"I studied the Kung San tribe of South Africa and discovered that their babies very rarely cry. Mothers soothe and calm their babies very quickly. They carry them all day long while walking miles a day"
- "Many childcare experts talk about the eighteen-month gestational period -- nine months in the womb and nine months without -- and the swaddling and carrying of your baby is effective in providing just this kind of extended womb experience."
- Studies show that infants who are frequently carried cry and fuss 43% less than babies who are kept in a stroller or crib
As of the date of this writing, my daughter is 20 months old and I just bought our FIFTH baby carrier. If you're looking to minimize the number of baby carriers that you'd like to own, then I recommend the following three. In order of importance:
RECOMMENDATION #1: The New Generation ERGOBABY Carrier
This is the most recent baby carrier that I have tried and I wish I had purchased it sooner! It's relatively convenient, practical and comfortable.
If I'm going to "wear" my daughter, I need to wear her on my back rather than on my front because her weight at 23-24 pounds now is too heavy to carry on my front. The only other back carrier that I had tried was the Sleepy Baby Wrap Carrier, but that wasn't working well for us as a back carrier (see below).
To get my daughter on and off my back by myself, I need the help of a sofa or chair, but it's totally doable. The company's website has a video tutorial on how to do it yourself while standing, but that way is harder for me. You'll also see a tutorial on the website on how the hood that is attached can provide discretion when nursing. If you're interested in learning more about this carrier, I found the Amazon Customer Reviews to be helpful as well.
If you can only have one baby carrier, then I would recommend this one since it can be used from the child's infancy to 90 pounds. The key drawback is that my daughter went through a stage of not being able to be worn on my back, so she was on my front, facing out (like in the picture below, under Baby Bjorn), and the Ergobaby Carrier does not provide for that. The Baby Bjorn does, however, so that is the key reason that I would recommend the Baby Bjorn as the second carrier to own.
RECOMMENDATION #2: Baby Bjorn
We had used the Baby Bjorn quite often from when our daughter was about 2-3 months old until about 15-16 months old (at which point, she outgrew it since her winter layers at that time made the Bjorn too tight). While being worn on our chests and facing out, she LOVED the view. I found the Baby Bjorn to be relatively easy to get on and off, as well as comfortable in its distribution of my daughter's weight.
The ability for the child to face out is a key reason I would own this carrier in addition to the Ergobaby Carrier. However, it's less useful when the child does not yet have head and neck control, and it holds up to just 25 pounds (whereas the Ergobaby holds up to 90 pounds). For infancy, if you're looking for a baby carrier that will snugly secure your infant to you and allow both your hands and arms to be free to do chores or errands, then the Baby Bjorn and Ergobaby may work fine but the Sleepy Wrap Carrier seems better suited for that!
RECOMMENDATION #3: Sleepy Wrap Carrier
I didn't know about the Sleepy Wrap Carrier until my daughter was about 17 months old. While at a hair salon in the East Village, a mom in the Ergobaby entered. I asked her if she liked the Ergobaby and she said it was okay but she didn't love it. Instead, what she really loved was a German baby wrap that she received as a gift. She said it was MUCH more comfortable, though harder to get a baby on your back (I was looking for a back carrier at the time).
I Googled her recommendation of a German wrap (she said the fabric was great!). I'm guessing that it's the Storchenwiege baby sling. Given its +$100 price tag and that I had no idea whether we'd like the concept of a wrap, I decided to start with the Sleepy Wrap Baby Carrier since it was less than $40.
I've only been able to try the Sleepy Wrap Baby Carrier a couple times so far, but not for very long. Although my daughter does not really like it, I think it's because she's too old for it: she is accustomed to viewing to where we are walking (i.e., facing out while on my front in the Baby Bjorn or on my back (and this wrap is too hard to use with her, as a toddler, on my back!)).
I will definitely use this wrap carrier for baby #2 during the infant stage however! I found it quite comfortable and is probably great for an infant as one does errands in the City or chores around the home. I think you could also discreetly nurse with the baby in this carrier. Will have to report back after baby #2 arrives (not yet on the way!).
Other Baby Carrier Experiences...
When my daughter was less than 3 months old, I would carry her in a sling around the house so that I was "carrying" her while being able to have two free hands. At that point, I liked the sling a lot because she was still not heavy and it was womb-like for my daughter.
As she became more alert, she didn't like the sling as much. I think she felt constricted in an unacceptable way. As she got heavier, I also didn't love having her weight pulling more one shoulder than the other. So we started using the Baby Bjorn more, which worked better for us. It more evenly distributed her weight on my body, we could get her in and out of it more easily, and she could face inward or outward.
The Infantino Sling Rider Baby Carrier
While on vacation in Nantucket when my daughter was about 4 weeks old, we didn't have a baby carrier with us and all we could buy at the local store is the Infantino Sling Rider Baby Carrier (image below), which my daughter and I really didn't like. It was like putting my daughter in a duffle bag!
Versatility of Slings and Wrap Carriers...
I searched YouTube for helpful video content on the subject and found one clip that demonstrates the versatility of the slings and wrap carriers. Click below to watch:
Read about my Experience with Baby Carriers from Baby #2.