I've been convinced that baby wearing is an excellent choice for many families since before Elizabeth was born. Practice in our house has proven this to be true, but what I thought I'd be doing and using 5 years later is not quite what I'd anticipated. I'm offering a bit of my experience for those of you thinking about adding baby wearing as a tool in your parenting toolbox.
I have three types of carriers:
Stretchy Wrap - Mine is a Moby, my first carrier, and the one I used more frequently with Elizabeth.
Asian Style carrier/ Mei Tei - Babyhawk brand - I got this somewhere around the time Nathanael was born. I really don't remember if it was before or 5 months after. I used this more than the Moby, once I had it, and he was a bigger baby.
Ring Sling - a beautiful yard sale find, apparently homemade - I found this when N was about 18 months. It is my most frequently used carrier with Adelle.
Here's how I use my carriers:
Rarely in the house. I'm just not someone who wants my baby strapped to my body all the time in the house. Most of the time, the baby is sleeping, or playing on the floor, or simply being held in arms. I wore E much more when she was a newborn around the house, but she didn't mind playing on the floor or in a swing while I did housework. None of my kids fuss much, and haven't been colicky babies, so I haven't needed to use a carrier to help me out in that way.
As Adelle has gotten older, I find I use the BabyHawk in a back carry, so she can get a nap, and I can get something done around the house.
Mostly out and about. I can hardly imagine shopping for groceries or running errands without some kind of baby carrier. The few times I've hauled the baby seat in to the store it's been a pain, but I will do this when I have just one or two things to get/do in a particular store, and the baby is sleeping. It's so much easier to have the baby in a carrier than trying to figure out how to put my groceries in a cart around the baby, while corralling the other two kids!
During camping/retreats/large gatherings. I directed youth camps and attended family camps when E and N were infants/toddlers. My baby carriers were indispensable. I kept baby on me most of the time, especially since these events mean lots of outdoor walking to and from cabins, bathhouse, classrooms, and the lodge/eating area. I've attended conferences and baby wearing has enabled me to keep baby happy while allowing me to participate. Although, you'd still often find me at the back or edge, swaying or bouncing baby to sleep.
My thoughts on the carriers I have:
Moby - I love it for the newborn stage. I secures the baby's head, and keeps baby nice and snug against me. I used a Moby with E until she was more than a year old. I love that it's stretchy, but that's also the ting I don't like when baby gets heavier. I love that it's easy to get the baby in and out of the wrap, which is especially useful when getting in and out of the car for errands.
Babyhawk- I got it because I was curious, and I found it on sale for $35. I like it especially for back carries, once a baby is a little older - starting about 6-7 months. It's okay for the newborn stage in a front carry), but there's an awkward stage where baby doesn't want feet tucked in froggie style, but baby isn't quite big enough to straddle the carrier and have legs out. It's a good carrier, and I expect I will be using it more in the future. Of my three carriers, this one is the most challenging to put baby in and out frequently (as one might do while running errands), but all things considered, it's still pretty easy to use.
Noname Ring Sling - I've been surprised at how much I've used my ring sling. The thing that draws me back to it again and again is how easy it is to take on and off. Very easy to get baby in and out. It's harder for me to get the snug fit I want, I think because the rings are a little small for the amount of material. I do end up using my hands to support the baby more often than I do when I'm using the moby or the babyhawk, but it's generally not a problem. I've not tried a back carry with this sling, and the hip carry is not comfortable for me, but as a general go to carrier, I like this one a lot.
Breastfeeding while baby wearing has never been something with which I've been comfortable. The babies never seemed to like nursing in the moby, and I felt like the babyhawk left me too exposed, while the ring sling didn't feel secure enough to walk and nurse. Perhaps there are more skilled mamas than I out there, but for me breastfeeding is something I have to do with the carrier off my body.
I would love to try out an Ergo or similar carrier. I've heard great things about them, and maybe, just maybe, Jude would be more willing to carry the baby (if I got a non-girly one, unlike my babyhawk and ring sling.)
What are your favorite carriers? Why do you like them? Have you tried any that haven't worked for you?