Confused about which style of baby carrier will be best
for you and your little one? Baby Miles hitched a ride with his mum
Frankie Cummings and put them to the test.
Mothers around the world have been wearing their babies as they
got on with daily life for centuries. But in the modern western
world the practice has reached new levels of popularity, thanks in
part to the growth of attachment parenting.
Baby-wearing is one of the principles of
attachment parenting, says Dr William Sears, the paediatrician who
coined the phrase. But you don't need to be an advocate of
attachment parenting to enjoy the benefits of a baby carrier or
sling. For some, it's simply more convenient for those times when
you don't want to lug the stroller about.
There's a myriad of options available now,
from slings, to wraps and soft-structured backpacks. New mum
Frankie and three month- old Miles were set the task of putting six
of the best through their paces. As they discovered, there's a
carrier to suit almost every need.
Silver Award winner in the OHbaby! Awards 2011. It's made of cotton
canvas with highdensity padding and straps, zippered storage
pockets and a sleeping hood. For babies from newborn to 20kg.
Available in a variety of colours, RRP$259 from www.bellybeyond.co.nz
(visit the ergo website for instructions on fitting and
Good bits: This is a high performing
carrier that I would happily recommend. It can be worn as a
frontpack, backpack or on the hip. I found it very comfortable due
to the support of the wide waistband and padded shoulder
The comfort factor makes the Ergo a great
option for parents who will be doing a lot of outdoor activities. The Ergo comes complete with
a handy zip pocket at the front with enough room to hold
essentials: keys, mobile, wallet, chocolate.
Tricky bits: This carrier is suitable for
babies under four months only if you purchase the infant insert.
This insert is good but does make wearing the front pack hotter for
you and baby in humid weather. You may also need another adult to
help get your child in if you're using it as a backpack.
(Image above from Ergo website)
Bottom line: The top choice for active
parents, who want to carry their child in complete comfort for long
periods of time. The ERGObaby Carrier is perfect for sharing
between parents, as it is simple to adjust. It is great value
because it should last until your child is three or four.
A traditional pouch-style sling made with a 100% merino inner and
designer 100% cotton outer. Price: $149 from www.nakedbaby.co.nz
(visit the nestling website here for instructions on
fitting and baby positioning).
Good bits: This is the best-looking
carrier out of all those I tested. The patterned fabric is so
pretty that it is like adding a great accessory to your outfit. It
does not need adjustments or much practice to get it sitting
comfortably. It is very compact and easy to pop into your nappy
bag. The Nestling sling is great for discreetly feeding baby when
bits: The only real downside is that it is not
suitable if you plan to share baby-wearing with another family
member, such as the baby's dad. To hold baby comfortably and safely
this sling must be the correct size for the wearer. If in doubt
choose a smaller size, as I found the sizing to be generous.
Bottom line: The prettiest choice on the
market. As long as this sling is intended to
be worn by only one person, it is a good investment for a simple
and stylish way to
carry your baby.
(Image above from nestling website)
Nature Baby Organic Ring
Made from machine-washable 100% pure organic cotton, held in place
lightweight aluminium rings. Available in natural, fawn, chocolate
and black, $76.95 from www.naturebaby.co.nz
(visit their website here for instructions on fitting and
Good bits: This is a traditional sling
carrier. Pop it on over one shoulder, scoop baby into one of three
positions and you are ready to go. The sling is padded at the
shoulder for extra comfort and I like the fact that it is small and
light, making it easy to screw into a ball and pack for a holiday.
It is also easy to breastfeed
while wearing it.
A special feature is the long tail of
fabric you can use to protect baby from the harsh sun, or for privacy
There is less fabric than in the Moby and
less bulk than the frontpacks, meaning you and baby won't heat up
as much. It is also intended for toddlers up to 18 months
Tricky bits: The Ring Sling is not the
best choice if you are planning to go on long bush walks. It could
be uncomfortable when carrying a heavier child for a long period in
the shoulder-style, however it is no problem with a young
baby. (Image left from Nature baby instruction manual)
Bottom line: Simple and compact, the Ring
Sling may be just what you need for carrying your baby hands free.
Minimal fuss, maximum closeness. A good sling to use all year
Baby Björn Spirit
Winner of the Gold Award for best sling/baby carrier in the OHbaby!
An ergonomically designed carrier that ensures baby's
arms and legs are in correct physiological position. The neck
rest can be folded down when the child has good head control so he
can face outwards. From newborn up to 11kg. Machine-washable,
$179.95 from www.bellybeyond.co.nz
(visit the baby bjorn website here for instructions on
fitting and baby positioning).
Good bits: The Baby Björn is so simple to
use that it was love at first try for me. It is well designed,
keeping baby cosy and your hands free. The Baby Björn looks good
and comes in a rainbow of colours. It is a major hit with dads too,
who may not be as comfortable in a fabric wrap or side sling. You
don't have to worry about positioning baby, just pop him in, fasten
it and off you go into the world. You may even forget you have a
baby in tow as he's likely to fall asleep as you move about.
left from Baby Bjorn website)
Older babies with good head control can
face outward, a feature that the ERGObaby Carrier does not have. My
baby loved facing outward in the Björn and watching the world go
Tricky bits: I found I had slightly sore
shoulders while using the Björn. Re-adjusting at the sides, or
placing your hands under baby's bum to hold some of his weight,
fixes this problem to some degree. This carrier cannot be used as a
backpack, and will not comfortably hold a baby up to the same
weight as the ERGObaby Carrier will.
Bottom line: This is a front pack that
is instantly comfortable and very user-friendly.
Face baby inwards while newborn and outwards when baby is ready to
world with you. The Baby Björn is worth the investment to calm an
and for adventures best taken without the cumbersome buggy.
A length of durable machine-washable fabric that is wrapped over
both shoulders, with no buckles, snaps or other fasteners, suitable
from newborn up to 15kg, available in 28 colours, RRP$71.50 from www.mobywrap.co.nz (visit their website here for instructions on fitting and
Good bits: There is nothing else quite
like the Moby Wrap on the market. This single piece of fabric wraps
around your body several times to create a soft nest for your wee
one. The Moby is designed to spread baby's weight across the back
and shoulders, and I found it more comfortable than carriers that
put all baby's weight on the shoulders.
The wraps come in many colours and prints,
such as the gorgeous cream dandelion print wrap. As this is 100%
cotton fabric it is extremely easy to wash and dry. For a dribbly,
spilly baby it makes the Moby a good choice. The Moby is
designed to hold a baby up to 15kg, making it great value for
(image left from Moby website)
Tricky bits: The Moby is a little
daunting when you first take it out of its packaging. It's hard to
believe this simple length of fabric will safely hold your baby,
but confidence comes quickly with a bit of practice. The
instructions are excellent and I had it down pat after a couple of
tries. My only other issue is that it gets hot on
a warm day.
Bottom line: This is the best kind of
babywearing for a parent who likes to keep her baby snug and close
in the most natural way possible.
No high-tech features - just a
comfortable, secure wrap that makes for a happy baby and mummy.
This is the wrap I would reach for to carry an unsettled baby
around the house and for trips out if I have a couple of minutes to
tie on the wrap at my destination.
A multi-purpose carrier made in New Zealand from 100% pure cotton
in a choice of eight colours. Price: RRP$195 for a package deal
including accessories to turn the carrier into a hammock, from www.mymoai.co.nz (visit their
website for instructions on fitting and baby positioning).
Good bits: This product can
multi-task even better than you can. The My Moai can be used as a
frontpack, backpack, side sling, a car seat cover and a sleeping
hammock. There are even instructions included for using it as a
shopping trolley cover.
The carrier and sling options of the Moai
are good, once you have spent some time mastering how to use them.
For me its best feature is that you can drape it over your child's
car seat before a journey, place the baby in the car seat and, if
he is asleep when you get home, lift him out without waking him.
You can then let your child continue sleeping by converting the
Moai into a hammock, or lie him in bed with the Moai
(Image left from my moai
If you do plan to use the Moai
regularly as a hammock, I suggest investing in the wool mattress
available on the Moai website, and possibly also the travel stand.
In my experience hammocks are a great way to help babies
Tricky bits: Personally I found the
variety of Moai functions a bit overwhelming. The instructions on
how to use the sling and carrier were not easy to follow, but there
are video tutorials online. The Moai is not as intuitive as other
slings, and you will need to spend some time figuring out how
Bottom line: This is a good buy for
parents looking for one product that does it all. It's best if you
were already planning to buy a hammock, and if you like the idea of
being able to transfer your sleeping child from the car
RESOURCES AND HELPFUL LINKS:
The above is a cross section of child carriers available on the
market and is not an exhaustive list of products on the
market. Product information on products feature can be viewed
on their websites at:
A Full consumer research report on some carriers can also be
found at here at consumer research.com
Further information on slings can be found at www.slingbabies.co.nz
Frankie Cummings lives in Auckland with her partner, baby,
three chickens and Tui the cat.