Baby wearing can be a beautiful experience for both baby and parent. Not only does it provide the opportunity for bonding, but it also allows the parent to have one or both hands free to do other tasks. If you are considering baby wearing, you have no doubt discovered that there are several styles of slings and carriers available to you. The most popular styles are discussed here, as well as their biggest strengths and weaknesses.
Though there are many types of slings, there is one style that is simply called a sling. This easy to use sling looks a lot like an oversized hobo bag. It is worn over one shoulder and across the chest with the bag resting against the hip. Though they are the easiest to use, these slings only provide one carrying position and are best suited for sleeping newborns.
A basic ring sling is simply a long piece of fabric with two metal rings attached. After you fold and wrap the sling around your body, you thread one end of the fabric through the rings in order to secure it. Some ring slings go beyond the basic design and have added features like padding in the shoulder area or a pocket to stash your keys, a pacifier, or other necessity. Ring slings are relatively easy to use but do not always provide long-term comfort for the wearer.
A wrap is also a long piece of fabric but instead of threading the fabric through a ring, you simply wrap it around yourself and tie the ends in a knot. One nice feature about wraps is that they can be tied in a variety of ways so that you can carry your baby in different positions. Wraps are perhaps the hardest type of baby carrier to learn to use, but they are the most comfortable to wear.
A pouch sling (also known as a tube sling) is simply a ring of fabric that is worn over the shoulder and across the chest with the pouch area resting near the hip. Almost as easy to use as the basic sling, the pouch sling allows for a few variations on the basic carrying position.
A Mei Tai is the style of baby carrier that has been used in Asia for centuries. It is made of a square or rectangular piece of fabric with straps extending from all four corners. The straps are then tied to the wearer, creating a pouch to hold the baby. Some Mei Tais come equipped with buckles so that it is not necessary to tie the straps. Mei Tais are fairly easy to use and allow you to wear your baby on your front or your back.
A pack carrier looks remarkably like a backpack that can be worn on the front or the back. There are holes in the bottom of the pack that allow the baby’s legs to dangle. Though easy to use and comfortable for the wearer, pack carriers are thought by some to be uncomfortable for the baby.