But Baby B isn't the tiny little thing he used to be, and sure enough he has outgrown our old friend (stretchy wraps are great for small babies under 18 lbs. but a no-no for bigger babies & back carries! They are too easy for bigger babies to wiggle out of and if your baby is too heavy the fabric sags and you can't get a comfortable fit). So the hunt has begun for a new carrier for my boy. I have an old ring sling of my mom's that works pretty well for around the house. I can put Baby B in a hip carry which keeps one hand free and prevents my other arm from getting too tired. If you are interested in making your own sling ring you can check out a range of tutorials here, a simple ring sling here, and a pleated ring sling here. Or check out Maya Wrap slings if you prefer to purchase a pre-made sling.
I still wanted a little more versatility in my baby-wearing repertoire. And since I'm notoriously cheap, I decided to take a swing at making my own. Simple pouch sling carriers are usually one of the more affordable options to buy, but are also the simplest to make. And since I could use fabric I had on hand already, this project was essentially free for me! When I made my sling I used this pattern, but when I tried to find it to link here I stumbled across a much better pattern by Poplar Porch, so I recommend that one instead! If you are making a sling for a bigger baby and planning to do a hip carry, you may one to try this one with a padded section for baby's legs instead. I'll be trying this next time because the one I have now is too tight around Baby B's legs. If you want to buy a sling, check out Hotslings or Peanut Slings.
My homemade pocket sling!
The pouch sling is similar to the ring sling, so it didn't add a ton of versatility overall. I still need something that would help with extended carrying on front or back. So I decided to take a swing at making a Mei Ti style carrier. Mei Tais have some structure to them, but are still pretty simple to make. I chose a pattern called Beth's Mei Tai because it includes a pocket for keys or toys and a hood for sleeping babies. There is another great tutorial here and a tutorial for a carrier with interchangeable panels here. I actually just finished up my Mei Tai for Baby B. I love it because it was still pretty easy to make and it's easy to put on. You can see more details about my Mei Tai and how to make your own here! If you are not a sewer, I've heard good things about BabyHawk carriers, and there are lots of other brands out there too!
Baby B enjoying my new Mei Tai - pattern here
I've also heard lots of great things about Boba, Beco, and Ergo, all of which are soft structured carriers. I really wanted to give one of these a try, but they cost about $80 used... Urg. Then I found a great tutorial to actually make one at Late Bloomer Crafts! It is several posts long, but if you click here you will see all the posts in the series. I haven't tried it yet, but it's on my to-do list! Soft structured carriers are great because they use buckles instead of ties making them super-easy to put on, even for back carries!
Finally (for now), I also hope to experiment with a woven wrap, which is very similar to the sleepywrap-ish carrier I used when Baby B was tiny, but a woven wrap works with bigger babies and can be used for back carries. Tutorials for making your own and extra tips & info can also be found here, here, here, and here. I you prefer to buy, I've heard rave reviews about Didymos wraps but they are crazy expensive! If you want a cheaper option I know Moby makes one and there are other brands as well.
I know everyone has different opinions about what styles of carriers are best, and I figure trying a little of everything is the best way to find out what I like and what works for us. How about you? Do you like babywearing? Have you ever made a carrier of your own? What's your favorite?
*******SAFETY NOTE: Use extra care if you make a baby carrier of your own. Remember, you are carrying precious cargo so read all instructions and suggestions carefully to make sure your carrier will be safe and comfortable for your baby. Always carefully read the instructions for proper fit and use of your carrier as well. Wraps are especially tricky, so make sure you know how to safely operate them before putting your baby in! No matter what style carrier you have, your baby should be "visible and kissable" (in a front carry) to keep him or her safe. If you buy a carrier, make sure it's from a reputable seller who has tested their carriers for safety.*******