A few years ago, I got to wear my friends’ daughter in their baby carrier for an afternoon while we were at the park. She was four months old, so still small, but I felt like I was carrying nothing! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and was amazed to learn that you could easily go to the washroom with a baby strapped to your chest (haha). After that day, I knew that I wanted to wear my babies when I eventually had them.
A ring sling was at the top of my baby registry. That was the kind I had worn Sunny in that day, so I thought I’d go with what I was comfortable with. Friends had suggested that ring slings were the best for newborns and could carry toddlers as well, so I figured my bases were covered. I started shopping around and was shocked at the cost for what appeared to be just a swathe of fabric with a ring attached to it. Obviously, the cost of the fabric being used would affect the cost of the sling, but I wasn’t looking for anything fancy. I tried a few different types at The Baby Show, and settled on a Canadian company, Chimparoo, that had a special edition sling that, when purchased, sent $5 of the purchase price to the Canadian Cancer Society. The sling itself seemed to be durable, and featured a nice pocket at the end where pacifiers or other light items could be stored. It retailed for only $99!
Friends were generous enough to purchase this item for us, but we did not receive it until Olly was about two weeks old. I think this may have factored into some of the struggles we’ve experienced with carriers since then. When I had carried Sunny, she settled right into the sling and was happy as a clam the entire time, but probably because she was four months old and had spent a lot of time in the sling since her first few days of life. Olly, on the other hand, really did not seem to like the sling. I had trouble getting him positioned properly – it seems simple enough when you’re watching someone else do it, not so much when you’re trying to do it yourself. I watched videos and got a little better at it, but still struggled. It didn’t help that he struggled and cried every time I tried to put him in. He’d settle down once all the adjusting and tightening was done, but never in the position I wanted him in.
I finally seemed to get into the groove of it, and we had a few good months. I had, sadly, registered for the smaller version because I am on the smaller side, but this meant that the sling was too small for Alex to wear, and so he missed out on the early days of baby-wearing. We soon got to a point where putting Olly in the sling really did nothing to calm him and I gave up on it. But, at this same time, he was going through a sleep regression and I had to rock or bounce him to sleep for close to an hour most naps and at night, and there was just no way I could do this without assistance, so I went in search for another carrier that might help.
This is when I encountered a whole other level of baby carrier cost. I looked at all of the brands our friends had – Ergobaby, Baby Bjorn, Lillebaby, Tulababy… all of these were so far outside our price range, I began to despair. I went to Walmart’s website, where I so often find myself these days, and took a look at their selection and was presently surprised.
I found two carriers by Infantino – The Flip Advanced and The Sash. They were both reasonably priced – $45 and $40, respectively. I felt that the Flip would be the better investment, if it turned out to be good quality, since it seemed to offer more position options that would grow with Olly. I visited the Walmart in my hometown while we were staying with family, and could only find the Sash, so I purchased it and figured I may as well give it a try.
It took me a bit to figure out how to wrap the Sash (its a Mei-Tei style carrier), although I admit, I probably should have saved my glass of wine for afterwards rather than before. Once I had it figured out, I popped Olly in and – voila! He only fussed a bit. I told myself to reserve judgement until I tried it with him three or four more times. But later that night, when he was refusing to go to sleep, I put him in and realized how much weight was taken off of my tired arms and was sold. And he fell asleep about 20 minutes after.
The Sash was wonderful… for a time. Olly started to resist it just as he had with the ring-sling. I despaired again, but was told by friends that sometimes kids just grow out of their carriers. Alex’s cousin has a variety of carriers and his kids go through phases where they prefer one over another. So, I tucked the ring-sling away and struggled with the Sash while looking for another alternative.
I finally found the Flip Advanced and snapped it up. What I looked forward to with this carrier most, at this point in time, was the ability to have Olly forward facing. He was getting to the point of being so interested in the things going on around him that facing mommy was an annoyance rather than a comfort. My instinct was correct – he thoroughly enjoyed his new viewpoint from the carrier, but it also worked for putting him to sleep.
There are many great types of carriers on the market and great carrier manufacturers out there, and it can be difficult to wade through this ocean. I have managed to find budget-friendly options that are working well for our family, but I have friends who have brands they love for different reasons. I’d love to provide a chart with this blog post that outlines the key benefits and key cons to some of the popular carriers, alongside their cost. If you have a carrier you love, or a carrier you hate, please send me a note to share your experience!