In honor of International Babywearing Week I’m going to share my babywearing experience with you.
When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to baby wear. My mom had done it and to this day talks about how sweet those moments were. I knew this is something I wanted to experience with my own daughter. So I got an ErgoBaby and waited for her to be born.
Little did I know I was about to have a baby that would not sleep alone. She wouldn’t even sleep in bed next to me for the first month or so. She only wanted to be held. Before she turned a month old I got a little desperate. I needed to get stuff done and that’s when I started babywearing. Let me tell you, it changed my life forever.
She practically lived in the ErgoBaby her first year of life, especially before she became mobile. She napped in the ergo, nursed in the ergo and had a great time. It was so liberating to be able to go out with her and not have to worry about her crying in a stroller or being held by too many people or having to rush back home so she could nap. She was always right there snuggled up against me. It was perfect.
She is now a very active 20 month but I still wear her several times a week, especially when we go out for a long walk or go shopping. It helps me get things done and it avoids me having to chase her in stores. She can get a little wild sometimes.
After 20 months of babywearing I am no expert but I do know a lot more than I did when I started. So I’m going to try to summarize the most important aspects of babywearing.
Babywearing is something every mother should try. Seriously!
Attend a babywearing meeting to learn about babywearing basics and find out what carrier is right for you:
There is an organization called Babywearing International (BWI) that has chapters all over the world. If there is one in your area, you can go to a free meeting where they will teach about the different types of carriers and show you how to use them.
Once you learn about the basics at a BWI meeting, they will tell you about the types of carries that are out there. You can find soft structure carriers, like the ErgoBaby, or Mei tais, like the Infantino one that you can get in mayor stores like Walmart and Target. There will also talk to you about stretchy and woven wraps and teach you how to use them. A wrap is basically a big piece of a special fabric you wrap around your baby and body. Lastly, there are ring slings, which are a long piece of fabric with 2 rings where you thread the fabric through.
Once someone told me trying on a carrier is like trying on jeans – you have to try several ones to figure out what’s best and most comfortable for you. This is why if you can attend a BWI meeting, you should do so. You will be able to try all types of carriers and figure out which one is the best for you.
Wear your baby in an ergonomic position:
The most important aspect of babywearing is making sure your baby is being worn in the right position: your baby’s knees should be higher than her hips. You don’t want your kiddo to have hip dysplasia so this is very important. It’s also the reason why most experienced baby wearers hate carriers like the Baby Bjorn. It is just not ergonomically safe for your baby.
A lot of people recommend against facing out:
It’s not recommended to wear a baby facing out – especially for extended periods of time. I hear many parents saying their babies want to face out and see the world. My daughter wanted to do that too and she was able to do so in a proper position, facing me. She just looked sideways. They will also tell you other important things about babywearing: your baby has to be high enough so you can kiss her easily and be able to see that her airway is always clear – this means her chin can’t be against her chest.
If you can’t attender a babywearing meeting then…
If you don’t have a chapter near you, don’t let that stop you from babywearing. I went to my first meeting when my daughter was 16 months and that didn’t keep me from babywearing. A quick Google search will show you how to babywear: you can find pictures and videos on YouTube. I learned how to use the ergo and nurse in it solely by watching youtube videos.
There are also many babywearing groups on Facebook, general one and specific ones according to the brand you’re interested in getting. Join those groups and ask questions. The mamas in them are always very helpful.
My favorite Facebook groups for general babywearing things are: The Babywearing swap (this is to buy used carriers), Babywearing Love and Support and Babywearing 102.
And remember, babywearing is a skill you have to learn. It will take practice but you will get the hang of it very quickly.
My personal preference in babywearing…
I absolutely love ring slings and soft structure carriers for their ease of use. If I were to do it all over again I would buy both a ring sling and a soft structure carrier. Why both?
Ring slings are perfect to use with newborns and it would be the only carrier I would use up until around 4-5 months when it gets more comfortable to have them in a soft structured carrier. I do have to add that you will most likely keep using the ring sling well into the toddler years. I use mine on regular basis with my 20 month old because it’s so fast to get in and out and it’s small enough to carry in my diaper bag. I just don’t use for extended carrying since the soft structure carriers are more comfortable and supportive and ideal for that.
My favorite ring slings are the silk ones because they are more supportive and I love the shine that comes with silk. I have Sakura Bloom and Vienna Springs slings. They are both great brands and same quality but Vienna Springs is made a mom in the US and is half the price. I totally recommend her slings! You won’t regret buying it. Check out her instagram to see the beauties she makes.
As far as soft structure carriers (SSC) go, if you have a limited budget I’d buy an ErgoBaby but if you can spend a little bit more, my absolute favorite ones are Tula, Kinderpack and Madame Goo Goo. You won’t regret getting either one of three brands and if you do, don’t worry because their re-sale value is great.
If you plan to use a soft structure carrier from the moment your baby is born, I would get an infant size Kinderpack. If you plan to use a ring sling or wrap exclusively for the first months then I would buy a SSC later on and I would get it in standard size.
The standard size carrier in all of these brands will last you a long time and you can use them well into the toddler years. Keep in mind that most toddlers don’t like to be carrier after a certain age anyways so this might the only carrier size you’ll ever need. However, if your kiddo is like mine and likes to be worn well into the toddler years, keep in mind that Kinderpack and Madame Goo Goo sell toddler and preeschool size carries and Tula sells a toddler size carrier. These are not a must to get and I would only get them once your kid is big enough for them since you might not need them.
Update 2016: Since writing this post my babywearing stash has changed and I now have 2 kids. I have a Tula toddler I use with my oldest. As far as my second baby, I used only a ring sling for the first 2 months. Then I used both an infant Kinderpack and a ring sling. At around 8 months I stopped using the Kinderpack and now I mostly use a standard Tula and a ring sling.
I think that’s pretty much the basics and my experience with babywearing. I’ll go into more detail about the carriers I own in another post. If you have any babywearing questions, please leave a comment. I’d love to help out any mama that would like to wear her baby. It changed my life and I’m sure it will change yours.
Do you love babywearing? Did it change your life?