Babies like to be held. If you don't have a baby of your own, you might think we parents can just plop them down anywhere and they'll play or wiggle or just go to sleep. I suppose there might be babies like that somewhere in the world, but I'm not sure I've ever met one.
So, babies like to be held. I spend a lot of time the first few weeks sitting and holding a baby. After awhile, though, I start to want to do things like...brush my teeth or...fold clothes. To be honest, baby gets a little tired of just sitting, too. Second Daughter in particular has made it clear that she prefers to be in motion. Translation: Hold me and walk around and around and around and around. Being the lazy mom I am, I use a carrier so my arms don't get so tired.
Another great benefit: When we're out and about, I still have one hand free for each of the older two kids.
We have four different carriers right now. Here's my favorite:
It's one a friend made for us when Second Daughter was born. Later on, I'll also be able to use it on my side or my back. This carrier puts some of the weight on my hips, which is lovely for my wimpy shoulders. It's all cloth and folds up really easily to stuff in the stroller. You can't buy this because our friend designed it herself, but if you're very ambitious, I think she'd be willing to sell the pattern and you can make your own.
Of course, we also have a BabyBjorn. This carrier was our lifesaver when our son was born. He detested the stroller, but loved the Bjorn. He practically lived in it for months. (I think we took him out to eat and when we finally went to bed at night.) Kansas Dad still likes the Bjorn and I've been using it outside at the park because I feel like Second Daughter's arms and legs hanging out let her cool down a little more. (It's hard to say, because I'm not sure the air flows as well to the rest of her little body.) It's rougher on my shoulders, though. It's also not nearly as comfortable if you want to sit down because baby's legs are right on top of mama's legs.
This is the carrier we bought right after First Daughter was born. We didn't have our custom-carrier yet and First Daughter hated the BabyBjorn as much as First Son had loved it. She did not like her arms and legs hanging free. So, we bought this carrier and she loved it. We used it everywhere. I can even nurse while baby is in it. We've also found baby can be switched from one person to another while in the carrier, which is handy if baby is asleep and parent #1 is tired, though the manufacturer probably doesn't condone the hand-off.
Finally, we have a Kelty carrier, kind of like this one.
We bought this before our trip to Kauai'i and used it every day we were there while hiking. First Son loved it, and so did we.
We really should pull that out and take all the kids hiking. (First Daughter would adore being up on her dad's back like that.)
We used to have one more, a fabulous EllaRoo wrap.
I bought this as our second carrier, when First Son was weighing my shoulders down too much but before he thought the stroller was an acceptable form of baby transportation. I wore it (and him) all over New York and even to weddings and fancy dinners. It was easy to use and beautiful and I loved it, but it's not nearly as easy as the carrier our friend made and I found I never used it to carry First Daughter. So I passed it on to someone else.
For any would-be baby-carrying parents out there, I'd recommend taking baby to a store full of carriers and trying a few out. (The fancier stores will allow this; they'll even help you get baby settled in the carrier.) You could also borrow some from other friends. That way, you'll be sure to get just the right one for the way you want to carry baby and the way baby wants to be carried.
Your arms will thank you. Baby will be happier, too, with a better view and within kissing range (at least with those front and side carriers).