by Elizabeth Pantley
Most parents find a baby carrier to be invaluable during the first year of their baby's life. There are many types and styles to choose from. The different types of baby carriers fall into three main categories: slings, front packs and backpacks.
These are made of fabric and are available in a wide variety of styles. They "sling" sash-style over your shoulder to hold baby in front of you. Slings offer many benefits to both baby and parent. Here are some of the most commonly cited by experienced sling-users:
An important note about baby slings: They can be confusing to use at first, and your baby can slide out of the bottom if not positioned correctly. Try to find an experienced sling-user, a how-to video, or a knowledgeable sales clerk to help you master the art of baby slinging. Your local La Leche League leader may be able to offer pointers, too.
Slings are very much worth the effort. I bought a sling when my second baby, Vanessa, was born. I couldn't figure it out, so I left it in the closet. When my third baby, David, was born, I attended a mother-baby class, learned how to use my sling and was immediately hooked! I used slings extensively with my third and fourth babies and found them to be a marvelous baby care tool.
PARENT TIP: "I put my newborn in the sling so I could sit in bed at night with my toddler and read books. It kept us all together, my hands free and gave reading time to BOTH boys!" Amy, mother of AJ (4) and Ryder (2)
Front pack carriers are similar to slings in use but are more complex in their structure. They have a seat that attaches to the front of you with straps that crisscross behind you; these straps secure the carrier to your body. Here's what you need to know about front packs:
A back carrier is similar to a camping backpack. It has a seat for your baby that attaches to your back with a frame and straps that cross over your shoulders. A few things to know about backpacks: