When our children were wee, the one parenting tool I could not do without was a good baby carrier. Of course, I didn't have 'just one', I had a number of carriers because I felt that different carriers were better-suited to different stages and situations. With our first two children, I relied on ring slings and SSCs to tote them around at home and when we were out and about. I eschewed a stroller in favor of a carrier because babywearing was just so much more convenient. With our last two, I branched out into the world of wraps, both woven and stretchy.
Quite often, when new or expecting parents come into the store looking to purchase a carrier, they will ask for a carrier that they can use from day one through toddlerhood. While I can appreciate the appeal of buying one thing and using it through many stages, the reality is that even though many carriers, particularly SSCs, will claim to be a 'birth until 40 lbs' carrier, the reality is that even though you *can* carry a newborn in a SSC, they are not as well-suited to this stage as other types of carriers.
We often recommend that new parents consider a stretchy wrap as a newborn babywearing option, because it is a carrier well-suited to this stage for a number of reasons.
A stretchy wrap is supportive. Newborns are born with low muscle tone, so they need lots of support, whether it's in-arms, or in a baby carrier. A stretchy wrap offers great support to a newborn, particularly to their head and neck, which can be tucked snugly into the carrier.
A stretchy wrap allows for skin-to-skin time while baby wearing. Skin-to-skin time offers new parents a multitude of benefits, in particular, it provides fathers with a wonderful opportunity to bond with their new baby. If you aren't wearing a shirt under a stretchy wrap, it will provide as much coverage as a tank top, and due to its one-size nature, stretchy wraps provide both parents with an opportunity for skin-to-skin time (as opposed to a 'skin-to-skin' shirt which is sized).
A stretchy wrap can be pre-tied. When your newborn is unhappy, she will let you know IMMEDIATELY. Your baby can go from quiet and content to a raging maniac in less time it takes you to blink. A pre-tied wrap means you can have your carrier tied on, and you just need to pop your baby into the carrier as soon as she wants to be held (and your baby will want to be held!). A pre-tied wrap also means your carrier is ready to go when you're out of the house, no need to worry about tails or straps touching a dirty floor when you're out and about.
A stretchy wrap is machine-washable. For the first six to eight weeks for your baby's life, he or she will be leaking out of every orifice (I am not kidding!!). Ideally, SSCs are spot cleaned as needed, and machine washed sparingly. If you have a baby who is prone to spit up after every feeding (and by 'spit up', I mean somehow regurgitate twice the volume of liquid she consumed), using a carrier that can be machine-washed and dried frequently is important.
A stretchy wrap is easy to use. I know when you look at that pile of fabric, it seems confusing, but the beauty of a stretchy wrap is that there is ONE way to tie it on. And? You can tie it on, *then* put your baby in the carrier. Other carriers that 'seem' easier (like a ring sling, for example), have a higher learning curve because you have to learn how to put the carrier on and adjust it while you're holding your baby. Of course, it only takes some practice and patience to master this, but a stretchy wrap is an easier-to-use carrier right out of the box.
Although stretchy wrap manufacturers suggest their carriers can be used from birth up to 35 lbs, they are really only suitable to use until your little one hits the 15-20 lb mark, which is generally between four and six months of age. At this point, most babies can sit 'legs out' in a soft-structured carrier, and they are sturdier, so a lot of parents transition out of their stretchy wrap to a SSC at this stage.
If you really want to explore the idea of using a SSC with your newborn from day one, we can certainly help you with that (and certain brands are suited to this purpose better than others), however, a stretchy wrap is a great newborn babywearing option that won't break the bank.