Friday, March 16, 2012

Babywearing 101

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Prior to having little man, I was 100% on board with carting him around in a stroller, having space for my purse in the bottom compartments, as well as having a cup holder, and a spot for my keys all in one simple contraption.  It seemed really simple.  And then I had little man.

I really, really had a hard time with his stroller.  It is a common brand that is supposedly really easy to use.  Well, tell that to my mother in law and I, as we attempted to get the darn thing opened up outside of the hospital so that I could get rechecked for some post partum mama issues.  Try as we might, we were completely unable to get the darn thing open, and we are pretty smart mamas (well, she is at least!).  She has her PhD and is a nurse practitioner and tenured faculty at a large university, I have a master's degree in speech pathology.  You would think we would be able to get a stroller open, right?  

Nope.  

On that day, we ended up just leaving the stroller in the car, and lugging the super heavy car seat around, plus the diaper bag full of stuff (give me a little credit, I was still in that new-mom-figuring-everything-out stage, I moved on to either throwing a diaper and a wet bag in my car or shoving extra necessities in my purse a few months later) up to the doctor's office.  I will still on occasion use the stroller, but I've really found my comfort zone, and that is babywearing.

As Wikipedia states, babywearing is the practice of wearing or carrying a baby or child in a sling or other form of carrier.  There are TONS of speculated (and some researched) reasons why babywearing is popular and recommended, such as increased baby-mother dyad connection, decreased risk of plagiocephaly, more organized infants as walking motion and mama's heartbeat is soothing, ease of breastfeeding, etc.  I found it to be the most beneficial because there were many days where all little man wanted was to be close to me, and using a wrap, carrier, or a sling gave him the closeness he wanted, and gave me the free hands I needed to continue to get a few things accomplished, like a warm meal on the table for my hardworking hubs.  I also LOVE having a carrier/wrap/sling to pop little man in when we are making quick trips, such as just to run inside a store for one item.  I don't have to mess with pulling a whole stroller out and back in, and it saves my back from carrying my 25lb guy around town.

There are also tons of different modes of babywearing.

A wrap is basically just a long piece of fabric used to wrap the baby to your body (while there are many other options out there, think Moby Wrap as one of the most widely known. Other brands are Didymos, Dolcino, and many more).

A sling is a piece of fabric either held up by rings or knotted that is usually worn over one shoulder (my favorite is from Comfy Joey, but another option is a Sakura Bloom).  Little man & I are at the aquarium using our favorite sling in the picture below.


A soft structured carrier is a more structured carrier that I find to be almost like a backpack or pack in some brands (like the ERGObaby, Boba, or Beco Gemini).

A mei tei is a square of fabric with four ends that tie around you to hold the baby to you (like the Infantino Mei Tai or BabyHawk Mei Tai).

The list could go on and on.  There are so many different options, you just have to find the one that works for you.

As I mentioned above, I have a few favorites.  The carriers I own right now are a Moby Wrap, an Ergobaby, and a Comfy Joey ring sling.  In terms of use, I used the Moby Wrap almost exclusively when little man was a newborn, although it is not structured enough for me to be comfortable with him in it now (it is a very stretchy wrap, to carry him now, at his weight currently, it would probably be more appropriate to try a woven wrap).  I would say that now I wear him in the sling 80% of the time, and in the Ergo 20% of the time, although they both have their benefits, the sling being for quicker trips and the Ergo better for longer trips like the grocery store or family trips like the children's museum, etc.  To get the maximum benefit from your carrier, you really need to try as many as possible from your mama friends and relatives to know what you like and you'll wear the most.  It is different for every person.

Since this is an introductory post, I want to finish with some safety information.  Babywearing has had some poor media coverage due to incorrect use.  When carriers/wraps/slings/etc. are used properly, it is not dangerous to the baby.  But you have to be careful and know which positions are safe for your little one.  I like this article from the babywearer.com as a general guide with babywearing safety, and of course my always favorite Becoming Mamas page.

One last thing I'd like to highlight is something I only found out relatively recently.  The type of carrier you purchase, and the position the baby is seated in the carrier is important.  There is some controversy in the babywearing community about a few ways to wear your baby.  Some carriers, like the Traditional Baby Bjorn use what they call a 'crotch-dangler' position, where the baby is supported only by a strap of fabric between the legs, as opposed to being positioned seated in a carrier, like the Ergo.  While some in the babywearing community don't believe this is a problem, I'll refer to the hip dysplasia institute.  Please check out that link to see their concerns regarding placement in baby carriers.  I also would like to point out a few quick links on whether or not you should 'forward face' a baby in their carrier if that option is available.  Please check out thisthis, and especially this post from the Eco Friendly Family.

This is a very basic introduction on babywearing, but I hope some of the information has been helpful to you here.  I absolutely LOVE wearing little man in a carrier when we go places, and it isn't just me, as my husband will wear him in a carrier at times too, when I'll give him up for a second!



If you would, let me know in the comments below what is your favorite carrier!

4 comments:

  1. I love my Maya ring sling...it's super simple and I can wear my kids a whole bunch of different ways.

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  2. Love this! I wish I had an Ergo. For Henry it was the moby wrap. He lived in that for months.

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  3. We used the Moby when Mango was tiny. Then, I bought an Infantino crotch-dangler, because I didn't know any better. He loved it, so I did some research on some better carriers. My back was killing me in that thing! We bought an Ergo and haven't looked back!

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    Replies
    1. We had a baby bjorn too (not the new, better-for-baby comfort carrier). We used it minimally because he always seemed to be craning his neck to see around that flap when he was little and when he got bigger we already had the sling.

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