Making Mothering Babies Easier: Babywearing
I thought this would be a great guest post to start things off with, seeing as I have just entered back into the world of frequent babywearing myself! I love wearing my new little sweetheart in my Hotsling, and especially love the convenience and free hands that it offers me. The author of this post, Nola, has been a longtime blog reader, is a fellow Canadian, and as I have gotten to know her through our emails, I consider her a sweet friend and encourager in my own journey of natural living. Hope you all enjoy this and all of the other upcoming guest posts while I relax and enjoy my “babymoon”! 🙂 Love Stephanie
Guest Post by Nola
Image by hoyasmeg
I have always believed babies need a lot of close contact with their mothers. When I had my first child (now 3) I didn’t know much about babies other than that they needed to be close. With this in mind, I found a second hand infant carrier. However, it was poorly designed and very difficult to use, and it also hurt my back.
A few weeks into mothering I found out about other types of baby carriers and slings. We purchased one that worked well for us and that made life much easier. Soon after, I was surprised to learn that carrying my baby even had a name: babywearing. Its nothing new really- mothers the world over carry their babies with fabric in many different ways. It’s making a comeback now in North America.
What is babywearing?
Basically, babywearing means wearing, or carrying your baby hands-free on your body, with a baby carrier of some sort that is made out of cloth and may also possess rings or buckles. People use all sorts of things to babywear- ring slings, pouch slings, wraps, soft structured carriers, etc! It’s all a matter of how you want the carrier to look, feel, and really, its also a matter of what works for you and your baby. Many mothers find that they prefer to have more than one carrier for different needs and situations, or as the baby grows. Older babies and toddlers can also be worn (although their needs are different) depending on the carrier that you have. I have found, for example, that the ergo is perfect for older babies and toddlers, but the Moby wrap is more suited for a small baby.
What babywearing is not:
• Something that should hurt your back, or be uncomfortable! If it hurts, there is something wrong. Usually it means you need to adjust something and learn how to make it work for you. Sometimes it might mean using a different carrier. I have personally never found ring slings or sling pouches very comfortable for long periods of time, and had trouble making the Ergo and Moby wrap work for me at first, but now they don’t hurt me at all. Different moms like different carriers. My friend loves her ring slings!
• Something that is only for small babies or young babies. I wore my then 2 1/2 year old on my back in our Ergo last year without issues at around 30 pounds. Certain carriers are better for this than others.
• Something that will slow down the physical development of babies. I have proof of this one! I was often told that since my daughter was held so much, that she would be delayed. However, she walked and learned all her motor skills very early.
• It’s very good for the baby. There have been lots of studies done on it, but to me it makes sense- the baby is close to its mother (or often father, in our house, or even the odd time Grandma) and therefore gets the closeness that babies need.
• It makes life much easier at times. The baby is usually happy to be so close, and many things can be carried out faster with the baby attached, hands free, than it could be if the baby was fussy sitting or laying on its own, or if you tried to do things with only one hand (the other balancing the baby). Often times, especially with my first child, she wanted to be held a lot, so babywearing allowed me to keep going and meet her needs at the same time
• It can be used for walks and hikes when the baby either doesn’t like the stroller, or when a stroller is inconvenient/awkward or unusable (think big crowds where it’s unsafe to allow a child to walk or awkward to navigate a stroller, small trunk spaces or hikes). You can babywear anywhere really. And you get great looks and comments too!
• Depending on the carrier and your baby, you can breastfeed in some carriers. Personally I have found that my babies nurse so quickly that it’s not worth it, but many babies and moms find this very useful, especially in public as it can be very discreet. Definitely something to try after the baby is able to latch properly.
How to babywear:
Here are some resources that I have found the most helpful:
• www.thebabywearer.com has LOTS of information especially if you are confused about which type of carrier to try or how to use one that you own. It goes into a lot more detail than I have here.
• Other moms. Ask around if you see another mom using a sling or carrier. Ask a friend to demonstrate hers.
• Stores that sell baby carriers. They usually allow you to try them on, and some even have weighted dolls to show you what carrying a baby would be like, or you can bring along your child and try them out. Some stores that sell baby carriers may be maternity or cloth diapering stores, or they might have an idea of where carriers are sold in your area.
• Online stores. Although you can’t try them on, there is often a lot of information and you can sometimes call and speak to a real person to help you make your decision.
Be aware that some baby carriers are simply not well designed. I would recommend purchasing one used or new from stores that specialize in this sort of thing- in my experience the “big box” type stores do not have quality baby carriers, and it’s really worth the investment to be comfortable for both you and your baby! Some carriers are better for certain ages than others, and some are better for different situations. Some moms simply prefer some types over others! Don’t be intimidated by trying wraps or trying something different. Like me you may be surprised! I thought the Moby wrap looked too complicated, but I was given one and it was very simple to use. Stores often offer personal help or even DVDs or online directions and videos. Personally, I love my Moby wrap for the newborn to age around 4-5 months period, and the Ergo from about 4-5 months into toddlerhood. Try what works for you, and know that if it doesn’t feel right, often you may need a little help learning to adjust the carrier to work for you.
If you don’t already babywear, are you now more intrigued about how it can make mothering easier? For those of you that already have a carrier, what types do you like? Do you find it makes mothering easier? Any fun stories to share of wearing your baby?
Nola is the mother of two girls, ages 3 and 6 months. She enjoys “wearing” her baby around her home, while hanging out clothes, going on walks, grocery shopping, and hiking with her family!
I love babywearing with fabric: I have a ellaroo ring sling that I use up to 3 months (it is also very uncomfortable after they get bigger) and then a Mei Tei that I love that I made myself from a sew liberated pattern. My 2nd is now 6 mo old and about 17 lbs…it works well for her to be in the front or back on th emei tei.
We also have a 2 year old who loves to be carried…but in a Kelty Backpack (that looks like you’re ready to go hiking in). Otherwise he’s just too big!
I personally LOVE my hotsling. I used it when my son was an infant (I have two older kids, and I needed free hands, but wanted to be close to my baby). He is 9 months now and i still use it in the hip position. It is a fantastic way to free up a hand, have your baby close and be able to get on with taking care of other kids. Plus I’ve found that it is way more convenient in public. Not having the bulk of a stroller is great!!
My babies are 5 months and 20 months and I’m just now getting the hang of baby wearing. We couldn’t ever afford a nice carrier, so the first two I tried with my daughter were a cheap Snugli and a cheap Hotsling. Well, the Snugli hurt my back like nothing else (although it was what I used when we went grocery shopping) and I’m too small for the hotsling. When my son was born I ordered a custom-made ring sling, but was disappointed to find that it didn’t fit either! (I have tiny shoulders) Finally, I decided to invest in a second-hand Mei Tai as a last resort and lo and behold, I LOVE IT!! It’s SO comfortable and can be worn in so many different ways! (My favs are the back carry and hip carry) Unfortunately now that I’ve found something that works, my son has decided that he doesn’t like it for long periods of time…he gets hot and sweaty and that makes him fussy. Oh well, now at least I have something comfy to use when a stroller isn’t an option.
I have a sling from continuum-family.com that I love… each one is custom and I have one with slightly stretchy fabric so its comfy. I used to have a polar fleece one that I made that was very good, and a Snugli, but this one is my favorite. It makes life so easy!
I have “worn” all 4 of my babies, and the biggest challenge has been learning each of their different “wearing” personalities. Baby 1 liked the sling, but only for about 9 months. Baby 2 loved the pouch and the Ergo, and I wore him non-stop until he was about 18 months old (he’s now the most independent one!). Baby 3 absolutely refused all carriers, wanting to be DOWN at all times. Baby 4 currently loves the Bjorn but is refusing to transition into the Ergo, which is where I need him (on my back, so I can deal with 1, 2, and 3!). Also, he wants to face OUT, while my other 3 always preferred facing IN. The best way to baby-wear is to find a bunch of friends who can loan you different carriers until you find the fit for that child. Once you find it, it’s worth it’s weight in gold!
Just found you and I’ve linked to you! What a great site!
I have three different carriers.
1) Cuddly Wrap. My oldest (now 2.5 years) loved this wrap. I find with my second (now two months old) it’s a little hot for the summer but it holds him so nice and close. Kind of hard to get him out of in a hurry if he is hungry so I reserve it for occasions when I know he will be sleeping for a while.
2) Ring sling – I use this daily as it is easy to get my infant in and out of especially if he is hungry! I haven’t mastered breastfeeding while baby wearing yet..
3) Baby Trekker – made in Flin Flon Manitoba! YAY Canada! It’s more rugged so my husband doesn’t mind wearing this one. It’s better for older babies.
Glad to see a fellow Canadian’s blog!
I loved wearing my daughter and now that she is almost two, while we don’t do it anywhere near as often, I still use it as our last resort when she is really upset. It saved my life during her first year. She really loved to be held and was colicky and fussy so wearing her was the only way to get things done. We started out with a pouch sling that I never really felt comfortable with, moved to a ring sling that was o.k. and then got an Ergo that I ADORED. She is a big girl and I still find wearing her in it very comfortable.
I also love wearing my little girl. It’s soooo much easier than a stroller. I tried a Maya Wrap with her and she hated it. Loved the Bjorn. We do tons of hiking and even did a couple backpacking trips with her in the Bjorn and us each with a backpack on our backs, switching off who carried her. At maybe 8 months we transitioned to a Deuter Kid Comfort backpack and love that too, although it’s a bit big for some situations- definitely suited more to travel and hiking. With baby on the way, I just purchased a Moby Wrap to try as several people have told me they are great.
We love our Moby from birth to age 3 (depending on weight of course). Here’s my funny story:
When I first started using the Moby, I practiced in front of the mirror. I looked at the brochure and made sure I was wrapping it right. Then I would have someone hand me the baby, faced in the right direction, so I could easily place him in the wrap. I was starting to feel pretty confident and started wearing him around the house AFTER looking in the mirror to put the Moby on.
Finally, the big day came. Outing to the mall in my Moby. I wrapped it. I had my hubby hand me the baby in the right direction. And I proceeded for the first time ever withOUT a mirror, to place the baby in the wrap.
I got all 3 parts pulled up and around and told my husband he could let go. He looked at me w/ this odd look and said, “But the baby will fall right through to the ground if I let go now.” Huh? lol
Moral of the story, I should have practiced at least one time without the mirror before taking my show on the road!
Thanks for all the great comments everyone!! I am glad to hear of others babywearing, its quite the event around here to actually see someone else babywearing! I think I almost drove off the road once when I saw another mom with a sling! LOL
Emily Kay- You might find as it cools off in the fall or as your son goes into different stages of development that he likes it better. I find that sometimes babies/toddlers go through stages like that, and the heat doesn’t help! Glad you finally found something that you like!
Robyn K- I agree that different babies have different personalities when it comes to babywearing. For some reason I expected baby #2 to love babywearing as much as #1, but she doesn’t, although my husband and I still both wear her frequently. She seems to like different carries better. Since writing this about a month ago I found that she prefers the hip carry in a ring sling unless she is tired. I can finally get some use out of the ring sling, but its still very uncomfortable for me to use for long periods. My first daughter who “lived” in the ergo is also very independent now too!
Sarah- with my first baby I also found I basically HAD to wear her to get anything done, too! I don’t think I believed people at the time when they told me their child was content being down! 🙂
Amy- I hope you like your moby wrap when you have your new baby! We have loved ours. One word of advice: don’t put it in the dryer at all, or only put it on “low” like the tag says. I happened to shrink mine on “high” and panicked…but thankfully it did stretch back out after stretching it tied between two shelves.
And to Stephanie@Keeper of the Home- enjoy babywearing your new little one! Thank you for the priveledge of doing a guest post!
I’ve worn all four of my children. My first was a premie and simply loved it. Just used a Fisher Price Front Carrier. My second was more difficult to wear and much preferred to just be in a seat close to me. My third was adopted an wouldn’t let me put him down! Wearing him as a newborn was essential. And my fourth was adopted as a 23 pound 13 month old—so the Ergo was a MUST. I wore her on my back daily for her first several months with my family. It was awesome for bonding. She often napped in there and I also got on the elliptical with her on me! She was a little sweaty, but I got a GREAT workout!!
My only regret is that I wished I would have worn them more.
I love baby wearing! I have used a carrier with all three of my daughters. With the first two I used a Snugli. My oldest developed colic, and it was such a sanity saver. With my third daughter, I made a sling using a McCall’s pattern. I loved it, and so did my youngest daughter. Sadly, she outgrew it in the third or fourth month. It was wonderful, and I could do things “hands-free”. I think it must have recreated that feeling of being in the womb, because it was warm, dark, and constantly moving with my rhythms. And, the funniest thing…my husband got the greatest double-takes when he would walk through Lowe’s with a pink gingham checked sling with baby inside. Ladies would punch each other, point, and whisper, “Awwwh.” I still use a Sungli with my youngest (she’s now 10 months old) when biking on my giant tricycle.
Best Wishes on your new addition.
HUGE babywearer here! Moby is my fav for the early months and then I’m a basic ring sling gal, but I think i’d like others more if I had the funds to invest right now.