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Bjorn Free

A guide to the “other” carriers

BabyBjörn revolutionized the baby-wearing industry in the States by making it quick and easy (and cute) to snap your little guy onto your chest and go on your merry way. But while Björn continues to be the mainstream face of baby wearing (The Hangover, anyone?) more and more moms are opting for the alternatives. Here, a wise and witty breakdown of the new favorites, from our resident gear guy, Jamie Grayson, a NYC baby planner and former product demo dude for BuyBuyBaby.

“I’m one of the original ERGO-Heads in NYC. Due to my persistence, BuyBuyBaby finally brought the ERGObaby carrier to market and both of those companies should now buy me an apartment. But seriously, I love the ERGO. There are a few carriers now that resemble it—the two main ones being the lillebaby EveryWear and the Beco. All three of these carriers provide terrific support for the child—supporting them by their thighs and bottom, like a pouch seat, instead of suspending them by the crotch like the Björn. The ERGO and lillebaby allow front, back and side wearing; the Beco only front and back. All three come in organic options as well, and allow for a 40-45 pound weight limit (I have personally worn a 5-year-old in the ERGO with no problem).

The Beco is wicked cute. It has different inserts for wearing a newborn or for back-wearing, which makes it much easier to put the child on your back. That said, most parents do not wear kids on their backs until they’re a little older. I am not wild about the crotch support in the newborn insert—it resembles the Björn, though it’s a bit more substantial.

The Beco and the ERGO are both inward-facing carriers. For parents who really want their babies to look out, there’s the lillebaby EveryWear. Its adjustable crotch support can also make it thinner, if baby’s legs do not want to open up in the wide V position the others require. The lillebaby’s waist band is not as thick and the straps not as padded as the ERGO, but the padding is adjustable so you can place it where you need it most.

Beyond these three great carriers are the wraps. The two big baby wraps on the market are the Moby and the CuddlyWrap. Both are long bands of fabric that you wrap around your waist and over your shoulders, with a tuck here and a tie there. They provide a very sturdy way of keeping the baby close to your heart, facing in or facing out. Unlike the Björn’s crotch suspension, the wrap supports a baby’s entire body without compressing the spine or hips. Baby can be worn in the cradle or sling position, or more vertically if the baby has reflux or colic. A really nice position with the wrap is with the baby facing in, knees up, like a vertical fetal position—it keeps pressure on their tummies and they really enjoy that. Wraps allow breastfeeding while carrying, and because they’re made with breathable fabrics, overheating is not an issue. As much as I like the CuddlyWrap, I prefer the Moby because the fabric is a bit shorter and does not stretch out as easily as the Cuddly, which means it requires fewer washings to return its original elasticity. Cons: Some people find wraps a bit complicated, and they do not come with fun accessories like bibs for drool and covers for winter wearing.

Finally, there are the slings. Slings come in two main styles: ring and tube. Both types typically distribute weight over one shoulder, and hold up to 35-45 pounds. Ring slings (Over-the-Shoulder Baby Holder, ZoloWear, UpMama) allow many different positions—on the front facing in or out, on the hip, on the back—and are fully adjustable to accommodate wearers of different sizes. Tube slings (Peanut Shell, Hotslings, Serena & Lily Market Sling) are just that—giant tubes of fabric that create a pouch for the baby when folded inside-out. The main issue with tubes is finding the right size. Many brands don’t come in sizes that fit most guys. The Market Sling comes in three sizes: Small, Medium, Large. They’re beautiful (just like Serena & Lily’s gorgeous bedding) and seamless, which in theory creates less irritation for the wearer and the baby. But the one complaint I’ve heard over and over is that they just hang too low. One sling I am super excited about is the Hotslings AP: it’s an adjustable tube sling that can be adjusted for sizes 1-5.

Bottom line: Do not buy a carrier, wrap, or sling until you deliver and can try them out! They’re all completely subjective and every wearer has a different experience with them all. And, if you have questions feel free to email me at jamie@thebabyguynyc.com.”