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What's Your Baby Carrier of Choice?

I don't think I would have survived the early years had it not been for my New Native Baby sling, Kelty Backpack, and Ergo.  My boys were never fond of strollers and if I were to survive an outing or a trip to the grocery store, I would have to saddle them up.  Vaish is interested in hearing about your favorite child carrier, especially those that can travel for the long haul.  She emails:

I would love some opinions on the carriers and slings that people like and find comfortable for long walks. I have a 7 month old. I currently use Infantino's EuroRider, which baby doesn't find very comfortable.

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I like my Ergo, personally. That being said, I like my friend's Beco better. It's like the Ergo, except cuter. The only problem is that there is no supplier in Oregon. She got it in California on vacation.

Here's the website:
http://www.becobabycarrier.com/

We love, love our Maya wrap. I thought at the time it was ridiculous to spend $50 for a piece of fabric with two metal wrings (translation: someone handier than I could probably whip one together pretty easily), but it worked when she was 5 pounds and it still works at 20 pounds. We used a very well-used bjorn for hiking, then moved to a backpack for that, but nothing beats the Maya wrap for around the house, grocery stores, and, most recently, sleeping through her first Washington caucus.

We got ours at Milagros, but I am sure they are other places too.

Turns out I ended up getting a Baby Hawk. Like it lots so far. Baby is 20 lbs, and I have never been comfortable with carrying heavy stuff, but I am super comfortable with the Baby Hawk. Any others who use this?
Also I made my own Moby wrap with my mother's saree (works really well). Sarees are the same length (5.5 meters) as a moby wrap though a little wider.

We ended up with 4 carriers. 2 I purchased and 2 that were gifts after DD was born.

I knew I wanted a sling and it was suggested that I go to a local store (Bella Stella, 503.284.4636, 2635 NE Broadway - she was VERY, VERY helpful) to try them on.

I had an idea that I wanted a pouch sling or a ring sling. After trying out a number of them (with the baby), I discovered I was a Moby wrap girl, something I hadn't even considered because I figured it was too difficult. My DH, on the other hand, was definitely a pouch guy. DD was a little over 6 pounds so the Bjorn wasn't even an option for a while (that was one of the purchased ones).

I LOVED my Moby. LOVED LOVED LOVED it. I used it everywhere. Walks, the grocery store, cleaning the house, even dressy charitable events (and I rec'd tons of compliments on my "accessory", that it "made" the outfit). It was so comfortable for both me and DD.

DH really enjoyed his pouch sling. It was made by a local woman. He would put DD in it, go for walks, hang out around the house, use the computer. DD thought it was great.

Eventually we moved to the Bjorn when DD was to heavy & squirmy for the others. That worked great until she became too heavy for my back.

The other one we had, was a side carrier. I've forgotten the brand. It's made for bigger kids and I've only used it once. I just don't feel like it's very secure and it's not all that comfortable.

FULL DISCLOSURE: We offer baby carriers and slings at Milagros. As always, any comments or posts we put out aren't intended as advertisements for any particular product or our store in particular.

I don't think there is a simple answer to this question. It really depends on the parent and the child, the type of use envisioned, and so forth, but here is a brief overview on the different carrier types and differences between each:

Ring Sling (Maya Wrap): With our daughter Mila, we primarily used the Maya Wrap in the first year.

Ring slings like the Maya Wrap have the most versatility overall in terms of carrying position and adjustability. The same sling will often work for care givers of different sizes.

Drawback of ring slings like the Maya is that they go over a single shoulder (it can be worn on either shoulder). Although the Maya is rated to 35 lbs., balanced support for the care giver becomes challenging once your little one is not so little.

Wrap (Moby Wrap): With Gael, we favored the Moby Wrap in the beginning. There were two primary reasons for this: 1) He liked to be upright and the Moby does a fantastic job of holding ever newborns in a secure upright position from day one, and 2) he was a heavy little guy and the Moby goes over both shoulders and around the waist so the support for the care giver is very balanced.

Like the Maya, the Moby will pretty much fit anyone. Wraps tend to be the most affordable of the carrier options.

Downside of the Moby is the the wrapping take a little time to master and to put on (although it is actually very straight-forward). Also, since it wraps all around your body, it isn't ideal in warmer weather.

Mai Tei Carrier (Ergo Carrier): We are big fans of the Ergo and have been using this carrier for the past four years. The Ergo is basically a Mai Tei carrier. It has shoulder straps and a waist belt. As with any Mai Tei, it does a great job wearing baby in front but especially on the back.

I have carried our kids in the Ergo for 7-8 miles on my back or front. We never travel with a stroller, we take our Ergo.

Primary drawback of the Ergo and other Mai Tei carriers is the limited functionality. Hip and cradle carries are possible, but the other carriers handle these positions with much greater ease and comfort in my opinion.

Ergos and Mai Tei in generally tend to be on the higher end of the price range as well.

Pouch Carrier (Kangaroo Korner): The final major carrier type out there is the pouch. This is a fixed pouch that goes over a shoulder, the baby rides in the pouch. Some pouches like the Kangaroo Korner are adjustable but the spectrum of adjustability is limited. Getting the proper size for the care giver is key.

Pouches have carry position versatility that mirrors the ring sling and are by easiest carrier to master and put on.

Primary drawback for a pouch is the same as a ring sling, since it goes over a single shoulder balanced support for the care giver becomes challenging once your little one is not so little. And unlike a ring sling, it is not as fully adjustable for fitting baby and caregiver.

So there is my quick summary on the four major carrier types out there (Ring sling, wrap, pouch, mai tei).

There are countless brands available, most are a variation on one of these four types in one way or another. For the craft-inclined, it is easy to find patterns for any these types of carriers. Just google it.

But here is always my bottom-line on carrier selection. You need to try out a few with your child and see what works best for you.

Of course, you are also more than welcome to come to Milagros and try out what we carry. All our staff members have hands-on, personal experience with baby carriers and slings are able to support parents in finding the right choice for them.

Another option is to attend a local baby wearing event like this one:

http://milagrosboutique.com/?p=836

Although this particular event is hosted at Milagros, the facilitators have no connection to the store. They are just great people who what to help other mamas with successful babywearing.

I hope this info is useful! Peace.

I used a sling when my little Bean was an infant. I am only 5' and my hubby is 6' so we had an adjustable one. Even as an infant she never looked comfortable (she always looked squished) and I myself never felt that the sling fit just right. We had a Bjorn for awhile, and hubby liked it because it was simple. But then I got concerned about the ergonomics of it (the fact that the baby's weight is pretty much all in the crotch).

So we ended up with an Ergo and I LOVE it. We both love it. We use it so much that the Bean will occasionally climb into her stroller because it's now a novelty item.

I bought my Ergo at Milagros and I have to plug them for really knowing their stock. They are super helpful, they will happily spend time with you and tell you everything you wanted to know and more about the benefits and drawbacks to all the different types of carriers they carry (and probably some they don't!).

The Bean is now 18 months old and I don't see stopping using the Ergo any time soon. It is very comfortable for both me and my husband and we are very different shapes and sizes!

After my babes got too big for the sling to be comfortable for me (around 7 months) and I really wanted to be able to get stuff done around the house without them in front of my body, I switched to the backpack.

And man, did that backpack rock! Without it, I'd never have been able to make dinner. They loved being in there with a bird's eye view of everything. It was great going out and about in the neighborhood, in the woods, etc.

Now, there are a lot of backpacks out there designed (seemingly) for Himalayan trekking. I did not want one of those massive contraptions (like the Kelty someone gave us). I ended up with the Tough Traveler Montana. It's compact, comfy, lasted through 2 kids with barely a sign of wear and they each fit in there till they were over two.

After the beloved Bjorn got too small - or the baby got too big - we moved to the hip hammock. how i love that thing. got it at the place over on se 26th and clinton. side carrier, kids loved it. everyone loves it. it was taken over - and ruined by - playtex, but now is back in the original makers' hands. i can't recommend it enough. after 2 kids it's in great condition. http://www.swankeltd.com/

My baby LOVED to be carried. At first the Moby Wrap worked really well. He really liked being upright and so snuggly. Great for doing laundry, typing on the computer, going on long walks, etc.

But once he got really fussy I needed something that was quick to put on and take off and that both my husband and I could both use with ease. I found the Rockin'Baby Pouch at Pollywog on SE Belmont - and never looked back.
I swear my son lived full-time in that thing for months and months. He did all his napping there - I went on long walks - it was awesome!

I love the Rockin' Baby Pouch because it's easily adjusted with sturdy zippers - has cool, fun fabrics (reversable!) and was really comfortable. They are made in LA and they also have a ring sling.
My son's now almost two and I still sometimes carry him in the hip carry with the pouch. I've also resorted to putting him down for a nap in it (with his legs dangling out) on airplanes!
www.rockinbabysling.com

I also really love our Ergo carrier and use it all the time.

My girlfriends make fun of me, cause I have tried (and returned!) so many slings! Our favorites have been the Baby Bjorn (with the lumbar support strap) and the Ergo. We also got good use out of the Nojo Carrier when our DD was tiny & going through the evening fussies. The Kangaroo Carrier works pretty good too, but now that DD is 6 mos., she's too heavy for me to use without more support.

We own more than 5 carriers...and we have used them all...the sling was amazing for when our 18 month old boy was a baby...I could nurse him, walk around the house, visit with friends, etc..then he got too big for it, and I could no longer figure out a way to "fit"...we also had a bjorn and never really used it, after that we got a mai tei, I don't use it any more, but my husband and my mother in law still wear the baby all the time. Then came the Ergo, ahh...can not say enough, we also don't use any strollers just the ergo when we are out and about, I still nurse him there. We now got a framed back back as a gift, let's see how that goes....the ring sling was never for us, I had one but couldn't figure out how to use it.

This is such a personal decision - for both the parents and child. For our first we used the Bjorn and she loved it. She needed to be up and facing out so it worked well (slings and Ergo would not have worked as well). She is small for her age so we could use it a long time and then she went to a backpack. We have one of the big REI ones and really like it.

For number two, we used a ring sling a ton for the first nine months or so. She really needed to be tucked in and it was wonderful. She had colic and it helped that. It also gave me a lot of mobility to chase number one around. For this child we also have the Ergo since she loves the hip but we do not use it much since she is mobile. Even at two she seems too large for it - her chubby thighs were bruised after using it on vacation so we are not sure what to do. Like others, we prefer to travel with a carrier instead of a stroller.

For me, I think it is important to try out a lot of options with the child and be prepared to return ones that don't work. Different kids need different things and none of these fit people the same way.

The Ergo! The side hold was very nice for us!

We've tried lots of things in the past 3.5 years. With the second baby one of always had the Moby on for at least 4 months. That wrap was worth it's weight in gold and more. Baby wanted to be upright, I needed my hands, we all needed baby to sleep, it was perfect. We both have back issues and that has been the most comfy for our huge babies. Once this baby was 5 months, Ergo, Ergo, Ergo. All the time Ergo. I just wish it could wad up into my backpack. But I'll use it until the end of time. My hubby pulls out the Moby for some front facing action when he needs to entertain more than one kid but the Moby baby is too heavy/awkward for me as baby grows even more huge (9 months). I hope to hear more about backpacks that aren't designed for trekking but for making dinner while giving baby a view. Baby gets bored in the Ergo during chores and with a view would be prob happier.

I have also been a huge fan of baby wearing. While it seems like it should be intuitive, it does take some practice and small amounts of advice and demonstration go a long way to actually using whatever contraption you got correctly and to its full potential. I have found lots of great help at Bella Stella on NE Broadway. Those gals know their stuff.

My preference has been the Chic Papoose (locally made) sling (simple band of fabric) for shorter distances and the Baby Hawk (mei tai) as a backpack for longer outings - that thing is way comfortable looks good, too!

When my little one was 0-5 months I used the MOBY WRAP exclusively and loved loved loved it and more importantly, so did he! However, my teeny baby has grown and grown and is heavier and heavier, so I have used the ERGO since he was 6 months and LOVE IT I wear him every day- front, side, back and I don't feel like I'm carrying a 22 pound 8 month old around with me. He loves it, sleeps in it, and likes to be on my back in the kitchen while I cook. I know a lot of Mamas who use it and love it. I got my MOBY at Mother Nature's on Clinton Street, and I got my ERGO online.

Chic Papoose -- that's the sling my DH has. It was too large for me, even the small (I'm 5'7 but very slight at about 115 lbs) but I've heard she'll custom make if you send your measurements. I planned on doing that but fell in love with the Moby so much, I never followed up.

I loved and still love the hotsling www.hotslings.com I've used mine since my baby was 1 month old and still use it now - he's now 9 months old. I have a friend whose daughter is 18 months and is still carried by her Mama in the hotsling. Have bought hotlsings for my sister in law, my cousin and several of my friends and they all love them :) I've shopped (grocery shopping is now a breeze!), walked (climbed hills even), breast fed (and rocked to sleep) while carrying my baby in this fabulous sling - a wonderful idea, am so glad I bought one.

I had great help at Bella Stella as well. Dacia offered me her own personal to try out for a day. She also has a baby wearing group that meets once a month, tomorrow in St. Johns. I cant remember the name of the childrens store....Anyway, if you want the lowdown she works on Mon & Tues

I love the Moby wrap. I have two (one is borrowed) so that when one is in the wash I am not without! I have an Ergo for back wearing when the kiddos get a bit older, but I used the Moby even when my son was 1 yr. plus some.

Hated the bjorn. Made do with the ergo. LOVED the Kangaroo Korner adjustable fleece pouch!!

Even though I have a moby and an ergo, I preferred the Bjorn...for some reason it suited my baby's personality really well (she wanted to face out and feel like she was walking!). I'm hoping to get around to using the ergo someday soon, since she's outgrown the bjorn.

We got a SNUGGLE WRAP (http://www.thesnugglewrap.com/) as a gift and love it. It's like a Moby. I've used it for some pretty good hikes from the time my son was just a tiny thing until now at about 28 pounds. My husband has lumbar disc disease and used this carrier without any pain or other problems. I got a ring sling. ROCKIN' BABY SLINGS because I wanted something that was faster to put on for quick errands. It's definitely faster, but the best thing about it was that I could take my son out to restaurants and flip the long fabric end over my shoulder to nurse him in absolute privacy. It was the only way I could ever keep him quiet. After a while I got tired of the adjusting, and as he got bigger and I wanted to carry him on my hip, the metal rings were harder to wear comfortably. So I got a HOTSLING and I love it. I still use it. It's great for a hip carry. Now that he's a squirmy worm, it can be challenging to keep him in it, but we manage. My husband uses it too, but not as often. We also got a KELTY BACKPACK as a gift. I've used it some, especially for hiking when it's hot out because the Snuggle Wrap gets too hot. It gets hot too, though. I just feel more cumbersome with it.

I still use my New Native pouch sling with my 1.5-year-old. She pretty much lived in it when she was a little baby.

I also love the Ergo. My husband even carries our 4-year-old in it sometimes.

Hey- This is Laurel from Bella Stella. Just wanted to chime in with my favorite. Wraps (mobywrap etc.) are fabulous. I can't really think of anything more versatile of comfortable. I would add though, that I really like NON-stretchy wraps like Ellaroo and Didymos (which are deliiiiicious, but pretty pricey). Woven wraps, (not t-shirt material) can do a ton of things that stretchy wraps can't, like a hip-supported sling-style carries, big kid back carries...). They ARE more expensive and maybe a little more intimidating, but I think ithey are worth it for the longevity and versatility. If I were to have another baby, I would personally get a non-stretchy wrap. I think it is really important to think about what you REALLY are going to use your carrier for and go from there. Trying them on and getting help when you need it are essential to success, to definately try to make it to a babywearing meeting or check out Milagros on Killingsworth, Mother Natures on Clinton, Lly Toad way up in St Johns, or Bella Stella on Broadway. We all carry slightly different stuff and have different takes on babywearing... but you won't get a junky carrier and you'll learn a thing or two that should get you to actually USE the carrier youve bought!

I really think that it can be intimidating to find the right baby carrier for you. I tried a couple of slings with my first son, which he detested. I ended up using the Bjorn, which worked fine, but I didn't think it was very comfortable.

I used the Bjorn for my second son, but he was a lot bigger baby and it became unbearable. I bought the ergo and really liked it! I liked the ability to carry in front, hip, and back.

I sold my Ergo, thinking we were done with kids, but now that I am expecting in July, I need to think about what I want!

I liked the New Native for its portability. It folds up so small when he was little. Now, we almost exclusively use the Ergo. It is so comfortable and I have big time neck/shoulder issues, so I love that it truly puts the weight on your hips.

But, here's the thing: Last weekend I took my little guy (well bundled) snow shoeing and it struck me that the Ergo isn't so "outdoorsy" being 100% cotton and all. It there anything made of more rugged/waterproof fabric that acts the same as the Ergo?

Oh, and I should add, I have a bjorn, snugli and a kelty back pack as well. All of them became pretty unbearable for me by the time he was 3 months old because of shoulder pain.

not only is it hard to find the right baby carrier, but you need a different one for every situation! I make all my own carriers, though my husband has a backpack he loves (probably kelty) b/c it's got a good structure to it.

I use the mei tai most for times when I want my hands free (when I'm holding a hand or carrying other bags), and it's great to calm a fussy child even when they get to be older. if i were to make mei tais again, though (I made a whole bunch a long time ago and already came to the end of my excitement over sewing them) I'd make the top of the straps where they sit on my shoulders very wide and very padded. (I have a mei tai 'recipe' on my site, btw) the mei tai is the best homemade carrier for my back.

the pouch sling is best to keep a child warm (I nearly always use it when it's very cold and windy or raining) and for little babies. I've been using my pouch sling for monroe since he was six days old and it's really flexible -- you can use it as a pouch when they're tiny, then use it as a normal sling and set them on your hip when they're older. it's also great when you've got a shoulder bag b/c you can balance your load (and my children are HEAVY so I need lots of weight distribution!)

i've also used one of those enormously long wraps. they don't work at all for infants, b/c you lose the poor child in the folds. they're sometimes useful for older children, and have the benefit of working for both mama and daddy, even if you're vastly different sizes.

I love baby carriers in general. So good for baby and so easy for grown ups. My extended family always laughs when I pull the sling out at family gatherings, but I don't know how any of them managed without one. I'll never forget when my oldest was a baby and my mother and I were travelling somewhere together. She offered to bring her stroller inside the hotel, "to put the baby in," and I was dumbfounded. At that point I didn't realize a stroller was for use inside somewhere. I only had a jogger, and had only ever used mine for walks outside! She was equally dumbfounded at how easy it was to just wear the kiddo and have minimal gear and hands free.

In any case, I have a couple of favorites. For the newborns, I loved my Maya Wrap most of the time. I could nurse and knit in it, the two prerequisites for a good wrap! For long walks and the park, I liked something a little different and used my BJorn for a couple of months and then moved to the Ergo as soon as they could sit straddle in it. I still use the Ergo for my two year old and occasionally my 3 year old but he's getting a little heavy for me. I don't know what I would do without it for those simple runs inside somewhere, etc. I can barely manage to keep track of one on foot. I learned early on that containment of at least one was the key to my sanity!

there are some great online resources out there if you like to learn that way. a general place to start is: http:/www.thebabywearer.com/


for some ways to use a mei tai type carrier, scroll to the bottom of this page:
http://kozycarrier.homestead.com/instructions.html

and for an awesome and varied collection of instructional videos:
http://www.mamatoto.org/StartHere/OnlineVideos/tabid/173/Default.aspx

we are really lucky that we have such great local access to so many stores with carriers in portland. the abundance is so great that you can often find excellent carriers used in the kiddie resale shops, if you don't have much money and aren't up for making your own.

I think it's important to find out if your baby is an OUTIE or an INNIE. My baby insisted of facing out, practically since birth, and I have a friend whose baby is the opposite.

Our son is 3 months old and he LOVES the Kangaroo Corner pouch... when he's fussy or tired, I pop him in it and he's instantly happy. He seems to find it more comfortable than the Moby, Bjorn, or Ergo. It was amazing when he was a newborn, we could do anything and he would sit happily in his pouch and just doze off when he got sleepy. The downside is that since the weight is born on one shoulder, it isn't amenable to hours of babywearing once the baby hits a certain weight. Also, I foresee that it will be very hot when the weather gets warmer.

We use the Moby and Ergo for walks as they distribute baby's weight over both shoulders and the back. He prefers the Moby because he likes to face out and I love the versatility. But I hope he warms up the the Ergo as he gets bigger because I really think it can't be beat in terms of comfort for the wearer if you're walking many miles.

Even though our baby is happy facing out, I'm not a fan of the Bjorn. It doesn't seem terribly ergonomic for the baby or the wearer.

You can also try baby K'tan carriers. It's innovative and stylish soft baby carrier that is a cross between a sling and a more structured front baby carrier, offering the positions and benefits of both, AND MORE!

Mike
http://www.babyktanproducts.com/

with my daughter, we tried a sling, with no success, she hated being in there, and i didn't like seeing her all balled up. next, we did the bjorn, which was nice, but only for a short period. so much back strain! we spent the $90 and got an ergo and loved it. it was a little warm in the summer, but i really liked how i didn't have the back pain and shoulder strain. i'm a little chunky, so it looked really bad wearing her on my back. haha. i never figured out how to wear her on my hip. i had some trouble getting all the straps fitted by myself, but luck me, my husband's with me most of the time.

with our next child, i'm making a moby wrap and a mei tai. i'm sure i'll still have the ergo, but it's been washed a few times, and it's pretty faded. i'm also thinking about a beco baby carrier. http://www.becobabycarrier.com/

In retrospect (now that my kids are 4.5 and 7.5) and after reading this post, I feel like I didn't do enough research. With our first daughter, we used the Bjorn until she was just over a year old. We then converted to a Kelty backpack. With our second daughter, we used a couple of slings.

If I could have done it all over again, I think I would have opted for the Ergo through and through. I feel like the Ergo is so comfortable and has a really wide range of age-compatability, from infant-age through 5! We have used an Ergo to carry our daughter when she was 5 (on a too-long of a hike) and it worked well.

When my youngest daughter was just under 2 years old, I got a call from Milagros saying that I was next on the list for those wanting a consigned Ergo and it was on sale for something like $60. When I think about it, I should have bought it! We would have gotten our money's worth. Alas, I passed up the opportunity.

I have no advice to offer except to say that I have heard from friends who have more than one child that once you have two, you might as well have ten because you're outnumbered forevermore.

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