Right I’ve tried three different types of these now so thought I would write about my experiences with each. I’m not going to talk about brands, just types. Of course I understand that different manufacturers will provide better or worse experiences than others. If you want to know about a particular one then look elsewhere.
Soft structured carrier
I bought this one before Emily was born, half as a joke because I thought Dan would look funny using it. About two days after we came out of hospital I realised that Emily liked to be held. This was fine but I got nothing done. Dan would get in from work to find me starving, thirsty and bursting for a wee with Emily curled up in my arms. After a week or so of this I realised I needed to do stuff so I got out the baby carrier. Now the one we’ve got was only a cheap thing that I’d got off Amazon I think, but it did the job. I was able to make a sandwich or unload the dishwasher. A big improvement.
However I am a lady with contours, particularly post pregnancy and I found that this carrier wasn’t really that comfortable or secure. I couldn’t ever seem to get it tight enough or get Emily in a position where her legs, head or back were in the ideal baby wearing positions. This meant that I had to do lots of readjusting. Also I felt like I needed an extra pair of hands to put it on and there always seemed to be a spare strap or clip that left me worried that I’d ballsed the whole thing up.
Dan, on the other hand, got on quite well with this. Firstly it looks quite manly. The straps and clips made it feel like it was more industrial and that suited him. Secondly Dan is flat chested and broad shouldered as a lot of men are and he seemed much more capable of tightening it up and getting Emily in place. His long arms were suited to reaching around and doing up the straps and clips.
I think that this sort of carrier might be more suited to an older baby. We only ever used it when Emily was newborn and it just didn’t seem right then but may even be better now.
Ok, so this isn’t a picture of me or the wrap I have. (I wouldn’t dream of putting something that hideous on my daughter’s head.) It is the way I usually tie my wrap though so I thought that was important.
The baby wrap is just a long piece of fabric. Mine is a stretchy cotton and 5 metres long. This is the sling I went for when I decided I couldn’t persevere with the carrier. I looked at a few and told Dan how much they cost, within minutes he had found one that was £17 so we ordered it. Point? They don’t have to be super expensive.
Anyway the baby wrap is the sling that I have had most experience with and I think it is wonderful. It is so diverse that I am sure that everyone could find a way to tie it so that it suits them. You can also modify it as your baby gets bigger, say have them facing outwards or carry them on your hip or back. There are endless YouTube videos of people showing you different ways to use it. And that is exactly how I learnt to tie it. People watch me in awe now as I tie it up. I am a pro!
The thing I love most about this style is you can make it as secure as you want. There have been many occasions where I have walked around with a smug look on my face because I have tied a snug wrap, and it genuinely feels great. You get lots of back and shoulder support and can have both hands free. When I start using this with Emily, she would fall asleep in it almost immediately and even three months on it is still a sure fire way to get her to nod off.
The downsides are that it can leave you with your fat bits poking out even more prominently than before and it takes a while to set up. Even with my pro wrap tying status it still takes me a little while to set it all up before I can put Emily in. This can be a pain in Tesco car park or if you have a screaming child.
Dan likes this wrap too, as it can be tied to suit any shape or size. Plus I think it makes him feel like Super Dad.
I would say this style of baby wrap is the best choice if you are looking for versatility and comfort.
So the ring sling is the newest addition to my sling collection. And it’s the prettiest. I decided to buy a ring sling because I heard a lot of people rave about them, particularly Mayim Bialik (Amy Farrah Fowler from Big Bang Theory) in her book, Beyond the Sling.
It is by far the easiest to use. Once setup you basically chuck baby in and tighten it up. Setting it up was a bit fiddly, but I think it is made worse by having a confused looking baby staring at you. However I didn’t watch any YouTube videos for this one and still figured it out. Again there are a variety of different ways you can use it and you find the one that suits you and your baby best. At the moment I am swaying towards the hip carry but I haven’t had a lot of chance to try out many others.
The quick setup for this is what attracted me to it. I wanted a sling that I could use if I needed to pop into the shops or for carrying Emily and something else from the car. She feels really safe in this and I have both hands free. That said however you do have limited use of one arm because the sling goes over that shoulder. This is a pain at times.
The drawback to this style is that the weight isn’t as evenly distributed and this creates pressure on back and shoulders. This may be something that eases with use but at the moment I would be reluctant to use the ring sling for long periods of time.
Dan hasn’t, and probably won’t, use the ring sling but that’s because of the girly pattern on it. Also for some reason this type of carrier does seem a little more feminine to me, but that’s my opinion alone.
Buy them all! Well, if you can. If you can’t I’d say a wrap is your best bet if you are prepared to spend some time learning how to do it but if you are lazy go for the ring sling. What is most important is that your baby is safe so make sure you follow TICKS guidelines. There really is so much advise, variety and support out there that you’d be stupid not to baby wear.