One thing I got excited about while researching parenting techniques and baby gear was the idea of "wearing" our baby, especially in a soft carrier. The combination of being so physically close together (which has a whole slew of benefits for baby's well-being and development) and hands-free at the same time was very appealing. Benefits include improved digestive and respiratory health, decreased risk of "flat head syndrome" caused by extended time sleeping on the back and less crying (as babies who are frequently worn are calmer). Apparently it can also lower the risk of postpartum depression in mom as it increases oxytocin levels leading to a closer bond.
Chris' sister Tracey lent us a couple baby carriers she had used with Avery - a Snugli front & back carrier and a ring sling. Chris tried the Snugli with S a couple times and he liked it. Pros: it allows you to be fully hands-free, it promotes safe head positioning (straight up; not "chin on chest"), it provides good back support and baby's head is right there for lots of kisses. :) Cons: It takes some time to put together, it appears to be a two-person job to put her in (though this could just be inexperience) and baby's view is quite limited.
I haven't tried the Snugli yet myself; I'd rather stick with soft carriers now while she's still really young as I feel they promote a closer bond with baby. We both tried the ring sling and love how easy it is to use - just thread the ring and pop baby in and out. Plus, Chris reported that S seems to like the bold pattern on this particular sling. :) Cons? It isn't 100% hands free and I found that it strained my back (which is already sore from all the lifting and carrying!).
The carrier I was really excited to use was my Moby Wrap (which was one of the items I scored for a great deal on Kijiji). It is a SPOC carrier ("simple piece of cloth", NOT Sex Professionals of Canada - to eliminate any confusion :). It's literally a piece of fabric which you wrap around yourself in a particular way and then put baby in using one of several different positions. I love the variety it offers in the different holds (from newborn to older baby up to 35 pounds), the closeness it promotes between wearer and baby (which best fosters the benefits alluded to above) and the fact that one size fits all - mom and dad can both use the same wrap! The main downside - there is definitely a learning curve to using this puppy!
I first gave my Moby a shot when S was about 3 weeks old. The initial wrap part was a bit tricky itself, as the fabric is 5.5 metres long and there are quite a few steps to get it tied on right. However the Moby site has a good instructional video which helped out, and there are dozens on YouTube as well. Putting S in...well that proved to be more of a challenge. I tried the newborn cradle hold but it was awkward getting her in and then she didn't appear to be enjoying the situation too much. It felt like she may have already been too big for this position. I called it a night at that point and vowed to try a few days later, but then the whole appendix thing happened which put things on hold for awhile.
Fast forward a month or so, and I've finally got things (mostly) figured out! I was working on the newborn hug hold for a little while as this felt more natural than the cradle hold, but I was still running into difficulty getting her legs and butt down into the pockets properly. I finally concluded that although she's still within the 0-3 month range recommended for this hold, she's big and strong enough for the full hug hold which involves baby's legs hanging out rather than tucked into the fabric. This position is much easier to get her into, and she seems to be quite comfy in it, tending to fall asleep right away.
Chris agreed that it looked warm & fuzzy, so he set up his own Moby of sorts for our other "daughter"!
All in all, I was worried I'd end up giving up on this bad boy, but now I'm glad I persevered! I love having her close to me like this - so much nicer having her snooze against my chest rather than across the room in her swing or bouncer! Now I just need to work on subtle adjustments to ensure that her neck and head are positioned in the most comfortable manner for her. Right now, for example, she's Moby-d up and sleeping soundly, but her head is kind of craned over to the side which doesn't seem ideal! I plan to wear her in the Mobe for at least an hour or two each day, and I look forward to trying the forward-facing position when she's older so that she can discover her surroundings from an adult vantage point!