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):
*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):
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:
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:
*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?