If there is one indispensable item that I think every new parent should have, it is one of these wraps. It is a relatively inexpensive carrier, ringing up at $50 (+tax) at The Extraordinary Baby Shoppe, here in Ottawa. It is a one-size carrier, which means that it is easily shared between parents regardless of body size. I've been using this since Baby #3 was born and can't say enough good stuff about it. It's my favorite all-purpose carrier right now (he's 2.5mos and approx 14.5lbs). I've been back at work at the shop since he was about 2wks old and can personally attest to its comfort and ease of use, as I wear him in it for most, if not all, of my 6hr shift. It's almost magical how he falls asleep within 5-10 minutes of me popping him in, and I find it super-easy to pop him in and out of the wrap for diaper changes, floor time or nursing. I can even nurse him while he is still in it!
The cotton/lycra blend fabric is ingenious on a number of levels, as the beautiful stretch means there is no need to tighten or readjust the carrier throughout the day. This means that your baby can be popped in and out without needing to untie the carrier -- the Sleepy Wrap can be put on before leaving the house, stay on when baby is in his/her carseat, and be ready to use once you've reached your destination. This is a great way to avoid carrying those horrid, heavy infant carseats! It is also easily washable -- important, as babies spit-up or have other messy incidents with unrelenting regularity. ;)
The manufacturer suggests that the wrap can be used to higher weights, but I feel that the experience for parents and baby is most successful if the carrier is only used to approximately 20lbs -- more weight and the wonderful stretch of the carrier becomes a negative feature causing sagging. Having said that, I don't think there is a better newborn carrier on the market. Properly used, this wrap fully supports your baby on your chest while imparting that important sensation of being swaddled. Your infant is within kissing reach of your face, able to hear your heartbeat, and baby-wearing has been shown to help infants regulate their body temperature -- important in winter *and* summer!
Don't be scared off be the long, intimidating piece of fabric. It's really easy to tie in place and I'm always amused at how surprised people are the first time they try tying one on -- the long length can seem a little scary, but it's the length that makes it a one-size carrier. The wrap comes with a booklet containing great step-by-step photos for a few different carrying methods, and most retailers are happy to help the reluctant learn how to use it. If I had to pick the one item that I think every new parent needs, it would be one of these.
Honestly, the hardest thing about this carrier is deciding which color to pick!
Baby and I give it 4 thumbs up -- we'd give it more, but we ran out of thumbs. ;)
Disclaimer: I purchased this product for personal use and have not been compensated for this review in any way.
For kicks and giggles, here's a picture of my 6.5yr old wearing the baby in the Sleepy Wrap: