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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.

Thanks!
M

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.

IMG_0348.jpg
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.
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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.

Conclusion!

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

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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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Comments

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Laurie
Guest
Laurie

We got lucky and got not one but two hand-me-down Baby Bjorn carriers. That was great because one was sized for me (petite fleur) and one for my husband (over six feet tall). I also bought a hotsling for airport travel because there are no metal bits. My boy is now 17 months and I still use the hotsling for airport travel though mostly just until the bags are checked. The hard part is the only place that locally sells slings is Babies R Us and their selection is limited. It’s hard to commit that amount of money to something… Read more »

Jessica V.
Guest
Jessica V.

I’m on my second kid and am still a baby-wearing newbie. Hated the Hotsling – but I’m hopeful for the Beco Butterfly. It is a bit less bulky than the Ergo, but I think it works largely the same way. Here is another site that has reviewed a number of slings – Amy wasn’t kidding that it takes a lot of trial and error. Good luck! http://www.wanlifetolive.com/2008/11/im-baby-carrier-whore-part-2.html

Sara
Guest
Sara

I made my own Peanut Shell style pouch sling using a pattern on the internet and it worked just great. I just couldn’t commit to spending all that money if my son was going to hate it and he liked it fine. We never needed another sling.

Cobblestone
Guest
Cobblestone

I used a sling pouch long enough to take the “hands-free-baby” picture. He was not ammused and away it went! Bjorn is good for my huband and his strong back, and pfft for me. I use the Snugli and am fairly content. Don’t buy any of them. Ask everybody you know for used ones or for hook-ups for used ones. I also own a zillion-yards of cloth wrap, it little cousin the thousand-yards wrap, the Snugli and the Bjorn were loans and the pouch wrap I got at consignment. Heck, I bet the comments would hook you up even –… Read more »

bethany actually
Guest

I had EXACTLY the same problems with the Bjorn and the New Native. I did have a custom-made (by a small business that no longer exists) adjustable-with-snaps pouch sling later that I loved. But I have heard such amazing things about the Ergo from such a wide variety of people that I think next time we have a baby I will be buying one first thing. But as you said, Amy, I think slings/carriers just take a lot of trial and error. Michelle, maybe you could send an email out to any friends with babies, asking if any of them… Read more »

Jen
Guest
Jen

My son is a chunkster (he was 28 lbs. at his 12 mo. appt.), and I am curvy, too. I started out with the Baby Bjorn Active, but even with the back support it started wearing on my shoulders. I loved my Hotsling in the early days for around the house (Target has offical Hotslings for less than you can buy them through the Hotsling website). I happened to buy one that fit just right, and it was my savior, as my son hated the bassinet, the swing, the bouncer, etc. — he only wanted to be held. We don’t… Read more »

danielle
Guest

I do love the pocket slings, but as you know the Hotslings are so expensive – especially if they end up not fitting correctly? Right?
That is totally what inspired me to make my own line of pouch slings and make some adjustments to the sizing issues. I have enjoyed this so much and it gives moms a little more flexibility with price, fabric, and sizes!
For me – the pouch sling is the way to go.
http://www.danielleandersdesign.com

Kate
Guest
Kate

I tried a Maya sling and a custom-made ring sling, and truthfully I hated them both. My son never seemed comforable, and I was always so hot wearing them! I ended up buying a Belle baby carrier (they’re made here in Colorado), and I loved it. The design is incredibly simple, just the pouch with two straps that go over your shoulders and criss-cross your back, and then snap into clasps on each hip. I was able to adjust it to pull him up high on my torso, and then lower him down a bit as he got heavier. The… Read more »

Sarah Y
Guest

I love my Maya Wrap. It took me a minute figure it out but since then, no problem. I liked it when my daughter was 4 days old and I still like it now, at 2. And good God, that girl likes to nurse so there have been a lot of times I carried her in the sling so she could nurse and I could function. Totally sturdy and easy. Plus it has a pocket which is very, very nice. If I’m wearing a child I don’t also want to wear a purse so I generally put my credit card… Read more »

alexia
Guest

I have a peanut shell sling, a bjorn and a moby. The sling was great when she was under 8 weeks, but now she is too big and it is too constricting. She always hated the bjorn and we gave up on it long ago. I was so hesitant to try the moby because it looked so confusing, but a coworker made me try theirs. My baby loves it, it is so much more comfortable than anything else we have tried and it really isn’t that confusing (I had it down after the first time we used it). I highly… Read more »

Jessica (from It's my life...)
Guest

Ahhh. can’t. resist. giving. sling. recommendation. Too. hard… I had that same Over The Shoulder Baby Holder in black and I used it religiously when my baby was tiny and I had to nurse her while caring for the two year old. OK. Wait, I had a hideous flowery blue one that I used at home and the nice black one I used out and about. Then I got a ModMum sling at BlogHer last year and I never looked back. My 19mo still rides on my hip in that amazing pouch sling. If I had to do it again… Read more »

MamaS
Guest
MamaS

I swear by the Beco. I would never do the ergo thing since I think that they are horribly ugly. That’s just me of course.

Jen L.
Guest

I loved my Baby Bjorn for the first 3 1/2-4 months. We were living in NYC at the time, so it was great for that lifestyle. Once my son chubbed up, though, I thought my back was going to break. We got an Ergo as a shower gift, but were also confused and scared by the DVD, so it’s sitting in my son’s closet! Glad to hear your comments about it…will break it out for baby #2 (when the time comes).

Liz
Guest

Yay for the Rockin’ Baby Pouch! Totally saved this slingaphobe too.
So no more recos here. Just want to say you’re looking purdy these days.

Sadie
Guest

Ha! I have both a Bjorn AND a Hotsling…and I like both of them. The Bjorn has worked well for us since…6 weeks or so. The Hotsling was awesome for about 2 weeks of tiny newborn, then sat in my closet until my daughter was old enough to sit on my hip. Now we use it frequently, with her sitting on my hip. The sizing in strange though, I would probably suggest getting a size bigger than you would think.

Timi
Guest

We actually ended up at the same conclusions that you did. Loved the pouch sling for the newborn(we have a Peanut shell), and later on an ergo style carrier. The only other thing was that we had a big chunk of time (3-7 months)when we used the big wrappy sling so that our daughter could face outwards, I think the wrap slings are great to have and at least try, a lot of them are pretty reasonably priced so if it doesn’t work for you no big deal. Also, our pouch sling got a second life as soon as our… Read more »

Danielle
Guest

I never had a sling, and I’m sure it would have been easier for nursing, but I’ve LOVED my frontpack from day one. I use a mei tai (visit http://www.meitaibaby.com), which works from newborn on up and is one-size for the parent as well. As the name suggests, it ties on — first around the waist like an apron, and then over the shoulders, criss-cross, and back around the waist to tie in the front (they have a diagram on their web site). It can be work as a frontpack with baby facing in or out, or as a backpack.… Read more »

Heather
Guest
Heather

We also got lucky and got two hand-me-down Bjorns, one for me and one for my husband. We love them, largely because the baby loves them. She’s one of those infants who was trying to stand on our laps from day 1, so it was an absolute no-go with the pouch slings, which make her feel all smooshed and cranky (and she is not a cranky baby in general). I tried a Hotsling (after a struggle to get the right size), and she turned into a tiny baby board and screamed. So, I think it’s a lot about the baby.

Jen
Guest
Jen

If you are larger chested, I highly recommend a ring sling over a pouch due to the adjustability. I love my sling form http://www.sleepingbaby.net and the owner is very helpful about sizing. However, with a second baby it is good to also have a carrier that will allow you to be totally hands-free. In the beginning, I loved my Wrap and Wear, which comes in a thin gauzy fabric that is good for warmer weather. Yes, it is a pain to put on. But a wrap is great for a tiny baby and you have both hands free. Now that… Read more »

egplnt21
Guest
egplnt21

I loved my sit and stand stroller with a toddler and infant. I traveled a good amount with the two kids (without the husband) and it made airports much easier. And I often used it at places like the zoo, mall etc, to hold the younger one and the stuff, and made the older one walk.

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

My daughter had just turned three a week before my son was born. I thought about getting a double stroller, but I just couldn’t stomach the cost, so we didn’t. And I never regretted it. I used a front carrier a couple of times for the baby so my daughter could ride in the stroller, but she usually just walked. For trips to the zoo and such, a wagon was great. I could put the carseat with the baby and the three year old in it and go. And if my husband was with me, we’d sometimes each push a… Read more »

Emily
Guest
Emily

I had about eight million baby carriers and used them all at different moments. The New Native-style pouch (I made my own to get the right size, which was really easy to do) was great for rocking our tiny baby to sleep. I liked the Moby for walks with the tiny bub because it felt more secure, though. When he was no longer tiny, we went to a state of all-Ergo all-the-time. I used it, my husband used it, my mom used it. The Ergo is essentially a reinforced canvas mei tei but a lot more secure-feeling, in my opinion.… Read more »

Claire
Guest
Claire

How do you nurse in the Ergo? I have a 4.5 month old, and can’t figure it out. Do you sit the baby super-low in the Ergo to make it work? Any advice would be great!

Amalah
Guest

Claire – I make sure Ezra’s legs are kind of wrapped *up* around my waist, so his butt is sitting as low in the Ergo as possible. And then I angle my boob up a little and let Ezra figure the rest out. It definitely requires a bit more boob-mashing than regular nursing, but if your baby is determined to eat, they seem to be able to make it happen. (Although the first time I tried it, I admit that I missed Ezra’s mouth and ended up with a big old hickey on my boob.) And I can’t believe I… Read more »

Clare
Guest
Clare

I did the ring sling/mei tai combination. Slings are great for quick outings, but awkward for bigger babies. I still use the mei tai for my 1.5 yr old. He rides on my back and loves it. Husband likes the mei tai too. As for strollers, I have just a single one (boys are 3.5 yrs apart). But, I’ve known people who bought two cheap (ie, kolkraft) umbrella strollers and clipped them together (you can buy special clips) for times when they needed a double stroller but didn’t want to spend a mint. Like international air travel with two children… Read more »

Hillary
Guest
Hillary

We also have an Ergo with infant insert that has been collecting dust in our closet. Now that my daughter is a bit older, I am excited to try it out. But I keep waiting, not sure if she is big enough yet to use without the insert (she is 3 1/2 months). The Ergo website says you can use the infant insert with infants up to 4-6 months, but I imagine you can toss the insert before then? Their website also says the insert is no longer needed when baby can hold her head up for long periods of… Read more »

Sonja
Guest

Moby wrap. The end.

Claire
Guest
Claire

For the Ergo, I got rid of the infant insert around 3.5 months, although if it is still cold where you live, you can continue to use the infant insert for extra warmth, but sit the baby in the traditional Ergo manner (not tilted to the side). The Ergo is definitely much easier without the insert!

paranoid
Guest

I have a one-month old daughter and an Ergo (with infant insert). I have to admit, I love it! The infant insert wraps around the baby, making her into a little burrito that I can just pop into the carrier. She loves it and will fall asleep almost instantly when she’s put in there. Plus, the insert keeps her quite warm, which I appreciate as we enter spring, where it’s warm enough that my 3-year-old wants to be outside, but still cool enough that I worry about the baby. However, be forewarned if you get an ergo and also have… Read more »

Susan
Guest
Susan

I bought (and promptly returned) two baby bjorns (one active, one regular) and a hotsling. The fabric on the hotsling was too scratchy and my sister in law told me even after many repeated washings hers was scratchy. The baby bjorn made my daughter scream and I hated having all the extra straps hanging around (i’m on the smaller side). Plus I had nightmares about the bodily damage I could be doing to my innocent baby by dangling her by her crotch for hours at a time. I kept a peanut shell sling which I purchased in microfleece to avoid… Read more »

rita hicks
Guest

Its definetly a personal preference of course. but my baby is 4.5 months old and she has been worn since the day she was born she is very spoiled and needs to be held all the time so i have tried all the wearing devices.. i found that the maya sling is great for portable nursing.. if im at a resturant or want to go shopping i just throw her in there and nurse as i walk. the other ones i found i couldnt adjust as well to nurse her. but i also have the new baby bjorn is the… Read more »