The Baba Sling concept:
'Hold them til they don't want to be held' proclaims the Baba Sling website and this underscores one of the main differences between this and many other baby carriers: Whereas with many baby carriers your baby is strapped to your chest or back, in most of its positions the Baba Sling is designed to support you as you hold your baby as you would without a sling, whether that's against your chest, on your hip, across your front of lying in your arms. This has both benefits and drawbacks, on the one hand you have a choice of several, very natural, carrying positions so you can choose what works best for you and your baby, on the other hand, as the sling is worn over one shoulder you don't get the balanced weight distribution of the more fixed carriers.
Unlike many baby carriers on the market, you don't tie or buckle your baby into the Baba sling: Once you're wearing the sling you place the baby inside and adjust to one of the seven recommended carrying positions. You can also use this sling for longer than many other slings as it can take quite big toddlers, but of course you're limited by what you can comfortably carry.
The Baba Sling in action:
Ease of use
No straps and fastenings to clip your baby into? Sounds simple, and, once you've got the hang of it, it is. The Baba Sling simply goes over one shoulder (you'll need to vary the shoulder you use for the sake of your back) and then you pop your baby in however you want to carry him.
Once you have this down pat it's very quick and easy and makes the Baba sling the one we usually reach for when we're in a rush or just popping around the corner and back for milk.
You do need a bit of practice to get the hang of the different positions however, particularly the ones where you wear the baby lying flat, or on your back. It's best to choose a time when you and your baby are both feeling calm for this as your baby will find it a novelty and also will be able to pick up on it if you're lacking confidence.
Baba Sling recommend that you try it out with something suitably doll-sized at first. For some people this will be too much faff, but we reckon it's worth the time investment.
Adjusting the sling correctly is also important. You can't adjust the sling when it's on, so there's a little bit of trial and error involved in getting the fit right. You'll also need to re-adjust the straps whenever you swap the sling over to the other shoulder. After a few goes this is second nature, but if you're swapping between shoulders and/or parents, then the sling won't quite be the throw-over-the-shoulder easy option.
Comfort for baby
Our little one really loves some of the carry positions, and isn't at all happy in others. The lie-flat option, for example, just doesn't do it for him, though once asleep it's quite easy to change him to that position to take the weight off his back.
What he does absolutely love, is being carried on the hip, and the Baba Sling allows us to carry him for far longer that way, as well as leaving hands free for other things. This is particularly useful when he's feeling a bit grouchy, like now when he's teething, and likes to feel really held.
As with most slings, there's no between-the-legs separator on the Baba, if that's something that bothers you or your baby with other carriers.
Comfort for you
Although the Baba is worn only over one shoulder, we have to say that it doesn't feel less comfortable than other carriers we've tried. You won't feel comfortable at all, however, if you don't adjust the sling correctly and your baby hangs down - you won't feel safe either! It is important for your back though that you do swap shoulders, which you may need to remind yourself to do if you find one shoulder more comfortable than the other, or are a bit lazy about re-adjusting the sling straps.
Getting the adjustment right is really important for safety reasons also - getting a good, snug fit for your baby where he's safely ensconced within the upper and lower rails and can't lean out dangerously from your body. We found that using the sling safely required a bit more common sense than clip-in baby carriers, where you simply fasten the baby down, and some people might find that they just don't have the same sense of security from something that they they haven't buckled baby into.
Once on, you'll probably find yourself adjusting the position of the sling and the baby every now and then, to keep both of you comfortable. In one way this flexibility is fantastic, as you can easily shift your baby from position to position, however, it does mean that your baby can move around a bit too, and while we found that our baby loves the freedom of movement he has (compared to other carriers) it can start to get quite cumbersome for mum or dad if he decides he wants to bend his body over and look down at the floor for half an hour. No doubt some people will find that something they don't need to adjust at all once on will suit them better, even if it is a less flexible option.