In my opinion, the best babywearing options for carrying a tiny newborn are really a stretchy wrap (or some alternative hybrid version of it) or an open tail ring sling.
The stretchy wrap is essentially a large length of material which you tie around yourself and fit baby in the ‘x’ created in tieing it. They are very versatile, fit any size wearer and good for babies up until about 6-8 months. You can “pre tie” before needing to carry baby making them easy to “pop” in and out, though they can seem overwhelming to some, particularly at first.
Another “stretchy” option is something like the baby k’tan or jj Cole agility wrap. They fit over your head like a tshirt, creating the same ‘x’ as a stretchy wrap but without the tieing. But you can’t adjust them, they are fitted to the wearer, and should fit like a snug t shirt. They, like a stretchy wrap are good with babies about until the age of 6-8 months.
An open tail ring sling, especially one made of woven material, will last you until well into toddlerhood for quick ups and downs. They are great from newborn, I wore Jai in one from a few hours old, are easy to breastfeed in, can be worn on the hip easily for a nosey bubba and adjust to the wearer. It is essentially a piece of fabric (about a third of the length of a standard stretchy wrap) with two rings sewn into one end. You thread the material through both rings, feeding it through evenly and “walking the fabric” through to create your ‘pouch’. Baby is then sat in the Pouch and you tighten, either “tummy to tummy” or on your hip with older babies with good head control. There is more of a learning curve with ring slings however and they can take a bit of practice to master.
Twist and tuck tail trick for extra head support for newborns in a ring sling is a really good one 😉 this is Jai at a few weeks old 😍
A Pouch sling is another alternative to a ring sling, similarly different to the stretchy and fitted stretchy option in that it is a fixed, fitted size designed for the wearer. Size should be measured from shoulder to hip and different wearers will really need a different size. These are suitable for a newborn but require a bit more fiddling and practice to get comfortable and safe (in an upright position which is recommended from birth as opposed to a cradle hold) and are easier to master with an older child who is independently sitting and being carried in a hip position.
There are some Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs), the kinds with buckles, that are suitable from birth. Some like the Ergo, Tula etc require a separate newborn insert which is required until about 6-8 months. With others, like the Manduca or Lillebaby, this insert is inbuilt and adjustments are made to use with a newborn. Other SSC, like the Lenny Lamb, are just not recommended for use until this 6-8 month range when I think soft structured carriers may in some cases, depending on personal preference being the better option but for newborns they can be a bit more bulky..
There are also some Mei Tai’s that are adjustable and fit to a newborn. A Mei Tai is somewhere in between a SSC and a wrap, it has a panel for the body, straps which you tie around your waist and then straps at the top that you cross over between your shoulders for a standard carry. Mei Tai’s as a category of carrier, can be used well into toddlerhood but not all Mei Tai’s are made the same, have the same measurements and body panels or are suitable for all ages. If you think you might be interested in this kind of carrier, seek more information from your local sling meet or consultant or ask me a few more questions via messenger.