Go over one shoulder and across the torso. Examples: Hotslings, Hava slings, Maya Wrap, etc. Pouches are sized and are the easiest to use. It is very important to be properly sized because if the sling is too big, it will hurt your back and could be dangerous for your baby. Ring slings are adjustable, so they can more easily be shared between caregivers. They are also easier to nurse in since they adjust. With a ring sling, though, you have to make sure it is properly fitted each time or again, it will hurt your back and could be dangerous to your baby.
Pros: Extremely easy to pop the baby in and out. Slings and Pouches tend to be the least expensive type of carrier, and use the least amount of fabric (which means they are lighter and smaller to fit in your diaper bag).
Cons: Since all the baby’s weight is being supported by one shoulder, they can be uncomfortable as your baby gets bigger or for long periods of time. They are also one of the easiest carriers to use improperly, which can be dangerous.
A wrap is a single, long piece of fabric that is wrapped and tied around the adult’s body to make a carrier for the baby. Some examples are the Mobywrap and the Dolcino baby carrier. Wraps can be stretchy, like the Moby, or woven, like the Dolcino.
Price Range: $40-175
Pros: Wraps are extremely versatile. They are very adjustable and can be used for many different positions – laying down, upright, facing in or out, hip carry, or back carry. Many babies who do not like the laying down position of a pouch or ring sling really enjoy the upright positioning of a wrap. Wraps distribute the baby’s weight on your shoulders and your hips, making them very comfortable for long periods of time and for heavier babies. A wrap can be used to carry twins! Wraps are cost effective, starting at around $40.
Cons: Some people find the wrapping to be very complicated, and the large amount of fabric means that a wrap will be heavy and take up a lot of space in your diaper bag.
There isn’t really a name for this kind of carrier yet, but the version we carry is the Baby K’tan. A simplified wrap, it is two loops of fabric with a sash.
Pros: They are smaller, lighter, and simpler to use than a full wrap. Coming next spring there will be a mesh version, which will be much more breathable and cooler than the cotton wrap. A Baby K’tan can also be used to carry twins.
Cons: The Baby K’tan is sized, so mom and dad will probably have to each buy their own. They are more expensive than a simple wrap, and come in fewer colors.
Soft Structured Carriers
Soft Structured Carriers, or SSC’s, are made of woven material and have a body, where the baby sits, and then either one or two sets of straps to wrap around the parent’s shoulders and waist. The Mei-Tai is the most popular of the tie-on SSC’s, though some people also like the Korean Podaegi. Then there are carriers like the Beco, Ergo, and Pikkolo that are basically Mei-Tai’s but with buckles instead of ties. These are the easiest (and most expensive) of all since you just put them on like a backpack, click the buckles shut, and go! My personal favorite is the Beco Butterfly carrier. It is well padded and extremely well balanced, so I can wear my daughter for hours at a time comfortably. I like the cute prints that make me feel more stylish, and the unique sling-type seat that the baby sits in makes it easier to switch between back and front carries. If your baby likes to face out, I would recommend the Beco Gemini or the Pikkolo, both of which can do not only front and back carries, but forward-facing and hip carries too.
Price Range: $129-149
Pros: (of buckle SSC’s) They stay adjusted, so no need to readjust with each wearing. Not stretchy so the baby feels more secure, especially heavier babies. Multiple carry positions, including on your back.
Cons: Can be the most expensive carrier. Can be difficult to use with newborns up to about 8-10 weeks old.