Favorite Baby Carrier?

by drmariablois on May 22, 2008

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Q: What is your favorite baby carrier and why?

A: Let me start by saying I have never met a baby carrier I did not like. I firmly believe that each baby carrier is suited to some parent/baby pair out there. Everyone has their own preferences and mostly it is not about quality, just a matter of opinion, or sometimes just a matter of habit and familiarity. I love the huge variety of soft carriers out there and I get a kick out of trying all the fabulous new innovations. What I like conceptually however and what I actually grab when we leave the house are often two different things. Even though I have a mountain of carriers to choose from, I do indeed find myself reaching for the same few carriers. I find I have different favorites for different purposes (household chores, walking, traveling) and certainly for different ages. My youngest child is 6 months old and my favorite carrier for her right now is my good old ring sling.

Here she is in my beautiful silk ZoloWear sling. I love the versatility of my ring sling. I find it perfect for meeting the ever changing needs of my younger babies without ever having to take them out. I find it so convenient when we are out for extended periods of time because I can start her in the tummy to tummy position which she loves for quite some time, then when she has had enough I can loosen the top rail and lay her down in the fabric to discretely nurse her. At this point she usually dozes off and then I just retighten the sling and I haven’t missed a beat. Once she is asleep reclined, I can swing her to my back if I want to. Also, with these young, smaller babies (mine are usually under about 15 pounds at this point) I do not mind the weight and I am comfortable for long periods even though this is a one-shouldered carrier.

Just today I went up to my children’s elementary school for the end of the year parent teacher conferences. I had little Julia in tow so I grabbed my ring sling. I wore her in the hip carry into the building. As always when I trot out my sling covered baby, people commented on how cozy and happy she looked. Fifteen minutes into the first conference she got restless so I laid her down in the sling and nursed her with the tail of the sling offering us privacy. By the end of the conference she was full but obviously sleepy and increasingly fidgety. That is usually my cue to walk around a bit to settle her to sleep. As we stood in the hallway waiting for the second conference I positioned her reclined in the sling, head out away from the rings and began gently swinging her back and forth. I continued this standing for the first part of the second conference until she closed her eyes. I then gingerly sat with her asleep in the sling for the rest of the conference. She slept great, in fact she is still asleep draped across me lap still in the sling as I type this…making those sweet baby sleep noises.

Based on wearing my four children over the past seven years, here is the pattern that has emerged. I have focused on the first group in this post and will address the other two in future posts:

0-6 months: My favorites are the ring sling for outings, stretch wraparound carrier or mei tai for walks where I anticipate baby sleeping for the duration, and a traditional quilted Korean podaegi for early back carries.

6-12 months: Around nine months or so, I find myself reaching for my pouches instead of my ring sling. I start using my mei tai more often. Although I do like the soft structured carriers (SSC) I have tried I am just a creature of habit and end up reaching for my mei tais.

Toddler: Pouch, mei tai, rucksack carry in a woven wraparound carrier. When I carry my two year old, I reach most often for my mei tai. Yes, I have worn them together using two mei tais, the toddler on my back and the newborn on my front, but sheesh is that heavy! I only wear both if I can see no alternative and the screeching is intolerable. Mostly, they just take turns.

In the interest of brevity, I will limit myself to just a few favorites in each of these categories in no particular order. I do not mean to imply an inferior product by leaving out any carriers.

Ring slings: ZoloWear, Moms in Mind Sarong Carrier, new Maya Wrap lightly padded, TaylorMade Slings, Wise Woman Sling

Pouches: Slinglings, Hotslings, New Native Baby Carrier

Wraparounds: Gypsy Mama (stretch and woven), Didymos (woven)

Mei Tai: Kozy Carrier, BabyHawk

Soft Structured Carriers: Beco Baby Carrier, The ERGO Baby Carrier

You can find a more complete list of all the carriers I have tried and what I like about them here. So this is the long answer to the question of my favorite carrier written when my youngest is six months old. Ask me again in six months and I will bet I have another answer. How about you? What is your absolute favorite carrier? Have you found that it changes over time as your baby grows?

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drmariablois (12 Posts)


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Sonja May 22, 2008 at 10:59 am

It’s always interesting to read about different people’s preferences — for example, I prefer a pouch with a newborn, but a ring sling with an older baby or toddler. And since I really dislike all those long dangling straps, I vastly prefer the Ergo over a Mei Tai.

Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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Maria May 22, 2008 at 11:16 am

Thanks for the input. I am always learning from my fellow babywearing mamas. May I pick your brain? I am curious: how do you like to position your newborn in a pouch? Tips for nursing a newborn comfortably in a pouch? Also, how do you like to wear your older baby in a ring sling? I love to have new ideas for those I help with babywearing. Thanks!

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pixie May 23, 2008 at 12:01 am

Currently our favourite is hip carries in the ring sling. This way, littlepixie can get up and down very quickly to explore the world. I’m hoping soon she’ll decide she likes back carries in my beautiful Mei Tais, I have a Taitasi & a Tettitett, both Norwegian and toddler sized, they are beyond comfortable, with a wide body and wide corduroy straps, lovely!

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Theresa May 23, 2008 at 7:07 am

Its always so good to read real people’s experiences with their slings / wraps etc.

My love / hate relationship with my Maya Wrap ring sling has become more love than hate, but my shoulder still hurts at the end of the day. I use that one mostly for all day, easy in and out with my li angel. She’s 6 months.

I bought a babyhawk mei tai which is a lot more comfy, but having to position, tie and un-tie make it the choice for long walks or shopping.

I’ve had minor success with breast feeding in both.

I love love love having my baby on me 24-7, but wish I could find the utopia of carriers.

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Sonja May 23, 2008 at 6:03 pm

I find that the trickiest part about positioning a newborn in a pouch is keeping them from getting swallowed by it. What I do is to pull the fabric that’s against my body up, making the pouch shallower. Then I put the baby in with their head on the uphill side. I sometimes find with any kind of sling that the baby doesn’t want to have their head in the sling when they’re not asleep, so I just leave it out and use my hand/arm to support it until the baby is asleep, then slide the head in.

One of the reasons I really like the pouch sling for younger babies is that if they are in a more upright carry, it’s so easy to slide them into a cradle carry when they fall asleep.

Regarding nursing a newborn in the pouch, I’ve found it to be mainly a matter of getting the baby’s head at exactly the right level. Once it’s there, it’s pretty easy to move the sling fabric out of the way so the baby can nurse. I’ve had great success nursing a newborn in the pouch sling while walking around in stores, something I always found more challenging in a ring sling. Here’s a picture of my son in the pouch sling when he was a few days old, you can see how nursing would work pretty easily in this position:

http://www.thepurplehouse.net/karl/image/2007-01-24-sling.jpg

With an older baby and a ring sling, I prefer a hip carry or a not-quite-hip carry, sort of a front carry a bit over to the side.

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michal chesal May 28, 2008 at 12:29 pm

hi guys. may i chime in? i have a carrier called the Baby K’tan, have any of you tried it? we’re a combination of a sling and wrap in one (the idea is to eliminate the wrapping, but also give you a “double” sling support that a wrap gives). We actually were filmed in a documentary for API when we were at the ILLI last summer. still waiting for it to be put together! we’ve been on the market for about 12 months – so fairly new.
Works very well for breastfeeding too (second sling loop automatically covers first one). Well hope it was ok that i chimed in! If you guys have any questions let me know. i’d love for you to check it out.
Michal Chesal
http://www.babyktan.com

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Maria May 28, 2008 at 7:59 pm

Hi Michal-
Thanks for your input. Your carrier sounds interesting, kind of a “no wrap-wrap?” Is that right. Great idea.

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michal chesal May 29, 2008 at 5:47 pm

yes maria.. you got it. no wrap – but still all the versatility.
by the way – i meant to write my email in my first post b/c i don’t check the blogs often – so anyone can email me directly ..
michal@babyktan.com
take care, M

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cairomama May 31, 2008 at 5:50 pm

I love the Beco and Ergo. My baby wanted to be upright since the day he was born. I like these soft-structured carriers for the two-shoulder and waist weight distribution and ease of use. They are really quick to get on and off and breastfeeding in them is very easy. Especially if you are by yourself (without a babywearing community) when trying to figure out how to use a carrier like I was, the soft-structured carriers are very easy to figure out and very secure if you have a squirmy baby.

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Jennifer June 2, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Have any of you ever heard of Hang In There Babywear? http://hangintherebabywear.blogspot.com/
Julie is making some really wonderful carriers. Check her out.
In PEACE
Jennifer

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Kerrie August 4, 2008 at 1:55 pm

I love my Maya Wrap, which was a free hand-me-down and has lasted me through 3 kids so far. I’ve even had to use it as a makeshift leash when I was babysitting a friend’s wandering kid.

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Christy February 17, 2010 at 10:24 am

HI!
I am searching and researching a carrier for my 2y2m old. I used an Ergo from birth to 14/16m… Patapum until 24m… put now I need something that will work on my back! I read your post:
“Toddler: Pouch, mei tai, rucksack carry in a woven wraparound carrier. When I carry my two year old, I reach most often for my mei tai.”
I’m looking into the Baby Hawk but I’m used to SSC. Do those ties actually support the weight like a SSC? I’m afraid to spend a lot of money and have my back hurt after an hour.
Thank you so much for your post and input!
Christy

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Tine Brok August 12, 2010 at 5:13 am

Hi Christy,

Just wondering if you have tried the Ergo on your back? It works beautifully as a back carrier – SO comfy! Unfortunately my 21 month old daughter is a wriggler and won’t stay there for long (she likes to have boobies right there where she can keep an eye on them LOL!!). You can easily get used to putting toddlers on by simply hoisting them up onyour back with the Ergo waist band done up then bringing up the straps, or put them in the front and swing them around (either with straps partly undone or simply by sliding your arms in and turning it around like a t-shirt you have put on back to front!)
:-)
Tine

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