Baby Sling/Carrier Reviews

I have so many different slings and carriers, but I still maintain that they all have (had) their uses at their times. The only one I probably won’t use again is the only one that Tak still uses (and the Tonga). He just laughs each time he sees a new one. He doesn’t understand the need for each of them. (He doesn’t carry the kids around so much. He usually goes out together with the kids and me, when we always have at least one, sometimes two, stroller with us. I often go out for quick trips with two kids and no stroller.) Anyway, I thought I would give a review of the pros and cons of all of the ones I have. I guess I’ll put them in the order that I bought them, which might make more sense for why I have the collection I do. Here is a list of the slings:
1. Nojo Baby Sling
2. Huguenot, made by Eightex
3. Tonga
4. Duccoby Dura, made by Eightex
5. Babybjorn Baby Carrier Air
6. Maya Wrap
7. Zolowear Solarveil Baby Sling
8. Kelty Wanderer Carrier (out of order, this one was Tak’s choice)

This is the first one I bought before Gaku was even born. I first used it with him when he was about a month old. He also went all over Tokyo in it when my parents visited. When I bought this one, the selection of slings/carriers was not as generous as it is now.
Pros (most have to do with ring slings in general):
1. Versatility. Can carry the baby in a lot of different positions.
2. Can nurse easily in it (more true of another one I have).
3. Is very easy to adjust for someone with no experience using ring slings.
Cons:
1. The thick shoulder pad gets irritating and makes it bulkier.
2. The padding in the rails means you cannot tighten it as much, and again makes it bulkier.
3. Cannot adjust the rails and the middle like you can with other ring slings.

I loved this one with Gaku. As a small baby he would lay horizontally in it. When he got bigger we used it with him upright. But knowing what I know now about ring slings, I wouldn’t buy this one again. I couldn’t use it with Hana because as a very small baby she wanted to be upright (not horizontal) in the sling and I couldn’t tighten the top rail enough to get the head support she needed. However, this is the sling/carrier that Tak still uses with Gaku when he wants to go for a “sleepy walk”.

I bought this one because it wasn’t too expensive, and it could be used to carry the baby in a lot of different ways:
1. In front facing in
2. In front facing out
3. On your back
4. Baby bed/flat (never tried)
Pros:
1. It’s comfortable to wear.
2. It’s easy to swing the baby onto your back.
Cons:
1. Material doesn’t breathe well.
2. It’s a tricky, pain in the **** to use as a front carrier because you have to first strap the baby into the carrier, hold the baby up against you, swing the straps over your shoulders and buckle them in on the opposite side behind you.
3. It’s not easy to get the baby completely out of if they fall asleep in it.
4. When your child hits a certain weight, all of their weight sits on the top of your shoulders.

Overall, I love it for carrying the baby on my back. I used it to carry Gaku on the front, but it was a bit of a hassle, especially if I was taking him to the doctor where I had limited space to get him out and had to put him back in again after being checked. I use it with Hana now, but only on my back, usually just riding the bike to pick up Gaku from daycare. Best from around 6 months up until maybe 1½ years.

Tonga

I bought this one for its size. Basically, it was a sling that I could throw in the diaper bag when I was out with Gaku in a stroller. Then if he got fussy, I could carry him and still push the stroller.
Pros:
1. It’s so tiny it can literally fit in your back pocket.
2. It’s good to take the babies weight off your arms.
3. It’s like a hammock, so it’s cooler for carrying your baby in the summer.
Cons:
1. It’s not hands-free.
2. If you’re not extra vigilant, the baby can easily slip out of the bottom.
3. You cannot adjust the length or fit.

I used this a bit with Gaku, but found that it was hard to keep him from almost slipping out of the bottom. I have to say that I wouldn’t buy this one again (because I’ve found better alternatives).

This one is a hip carrier. I got it when Gaku was about one and I was taking him to daycare every day. He couldn’t walk home yet and I couldn’t leave my bike at the daycare.
Pros:
1. It distributes most of the weight on your hips so it doesn’t kill your back.
2. You’re carrying your child on the front, so you can still talk to them while carrying them.
3. Their legs aren’t straight down on top your legs, making it difficult to go up steps.
Cons:
1. When too big (I used with Gaku recently – at just 3 years old), their legs hang straight down, making them feel heavier and putting more strain on the middle of your back.

I got a lot of use out of this one for about a year. I liked it because it took Gaku’s weight off my back, but allowed me to still interact with him during our walks to daycare. Best from 1-2 years.
The above slings are the ones I used with Gaku. I now have three more that I added.

I didn’t buy this one with Gaku because it’s a bit expensive. But I saw one of our friends using it and it looked so easy. I have to say that I absolutely love this one and wish I had bought it with Gaku.
Pros:
1. It’s very easy to take on and off.
2. It’s even easier to get the baby in and out of.
3. It’s mesh so it breathes well (good for summer).
4. Baby can face in our out.
Cons:
1. It can’t be used as a back carrier (but I knew this when I bought it).
2. Like with most carriers, as the baby gets heavier, their weight will be more on your shoulders.

I also bought the fleece cover to go with it, which made the set fantastic for winter. If it was really cold, I could slip a couple of blankets between the carrier and the cover and Hana would be nice and toasty! Because of the cover’s design, the blankets couldn’t fall out and end up on the ground. Since I have the mesh one, I’m using it quite a bit now that it’s hot out. It has enough head support for newborns. I first used it with Hana when she was about 3 weeks old. I sometimes use this one when going out by bike also.

I bought this one because I wanted a ring sling that I could use with Hana and the Nojo one wasn’t working. I tried to buy a ring sling in a department store since I had seen some a few weeks before Hana was born, but no luck! The department stores had stopped selling ring slings because “they’re dangerous”. (They’re only dangerous if not made properly, and if the baby is not in them properly, which is true of any carrier!) I spent some time researching online and found one woman selling it in Japan.
Pros:
1. The material is really, nice and soft. Maya Wraps are made in Guatemala and the material has an ethnic feel to it, very nice colors.
2. You can adjust the rails and the middle of the sling to get a perfect fit.
3. You can carry the baby in lots of different ways.
4. There’s a pocket in the tail you can throw your wallet and keys into when making a quick run to the store.
5. It’s great for nursing in public.
6. It comes with a “how-to” DVD which is very good.
Cons:
1. There is a bit of a learning curve. The first few times you use it (or any ring sling) you won’t feel completely comfortable.
2. The material breathes nicely, but is still maybe a bit warm for summer.

When I first ordered, it I was concerned about the new design with “light padding in the shoulder”, but it’s just the way the material is stitched together. From what I can tell, it makes it a bit easier to use.

Zolowear Solarveil Baby Sling
http://zolowear.com/Default.aspx

This is another ring sling. It’s basically what I consider my replacement for the Tonga. It’s made out of a polyester mesh which dries really quickly (within 30 minutes) and allows more air flow than the Maya Wrap.
Pros:
1. It’s cool for summer. They talk about even wading in water and showering with your baby.
2. You can adjust the rails and the middle of the sling to get a perfect fit.
3. You can carry the baby in lots of different ways.
4. There’s a pocket in the tail you can throw your wallet and keys into when making a quick run to the store.
5. It comes with a “how-to” DVD which is very good.
6. It fits very easily into any bag.
Cons:
1. There is a bit of a learning curve. The first few times you use it (or any ring sling) you won’t feel completely comfortable.
2. The material isn’t as soft as I had hoped. It’s actually just a tiny bit scratchy feeling.

Because the material is not quite as soft as I had hoped, it’s not my very favorite, but I still like it and am looking forward to using it with Hana at the Rainbow Pool this weekend. (We were supposed to go today, but Hana is sick. So I sent off Tak and Gaku and am staying home with Hana.)
My two absolute favorite must-haves would have to be the Babybjorn and the Maya Wrap (Zolowear Solarveil being VERY close behind). They are both good for carrying Hana for longer periods of time. I alternate between the two. I find that using one or the other too much puts strain on different parts of my back. The Babybjorn hits the shoulders and the Maya Wrap hits the middle of my back. Having both is great! I have to say there was a day this week when I used all three of my current favorites.

Although, I do have a problem now. I have to confess to wanting more slings. Tak doesn’t understand this, but basically a sling becomes like a piece of clothing, something to match your clothing and mood of the day. Do you just have one jacket and always wear the same one? (I suppose Tak would probably have to answer yes to this question, which is why he doesn’t get the sling thing.) I would really like one of the Zolowear Silk Brocade ones. They look absolutely gorgeous, but are well beyond my price range! (At this point I have all the slings I really NEED; anything else is fulfilling WANTS.) I realize that I’ve become a sling addict… There are a couple more carriers that I would love to try (Ellaroo Woven Wrap or Moby Stretchy Wrap), but I cannot justify buying another one for any reason.

Oh! I was just walking down the hall and discovered one more carrier that I had forgotten about. This one isn’t my purchase, though. This is one that we bought in the States because Tak wanted it and thought he would use it. I think you could count on both hands the total number of times we’ve used it.

Kelty Wanderer Carrier
http://www.ruggedbear-online.com/kewaca.html

This is one of those frame backpacks for carrying kids. Tak thought it would be great for hiking and walking. But we’ve hardly used it at all. Instead, when Tak has wanted to carry Gaku on his back, he’s used the Huguenot carrier.
Pros:
1. Baby sits in a seat, so potentially more comfortable for them, although I think we had a problem with some of the straps rubbing on Gaku’s leg funny. I can’t remember for sure…
2. Has a backpack on the back so you can put all your junk in it, no need for another bag.
3. Since the baby is away from your body, it’s a lot cooler in the summer.
4. The frame stands up, so the whole thing can act as a chair for the baby in a restaurant.
Cons:
1. Heavy.
2. The baby ends up taller, so not so practical for hiking (tree branches).
3. Big, which means it’s not good on crowded trains in Tokyo.
4. I can’t get it on without a table or a chair to rest it on first. There’s some trick of resting it your knee and flipping it around onto your back, but I could never get the hang of it.
5. I also have an issue with getting the adjustments right for my height.

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