Good Questions: Babywearing Options

Good Questions: Babywearing Options

Carrie McBride
Sep 9, 2008

Dear Ohdeedoh, I know you've posted various slings. The Baby Budda, Moby, Didymois, Bjorn. What are some other options? What are the pros and cons of each? I am in desperate need of a sling. My daughter is 2 months and doesn't like the Bjorn. I am petite and worry about the massive amounts of extra fabric hanging off of me. A list of options would be great. Thanks! Lucia

We also have a 2-month old so we know how perplexing the plethora of choices can be. That's why we're calling in the big guns: Megan Davidson, doula and babywearing educator, to share her expertise.

Here's Megan:

Great question, Lucia. The word sling is often used as a catch-all term for the different baby carriers available on the market, including ring slings, fitted or adjustable pouches, mei tais, soft-structured carriers, wraps, and more. Your options beyond the Bjorn include hundreds of different carriers but I'll mention a few of my favorites of each style and the reasons that I like them.

Pouches are fitted carriers that are especially nice for carrying a newborn and remain really useful through at least the first 6 months (and for some parents they remain great through toddlerhood). Pouches are great for the cradle hold. They are super simple to put on, they spread the weight of the baby over one shoulder and your back, and they are small and convenient to carry around. There is no bulky fabric, one of the concerns you mentioned, and they are available in an enormous variety of colors and patterns. Most pouches can only be worn by one parent, as they are very specifically sized, but some adjustable options can be shared. My favorite brands include the silk pouches from MammasMilk, which are slightly adjustable so you can get the fit tailored just right for you, the reversible pouches from Sprout Pouch which are super well stitched and feel lovely, and the adjustable fleece pouches from Kangaroo Korners that can hold your baby in stylish-warmth all winter long and can be shared between similarly sized parents or caregivers.

Ring slings are a much more adjustable, sharable carrying option that allow for upright carrying, a cradle hold, and easy hip carrying. They can be used with a newborn, with a toddler, and, if your back can take it, with a preschooler as well. For newborns they don't offer quite as stable of a carry as the pouch but they make up for this by being very versatile. I don't recommend slings with stitched up tails because they are much harder to properly adjust, but I adore but the Baby Pocket and also really like the Maya Wrap. The Baby Pocket is a little-known creation of a work at home mom in Alaska who has, I believe, perfected the ring sling with her handmade silk slings. Elegant, super lightweight, affordable, and super-comfortable, the Baby Pocket is the go-to sling in our family and I have over 40 carriers we could pick from. These slings do have a tail (although you can request a shorter one), which might feel like too much fabric hanging for your taste, but I find the tail is great for blocking sun, from your baby keeping light rain off their head, using as a nursing cover-up, or as an impromptu blanket for the park or a diaper change. The tail can also be rolled up and tucked inside the sling while you are wearing it so that no fabric hangs down.

For two-shoulder carrying, there are a variety of mei tai options and soft-structured carriers. Mei tais are easily worn by any parent or caregiver, they stay on your shoulders nicely because they cross in the back, and they can be worn either on the front or the back (with a larger baby that has head control). Mei tais offer a somewhat Bjorn-like carrying option but without the discomfort many parents experience. They can be used with newborns and all the through the toddler year and into childhood. The weight is very nicely distributed and the straps have light padding. My two favorite options are the Babyhawk, with its stiff headrest/shoulder rest and huge variety of great designs, and also the Kozy Carrier, the first carrier that I ever bought for carrying my son 5 years ago! As well as these mei tai options, soft structured carriers offer two-shoulder carrying and my favorite brands include the Ergo and the Beco. The Ergo is nicely padded and has a great waistband that really takes weight well (although it is not as well sized for larger parents). It also has an attached hood that keeps the baby's head from flopping when the baby sleeps. The Ergo is ideal from about 4-6 months through until early childhood. The Beco is a beautiful soft structured carrier, more like a Mei Tai in appearance, with pretty fabrics to choose from, but it is as utilitarian as the Ergo (which only comes in a few colors.)

Finally, wraps are a very versatile option that can be used for all ages, on any parent or caregiver, and in a huge variety of positions. You mentioned a few wrap options in your question, the Moby Wrap and the German-made Didymos, and perhaps they are not ideal for you because of the amount of fabric involved, but they are the most popular options on the market. Wraps have a steep learning curve so they are ideally suited for parents who are willing to put some time and effort into perfecting their carrying styles. This effort pays off, however, and you end up with a carrier that can do all of the holds offered by each of the options listed above (and more). The Moby is a stretchy fabric and is therefore better suited for lighter babies (and is a favorite among parents of premature babies and twins).

There are hundreds of other carriers available on the market now, so this is far from an exhaustive review, but each of the carriers above are among my favorites and they should give you some guidance in finding something perfect for wearing your baby. Happy babywearing!

Megan Davidson, PhD

Thanks so much, Megan! This is some terrific information. NYC-area readers will be interested to know that Megan works as a doula as well as offers in-home and group babywearing and cloth diapering demonstrations where she brings over 25 carriers or a wide variety of cloth diapers to help you find the best match for you and your baby.

Readers, do you have a favorite baby carrier? Let Lucia know what it is and why you love it in the comments.

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