I've tried babywearing since my first child was born, but never really got the hang of it. But with my third child's share of colds and ear infections this year, carrying her became more of a necessity. But like most people, I had tried several different carriers found in retail stores and they just weren't working well for me.
I found myself longing to learn from cultures where they carry their kids with a piece of fabric and go about their work. After all, I had all these modern contraptions that weren't working for me. Then I discovered there is a whole babywearing movement going on. Not only that, the internet has made it possible to sell many different types of carriers. In fact, there is a babywearing group in my area that has playgroups, monthly meetings, an email list, and a lending library (so you can try a carrier before you buy).
The mei tai is great because you can carry the baby on the front (forward and backward facing), back or hip. I needed to be able to cook and clean with my daughter, so this was the best bet for back carrying. I used it to go strawberry picking and it worked great. The disadvantage is that you can't easily pop your kid in and out of the carrier. There are many variations to the mei tai, so do your homework before you buy.
me using the ring sling
The ring sling is great for shorter trips and is easier to put baby in and out. I use it when my daughter has fallen asleep in the car because she usually continues sleeping a bit longer. I also use it when she wants to be held in my arms. Although the picture shows my arms wrapped around her, it's the sling that is holding her, taking my weight off of my shoulders. There is a proper way to position it, but once you learn those tips, it makes it easier to use. You can also make a no sew version (or almost no sew), which makes it quite inexpensive. I'll post about that separately.
My daughter fell asleep in the MIDDLE of the 4th of July fireworks display while in the sling pictured above. We were fairly close to the platform too. She was very relaxed, much more than she has ever been. It was a wonderful feeling to provide such security to her.
If you are interested in learning more about babywearing, Nine In Nine Out and The Baby Wearer websites are great places to start. The Mamatoto Project also has information on how to wear and make your own carriers. Jan Andrea at home on the web also has detailed information on making baby carriers.
Other useful sites are:
http://www.kozycarrier.homestead.com/instructions.html (for mei tai carrying instructions)
http://zolowear.com/WearingTroubleshooting.aspx and http://zolowear.com/Wearing.aspx (for correct positioning and troubleshooting for ringslings).
Last, but not least, my friend Drea's blog has a lot more information about babywearing, including reviews.
Well, most of this post was written with my daughter in my sling. Now I'm about to put her in my mei tai and take the kids outside for a walk.