I have several wraps and carriers, but so far, the K'tan has been the best. The K'tan has made the first months of motherhood so much more enjoyable for me, I can't imagine having a newborn without it!
The fact is, Lillian spends a huge amount of time nursing, or sleeping-- and she usually gets to sleep by nursing. At 3 months she nurses at least 4 times during the day and naps in the morning and afternoon. When she naps, she'll only stay asleep for 5-10 minutes if she's by herself, but if I'm carrying her around, she'll sleep for an hour or even two. She used to nurse even more, up to 6 times during the day. She is not a speedy eater... she takes her time and likes to linger. If I didn't have a way to nurse hands free and moving, I'd be spending a ridiculous amount of time sitting around. I guess I would get a lot more reading done.
The beauty of the K'tan is that it allows totally hands-free and mobile nursing. If you've never heard of the K'tan (I hadn't, before I started researching wraps in earnest), it is a double sling design. It is super simple, just two large loops of moderately stretchy jersey fabric joined by a little loop. There are several ways to wear it, but I almost always use it in the Cradle wrap, which is absolutely perfect for nursing. And as I mentioned above... my baby spends a lot of time nursing, or nursing to sleep, or just plain cuddled up and sleeping.
If my K'tan is in the wash, I sometimes use my (fake) Moby wrap in a nursing wrap I learned on youtube. But it is not nearly as secure. It is entirely possible a real Moby would be better (my attempts at making a second K'tan have resulted in a not-so-good replica... it is hard to get the perfect jersey-- and I'm sure my fake Moby suffers from the same flaw). But the fact is that all that cloth on the Moby is pretty bulky and daunting, and I'm always tugging and adjusting. With the K'tan, I just throw it over my shoulders and it's good to go.
For our recent trip to Houston by plane, I just wore the K'tan all day like an accessory, and slipped her in it whenever she wanted to nurse. With a nursing top and nursing scarf, it is totally discreet.
I've recently discovered that I can slip the K'tan off without disturbing my sleeping baby. I just lean over the bed, cradle, carseat (or wherever I want her to sleep) so she is resting on the surface of it, and reach behind me and pull the back loop over my head. I then just wiggle the cloth out from under her.
Here is Lillian snuggled up in the K'tan (looking down, from Mom's perspective). This is the first part of the Cradle wrap... I have only one of the loops on-- it is over my right shoulder. She is almost parallel to the ground, with a slight incline up towards the breast. Her legs are wrapped around my body.
Here is another pic of me wearing the K'tan (taken in the mirror at the hotel in Houston!).
I've tried all the different K'tan carries, but the Cradle is the only one I use regularly because it is just so perfect for nursing. I sometimes use the front-facing out carry for very short periods of time when I need to get something done and Lillian is awake and needs entertaining.
So after all that gushing, I have to say that the K'tan is not a one-sling fits all situation. I'm pretty sure there is no such magic sling that is perfect in all respects-- if you are determined to wear your baby, you will probably end up with several slings and carriers. I have the K'tan, a fake Moby, a sling (home made), a mei-tai (home made), and the Beco Gemini (very recent purchase). I have used them all, but the K'tan is the only one I use daily.
The one big drawback of the K'tan is that it puts most of the weight on your back and shoulders, so if I'm going to go on a walk or I'm running errands or doing chores and she isn't nursing, then I prefer to use something that puts weight on my hips. This is more and more of an issue as she becomes larger (she is 13 lbs right now). The Moby is moderately better for hiking around (still puts weight on the shoulders and back, but it is easier to distribute the weight). I just purchased a Beco Gemini, so I'll talk about that in a later post- but soft structured carriers with waistbelts are definitely the way to go when your baby starts to get heavier.
The other thing about the K'tan is that you have to get the right size. You really, really don't want it to be too big... I suspect lots of people who give the K'tan bad reviews don't have the right size. If in doubt, get the smaller size. I was a size 10-12 T-shirt before I got pregnant and I'm 5'4" and I got the Small. I'm much larger now... at least a 12 and maybe a 14... but I definitely don't want it any bigger. When I first got it I thought there was no way the baby would fit in, but it stretches out to the perfect size.
FYI, I wash and dry it with no special treatment (other than getting it done fast, since I'm so reliant on it). Our drier has only one setting: HOT. When it comes out I pull and tug at it until it is the right size again.
The K'tan isn't cheap, but I literally use it EVERY DAY for hours and hours (Thank you Elinora, who bought it for us!). I've used it daily since Lillian was about 2 weeks old (I spend the first week in bed, and was hardly mobile the second week). I'm wearing it right now!