When a new baby is born, it seems as if life as you know it will never truly be the same. Gone are the days of heading out on the town, or even shuffling around your house, without your precious cargo in tow. Babywearing is great for babies and parents alike. It brings convenience (not to mention a workout) to parents, and bonding time for babies, which is so important for development.
Here at Inhabitots, we’ve got your back…and your front, and your hips, covered with our in-depth review of the most popular baby carriers and slings.
Jill carrying her baby in a HotSling
HOTSLINGS– reviewed by Jill Fehrenbacher
As the mother of a newborn, my Hotsling has been invaluable for easy, hassle-free babywearing. Hotslings design is as basic and minimalist as it gets: the sling is literally just a simple piece of fabric sewn into a loop. What differentiates Hotslings from other sling carriers is that it has no buckles, ties, fasteners, or adjustments of any kind, and it takes about 2 seconds to put on and take off. Its inherent simplicity makes Hotslings an easy babywearing option, and since it looks like a sash or a shawl rather than a complicated backpack contraption, it’s aesthetically pleasing as well.
Newborns can’t be carried in many popular carriers like the Bjorn and Ergo, but Hotslings are ideal for these little guys, because they can curl up in the cradle/fetal position while nestled inside your pouch, and you needn’t worry about their neck support or flailing limbs. The only real downside to Hotslings is its short use life span. While the lopsided cradle carry position works fine for an 8 pound newborn (though it’s already putting a bit of a strain on my back), there is no way I can imagine carrying a 20 pound baby around in this asymmetrical thing without doing some serious damage to my back.
Beth carrying her daughter in the Nojo sling
THE NOJO SLING– reviewed by Beth Shea
The Nojo Sling was developed by attachment parenting and babywearing endorsing pediatrician, Dr. William Sears with the concept that, “the womb lasts eighteen months: nine months inside the mother, and nine months outside.”
The easily adjustable Nojo Sling fits both my husband and I comfortably, and most importantly, it provides a safe, cozy haven for our daughter. An insider tip on the Nojo Sling is that the more you wash and tumble it dry, the softer it gets. It is extremely durable, and may be worn in a variety of ways to tote both nestling newborns and rowdy toddlers weighing up to thirty pounds. It has a sewn in pad that cushions whichever shoulder bears the weight of your baby in the sling hold. Since I am an advocate of attachment parenting, I really loved wearing my daughter around during many of my day to day activities so she could partake in the world on a different level and learn so many new things while we bonded in this close proximity.
BABYBJÖRN – reviewed by Abigail Doan
Finding the right baby carriers for twins can be a challenge – particularly if your peeps are born a few weeks early and don’t necessarily fit the standard carrier or sling until they weigh in at eight pounds or more. My husband and I waited a few months before taking our baby boys out on the town – mostly for quick neighborhood jaunts and nearby museum strolls. Given that we also tend to now be pretty active with our babies out in the countryside, we opted for the Baby Bjorn Active Carrier as it proved versatile and sturdy during weekend hikes and field walks. BABYBJÖRN’s lumbar support and soft padded shoulder straps provide an even weight distribution and upright positioning, making sure that your little one’s legs and arms are in a physiologically correct position. Once the baby is a little older, the neck-rest can also be folded down so the child can face forwards and look around – perfect for museum tours and street cruising.
The key thing about insuring that a BJÖRN is a comfortable fit is taking the time to play with the shoulder and waist strap adjustments until the baby’s weight is distributed evenly on your torso. Sometimes folks just slip on the BJÖRN and go, but the result can be an aching back or shoulders.BABYBJÖRNs are also Oeko-Tex, Eco-certified in terms of fabrics and manufacturing methods. We love these carriers and certainly intend to pass them along to other friends who have recently had twins. This is the best eco element about a quality product like BABYBJÖRN – the hand-me-down system goes on and on. You might pay a little more than a sling, but several families will most likely get good use out of this front carrier. Plus, I like feeling like a Swedish momma in the know when I wear mine about town or in the country air.
Neelam with Varik in the ergo worn at the hip
ERGO ORGANIC BABY CARRIER – reviewed by Neelam Misra
As the mother of a 12 month old, our favorite baby carrier has to be the Ergo carrier. It is exquisitely comfortable, and even after hours of use, does not cause any back or shoulder pain or discomfort. Ergo stands for “ergonomic,” and it is aptly named as its design supports a correct sitting position for baby’s hip, pelvis and spine growth.
The Ergo carrier enables you to wear your baby on your chest, your back, or at your hip. There is also an available infant insert (sold separately for $38) for wee ones under 4-6 months of age who have not yet developed full head control. It is possible to nurse in the ergo, and I have done so successfully using its privacy hood, which provides full coverage for on the go nursing sessions, and also blocks out light for nap taking.
Vineet with Varik in the Ergo worn on the chest
The key features of the Ergo carrier, which is available in 100% organic cotton, include padded shoulder straps, a chest strap, and a padded waist strap. One caveat: the straps do need to be adjusted for each person, but with a little adjustment, the perfect configuration is easy to find. There is a convenient zippered pocket for storing keys, wallet, and a cell phone. The Ergo can be worn until a child weighs 40 pounds. We love cuddling up to our baby in the Ergo carrier.
Jill carrying her baby in the CuddlyWrap
CUDDLY WRAP– reviewed by Jill Fehrenbacher
The Cuddly Wrap is my favorite baby carrier – in theory. Simply a long piece of stretchy organic cotton, the Cuddly Wrap allows you to snuggle your baby close up to your chest in a number of different cozy positions, created by a number of different wrap/fold configurations. The Cuddly wrap feels more like a garment than a backpack, and is definitely the most comfortable carrier I own, once I manage to get it on. But that’s the downside to it . Without all the buckles and adjustable straps of front carriers like the Ergo and Bjorn, getting the Cuddly Wrap on your body and your baby inside of it takes a bit of practice. If the baby in question happens to be crying you might be tempted to abandon the Cuddly Wrap altogether and grab an easy sling (as has happened to me on several occasions). There is definitely a bit of a learning curve with the Cuddly Wrap , but what it lacks in ease of use, it makes up for in cuddliness. And since the wrap is made from organic cotton, and proceeds are donated to charity (like breast cancer this month), you can feel good about supporting a conscientious company, when you snuggle your baby up to your chest in this wrap. I really want to love my Cuddly Wrap, and I think with more practice (and with the gradual mellowing/maturing of my baby) my appreciation for it will grow.