Having a baby means there will be a lot of time spent holding your baby - A LOT. Babywearing is a way to hold your baby and still be hands free. This is a lifesaver when you have a "high needs" baby or a toddler to chase around. I just want to give a brief overview on the different styles and their pros and cons:
Wraps are the most versatile carrier option. They allow for front, back, and hip carries and the number of different carries are endless. Wraps are the ideal newborn carrier because they have great head support and conform to your tiny newborn perfectly. They are also great for toddlers and have virtually no weight limit. The only downside to wrapping is that there is a learning curve. It takes time and practice to get it just right. Thankfully newborns don't move around too much yet!
Examples: Didymos, Oscha, Fidella, Cassiope Wovens, Lenny Lamb
These are somewhat similar to woven wraps. They are still a long piece of fabric that you tie around you, but instead of being woven they are made out of a stretchy material. These are great for newborns, especially preemies. They are very soft and fit snugly around baby. They are pre-tied and then baby can be popped in and out. This is great because you can take baby out and not have to retie the whole wrap before you put them back in! The downside to a stretchy wrap is that they usually are not comfortable after about 15 lbs, and they can only be used for front carries.
Examples: Lillebaby Tie The Knot Wrap
Ring slings are also great for newborns. They still conform to their tiny bodies and are able to grow with your baby just like a wrap. The benefit of a ring sling over a wrap - no tying! It is quicker to use and usually has less fabric. Ring slings are great because they fit in the diaper bag, and it is so easy to slip it on and pop your baby into to calm them down or get them to nap. The cons of a ring sling are that you are limited to front and hip carries and they only rest on one shoulder which can be uncomfortable after wearing for long periods of time, especially with an older child. They are ideal for toddlers who want up and down often!
Examples: Lenny Lamb Ring Sling, Sakura Bloom
Soft Structured Carrier (SSC):
These are the easiest of the carriers. They are structured with a panel and buckles so all you have to do is clip it on and slip baby in! They are great for on the go, quick trips, and long term wearing. They allow for front and back carriers and some SSC also allow for hip and forward facing carries (although many find hip carries in a SSC uncomfortable). The cons of a SSC are that they should not be used until baby has good trunk control, usually around 4-6 months. Some fit smaller but are not ideal for smaller babies as they do not fit well around baby, holding them in place and keeping them from slumping too much. The only other con is that they do not fit to the wearer like a wrap or ring sling, so one brand is not going to fit every wearer/wearee. Most also have "baby" and "toddler" carriers, so usually around 2 you would want to size up if you plan to continue wearing for long periods of time.
Examples: Lenny Lamb, Lillebaby, Fidella Fusion
This carrier is made specifically for back carries. They are great because they do not have a waistband like a typically SSC. They are easy and quick to put on and are a great option for toddlers who like to go up and down a lot but typically do not go up in a front carry. These carriers are similar to a high back carry in a wrap, since the child's shoulders are typically level with the wearers shoulders. This is not a good option for children who enjoy front carries, and infants since the child needs to be sitting unassisted very well for this carrier. This is my go to carrier for my 3 year old who does not go up often.
Examples: Fidella Onbu, Lenny Lamb Onbu
This carrier is a great mix between a wrap and a SSC. It is typically made out of wrap material. it has a panel and straps instead of buckles, so you get a mix of both types of carriers. It offers a more customized fit than a SSC, but not quite as versatile as a wrap. These usually do not fit until the same time frame as a regular SSC, although some have panel adjustments, such as the Fidella FlyTai, which would make it fit sooner. These are a great carrier if you like the look of wrapping but want the ease of a SSC.
Examples: Fidella FlyTai, Lenny Lamb Wrap Tai
Having twins, 2 under 2, or just two kids in general means that sometimes two kids want to be held at the same time. It is possible to wear two babies at the same time! It's definitely a work out, and it will make you feel like a super-parent, but sometimes the logistics can get a little crazy. A few pairings that I have tried so far: wrap/onbu, wrap/SSC, ring sling/SSC, ring sling/onbu, wrap/wrap, SSC/SSC
So far the most comfortable to wear for more than about 20 minutes has been wrap/wrap. Wrapping gives you such a customized fit that if you get a good wrap job it is extremely comfortable, even when wearing two kiddos. I have done both two kids in one wrap and two kids in two wraps, and two wraps was more comfortable than one.
If you ever have any questions about wearing your babies, toddlers, or big kids. Don't hesitate to ask us! Babywearing is a big part of our lives here at Growing Up. We love to wear any babies we can get our hands on and we will happily answer any questions you have and help you find the perfect carrier for your family!