Ways to wear your baby
Nowadays there is an endless list of different style baby slings available for parents to choose from. Depending on the age and personality of your little one and the purpose of the sling you can find inexpensive pouch slings, wrap-around slings, folding slings, front carriers, hiking carriers, etc.
Front carriers are designed so your baby can either face inwards which is especially useful for a newborn or when your baby is sleeping or face outwards which is said to be helping with baby’s social development. They feature adjustable straps so the weight of the baby is distributed evenly across your shoulders and back. Some have an additional strap around your waist so it distributes the weight even more. They can accommodate an infant of up to 13.5kg which may already be too heavy for many parents to carry. When choosing a front carrier try to find one that is easy to put on and take off as a lot of straps can be disabling if the parent has to put it on all by himself. Make sure that the shoulder straps are comfortably padded and adjustable. It should be washable and made of breathable fabric. The carrier should be able to support your baby’s head and shoulders and look comfortable for your baby to sit in.
Soft carriers are equally versatile as baby can be worn at the front, back or the side on the hip. The shoulder and waist straps are tied around your upper body to allow individual comfort and they can be used for babies of up to 18 months. As with the front carriers you should make sure that it is comfortable to wear with padded straps and safe for your baby with good head support and a good fit.
They come in different styles, both fabric and design:
The pouch sling is the easiest in design which means no extra bulk when not in use and quick and easy to put on and take off. By using the sling properly you distribute the weight over the full width of your shoulder and across your back. This kind of sling allows for discreet breastfeeding anywhere anytime and doubles as a soft changing mat, stroller cover or baby blanket. It is fuss free, allowing the wearer to carry the baby in various positions: babies can be worn to sleep in a cradle position, tummy-to-tummy, kangaroo carry or hip carry while you go on with your activities. The pouch sling comes in different sizes for the correct fit. (Baby's Best pouch slings are available here)
The ring sling is very versatile and adjustable to any size baby or wearer. The sling is designed to cup the shoulder and spread naturally over the back, keeping baby secure and close to your center of gravity. It may take some time to get used to the handling and adjusting but it is a very good sling for those who feel comfortable wearing it.
Wraps are a wide swath of fabric that slings across your body. It is very versatile as infants can lie down in them and can face in- and outwards. An older baby can straddle around your hip or back while being supported by the sling. They also allow discreet and convenient breastfeeding.
Again, when using a sling, look out for breathable and washable fabric, well-padded and comfortable straps.
A framed carrier, used for long walks and hikes (hiking carriers) has a backpack frame made of light metal with a fabric seat. Unlike front carriers and slings, which distribute baby’s weight across the shoulders and the back, a backpack carrier places the weight on your back and waist. This type of carrier is not recommended for babies under six months old as it requires them to sit upright and be able to hold themselves reasonably stable. It can be used for children up to 18kg. When choosing such a carrier, look for lightweight models that have a built-in stand. This will help make loading and mounting easier. A framed carrier should be moisture resistant and have a cleanable fabric, adjustability for both wearer and baby, safety straps, firm shoulder strap padding, a lumbar support to help distribute the weight down towards your hips, and some storage pockets for all your needs while hiking. If you like long-distance hikes you should look out for heavy-duty backpacks but a light-weight model is fine for shorter tours.