1. Craigslist.com: Give it a shot. Although most carriers on craigslist are used, there are some new ones from mommies that just didn’t use the carrier like they thought they would. Just make sure that you can see it in person or get lots and lots of photos if you have it shipped to you.
2. Work-at-home-mom retailers: The experience and service from actual mommies is priceless. I ordered my Manduca Soft Structured Carrier from Paxbaby, an online store run by a babywearing guru named Jillian who has 6 kids and a lot of good advice. She offers a HUGE selection of every type of carrier except the back-pack style and a 90 Buy Back guarantee. Her real winning service is the Sling Exchange. It’s a sling and carrier rental service she offers–you pay $9 and get a carrier for two weeks. If you purchase a carrier from her after your rental, she’ll deduct the $9 off your total cost. If you find a carrier you love, but you’re just not crazy about the color, she’ll also “Pimp your carrier” out with a unique fabric for a fee. Seriously, don’t even think about going to B-R’US.
3. Etsy: For truly unique baby carriers–especially slings–go shopping on Etsy. Most of the sellers are WAHM mommies with serious sewing skills. You probably aren’t going to save money over mass produced baby carriers, but in a sea of Ergo’s, you may want something that stands out. Double check the return policy and guarantee policy of a seller before you buy. If the quality isn’t up to snuff, you’ll want to return it immediately.
4. Make Your Own: That’s right. Take a shot at making your own. Slings and wraps are the easiest for beginners and they don’t require advanced sewing skills. I used the Maya Wrap Sling Pattern but I failed to follow some cardinal advice: buy real baby sling rings. Don’t go to the fabric or craft store and get D-rings–order real baby rings online. The craft rings I used where too small and kept popping through each other which caused the sling to fall down. I didn’t actually ever drop Joe II, but it was pretty scary.