I always hesitate to participate in these threads, because you want to simplify and everyone gives you a different answer, and it is more complicated that before!
I think that what you will need before too long is a German-style woven wrap. These are generally 100% cotton, come in various lengths from 2-5+ meters, and there are *lots* of choices.
I agree that with a newborn a Moby Wrap may be your best option, for the following reasons:
1) It is cheap. With a 9 pound newborn, you will outgrow stretchy wraps pretty quickly, and will find yourself shopping again. Best to spend just $35 now.
2) It is "poppable". This means that you can pop the baby in and out, sometimes many times, before having to retie. With a newborn, who seems to need something different every two minutes, this is invaluable.
3) They are so easy to adjust that it's imhe, really easy to learn to nurse in.
I also think you should get a GSW (German-style wrap) asap. Very quickly, the moby may start to feel "too stretchy" or "not supportive." You will want to learn back carries and hip carries and such and a stretchy wrap is mostly a one-trick pony. You *can* do some other things with it, but it is not generally as secure, as comfortable, and in some cases as safe as a GSW.
For the sake of simplicity, I recommend looking on a swap board like the one on thebabywearer.com and buying a used Didymos Indio in a neutral color.
An Indio simply means that it's Didymos' particular fancy jacuard weave. I, and lots of others, favor them for their cushy, supportive, and forgiving nature. They are also really easy to match bc of the more subtle pattern.
If you want to go beyond that and be a bit more informed, here's some of what is going on with wraps:
Cotton is the most popular material, and even the wraps that aren't cotton are usually cotton blend. Some brands, like Didymos, use organic cotton. Other, like Hoppediz, use organic cotton for select models. Cotton has some problems. It is prone to shrinking, so when you launder a wrap you will probably want to hang it to dry. It does not have great thermal properties. It can get hot and when it gets wet it loses all insulating abilities and becomes difficult to work with.
Gypsy mama makes an all wool wrap, Didymos makes wool blend wraps. I favor the wool blends even for warm weather because wool is a bit more springy without being stretchy, making for a more forgiving carry. It has superior insulating qualities, and is not hard to work with when wet. It can also keep babe warm when you're out in inclement weather. They are a huge PITA to care for since they felt easily--think enormous shrinking and the wrap becomes blanket-thick and slightly puckery. Yuk! Handwashing and line-drying is a must. Cautious hand-washing. Even too-vigorous hand-washing can felt a wool indio.
Didymos makes some 40% linen indios and these are wonderful. I actually had one arrive just today. I would expect that with lots of new models being released right now in a few weeks there will be several for sale or trade on TBW (thebabywearer.com). In use, these are not appreciably different that the cotton ones but they are arguably cooler in hot weather than the cotton ones. This can be a fine choice for a first wrap, but come winter, it will not help you stay warm. I speak from experience.
Winter use only. 'Nuff said.
Some companies make wraps with silk, hemp, etc. As long as it's a natural material it can be fine. I'd really stick with the basics (cotton or linen, maybe wool) though until you find something you are comfortable with
Poppable, but not supportive for a heaviier baby. I stopped using mine at 13 or 14 pounds. Gypsy Mama Baby Bali Stretch, Hot Mama, Moby
These are a very lightweight fabric that makes a cool summer wrap. Sometimes people think these are beginner wraps because they can be less costly than GSWs. This is *not* the case. They are not especially hard, but because they are so thin they can, if poorly wrapped, cause discomfort for wearer or baby. These are also the easiest wrap (other than fleece) to make yourself, since gauze, generally in a sort of madras plaid or check pattern can be had on the cheap at Wal-mart or any fabric store. I have one: it cost me $15 on FSOT from the woman who hemmed it up. The most popular pre-made one is the Gypsy Mama Baby Bali Breeze. It is ever-so-slightly heavier than most fabric-store gauze and is a great fabric. But it is not as supportive or as forgiving as a GSW.
Imho, Ellaroo wraps are a catagory unto themselves. Lightweight and pretty cool, they are neither as supportive and forgiving nor as bulky and costly as GSWs. They have cool fringe. And if they were more supportive, I'd own half a dozen. As it is, my body can't handle Ellaroos. I need more support. But I have a bum shoulder, so that may not be your experience. Ellaroos can be great. Word of caution though--often with used ones the fringe is damaged. They are vulnerable to tears along the spaces between the fringes and often people wash them carelessly and it gets all knotted up, like locks almost. When I am considering purchasing a used Ellaroos, I always ask for close-up pics of all the fringes. You might not care, but messy fringe should lower the asking price.
I could write a book. Oh, wait, I am. I could write a *LONG* book. The brands you are most likely to come across are Didymos, Storchenweige, and Hoppediz. Other GSWs are Girasol and BB-Slen (sometimes called Babylonia--they changed the name a couple of years back) and Vatanai. Then there are some oddballs like Amazonas and a few others I can't think of off the top of my head. Don't worry about those.
I'll do the others first, and then Didymos.
a-Storchenwiege, or Storch for short. These come in a variety of lengths and patterns. All are 100% cotton. They are a medium width and are generally considered the most supportive. There are relatively few color choices though. There are several stripe patterns and then there are two-tone jacuards with a subtle diamond pattern. These are called the Leos--Leo Natural, for example, is natural and brown. There is red, marine (dark blue), turquoise (I think that one is hard to find [htf]). There may be somme others. These do not come with a center-marker, which can be a pain for a lot of carries, especially in a longer wrap.
b-Hoppediz. All Hoppediz (but one) are striped. They used to have a reputation for being very thick and blankety but the newer ones are often thinner. All are 100% cotton. They have city names generally, that actually help you remember which is which. I have Cairo, which is a sand-and-white stripe, and Panama, which is dark green and olive green. Some "cities" are hard to find, others are easy. They come in three lengths--very short, long, and very long. DO NOT buy the "maxi" size unless you know what you are getting into! Nearly everyone finds it unmanageably long. Most Hopps, and all new Hopps, come with a pocket in the end. Some people love it, some hate it. I'm indifferent, but those who hate it generally find ir really easy to remove with careful use of a seam-ripper. These do come with a center marker.
c-Girasol. I rarely see these in really long lengths. There are *lots* and *lots* of colors or Girasols. All are 100% cotton. They are, so far as I know, all either solids, with a different color on each side, or stripes. No other patterns. Some Girasols are identified by numbers, some by model names. One thing you should know about Girasols is that older ones have a "wrong" side, which some people like to show a biit of in wrapping for a neat look. I don't have much use for that myself, but to each her own. Girasols are often known for being especially soft, "flannelly soft." Think old flannel shirt. Yummy. These don't come with a center marker
d-BB-Slen. These are quite lightweight. A lot of people do not like them because they are very wide. This can be a problem, however, the width can make them quite supportive. The nearly see-through lightness of some of them is also very appealing. I have one, have had others pass through my collection, and I enjoy them from time to time. They have a center marker, but it is very small and sometimes hard to find. Most BB-slens are striped, with a couple of solid colors and one with a jacuard stripe.
e-Vatanai. These are the latest and greatest on the babeywearing scene. Super-lightweight, they have some jacuards, some stripes, and two absolutely gorgeous "whales" wraps with complex jacuards of animals, one in blue-on-blue, and on in blue-on-red. I have never touched or seen a Vatanai, but word is they are super-lightweight and yet supportive, but maybe not the softest.
Didymos come in about a billion variations. What they all have in common: Relatively narrow, nearly all have a center marker (except really short ones and some older models). They cycle through patterns and styles, creating demand and a huge sub-culture of Didy afficianados.
The main subtypes are:
1) Indio. The above-described jacuard. Beautiful, lacy-looking, but not too femmey for guys to wear, forgiving. The best all-around wrap. Prone to "pulls" where a thread pulls loose. Not the most durable. They come in cotton, wool-blend, linen blend, hemp blend, and soon, silk blend. You cannot imho go wrong with an indio. There are some that are really short, for rebozo carries, that come with fringe. Some are tri-color. Some are really, really rare. You can get an indio used for maybe $70, $80-90 for a longer one with no flaws, but slightly rare wrap, used is maybe $110-120, and a really rare one can be multiple hundred of dollars. Sometimes these are just color names, sometimes the names are more descriptive. Some names: Blue, Rosenquartz, Ivy, Lile, Pinie, Terra, etc
2) Nino. These are a smooth fabric with a babywearing woman woven in a repeating pattern. Some people call them "spermies" and hate them, I kinda' like them. Some NINOs come in wool blend, the rest are cotton. They have a "wrong" side, which is really just a different shade. Some are light-contrast, where the pattern hardly shows at all. I prefer high-contrast, so the two sides look different and the pattern shows up. These are forgiving, super-supportive, and in general wonderful. Some people find the "spermies" too objectionable, or don't like how smooth the fabric is, finding it not "grippy" enough. I think they're nuts, but to each her own. These have a naming scheme similar to indios above
3) Waves. This is a wavey pattern. It come in several colors. Many people find them to be ideal summer wraps, very lightweight, very supportive, just in general lovely. Silver waves is one of the more commonly dyed wraps too. They are all 100% cotton. Some are quite htf.
4) Rhombus. The softest, flanneliest Didys, these have a row of rhombus across the top edge and are general soft, coordinating colors. I have jonas--deep blues and greens. Others are shades on pinks and greys (elisa), blues and greys (Paul), reds, oranges, and yellows (Jakob).
5) Jacuard. These are more colorful wraps with different patterns. Some that have been released int he past are Bears (teddy bears), Millefiore (lots of daisies), Vogels/birds (um, yeah...).
6) Stripes. Um, these are striped.
One is solid (Steve). These have people names. My favorite is Lena, purple and grape with turquoise stripes. Two of the Didy stripes come in wool blends--Lisa (blue with multi) and Eva (pinks and purples). I also have a rare Lena with wool.
7) Colorgrown cotton stripes. Bjorn and Lars are the colorgrown stripes. They are not dyed of course, and are ridiculously, delciously soft.
I think that wraps up Didy!
Back to the outline
The best way is usually used. FSOT, FSOT, FSOT! There's lot of info on TBW about how to use their FSOT forum well. Wraps also pop up on the TP and on Diaperswappers from time to time. Do not expect cheap. For a htf wrap you *will* pay more than it cost new. Bargains can be had though. Generally used wraps are 10-20% or more cheaper than new. They also don't need to be broken in as much (generally). Other sources are co-ops, big WAHM storefronts, and small WAHM groups and shops. There are often no clear demarcations between these.
1) Co-ops. These are often run via Yahoo! group. Questions to ask include: lead time, exchange rates, shipping costs and what happens if something is not available. Co-ops can be a great way to get newly released or htf wraps, but if you aren't careful, you can get burned. Paypal exchange fees, estra shipping, or waiting months and months for a wrap can all leave a bad taste in your mouth. All of these have happened to me and while everything was settled in the end, it's best to do your homework first and ask the important questions.
2) Small WAHM groups. Store like Lemon Balm Essentials and Piece of Cloth are great ways to get new or used wraps. Some have exclusive vendor arrangements, some specialize in getting the new Didys fast. I've done a lot of business with Piece of Cloth getting in the new indios and I've head great things about Lemon Balm Essentials. She sells fine used wraps and is the exclusive US distributor for Vatanai.
3) Bigger stores: Peppermint.com, Attachedtobaby.com, Birdie's Room--these are bigger and have better access to more stock and easy to naviaget websites. The downside? Full price, generally, plus shipping, plus often not as much access to htf or quick to sell out stuff. I've actually never purchased a wrap from these bigger places, although they are a valuable niche. I'm just too cheap
4) Buying from individuals via FSOTs or eBay or GBAy (German eBay). Great bargains, great people. Caveat emptor, and the further the forum is from the babywearing community, the more caveats for the emptor! Be cautious of eBay; stuff is often mislabelled. Especially on German eBay where the language barrier combined with shipping issues, combined with the fact that "Didymos," in Germany, is a colloquial synonym for "baby carrier" (of any brand) has been a source of huge disappointment to many. But I also know someone who got a ridiculously rare wrap for a ridiculously low price on German eBay.
D Length. Most brands come in three or four lengths. Didys come in "sizes" ranging from 2 up to 7. I prefer a Didy size six as a good long wrap, a size four and mid-length, and a five as the wrap that can do it all, if I"m really careful.
1)Rebozos and shorties
These are the shortest wraps, generally under 3 meters, used for simple, one shoulder carries. Not a good beginnner wrap in general.
2) Mid-length wraps
These are 3-4 meters or so, and are used for hip-carries, simple rucksack (back) carries, kangaroo carries, and rebozo carries with long tails. They are the easiest to use once you know what you are doing, because they are not unmanagebly long but still let you do a comfy, two-shouldered carry.
3) Long wraps 4-5 meters or so. These are long enough for some people to do the classic cross-carries, front and back. They are good beginner wraps unless you are plus-sized.
4) Very long wraps--5+ meters. I have several of these. There are the Maxi Hopps, the size 7 Didys, etc. They are hard to manage. But, no one runs out of length, even plus-sized people. And you can rig some super-supportive carries that will let you wear for hours without discomfort. Only a good beginner wrap if you are plus-sized.
Be careful, wash alone, on delicate, hang to dry. Hopps are allegedly machine dryable. I wouldn't, and haven't. Be very careful with wool. If you get a pull, use a needle or pin to carefully work it back it. CAREFULLY! If it gets torn or horribly stained, sell it ont he cheap to someone who will use it for a sewign project.
And I'm done. Honest, I didn't mean to write you a novel, but I got so tired of people giving me a basic answer and leaving me wondering what they were leaving out. So, go out and get you a Moby and a Natural Brown Indio, or maybe one of the new linen Indios, in a size 5 or 6.
Also, if you click my blog link in my siggy and go back a coupla' pages, there's an entry with stash pics and descriptions if you want to see what I'm talking about. In fact, I'll probably x-post this to the blog for future use.