I've had a couple people ask me recently for some general babywearing advice. So here we go:
So babywearing advice...... It depends on a couple things. Each person will likely have different preferences, so I'll just kinda give an overview of the types and safety tips. Personally, I like my ring sling the best. I find that it's compact, quick to put on and take off, cool in the summer and adjustable to fit your body perfectly. One downside perhaps would be that if you are starting later and have a heavier baby, it may be tough getting used to the one shoulder design and someone might not find it the most comfortable. When you start from very young, your muscles gain in strength to accommodate the gain in weight of your baby. I'm able to comfortably carry Hipster in a ring sling for several hours at a time even though he is 30 pounds, but if I hadn't built up those muscles, he would be difficult in a ring sling. Ring slings are good for front, hip and even back carries.
The pouch sling is very similar to the ring sling, but it's purchased by size and not as adjustable as the ring one. It's a good starter sling if you have limited budget though! I don't recommend a cradle hold in this... I prefer the tummy to tummy as pictured here.
(Image from etsy)
The mei tai is an asian style carrier that is very popular among babywearers for it's double shoulder and waist support. It can come with pleated or padded straps. I like it because it's also compact and offers you double shoulder support without being too cumbersome.
The mei tai can be worn on the front, hip or back as well. Always face baby towards your body weather on the front or back (unlike the facing out option found in the bjorn). It's better for their hip development.
Then you have wraps. There are two kinds that come in a variety of lengths. You have stretchy (moby) wraps and woven wraps. Stretchy wraps are great for new babies as they are supportive, comfortable, mold to the wearer's body and can be easily adjusted for possibly breastfeeding while in use.
Stretchy wraps are good for front and hip carries, but never back carries as the baby can push away from the wearer's body and fall.
They're also less supportive of the toddler and can be really uncomfortable beyond the infant stage.
Woven wraps are specifically woven with babywearing in mind. They can be rather pricey, but they retain their value and are often resold for close to retail value. They're woven in various lengths and the number of ways you can use them is many. They are good for front, hip and back carries for babies from birth through the preschool years. There are tons of instructional videos on youtube that can be referenced for options as to how you can wear them. They're probably the most versatile of all styles of carriers.
My playlist of favorites can be found here:
Lastly, you have the Soft Structured Carrier (commonly referred to as the SSC). These are the buckle carriers. Boba, Becco and Ergo are among the most common. They're easily put on and off, offer padding in the waist and straps and come in a variety of materials and styles. These are my favorite for an all day trip. We love ours for hiking.
Also in this category you'll find the carriers that babywearers refer to as "crotch danglers". This would be your bjorn, snugli, ect.. that you find at mass retailers such as target or babies r us. These arent' typically recommended because they offer no waist support and the "seat" is narrow and puts baby in a dangling position rather than a seated position. It puts strain on the groin and is often very uncomfortable for the wearer's back and shoulders because the weight is not evenly distributed. They also encourage a forward outward facing carry that is not ideal for baby's developing hips and eyes that are easily overstimulated. In any carrier, you want what is referred to as knee to knee support meaning that the carrier rests at about the knee when the baby is seated in it. The knees should be higher than the bum so that when looking at the baby, the legs and bum create a m shape. /U\.
Those pics show safe and ideal position.
There are a couple less common types that I also enjoy using. They include the
Both are worn much like the mei tai.
As always, keep your baby close enough to kiss, their face easily seen and watch that you keep two finger distance between chin and chest. You don't want them scrunched into a C shape. It's difficult to breath in that position. Grunting sounds are a signal that breathing isn't coming easily, so listen to your baby. Check the sling each time before use to ensure that it hasn't torn or is otherwise in disrepair.
If you have the opportunity, it's nice to try before you buy. Several retailers offer rental programs where you can rent different carriers and when you find the one that's right for you, your rental cost goes toward the purchase price.