It's not hard to see why moms and dads love the convenience of baby slings. The practice of using a sling, sometimes called "baby wearing," frees up your hands for various tasks in and out of the home. And carrying your baby in a sling amounts to a free workout as well – you could burn up to 300 extra calories just by wearing your baby a few hours a day.

Many medical professionals believe baby wearing provides numerous benefits not only for the parent but also for the baby. One large benefit is that baby wearing helps keep babies happier. A 1986 Canadian pediatric study found that babies who were carried in baby wraps for at least three hours a day cried 43 percent less – 54 percent less during evening hours.

Baby wearing is particularly beneficial if your baby has colic. It keeps your infant upright, so milk and stomach acid stay in her stomach and gas travels up and out. But even for non-colicky babies, baby slings are beneficial. The positioning of the baby in the sling promotes proper hip and leg development, and avoids undue pressure on the back of baby's head, as he gets when he is lying in a car carrier. In addition, the closeness of baby wearing makes it a great bonding tool. You can learn more about baby wearing with these articles.

Best Baby Wrap Designs

Some slings have extra padding on the shoulders to provide extra comfort and support where you need it. Others are designed to be used for the long term as your baby grows from newborn to 1 or 2 years old. Ask yourself how frequently you'll wear the sling and whether you want to commit to baby wearing even after your child begins walking before you choose a design.

Additionally, some baby wraps and slings use a ring system to hold the baby, while others use buckles. Some do not feature either, so you must tie the ends of the fabric around your body, securing the wrap around yourself. Be aware of the design before purchasing a wrap, as some may be more time-consuming or more complex to put on and may be less comfortable than others.

Baby K'Tan

Baby K'tan provides several baby sling options, including the Baby K'tan Active and the Baby K'tan Breeze, which is designed to keep your baby cool while next to your body. Most baby wraps are made from a long piece of fabric that you must learn to wrap around your body, but the Baby K'tan wraps feature a double-loop design so you don't have to worry about buckles and wrapping. The design of this company's wraps holds your baby close and secure, even if you have to bend over while wearing the sling.

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Most Versatile

Before you purchase a baby wrap, you will want to consider the type of holds you wish to use and if the wrap can be folded in such a way to secure the baby in that particular hold. There are dozens of holds for carrying your baby, and many of these holds are designed for specific age groups. For example, there are numerous ways to hold a newborn across your body that keeps her comfortable, safe and secure.

As your baby gets older, hip carries and back carries are options, as your child will have the neck support to hold his head up. On most baby carrier websites, you can view illustrations and instructional videos on the different carries that work best with each type of sling. You can find a variety of holds on most baby-wearing products, but be very cautious to make sure you're doing it correctly before you use any new hold with your baby in it.

Moby Wrap

The Moby Wrap is among the most widely used and popular baby slings on the market. Moby Wrap's various slings, such as the Moby Wrap Original, are award-winning baby products, so the brand's reliability and trustworthiness goes beyond the numerous men and women who use a Moby Wrap on a daily basis.

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Are Baby Wraps Safe for My Child?

When worn improperly, a sling can make it difficult for a baby to breathe, sometimes even obstructing the airways completely. When using a baby wrap, you need to ensure the sling is wrapped, worn and secured properly. Many companies suggest you practice wrapping and use the sling with a doll before placing your child in it. When you use the baby sling, your baby's face should always be visible. You should also make sure the sling you buy is the appropriate size for your baby's weight. Most slings are designed for children weighing 8 to 35 pounds.

Additionally, before using it, make sure the sling comes with adequate safety instructions and weight guidelines. Many company websites provide detailed videos and illustrations on safety procedures and warnings for specific models.

Baby Slings vs. Baby Wraps vs. Baby Carriers

There are slight design differences between baby slings, baby wraps and baby carriers. Baby slings go over one shoulder and fold into a pouch for your baby to lie in. This type of product usually uses a buckle or a ring. A wrap is typically one long piece of fabric that you can wrap around your body, and it allows you to hold your baby in different carrying positions. Baby carriers are usually square with four straps attached. You would use one of these for a baby who doesn't require neck support. These are usually the easiest to put on and take off your body. No product is better than another; it all comes down to personal preference.

Baby Slings: What to Look For

According to the Mayo Clinic, baby slings can present some health problems when worn incorrectly. The most important thing to ensure when shopping for a sling is that it fits properly and has clear instructions on ….how to wear it. Other factors to consider include material quality and design of the sling, as these determine the comfort level for both you and your baby. Below are a few additional factors to consider when looking for the best baby wrap for you and your child.

Material
Baby slings come in a wide variety of materials that range from thin and breathable to thick and insulating. Consider the environment in which you'll be carrying your baby. You may want to invest in a cooler summer sling and a warmer winter sling if you live in an area with a varying climate.

Popular material options include 100 percent cotton, which provides a soft and comfortable feel for the baby. Organic material is also becoming a widely popular choice, as is bamboo, which provides a breathable and cool environment for your child. You can also find silk baby wraps, which are lightweight and elegant. Silk also resists water and fire well. However, with silk, you will want to take extra care to ensure you wear the wrap correctly, as the material is slippery.

Sizing
The size of baby carrier you should choose depends on the type you choose. Some take a one-size-fits-all approach so both Mom and Dad can use the baby wrap without any issues. Others come in sizes ranging from extra small to extra-large, though this variety can be a drawback if you and your spouse need different sizes. With this type of wrap, the size you choose should depend on the pre-pregnancy weight. The size and the weight of your child is not a factor when choosing the right size for you.

It is important that if the sling does come in different sizes, you choose the correct one. The wrong size of sling is a safety concern for the baby, as it will not hold her tightly enough or will hold her too tightly so that it may be difficult for her to breathe. Read through the correct sizing information before you make any baby-wearing purchase.

Wash Care
You want to pay particular attention to the type of material your baby wrap is made from for washing purposes. Most fabrics are machine washable, but some may shrink and feel tight after washing. Many manufacturers recommend hand washing, dry cleaning or air drying the baby wrap to ensure it holds its stretch. Read through the washing instructions carefully to ensure you don't damage your baby carrier.

With all the advantages and convenience of baby wearing, many parents invest in a baby sling or two. Read our summaries of some well-known baby sling brands to determine which one suits your needs.