November 6, 2007

Wtd: The Minimalist-est Guy-Friendly Sling

peanut_microfleece.jpg

So for The Other Kid, I'm really considering trying a sling. We have our Bjorn as a safety, but if there's a clean-enough, unfussy-enough, functionally excellent sling out there to try, I'd love to hear about it.

[I don't care how many Guatemalan villages it lifts from poverty; there is no way I'm gonna wear one of those 20-ft long sashes that involve either D-rings or extensive criss-crossed bodywrapping.]

One of the possibilities I'm looking at is the Peanut Shell, which comes in a whole host of girly fabrics, a couple of solids, and in black microfleece. I like how streamlined it looks on. It's almost like, "wait, there's a kid in there?" thin. Also, it's called the Suspicion, which is about as far from hand-dyed hemp batik as a sling can get. Their publicists recommend it very highly.

I'm not a Pavement fan, so I think the appeal of the New Native carrier has nothing to do with Stephen Malkmus, and just with the fact that it doesn't appear too bulky or padded in this picture.

The Kangaroo Korner is clean, but it also seems kind of wide on the shoulder part, even wider than the Peanut.

Has anyone tried either the Peanut or the New Native? Are there other clean, well-functioning sling things that are worth a look?

Suspicion (black micro), $49 [goo-ga.com]
New Native cotton baby carrier, $44 [newnativeinc.com]

Previously: Dude buys the only 'non-girly' sling on Etsy
Does this baby carrier make my manboobs look fat?

32 Comments

Wifey has a New Native and a Hotsling. Says "I like the Hotsling better... held baby higher. Doesn't look girly at all, even with the padded part."

My husband carried our son in Lucky Baby sling. Similar to those you mentioned. Just a pouch. He and I about the same height so we used the same sling.

It worked well until the baby was big enough for the Bjorn.

We used the peanut shell for the peanut until he was 4-5 months old and loved it. He was born in the Fall and snuggled right into the microfleece very comfortably. We always joked that if he was fussing or crying just put him in the peanut shell and he was out in a second. I do not do rings or tie arounds and wouldn't subject my husband to that either, so we both were comfortable with the simple design of the peanut shell.

Peanut shell is great - the fleece one is awesome. Go with the peanut! :)

Our New Native sling is on kid number 2 and starting to show some wear. It is just a piece of cotton sewn in a certain shape. There is no padding and we got it in black. I love it. I can put it in my back pocket folded up. My wife preferred the Hugabub (no ring, but way too much material for me). The New Native is the most minimal sling I have seen and it works great as long as you remember to spread it out over your shoulder and not let it get bunched up in one spot. Kid number two is going on 18 months and I still use it here and there. If you want to go the extra mile, it comes in organic cotton too.

I like the Hotsling pouch and it comes in a bunch of solid colors.

Have one made. Cost us like 10 bucks plus the fabric. It's logo free, and exactly what I wanted. A thin black nylon, one unlined for summer, one with a white cotton flannel lining for the inside. No D rings. Yeesh.

http://flickr.com/photos/superbad/45032525/

Noisette's Papa was a Bjorn guy but I also used a Hotsling, which I liked a lot. The thing with most pouch slings is that they're not adjustable so if you and your wife aren't the same sized people and you both want to use the sling you'll need to shell out for two.

Re: the pouch sling looking wide on the shoulder to you, this is actually a good thing. The sling should cap the shoulder at the top of the arm---not dig into the side of your neck constantly.

www.thebabywearer.com has some excellent info for moms and dads.

We had a Kangaroo Korner and my husband loved it! We got the adjustable so that we could both use it. I ended up unsnapping it when i needed more room to nurse, so i was very happy with our choice. Our daughter is now 11mo and we still use it.
I have also made my own slings. Very easy, takes like 20 min. I can make one for you if you want. :-) Also, check out the new babywearing store on the UES, MetroMinis, www.metrominis.com you can try on just about all of the slings you are considering.

My wife and I used a variety of slings. Despite hating the guatemalan fabric and the d-rings, I'll admit that my favorite fit was the hippie sling because it allowed us to load the kid easily and then cinch it close around her. It was one of the easiest ways to get her to sleep for the first 2mths.

That said, both of us hated going out in public in that thing. My wife preferred the look and feel of a black fleece Peanut Shell (size small, too small for me) and I liked the Sprout Pouch that my cousin got me. Our Sprout Pouch was in Plum Corduroy, which is their most masculine color and actually had a really nice, minimalist design and fit. The size medium Sprout Pouch fit me, and I'm 5'8, ~150lbs, but it was definitely too big for my wife. So, I'd agree with the previous poster who said that with pouches you inevitably need a "his" and a "hers."

http://www.sproutpouch.com/

Well, you already know where I stand on this based on my comments on your previous thread. We had a Peanut Shell, but only ended up using it a couple of times because it was very difficult to get the baby in and out of, and didn't offer as much back support as the trusty Bjorn. It also allowed for less freedom of movement. Get one and see for yourself. You may like it. But don't throw away the Bjorn!

[actually, we may get one of the mesh bjorns, in hopes of not sweating to death in the summer. -ed.]

I'm not the guy in our family, but I'm a huge believer in unfussy baby stuff. And we happen to own both New Native and Peanut Shell carriers. They're exactly the same thing ("nonadjustable pouch sling," or whatever you want to call it). The only real difference is styling. NN comes in various shades of non-stretch cotton, which makes for a secure and simple carry but can really wear on your shoulders as the baby grows heavier. PS has a wider variety of color & cloth choices; the stretchier fabrics like cotton-lycra and microfleece add some comfort but require a tighter fit to keep the baby from falling out (and thus a trickier maneuvering to get the baby inside).

We've been very happy with both. NN slings were a mainstay with Baby #1 for the first six months: zero-maintenance, easy to pack into a pocket or bag, lulled the kid right to sleep and left our hands free. Now that we're lugging around Baby #2, who was almost 2 lbs heavier at birth, I give our microfleece PS a slight edge because of the stretch factor.

One thing to keep in mind is that newborns often need some additional padding behind the neck & back to stay comfortable in a sling for the first month or so (which detracts somewhat from the minimalism). NN sells special support pillows, but you can also use a rolled-up towel or blanket.

Finally, the best advice that we received from another sling-wearing couple: if you & your partner do wear different sizes, get two different colors so that you're not always reaching for the wrong one!

With a pouch sling, you want the part over your shoulder to be wider, like the Kangaroo Korner pouches. The bottom of the sling should be in the middle of your upper arm. It distributes the weight across your back, rather than hanging it on top of your shoulder. The downside is you can't raise that arm above your head. We joked that our pouch sling was actually made of ether 'cause it knocked the kids out so quickly. At 14 months and 2.5, I'm still using it for a quick hip carry every now and then. My husband had his own, because we needed different sizes. Worth every penny.

My wife got a sling for this latest kid, and has been using it a lot. I tried it the other day, and the baby just didn't seem to be in there correctly, and it started giving me an anxiety attack for some reason, so I took it off.

I'll try again in a few days...

[i'm definitely getting one; anxiety attacks are my new workout. -ed.]

My wife can't use a sling; the kid tends to suffocate in her breasts...deep breath...anyway, we've got a Maya Wrap, which was useless when he was a newborn, but for the last few months--he's 10 months today--it's been a fantastic calming device, and can put him to sleep through teething when nothing else can.

in Fabric 65.

I, however, lack the hips for a proper hip carry, and as we're a rural-type family, there's something more substantial in our future: The epochal Tough Traveler Stallion. Because I'm a Man! And it's called the Stallion! Giddyup!


[the Stallion? Awesome. the Maya Wrap, not so much. Of course, in the presence of a teething baby, my citified ways could crumble like the roof on an old barn with the first heavy snow. -ed.]

My husband loved his New Native Baby Carrier. Plain, black. I thought it was dull.

Here's an awesome Bronwen Handcrafted (made in NYC) one that I suggest for you, it's sleek ultrasuede with a plushy lining– still not bulky or hippie-looking at all:

http://www.bronwenhandcrafted.com/pfuzzyultrasuede.htm

I am trying out a couple of her flashier designs with our #2 baby. A gorilla fur podeagi and a b/w marimekko ring sling. The latter doesn't have extraneous fabric, btw, and is definitely the sleekest ring sling I have seen. It has also proven easier to use than pouch slings with Jasper, who seems to suffer from giganticism. (At 3 1/2 months, he is easily as big as his sister was at 9 months.)

After much messing with various slings and pouches we have decided that they are all pretty useless after about 18-20 lbs (AKA, 3 months with our kids). Of course, same can be said for the Bjorn.

The Peanut Shell seemed to be the best of the bunch, though it was too warm for Squeak, the summer baby. The New One will be a winter baby, so I am looking forwards to giving it another shot.

Realistically though, the kid will be in an Ergo or Beco within weeks. My husband is roughly the dimensions of a vending machine and nothing else is quite as comfortable for him to wear.

So far, nobody has mentioned the sweat factor. I had the Hotsling (maybe the name should have given me a clue) in plain black, one for me and one for the nanny so we could carry both twins at the same time. Believe me, you do not want to put on somebody else's sling after they've been wearing a baby in it for a few hours. It would be like sharing undershirts. Other than that though, I would highly recommend it. The sling made it possible to wear one baby and have the other and my toddler in the stroller, thereby making those incredible necessary trips to Starbucks possible.

We couldn't have been happier with the Premaxx sling. It's not exactly minimalist but the ability to adjust the size made for quick switches between mommy and daddy and the pockets were really useful for a diaper, etc. (What good is minimalist-est sling if you need to carry a diaper bag on the other shoulder?)

Don't use the Bjorn! Get an ergo, your back will thank you!! If you do love the Bjorn, they have come out with a new version that combines the air and the active which will give you more support.

As for slings/pouches, the Kangaroo Corner adjustable fleece is great. because its adjustable you may find it easier to use.

We have owned and used a variety of slings and carriers from newborn to 2 1/2 years. Really liked the New Native (in black). It has been a staple to fold up and shove in a pocket. This style sling is probably as minimal as you can get. I also really like Sidecar slings, they feel sturdier in construction and have a sweet integrated pocket to stash keys, a wallet, etc. The gals who run the business are revamping their whole line. They have always offered a dude-ish, plain minimal fabric choice. So if you can wait, it sounds like they will have a newly expanded line out soon. Good luck finding a carrier!

We found our pouch slings like the ones you're asking about weren't secure enough for life with a second sibling. There is nothing simpler and more versatile than the Baby K'tan baby sling. Our second baby (now 3 months), has been in a Baby K't an since he was born and we use it for our 20 month old as well- since you can wear it in 8 different ways and up to 40 pounds. Contrary to the way it looks on, the Baby K'tan is not a sling that needs weird wrapping or doing yoga to get it on or off. It isn't one of the crazy long pieces of fabric. If you're at all interested in trying the sling we would be more than happy to sponsor sending you a Baby K'tan sample from scandinucci.com to try it on yourself.

MrBecster wears a Hotsling in manly khaki (August baby), but I can see a fleece pouch being viable in the winter.

ive used the new native everyday for the past 20 months. its great, simple, durable, and the kid still loves it. though she won't fall asleep in it anymore. for the new one we just ordered a hotsling in waterproof/uv style for the beach, since its summer down here. look at attachedtobaby.com for more options than you can imagine. and then get a new native organic version. just make sure the size is right, thats the main thing for your comfort.
we also have an ergo and a couple of wraps, we used the wraps early on and like the ergo much better than the bjorn, but still mostly hang with the sling.

You need to check out The Baby Wearer. The reviews and gallery are great. And check out this great article
Babywearing: A Dad's Experience
.

I says "not so much" to "Maya not so much." They make a bunch of products. Some have enough fabric to sail across the ocean, but one -- the "Maya Wrap Adjustable Pouch" -- is great: no rings, no extra fabric, no padding, etc. Adjustable: half a zipper paired with three of the other half in parallel several inches part, hidden under a button flap. Ours was sort of 'oatmeal' and tan/gray in wide stripes, and the effect was much more Martha than hippy -- and very gender neutral. We thought it was super. Hard to tell if they even make it anymore, though: mayawrap.com > products [navbar] > [left column] ("image not available?!" ok...). You can see one here in a "manly" olive:

http://www.cottonbabies.com/images/fullsize/100002Lg.jpg

I used a New Native for our daughter and loved it, but the one we had for me wouldn't fit Chad. Whenever we get around to kid number two, we're planning to pick up a larger NN for him to use. I'm curious to try out a hotsling, since the spandex seems like it could be a useful design improvement.

I mentioned the sweat factor in a previous thread about slings. That was my biggest issue with these things (and also with the Ergo, which I also have an do use occasionally). The other problem with slings, as I've said, is that our daughter was never comfortable in them and we weren't comfortable wearing them. But then, she never liked to be swaddled either...

A Bjorn that combines the Air with the lumbar support version would be the perfect solution for a newborn, as far as I'm concerned.

Now that the kid's older, we've had to move on. For long hikes or when walking around a place with stroller-unfriendly terrain , I now use a Kelty Kid Carrier 2.5, which is essentially a backpack with an internal frame that also opens up to hold a kid. Very practical for airports, too, because it doubles as a carry-on for toys and also a diaper bag. Of course, it's not for newborns.

I second (third? fourth?) the Kangaroo Korner recs. We had a dark brown fleece one that my husband and I shared (I believe this is one of the few pouch slings that allows sharing because of its adjustability.) As for the width of the shoulder part, this is exactly what makes it comfortable to wear as the baby gets bigger. And bigger. And bigger. And still won't nap outside the $&*%)ing pouch.

I/we used a Premaxx red and orange (popular colors in Holland). Liked it a lot because it has pockets to stash the cash,keys,diaper and mobile. It is very adjustable and we used it until he was 10months (you can do a side hold with it).

I'm a bit late to this discussion, but I recommend the Rockin'Baby Pouches. I hate fussy stuff, as does my husband. We have 2 pouches. They are adjustable with heavy-duty zippers. Ours are reversible from a pattern to a solid so Dad doesn't look goofy, but I can get my girly quotient.

We tried Bjorn (ouch), BabyHawk (mei-tai...we call it Mai Tai, because you need to drink one after lashing yourself up in the straps) and the Premaxx Euro (more Euro trash than useful). I didn't even bother trying anything with rings...I'm not a gymnast or Houdini.

Our son is a biggun' and we can still pouch him at 15 months (33"/27lbs). He loves it and it's great when he's sick of the stroller.

I highly recommend the Rockin' Baby Pouch! (http://www.rockinbabysling.com/shop/baby_pouches/)

so late on this, BUT I have to recommend HotSlings. I (the mama) have about 5 of them and used them for both of my kids--the fleece hotsling is awesome in the fall/winter.
My dh (the full time parent in our house) had a bjorn with our first kid, and switched to an olive green hotsling with baby #2. He loved it.

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