by Staff Writer
It's important to have a hands-free way to carry your baby, but with all the baby slings and baby carriersavailable, how do you know which is best for you and your little one? Baby slings and baby carriers both have the same basic function, but achieve it in different ways. Some parents will prefer a sling, while other parents will prefer a traditional baby carrier, or they may even choose to purchase both and use them for different times and purposes. Before you get swamped with all the baby gear options available, read the following points to help you decide if baby slings, baby carriers or both will best fit the needs of you and your baby.
Closeness: The concept of baby-wearing is getting a lot of parents closer to their babies. Baby slings let you hold your baby close in a snug position while you go about your daily activities. The thin fabric of most baby slings lets your baby feel your closeness through body heat. Traditional baby carriers lend themselves well to baby-wearing as well. While baby carriers are usually made of thicker, sturdier materials that don't allow as much body heat to transfer to your baby, they do hold your baby close to your chest where they can hear your heartbeat -- the sound they heard for nine months in the womb.
Activity: Baby slings conform to your body and allow your baby to cuddle up to your natural form. This makes every day chores and activities easy. You can carry your baby while keeping your hands available. Slings are lightweight, so it's easy to wear them all day long. Baby carriers give you the same hands-free carrying as a baby sling. The sturdier fabric and upright position of baby carriers adapts them to more active activities than a baby sling, however. Baby carriers are great for hiking, a day at the park or any other time your baby needs a little more support and security.
Positioning: Baby slings let your baby snuggle close in a natural position. A baby sling conforms both to your shape and your baby's, making it extremely comfortable for both of you. Most babies find the positioning of a baby sling very comforting too. Baby carriers place your baby in an upright position, which is better for the little one who likes to look around. The upright position of baby carriers also encourages infants to develop body control, like holding their head up and gaining control of their limbs.
Versatility: Baby slings grow with your child. While they are not recommended for infants under 3 months, they can be used through the rest of the infancy, toddler and even young childhood stages. Slings can hold a laying or seated child, and help ease the burden of carrying larger children. Baby carriers are good for infants and toddlers, and give you the versatility of facing your baby toward you, away from you or even placing her on her back with a baby carrier or baby backpack. Being able to shift positions gives you a break and your baby the stimulation of seeing her surroundings from different viewpoints.