The topic of baby wearing is such a popular conversation around The Motherhood Collective and something that we still get a lot of questions on, which is why we continue to host our Baby Wearing Café’ every year! Our cafe' moderator, Erica, is a baby wearing enthusiast who enjoys sharing her love of baby wearing with others! Below are some of the many tips and tricks that were shared at the cafe!
The world of baby wearing is enormous! You can go to Target, buy a baby carrier and stick your baby in it, and that could be the end - that’s fine and awesome. But there is this enormous community of baby wearers who do it all different kinds of ways, with all different kinds of baby carriers, and we get questions about it a lot.
There is an entire school of attachment parenting, which is kind of where baby wearing in America got its resurgence of popularity. We aren’t the inventors of baby wearing. It’s not an American thing or a this decade thing… this is not ours. It’s an idea that women/families have been using as long as they have had babies and something that they could hoist them up with. It’s not a new concept.
You're keeping babies close and safe. Babies are happy when they are being held. More than anything it’s a way of calming your child, keeping them safe and secure, and in my case being able to get things done when you’ve got a lot of stuff going on around your house. (Erica)
Carrier: The actual item (Moby, Ring Sling, Mei Tai, etc.)
Carry: Pattern in which you use to tie it on you (front, back, or side carry)
BENEFITS OF BABY WEARING
There are many amazing reasons to babywear such as convenience, bonding, and security to name a few. Check out the Ten Reasons to Wear Your Baby by Laura Simeon, MA, MLIS for more!
FOUR MAIN TYPES OF CARRIERS
- It's simply a really long piece of stretchy knit fabric. The Moby wrap is one a lot of people start with.
- You can wrap it on yourself; then later stretch it out and stick your baby in. You can get ready before you leave the house and then stick your baby in when you get to the store.
- Really nice for newborns
- Easy to get baby in and out
- Safety tested up to 35 lbs
- They can be super hot (especially in warm, humid weather).
- Not super useful up to the actual weight limit
- A long piece of fabric.
- There are tons of options with many different brands, designs, sizes (short vs. long), and fabrics (linen, cotton, hemp)
- Similar carries to stretchy wraps, but it doesn't stretch, so you have to wrap baby onto you in it. Pulling it tight so baby is a customized fit to you.
- Same woven wrap can be both for newborn and toddler - you are wrapping them tight to you.
- Like having different pairs of shoes… sometimes you want a certain wrap, color, etc. if you’re going to church or you're going hiking or to the store.
- You can do all carries.
- Lots of kinds
- Rectangular piece of fabric with four straps on it
- Bottom straps around waist, pull panel up around you, and flip the top straps over your shoulders. Cross them behind your back and tie them around your waist.
- Canvas, customizable from woven wrap, can get buckles and/or rings instead of tying around waist.
- Back carries: 6 months and good head control and sitting up unattended.
- Must be constantly aware of their airway when they are on your back.
- Single Piece of fabric; woven, linen, woven cotton with two rings sewn in. Can be gathered or not on the shoulder.
- You can tighten it but it doesn't slip.
- Pre-threaded so you can put over your shoulder and slip baby in.
- Functional for both little babies and toddlers.
- Easy to nurse in.
SOFT STRUCTURE CARRIER (Backpack carrier)
- Looks like a backpack
- Buckles at waist
- Straps that come up
- Wear back and front (some have side carry)
- Once you size it, its ready to wear all the time, unless other people are using it too. Dad likes it because there isn't a lot of adjusting to it once it’s set (shoulders, waist, etc.)
- Quickest to put on.
- Little adjustments make it more comfortable or not.
- Some have extra buckles for more support/comfort.
- Most men seen baby wearing are using this!
BABY WEARING SAFETY
Accidents do happen, so be aware...but it’s very rare. Watch their little faces getting snuggled – especially with teeny tiny squishy babies who don't have good head control. Make sure baby is kissable and that his/her back is being supported properly.
STOP and check your carrier – DON’T DROP YOUR BABY!
Moms who exclusively have one carrier they use and love need to especially be aware of the condition of their carrier. Since it may be used quite frequently.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THIGNS IS THAT YOUR BABY IS ABLE TO BREATH WHEN THEY ARE IN THE CARRIER! You need to see their face, even though some babies may not like to cooperate.
Here are a few ways to make sure your carrier is in good shape:
Woven Wrap: That means there are no holes, major pulls, or unraveling. That it looks secure.
Buckle Carrier: Regularly check your buckles and make sure that they are snapping in and out - that they are not slipping out and that nothing is cut or broken.
Ring Sling: Be sure that any where there is a seam it is not unraveling or that there is that ability for the rings to come lose and slip out.
QUESTIONS FROM MOMS
What carriers provide the ability to let baby face outward?
Ergo 360 and Beco are great options for outward facing carries. No forward facing carries should be done with a narrow base carrier (i.e. Baby Bjorn). These types of carriers tend to have a short life and not as great of investment.
Can you safely sit down while using a carrier?
It can be easy for mom to sit with baby in a variety of carriers, but ring sling and soft structure carriers are the easiest to adjust while wearing, making it easier to make room for baby when changing positions. Leaning back in a chair or on a yoga ball while baby naps may provide more comfort.
Of all the carriers and fabrics which provides best back support?
How you wear it is more important than what the carrier is, and the size of baby. If you're hurting, take a break. Be careful with Ring Slings because the weight is not distributed evenly. Back carries may be more comfortable than front carry. You may just bring the stroller on days that your back is bothering you.
What carriers do dads/male partners have a preference for?
Most men prefer soft structure carriers. Dads might do skin to skin with a Moby when mom can't.
LOCAL BABY WEARING GROUPS
These groups usually have play dates, lending library, and group meet-ups. People bring carriers so you can see and learn and narrow down what you like. Here are just a few groups you can connect with locally:
*Please note that, above all, baby wearing needs to be done both safely and securely! Visit a local baby-wearing group or look up a group on Facebook to see how you can get involved.
**The information shared during this cafe' has been provided by our own baby wearing enthusiasts, but not baby wearing professionals. Please always be sure to check the information through your own sources.