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Baby Sling Smackdown

By Amalah

Baby Carriers & Baby Slings Reviewed!

Hi Amy,

It seems like there are a million slings on the market these days and I can’t decide which ones to get. 

Perhaps you and your helpful readers could help a girl out? Since I’m assuming that a sling smackdown is not cards at the moment.

I had a Over the Shoulder Baby Holder with my first son. And I liked it fine, except it was kind of hot during the summer since I got the plain black one. Duh! Anyway, its gone now since I thought we were done having kids. Heh! I could replace it but I’m thinking there are probably better options out there.

Except, I try to research and I get bombarded with the 50 million options. Ack!

So I’ll be having my baby in July. I’m thinking maybe a ring sling for when he’s tiny like perhaps a Maya Wrap or not…I don’t know! And then maybe something like an Ergo for when he’s bigger. But I am completely open to suggestions because I’d hate to cough up the cash and then find out my choices sucked!
I am not feeling the wraps with their hundred feet of fabric that I have to use to construct my own sling.

Um, no. And I’m on the curvy (read chubby) side with an ample bosom. So of course, what works for skinny minnie you might not for me, etc.

Suggestions, tips, rants of sucky slings to avoid?

And also, dude….do I really need a double stroller? My older son will turn 3 a couple months before the new baby is born. And frankly, we’ve probably used his stroller only twice in the last 12 months. I just don’t see the need but maybe I’m in denial.


Yep. Yep. To all of it. I asked my readers once for baby carrier & sling recommendations and also got bombarded with 50 million options. Every single solitary sling on the market was probably recommended at least once, and then for every rave review there was someone else who hated that same sling. Hated it!

Trial and Error

So. Guess what! There’s a lot of trial and error to this baby-wearing thing, a lot of personal preference (and baby preference) and my only guiding advice would be to LEAVE TAGS ON and SAVE RECEIPTS and basically make sure you can return something if, say, your postpartum boobs require a different size than you thought or your baby absolutely will not tolerate a certain style or fabric. Try things on, find a local sling support/how-to group, ask the opinions of trusted Internet advice columnists.

Oh, wait. That’s me! Okay, here are the carriers I have loved and a couple I have hated:

My Personal Reviews

Baby Bjorn: This is what we used with my first son, Noah, although we cheaped out and bought the really basic model, without the additional strap/support across your lower back (I think that upgraded one is called the Active, and my sister LOVED hers). Mistake! As soon as your baby puts on a little bit of chub, the carrier starts feeling like you’re wearing a backwards backpack and puts a ton of strain on your shoulders. And Noah outgrew the maximum length of the Bjorn really, really quickly. (He WAS 95th percentile, though.) That said, it’s a really EASY carrier to use — ours got a second life this time around with our babysitter. She loved it.

The New Native Baby Pouch: This was my belated attempt at a sling for my first, Noah. I bought it in New York City simply because it was THERE and FOR SALE and I wanted to kill my stroller. Like, punt it down the subway steps and club it with a baseball bat. So I bought a sling. He was a bit old for it and I felt afterwards like I probably bought a size too small. I used it two or three times, max.

This time, though. Oh, man, did I love that thing. It is about as basic as you can get in the pouch-style carriers. Over your shoulder, line up the seam under your boob, smush baby in there all fetal-style. It was PERFECT for a newborn. PERFECT for a newbie sling person. No buckles or rings or padding or wrapping…or any size adjustment options at all. Eeee. And this became a problem, once Ezra started heading up the growth charts as well — like I suspected before, I really did need the next size up. It’s just too darn tight. SO annoyed at myself.

Hotsling: Speaking of sizing issues! I bought this one while I was pregnant with my second child, Ezra, although I really don’t know why, since it’s essentially the same as the New Native. Another basic pouch carrier, although available in pretty pretty fabrics. (Like you, I was really not interested in complicated, wrap-around-your-body, ultra-adjustable slings.) I SWEAR, according to the sizing charts, this thing SHOULD have fit me. I wasn’t in between sizes or anything. Way too big. Ezra always hung too low on my torso and it had a tendency to slip off my shoulder. (Which is weird, since the user reviews on the sling usually complain that they run small.) The fabric was also really rough and scratchy, although perhaps a few more washings may have softened it up. I didn’t bother to keep trying and passed it along to my friend Isabel to try, since it ended up being beyond redundant, BECAUSE OF…

The Rockin’ Baby Sling:
This one was a gift, purchased on the recommendation of the fine ladies at Cool Mom Picks. And yes, it’s another freaking pouch carrier. BUT. Unlike the New Native or the Hotsling, it adjusts, via a hidden panel of zippers. This helps give this sling a best-of-both worlds quality — still pretty idiot-proof to use, but more flexible for different baby sizes and carrying positions. AND Jason and I can both use the same sling. (It’s also reversible, so I can wear the pretty design side out and Jason can flip it around to the basic brown color.) Totally awesome and highly recommended.
And finally…

The Ergo Carrier: We bought this one as an upgrade to the Bjorn, mostly for Jason who was a little apprehensive about the slings. (He still sometimes thinks the baby is always about to fall out.) We bought the newborn insert as well…and never used the blasted thing. It sat in the closet because WOW, that’s a LOT of carrier for a VERY LITTLE BABY. The DVD confounded us (it makes it sound like if you snap a single buckle out of order your baby will fall out and hit the pavement) and when something confuses me I tend to give up. It looked at first like the Ergo was a tremendous waste of money.

Now, of course, I couldn’t live without it. You will have to pry the Ergo off my cold dead torso. Ezra’s gotten a little…feisty…about the fabric pouches and doesn’t always want to cooperate. He also ALWAYS wants to breastfeed, something that I admit I have yet to really get *down* with the pouch slings, unless I’m sitting. The Ergo keeps Ez in his favorite spot — face-first into my boobs. (You can also do a hip and back carry with the Ergo, but I haven’t tried them yet.)

I’ve nursed him handsfree everywhere — stores, the zoo, farmers’ markets, playgrounds — and carried him everywhere and I get ZERO back strain or pressure points. Dude, I’ve unloaded the dishwasher while the kid eats. I imagine you can do the same with some of the fancier (and prettier, no doubt) wrap-style slings…but…I don’t know. I like the sturdy buckles and clasps and such.


So…if I had to do it all over again, I’d skip the Bjorn and the Hotsling, and go with either the New Native (IN THE PROPER SIZE) or the Rockin’ Baby. The Rockin’ Baby certainly gets the edge in the looks department, and there’s no doubt that the adjustability is a huge plus. (But it also can make you constantly second-guess yourself and adjust and re-adjust.) Then I’d get the Ergo later on, skipping the whole newborn insert thing.

And this is where everybody jumps into the comments section with completely different experiences and recommendations. Hooray!

Read the follow-up Baby Sling Smackdown Part II

Published March 2, 2009. Last updated October 30, 2017.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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