To hear Scott tell it, a sling is his baby care Leatherman. Check it out:
The simple fabric baby sling is most-used tool in my parenting arsenal. In addition to strapping your little one to your front, side, or back, it can fill many different roles in a pinch:
In sling mode, use the "tail" to:
* Protect baby from winter gusts
* Clean up minor spit ups
* Cover up while nursing
Spread out, the sling can become a:
* Clean place for a diaper change
* Ground cloth at the park
* Swaddling wrap
* Mini sun tent (draped between sticks, diaper bag, etc)
* Padding, pillow, or strap in a shopping cart
* Toddler leash (strap the loop around them while holding the tail)
* Pouch during pickup time to collect things that have migrated into the wrong room
Of course, you’ll want to wash it in between some of these off-label uses.
* Don’t get the "padded" or "shaped" styles – they’re much less flexible beyond the intended use, and less comfortable in many positions
* Pick an extra-large size for a longer "tail"
* Look for a fabric that gives without stretching too much
I’ve used a Maya Wrap through two children, and highly recommend them (especially the newer designs, which include an integrated pocket). The fabric finally wore out after 4.5 years of wearing and washing; I’m currently using a homemade model created from a rectangle of appropriate woven fabric, plus two heavy-duty metal rings from the hardware store.