Bebehblog’s Babywearing Guide

This isn’t a “guide” as much as a “check out all my baby carriers” post, but it may be helpful for anyone still unsure what exactly is going on with all this babywearing. The short explanation is wearing your baby is fun, leads to a calmer happier child, and is an important part of attachment parenting. I find wearing Baby Evan to be much easier than dragging a stroller around all the time, especially in stroller unfriendly places (beaches, farmer’s markets, outdoor events, wine festivals, museums). The only downside to babywearing is once you start you can’t stop buying carriers and that can get pretty expensive. Here’s my experience with a few of the most common types.

Moby Wrap – I bought mine from BabySteals.com for half price, but I think they usually run between $40-$60.

The Moby is my least-used wrap, although some moms swear by it*. (There’s a very similar carrier called a Sleepywrap which I’ve also heard good things about.) I bought my Moby during the very hottest part of summer and the extra layers of fabric were just too much for the New England humidity. Now that it’s finally cold enough to appreciate it’s snuggliness, Baby Evan has sort of outgrown it. The Moby is one long length of stretchy t-shirt-like fabric (mine has a fleece panel in the middle, which makes it a Moby D) you wrap in various ways to hold the baby to your body.  The Moby is supposed to be good up to 35 lbs but my 20 lb baby seems to stretch it out fairly quickly and I need to tighten it up after 5-10 minutes. I was hopeful the hip carry would extend my Moby’s use, but Baby Evan twists and thrashes so much I’m afraid he might fall out. It is very comfortable, the material is nice and the wideness of the “straps” spreads the weight out so your shoulders don’t get sore. If you had a newborn who refused to be put down, especially to sleep, I would definitely recommend a Moby. Bonus: it can also be used with twins or for breastfeeding hands free (although I never got the hang of that). Here are three of the carries (I don’t have any pictures of the Moby “in action” since the only times I wear it are on sweatpants days at home):

Kangaroo Carry - baby faces forward

Kangaroo Carry - Baby faces forward. Similar to the way the BabyBjorn works, but there's no barrier between you and the baby and no magical Swedish ergonomics.

Hug Hold - baby faces mom

Hug Hold - Baby faces mom. Really great for tiny babies. Don't worry, they won't suffocate although you will worry they might.

Back Carry - I can't do this one on my own, I need a partner to keep the baby from squirming off my back while I get situated

Back Carry - I can't do this one on my own, I need a partner to keep the baby from squirming off my back while I get situated.

*The son of one of the mom’s in my breastfeeding support group was born with club feet and has to wear special shoes attached with a metal bar to help reshape them. A sling or mei tai wouldn’t work for her, because the former squishes his feet together and the later separates them too far. She LOVES her Moby because he can wear the bar while she wears him and she swears it’s the only way she can get him quiet while in his “torture device”.

BabyBjorn – Starts at about $6o and goes up, but you can find them on Craigslist pretty often

The Bjorn is sort of controversial among babywearers, since the baby’s legs just dangle without any support. I’ve heard it can be bad for their…hips? legs? feet? I’m not too concerned though, since it remains one of the best selling baby carriers worldwide and it doesn’t seem to bother Baby Evan at all. It’s not the most versatile carrier – you can only wear it on your front, but the baby can face in or out. The weight limit on my BabyBjorn Original carrier is up to 25 lbs so my giant baby is going to outgrow it before any of the others. On the up side, it’s very sporty and easy to wear for longish periods of time. I use it when I walk for exercise and don’t plan to take the baby in and out very often. It’s definitely the “manliest” of my carriers and E has no problem wearing it in public public (as opposed to among friends public):

Baby facing Dad - It's true, I did this whole post just for an excuse to post this picture again.

Baby facing Dad - It's true, I did this whole post just for an excuse to post this picture again.

Baby facing out - Baby Evan falls asleep pretty much without fail in the Bjorn, even in loud places.

Baby facing out - Baby Evan falls asleep pretty much without fail in the Bjorn, even in loud places.

Maya Ring Sling - $50 for the basic, $65 for the padded (mine is the Lightly Padded Ring Sling), organics are around $95 (secret tip: the website has an outlet for discontinued fabrics at great prices)

My mom bought a Maya for me at Papoose when Baby Evan was just a few days old and I’ve used it at least twice a week every since. It’s the carrier I wore while I stood in line for 8 hours auditioning for Deal or No Deal. I keep it in the car for quick runs into the store. It’s great for shopping or walking around and is easy to wash, store and stuff in my diaper bag. It has a zippered pocket in the tail for your keys or wallet so you don’t have to carry a diaper bag for quick trips (one down side of the sling is it’s really hard to carry a purse while wearing it – one shoulder has the ring, the other is trapped behind the baby). The negative for this carrier – or any sling – is all the weight is on one shoulder and not spread out across your back. I also have some trouble keeping the padded part up on my shoulder where it belongs, especially when juggling a squirmy baby in a parking lot. The Maya comes in different sizes to fit different sized people  and we bought the largest so E and I could both wear it (and, let’s be honest, so it would fit over my boobs) although that means the tail is longer than necessary. I’ve been told ring slings are the easiest carrier to nurse in but I never did figure out the nursing-while-walking/standing/moving thing, so I don’t have any advice to make that work. Here are pictures of E and I using our Maya Ring Sling at various stages in Baby Evan’s life:

Tiny Baby Evan tucked in the sling

Tiny (jaundiced) Baby Evan tucked in the sling

Medium-sized Baby Evan tucked in the sling

Medium-sized Baby Evan tucked in the sling

Baby Evan sleeping in the sling at brunch

Baby Evan sleeping in the sling at brunch

E cleverly uses the sling to keep his hands free for beer

E cleverly uses the sling to keep his hands free for beer

Now that Baby Evan is sitting up, the hip carry is our favorite. He can see in any direction he wants and if he gets tired I can pull the fabric up over his arms and shoulders and he can sleep comfortably.

Now that Baby Evan is sitting up, the hip carry is our favorite. He can see in any direction he wants and if he gets tired I can pull the fabric up over his arms and shoulders and he can sleep comfortably.

Mei Tai Carrier – I bought my generic mei tai at Papoose for $30, but the best known (and coolest) mei tai is the BabyHawk*. If you don’t want to spend $90+ you can find tons of homemade ones on Etsy, or if you’re crafty, try Googling for your own sewing pattern.

My mei tai is now my favorite of all the carriers, even though I have the most basic, bottom of the line version. It’s really easy to get on and off, holds the baby very securely, and Baby Evan loves being carried against my chest. (He went through a brief period where he wanted to face out and fought the mei tai but I’ve adjusted the way I stand so he can see what I’m seeing or who I’m talking to.) It folds up very small and has no metal or plastic parts so I can throw it in the washer and dryer for a quick cleaning. The straps spread the weight across my back and shoulders so I don’t feel off balance or get a sore neck. The way Baby Evan sits in the carrier puts his weight on his butt and supports his thighs so you don’t have to worry all that dangling will mess up his…hips? legs? Whatever it is people worry about. There are fewer carries in a mei tai than with the Moby, but you can put the baby on your front or your back. One of the benefits of a mei tai back carry is you can tie the waist strap, pop the baby in while holding the shoulder straps and sort of swing the whole thing around so you don’t need a partner to get situated (although I’ve only dared to do this while sitting on the bed in case he falls out). If you REALLY wanted you could do a forward-facing front carry, but you’d need to cinch the middle of the fabric with a ribbon so the baby’s legs didn’t point in totally different directions. If you really wanted to just buy ONE carrier, I highly recommend some version of the mei tai. Here’s mine at Plymouth Rock and Mystic Aquarium:

Front carry - When the baby was smaller, the mei tai provided plenty of sun/weather protection.

Front carry - When the baby was smaller, the mei tai provided plenty of sun/weather protection.

Front carry - The easiest way to carry my 20 lb fattie.

Front carry - The easiest way to carry my 20 lb fattie. I noticed today though that he's getting too tall for my smallish mei tai. I guess I'll have to buy a new one!

One of the benefits of this carrier (and all baby-wearing) is the baby is right up at eye level with Mom, so you get to experience things together.

One of the benefits of this carrier (and all baby-wearing) is the baby is right up at eye level with Mom, so you get to experience things together.

Back carry - The only downside is the hair pulling, but it doesn't happen very often. Yet.

Back carry - The only downside is the hair pulling, but it doesn't happen very often. Yet.

*WARNING: I am not responsible for any time/money wasted after visiting the BabyHawk site and seeing all the gorgeous custom fabric combinations you can order. I’ve designed a double sided, dual pocket mei tai at least ten times but can’t yet justify spending that much for ANOTHER carrier.

There are many, many, MANY other types of carriers, all of which I would like to own or at least try out at some point. I just saw a Beco Butterflyfor the first time and think it looks amazing (My friend Cheri reviewed it here). Several friends have the Ergo and swear it’s the best for long time, all-day-on-your-feet type situations. I also have a Chicco Smart Support Backpack, but haven’t tried it with the baby since he only just started sitting up unsupported. I bought it thinking we’d use it to go hiking, because during my pregnancy-induced brain fog I forgot we had never ever been hiking in our entire married life and probably wouldn’t start once we had a baby. I’ve also “ordered” a pagne from my sister in Africa (I traded her 4 issues of Vogue airmailed to Ouagadougou). From what I understand, a pagne is just a woven wrap, the most versatile baby carrier – one long piece of non-stretchy fabric you use to tie the baby to your body. A woven wrap has dozens of different carries and allow the wearer to carry even larger babies and toddlers. Once I get my pagne and figure it out I’ll update my guide, but in the meantime if you’re looking for how-to videos for baby carrying, YouTube is a surprisingly good resource. Who knew there was more than just Single Ladies parodies and people getting hit in the crotch on there?!

So there you go, all my experience with babywearing. How about you? Do you have a favorite carrier to recommend?

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22 Responses to “Bebehblog’s Babywearing Guide”

  1. Kimberly says:

    Thanks for all the info! I only have the Maya Sling and the Bjorn, but I’m looking into the Mei Tai to use for back carrying. The pics are great!

  2. ryan says:

    YAY! thanks so much for this. i emailed it to my husband who has visions of spending a crap load of money on one of those fancy all-terrain strollers. hopefully now he’ll just want to spend a crap load of money on carriers instead!

  3. SarahMC says:

    Awesome post! Now I want a baby so I can wear her in a wide array of carriers! I love Evan’s face in these photos. What a ham.

  4. sarrible says:

    He looks SO MUCH like Evan in that second picture, with his red cheeks. I have nothing to contribute except to say that I kind of wish I could carry manuscripts and my lunch in a sling, because my right shoulder hurts like hell right now. Also, if you’re looking for something to Netflix, try Away We Go. It’s adorable, and I think Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character will make you laugh.

  5. AGreenEyeDevil says:

    Don’t laugh, but I totally want to try one of those for my little house dog! The carrier I bought at Pet Smart was a TOTAL disaster.

  6. h_a_l says:

    I am in love with the Ergo. It was a LIFE SAVER when we took the baby to Miami – for boarding the plane and carrying her around the airport. It’s also the best to just strap her in when I need to do a quick errand and not be bothered by the whole carrying the stroller and the baby up and down the steps.

    I have a Maya ring sling too but never quiet got the hang of it – when she was smaller I always felt like I was squishing her up in there. Maybe now that shes holding her head up we can try some of the other holds. I am also going to attend the next Brooklyn babywearing meeting for some tips with this one. Yay babywearing!!

  7. Erin says:

    I wanted to throw in my two cents. We have a Moby and a Bjorn and I love them both. The Bjorn is what I use for out of the house. Its great for walking the dogs or wearing him in the mall. I like that it is easy to get him in and out of on a changing table since the front detaches. The Moby is what I use mostly around the house, mainly because if you try to put it on to go in to a store then you will end up dragging the ends of the fabric around the parking lot trying to get it tied. But I used it exclusively when he was littler. You can tuck his head into the part that goes over your shoulder and it is very secure and comfortable. I could do all sorts of things with him tucked in like that, including things that involved bending forward. You can even twist the fabric a little so that he is laying to one side of the other and he slept very comfortably like that. I even tried breastfeeding in it and the positioning worked great.

  8. We used the BabyBjorn extensively. It was pretty much the only way I could get things done around the house while Calder was awake. It was also good for other shortish outings from the house since getting a stroller down from the second floor just to walk the dog is kind of a pain in the ass. I would not recommend trying to bake a pie with it on however.

    I also bought a Hotslings carrier which he hated with the fury of a thousand dying suns. Calder is and always was a massive wiggler and I don’t think he appreciated not being able to flail hims limbs about precariously. Also, the sizing on the Hotslings was terribly inaccurate. They run really, really small which is perhaps not the best way to make post-partum women feel better about their new bodies.

  9. Renee says:

    Look how snuggly. I love how wearing your baby can become an extension of your look, especially now that they have so many colors and styles available.

  10. ita says:

    Helpful post! Thanks :)We use a snuggly and were actually thinking we should buy another carrier for our long christmas trip. This post comes in very handy!

  11. Merin says:

    Love the baby carrier round up! I agree with h_a_l…we just took a trip that involved 5 flights and the Ergo was by far the easiest to get our 5-month old in and out of at the airport. Cora enjoys chewing on the fabric, so it’s a win-win!

    The first time after I saw a BabyHawk I went home and spent the entire afternoon (I wish I was kidding) designing one, which I ordered and am still in love with… however there is a beautiful navy blue one at Papoose that I am coveting! Just get one-you know you won’t regret it!

  12. lalaland13 says:

    GreenEye’s comment about dogs make me think that somewhere on this vast series of tubes are pictures of a cat in a baby carrier. I feel sorry for that cat, and even more sorry for its owner.

    This is a very impressive roundup,lady. Nicely done. AM I the only one getting flashbacks to my high school and college days walking around with a backpack? This is a backpack, whereas strollers as those awful rolling backpacks that seem like a good idea until you actually have to roll them everywhere.

  13. bellegourmande says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I am curious as to how much you, and any of the other moms out there, use (or used) a stroller, especially when the baby was really little? Can you maybe do a stroller post too, since there are so many types (not even necessarily brands, just types) to choose from and it is a bit overwhelming. For instance, do you even need 2 or–gasp!–3 different kinds? Thanks!

  14. Bobbi Janay says:

    This is an awesome post and I have an ergo along with a few others. I love baby wearing.

  15. Rebecca says:

    I have the Beco Butterfly (which I was talked into by the saleslady while admiring a Babyhawk) and it is the best $160 I have spent on baby paraphernalia so far. I use it every day when I go out of the house since everything is within a few blocks walk. The only problem is that since I am short, the baby takes up more and more of my torso (which would be a problem with any carrier). Plus, when I put her on my back in it, she likes to either grab a hank of my hair in each hand and try to steer me like a pony or vomit down my back. I also have the Moby, but I haven’t used it since the baby was about a month old (she’s five months now). I like the idea behind it because it’s versatile, but since mine is brown, I always feel like Obi Wan Kenobi in it.

  16. FourInchHeels says:

    Which of those carriers do I have to order to get the squishy smiling baby? I mean, sure he destroys your nipples with his ferocious little shark teeth, but c’mon – you can’t show me so many pictures of the kiddo and be surprised my ovaries were melting.

  17. Also, and this is only somewhat related but last week my friend and I decided that people who are adept baby wearers are much more likely to successfully shepherd their progeny through the zombie apocalypse. So you have that going for you.

  18. Anna (londonmum) says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this. Haven’t really got the hang of baby wearing yet. I have a three month old and I use the stroller outside the house which is fine but I think he’d like to be more upright. Started using the bjorn around the house but haven’t ventured outside. Don’t their legs get cold ( I live in London!)
    I have a material sling but have never used it as alwAys felt like the baby was going to fall out. Have a feeling I just don’t know how to use it so thanks for photos and links. All super useful.

  19. Brigid Keely says:

    I’m a short fat woman, and I found the sleepy wrap (loooooong piece of jersey knit fabric) absolutely wonderful for the most part. I am too fat to use most slings/carriers, but this one adapted very well to my body, and distributed my baby’s weight across my shoulders. It was a life saver when he screamed every time I put him down (I wound up wearing him and doing dishes, screwing around online, running errands (who needs a bra when you have a baby strapped to your chest? SCORE!), and using the toilet). The downside is that he was born in March and the two of us got very VERY hot and sweaty by the time late spring/early summer rolled around.

  20. [...] Strollin' Strollin' Back when I did the post on baby carriers, commenter bellegourmande asked if I could also do a post on strollers, since the world of [...]

  21. [...] 16. Bebehblog’s Babywearing Guide! [...]

  22. Just bookmarked your site, thanks for sharing!

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