Personally, I loved the Wrap for when my daughter was an infant.... Ring Sling, once she got heavy for the wrap... and Mei Tai now that she's a toddler! - because it works really well for carrying them on your back (which we do primarily).
- Ring slings... The fabric of the carrier is threaded through a pair of (usually alluminum) rings. This creates a secure, yet adjustable, pouch for your baby.... ensuring a perfect fit no matter who is wearing the baby. An open tail is not only beautiful, but functional. It can serve many purposes: nursing cover-up, sun shade, and more. Ring Slings do have a little longer learning curve, but are more adjustable & versitile than a pouch is.
Both of my Ring Slings are handmade. I have one of a cotton-type fabric... and one Solarveil (a very durable, yet breathable, mesh-like fabric. It blocks UV rays with its weave and treatment (70% in a single layer), and because the weave is so open, it allows for a lot of air circulation. It also dries super fast, making it great for taking to the beach or into the pool. Unfortunately Solarveil fabric has been discontiued by the manufacturer, making them a little harder to come by.)
I have always wanted a Maya Wrap Sling, but just never got one. - Maybe with the next baby! :)
- Mei Tai.... Based on traditional Asian baby carriers, in a Mei Tai baby carrier, the baby can be worn on the wearer's back or front. The design is simple: a panel of fabric with supporting straps to go around the waist and over the shoulders. - Just tie it on, and off you go!! (Looks much harder than it is!!) Mei Tai baby carriers are easy to use and their two-shouldered design makes them comfortable with even the heaviest babies. I have the Babyhawk Mei Tai (I think I paid around $80-$100 for it), and I absolutely LOVE it!! My daughter is almost 21 months old, and 25+ lbs.. .and I use it ALL the time!!The Babyhawk has padded, backpack type straps, which I prefer.... however, some people prefer the wider, spreadable straps of Maya's Wrap's Maya Tie. Of course there are other kinds of Mei Tai'sout there... but those seem to be the two I most commonly hear about.
- Soft Structured carriers... Though there are others, the main two ones, are.. the Beco baby (very cute and made in USA - runs about $140) and the Ergobaby (a little sporty, looks like a backpack, is made in China, and goes for about $110 - or a little more for the organic.). I know these prices may sound a little steep... but I hear they are both worth their weight in gold - esp for heavier babies/ older babies/ toddlers. Both carriers have an infant insert, so you can start using with a newborn (note, you want to wait until your baby is 3-4 months old, before putting them in a... and you can use it all the ways up to 40-45llbs - so it will last you forever! The purpose of a Structured carrier, is to distribute the weight evenly on your hips, back and shoulders, instead of just on your back or just on one shoulder. Also I know a lot of dad's who won't babywear in a sling or a wrap... but love their SSC.
Edit to add: While SSC 's look the most like the standard front carrier you would buy at Babies-R-us... they are a far cry from it! Unlike an Baby Bjorn, Snugli, or the like... where your baby's legs hang straight down, leaving your baby basically dangling from their crotch, and therefore lacking any proper support for your baby's spine & hips. (which also makes it more uncomfortable for the wearer).... a SSC is designed so the seat of the carrier goes completely under the baby's bottom and thighs, which then spreads the hips, and takes pressure off the spine.
- Pouch Sling... this is the carrier of which I have the least experience. I actually bought a pouch when KB was brand new... but it was too big. Most pouch slings are not adjustable (like a ring sling), and therefore need to be fitted and bought in just the right size, formaximum comfort. Pouch slings are very compact in size and fits slimly in most diaper bags. Some people love the quick, easy-to use, convenience of a pouch.... I was personally not a fan.