mei tai is that it distributes baby’s weight across both shoulders, which is nice. And a back carry is AWESOME for getting stuff done around the house and outings like the zoo, the mall, any time you’ll be walking a good bit.
Heavier baby:I have an Ergo carrier, which is an SSC (soft structured carrier).
The only thing I really DON’T recommend is a Baby Bjorn. Research shows that the way the BB positions a baby isn’t best – it allows all of their own body weight to hang at their crotch and puts unnatural pressure on their hips. We had one with Jonas for a few months, but after I read that (and once I started seeing all the cool carriers that are out there!) we got rid of it.
Hey, I just had another thought — you might want to check the Attachment Parenting International website – if there’s a local chapter near you, they often have “babywearing libraries.” Our chapter has 20+ carriers and we bring it to each meeting so parents can see them in person, try them on, etc before they buy one. Among lots of other great resources, their website offers this article Babywearing: A Natural Fashion Statement.
Hope that helps!