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Me and baby Susan

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Babywearing, in a nutshell

I'm assuming that since you're here, you already know why babywearing is great. But if you are new to babywearing or need a refresher, here are just a few reasons:

Types of carriers (beyond the Bjorn and Snugli)

Slings are worn on one shoulder and can be divided into two main types – pouch, or tube-style, slings, which have a sewn-in "seat" for the baby and are usually not adjustable; and ring-slings, which are adjustable through a set of circular rings. Slings are easy to use, great for quick ins and outs for toddlers who frequently change their minds, and are often compact enough to stash in a diaper bag for travel. The fact that they are used on one shoulder does limit the size of the child who can be carried; most parents stop using slings for all but short trips when their children reach 25-30 lbs, but this will vary depending on the parent's strength and the length of time they've been babywearing. Slings can be easily used from birth onward, although it is critical to insure that a newborn isn't too scrunched up in the sling: his/her chin should never be pressed against his/her chest, as that can compress the airway and potentially lead to asphyxiation (very rare, but possible). [Most babies will cry and fuss if this is the case, but a sleeping infant may not do so. If the baby seems uncomfortable or unhappy in a cradle hold in the sling, try other positions.]

Within the two types, there are variations.

Asian carriers include the podaegi (Korean in origin), the mei tai (Chinese), and the onbuhimo (Japanese), as well as some newer soft structured carriers that combine several features. These carriers have in common a rectangular "body" piece and one to four straps, which are tied around the wearer to support the baby's weight. The straps usually go over both shoulders, which can distribute weight more efficiently than a sling, although the straps make the carriers slightly more difficult to store than slings. They are easy to use after a little practice and are great for long walks with toddlers. Asian carriers usually cost more than slings, because they take a much longer time to sew.

Wraps are long pieces of fabric that are literally wrapped around the baby and the wearer. They provide the most support and comfort of any carrier, for infants through toddlers and beyond, and can be used to carry more than one child if need be. Because of their simplicity of design, there are dozens of ways to wear a wrap, and that versatility makes them an ideal carrier. While they do take some time to learn, it's time well spent, and just a few carries will easily get you through to toddlerhood and even beyond.

Safety in commercially-available carriers:

The American Consumer Product Safety Commission released a statement on March 12, 2010, cautioning parents against using carriers that force an infant into a chin-to-chest position, or otherwise blocked the child's airway or face. Please see this page for more information.