I have all sorts of baby wearing gadgetry–padded ring slings, unpadded ring slings, hot slings, mobys, rabozos, backpacks, etc. I also have three kids, all of which I have worn (for about three years each) or currently wear! So, I have had a lot of time to figure out what I like and what I think is most useful. Your experience may be different, but unless you make your own gadgets (like I do), or know someone with all these things, it would be rather pricey to experiment with everything to find what works for you. (On the other hand, what works for me may not work for you and in that case, good luck!)
Each of the carriers have their own benefits and drawbacks. Here is my personal evaluation of the various carriers.
I like hot slings (a sling without rings) because they take up very little space when folded up. They can hold the baby in several positions so they are fairly versatile. However, they have to be fitted just right (within a half inch) to be able to feel really comfortable. That is annoying because I still have some baby fat after having a baby yet I still want to use my baby carrier 6 months from now when I have lost that baby fat! So, I will wait until I am at my normal size and then keep one of these in my car, or diaper bag, or both.)
Rabozos should be fabulous because you can use them as a sling, a back carrier, a nursing cover, or a table cloth, and they are infinitely adjustable as well as small when folded up in the diaper bag. However, I didn’t like having to tie the knot nor untying the knot when I wanted to adjust things or change my baby’s position.
A backpack is great for wearing a heavy baby for a long time. I like this for grocery shopping or walking to my friends’ homes. It is bulky though and not something I keep in the van.
Then there is a moby wrap. I love how the wrap distributes the weight of my baby over both shoulders and on my hips. I love how he is so close to me and within perfect kissing distance. I can wear my baby for a long time in the moby comfortably. There are some drawbacks for the moby though. First of all, 6 yards is a lot of fabric! Even though it is easy to put on (see my tutorial), it still takes a few minutes to put it on and get my baby situated. And then my biggest qualm is that breastfeeding isn’t very convenient. So I only use my moby right after feeding my son and then when I know I will need to have him right next to me until the next feeding. I imagine I will use my moby more after I wean my baby.
(Another con for the moby I have heard from other mothers is that they are hot–6 yards of a thick knit fabric can get toasty in the summer months! I don’t have that issue since I made mine from a lightweight woven fabric.)
Ring slings, I have to admit, are my favorite carriers. Adjustable, comfortable, convenient, compact, and so versatile, I really don’t leave home without one. (Here is more info about ring slings.) I usually use my padded sling, but I keep an unpadded sling in my van just in case I forget the other one. The unpadded sling is great for keeping my baby really close to my body since it is easiest to adjust. I can even wear him on my back with it. However, I can’t wear him as long without the padding–about an hour is my max. With the padded rails and shoulder pad in my primary sling, I can wear my baby for around three hours without any uncomfortableness. I love being able to simply slip the sling on, put my baby in, and we’re off–usually in less than 10-15 seconds. And I can adjust him equally fast–from the kangaroo carry to a snuggle carry to a hip carry.
My kids love(d) being in the sling as well. My second would actually bring the sling to me and ask to be worn. The sling truly is a bonding tool as well as a convenience!
There are other carriers–many that I have tried and some that I haven’t. Those listed above are the ones I have liked the most. What have you tried that you liked, and why? Best wishes choosing what will hopefully work for you and your baby.