I carried my baby four different times today!
I realize that to some that might sound foreign, but I was just introduced to baby wearing with my third baby—now 11 months old—and I am still giddy about it!
Sixteen years ago with my first child, I knew nothing about baby wearing. I had two babies in two years and wish I had known then what I do now about the different options for carrying baby close. I could never have imagined I would enjoy it so much. Someone mentioned that I had become all “flaky” with wearing my son and making his baby food. I corrected her and told her she meant crunchy (ha!) although I think I’m quite far from that stereotype. (Not that there is anything wrong with being crunchy—I just know my organic and recycling momma friends would be a little disappointed if they saw my day to day life.)
There are so many reasons for wearing our babies. I knew I wanted to so that I could have my hands free and not have to always push a stroller. I started with an inexpensive Moby wrap. I used it three times. Maybe. I learned early on I am not a wrapper. There are several main groups of baby carriers, and I prefer the buckles. They just work for me. I got an Ergo carrier and used it quite often. When he was a newborn, I had my little one tucked snugly into the infant insert (recommended for under 15lbs) and continued to use the carrier (minus the insert) when he had good head control. I have a lot of friends who use Ergos and love them. However, I think I have found my soulmate of carriers with the Tula. I might try a shorter wrap later (that doesn’t have so many twists and ties), but for now I’ll stick with my Tula.
Most wraps are stretchy material or woven. They do just what the name implies—they wrap. Some wrap…and wrap…and wrap some more. Many of my friends love their wraps and baby wearing in general for many reasons. One dear friend of mine adopted her sweet little girl and has loved wearing her as a means of bonding. She let me try out some of the wraps when I met up with the Nashville Wrappers group. There are all different lengths of wraps and all different kinds of ways to wear them, including lighter material for the hotter summer months. Didymos, Pavo, Lenny Lamb, and Solly Baby are popular brands of wraps (woven and stretch).
Soft structured carriers (SSC) are common and there are many different makers and styles. These typically have a buckle or tie. My Tula is a buckle, and I like it for the ease and convenience. I can put it on quick and click! These carriers can come in many different designs. You can even have them custom made. Tula, Ergo, Kinderpack, and Boba are just a few of the brands. Some of the previously mentioned carriers come in canvas or a wrap conversion (WC) – which is a woven material throughout the whole carrier. Tula has some beautiful WC carriers, and I have seen some go for thousands of dollars! A plus about some of the more expensive carriers—such as Tula brand—is that they hold their resale value; especially if a print has been discontinued. Mei Tai carriers are also in this category. They tie—though the shape and fit is like a buckle carrier. I found that I didn’t care for the tying of the long straps. Honestly, I think this is why I prefer the buckle carrier overall. I tend to trust a buckle much more than I trust my tying abilities.
Slings and pouches are another popular style for carrying baby. I tried a ring sling while walking through Opry Mills mall. I liked the feel of it, and my little one seemed to be very comfortable. It was the perfect position for him to chew on my teething necklace as well. Slings and pouches are fairly quick to put on and take off. Ring slings can be adjusted easily and pouch slings usually come in sizes. The K’Tan is a comfy wrap that I used some for my son. It fits like a wrap but comes in two big loops. It can also be used as a sling when they are older. I was not as comfortable with the sturdiness of that carry, but I think I might try it again when my little one is a toddler.
It’s really important to make sure that your baby is positioned correctly when baby wearing. When not in a sling, they need to be in the frog position. You will want to make sure that your carrier has a wide enough seat to seat them comfortably and not to create any developmental issues. One reason I switched to a Tula was the wider seat cushion.
I asked some girls in the Nashville Wrappers group why they like to baby wear. Most like it because of snuggles and bonding with baby. I would bet that almost every baby wearing momma agrees with this point. Along with being hands free, calming baby, and keeping them close, some mommas feel their baby is safer from others when being carried. I didn’t think about this reason myself, but I have definitely noticed it. When my son is on my back or front, he is so close to me that no one has ever gotten in his face. In car seats and strollers, many people will stop and coo and try to rub a hand or touch a head. I’ve not had anyone invade my space and get that close! And with close spaces, carrying a little squish is great for large crowds when you want to keep your little one close (and it’s too hard to maneuver a stroller).
I love helping other mommas interested in baby wearing—probably because it’s still somewhat new to me, and I love it so much! The ladies in Nashville Wrappers are so kind and are really a great group. They usually have weekly events, and these offer you the opportunity to try a different carrier or even to get help if you have questions about your own. Look them up, and tell them I sent you! Who knows? Maybe we will meet and bounce our kiddos together someday!