Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Baby Registry Favorites: Babywearing

BABYWEARING

When I was pregnant with Alice, I did a bit of research and registered for two different baby carriers. I figured I would need a carrier for some outings where a stroller or carseat wouldn't be the best choice and wanted to get something that was comfortable and safe. I realize now that my research had barely scratched the surface of "babywearing."
This looks like I've got Alice in cradle hold, which is weird because I don't remember ever doing that and it's not super safe...
Alice was already several weeks old when I discovered that I could wear her in the Moby wrap around the house and she would sleep and I could have two hands to eat or type or just do anything at all. It was a revelation, an honest-to-goodness epiphany. I didn't fully realize it then, but I had discovered the ancient art of babywearing. Of course babies don't like to be put down; they've been carried around for ten months and are used to it, and if they are left on the floor, they might become a lion snack (or something). They want to be carried. And moms/parents want to function. Even though snuggling on the couch is delightful, we can only do it for so long, you know? There are so many benefits of babywearing - seriously, Google it - (here are a few unusual ones), it really is wonderful for both baby and you.

If you aren't super familiar with babywearing and all the different options, there are SO many resources to help you learn about it. I wish I had learned more a long time ago. You can join local babywearing groups - many have Facebook pages - where you can meet other babywearing moms online and in real life to learn about all the different carriers and wraps and how to best use them all for different things. You can go to meet-ups and playdates to see other mamas' collections and try them on, there are lending libraries so you can try before you buy and find what's right for you. You can buy, trade, and DIY, and there are Facebook groups for each purpose. Recently, I joined my local babywearing Facebook group, as well as the DIY Facebook group so I can learn more about making my own woven wrap on a budget. I have learned so much from both groups, just watching the questions and interactions and photos and postings fly by in my feed. It's a great gathering of mamas in the know, in case I have questions of my own.

Also check out Babywearing International online, a wealth of valuable information on the different types of carriers, how to use them, safety tips, and more.

Definitely make sure you take some time to learn about babywearing safety (some good resources here and here). One of the most important things to remember is to NEVER bend over at the waist while you are wearing your baby, baby can fall straight out onto their head and/or into a dangerous situation with tragic or fatal consequences (like the terrible incident where a baby fell into a baggage carousel). Also make sure to monitor baby's airway and always keep it clear. Make sure their chin is off of their chest and their mouth and nose are not buried in your clothing or carrier. There was a big recall of pouch-style slings when Alice was a baby, they don't position babies very safely.

There are so many types of carriers (also called slings) and different styles and fabrics and patterns, they can easily turn into fashion statements and actual investments. I won't even begin to get into all the different options here, I'll just give a quick overview of what I've been using and how I'd like to branch out.There are lots of links in this post, some to other sites with more info and some to affiliate links for different products I love or am interested in. If you buy anything from an affiliate link to my Amazon storefront, it will generate income for me, but I have not been compensated by any of these companies - all opinions are my own!

Elliott all wrapped up in the Moby wrap, just last week.
Moby Wrap: A stretchy wrap which is great for wearing snuggly new babies in the newborn hug and kangaroo positions. The company says it can hold babies up to 35 pounds, but many moms prefer something with more support for babies over 15-20 pounds. Elliott is still basically living in the Moby wrap...
Ergobaby carrier - Original in black/camel
Ergobaby Carrier: This is an extremely popular, ergonomic soft structured carrier that promotes healthy hip placement. We have the original model in black and camel (pictured above), with the infant insert. We use the infant insert in the first few weeks/months - Elliott is already big enough to not really need it.

Ergo makes so many different models now, including one with organic fabric, a lightweight, breathable and sporty "performance" style, and the 360 degree version, which allows an outward-facing front carry.
Ergobaby 360 Four Position carrier, with ergonomic front-facing out carry position
If I were going to get an Ergo now, I would be very interested in trying the 360 degree version. This version is a bit smaller than the original Ergo, recommended through 24 months, but I think it would be a great option for an older babe to be able to face out. This would have been especially useful on our Disney World trips and frequent visits to Disneyland. I used the Ergo to restrain my squirmy little toddlers on rides, and would have loved for them to be able to face forward and see all the action, while still being restrained in my lap. The Beco Gemini and lillebaby Complete also allow forward facing carries. Facing outward can often be too stimulating for young babies...

Healthy Hips
Recommended hip positioning from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.

A note about hip placement and hip dysplasia; a good rule of thumb is to look for a carrier that allows baby's knees to be positioned higher than it's bottom with support from knee to knee. The below image shows the recommended positioning for sling and woven carriers, in a seated or frog-legged position, rather than with knees touching. Read more about healthy hip placement here. The risk of hip dysplasia is greatest in the first few months of life.
Recommended hip positioning for slings & woven carriers, from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute
I love the Moby for newborns, especially around the house. Elliott is still basically living in it. I love the Ergo for out and about, it's faster and easier to get on and off and to switch and adjust between wearers when Dad (or even grandparents) want to use it. However, I've been wanting something that is a little more organic than the Ergo, and is even easier to get on and off at home. I'd also like something that would be less restricting around my waist so I can wear it to a babywearing Hula dancing class. So I've been thinking about getting a ring sling...
Sakura Bloom ring sling - Essential Silk in chocolate/sky (no longer available)
Ring slings are quick and easy to use and come in a ton of pretty fabrics that are much more of a fashion accessory than the Moby or Ergo. They can be quite affordable or quite extravagantly expensive. Sakura Bloom is a favorite brand, along with Maya Wrap, and Tula also offers ring sling carriers. You can even get a "water" ring sling to safely carry baby in the shower or pool without them slipping and sliding out of your hands! Beachfront Baby has a nice line of slings and wraps for water activities (use common sense here, and make sure you are aware of and following all safety recommendations).
Tula carrier
Soft Structured Carriers are basically pouches that hold baby in an ergonomic seated position with a soft structure (rather than rigid), and distributes the weight onto your back and hips. The Ergo is a soft structured carrier, but there are many other brands and styles, with buckle closures or fabric that you wrap and tie (Boba! Beco! Lillebaby!). Moby now offers soft structured buckle carriers on their site; the Aria, Comfort, and GoHere is a good round up of some of the other options, including the Tula. I've never tried a Tula, but people are fanatical about them. We've been really happy with the Ergo, but it's worth testing out a few different styles to find the best fit for your body as some are more comfy if you have a long or short torso, etc.

Asian-style carriers are somewhere between a simple piece of cloth or wrap and a soft-structured carrier. They have a square of fabric and long pieces of fabric that wrap around and tie. The mei tai, podaegi, and onbu are all options. You can do a back carry with an onbuhimu style carrier (onbu)  that doesn't wrap around the waist, so it's a comfortable option for pregnant babywearing mamas.
Natibaby woven wrap in Floline
Woven Wraps are a long piece of fabric, like the Moby wrap, but are made of woven fabric rather than stretchy knit fabric like the Moby. They aren't stretchy, so can support more weight - up to and through toddlerhood (possibly up to age four or five) - and are safe for back carries, unlike the Moby. They come in a huge range of fabrics (linen, cotton, bamboo, and wool blends) and styles and prices, and are very much a fashion statement. They also come in a variety of lengths from 2 - 7 meters, which can accommodate different carries. You can also make your own, but make sure to do plenty of research on acceptable fabrics (no bedsheets!), and sizing and construction (no seams, only hems!).

Wrap Your Baby has a good breakdown of which carries you can do with which lengths of wraps; you can do all carries with the longest sizes.

I've been looking at the Dolcino wrap, myself. Didymos, Girasol, BB-Slen, and Natibaby are all popular brands as well.

There is so, so much more to know and learn, this is really just barely scratching the surface, but hopefully this helps you decide what you might be interested and what and how to explore and learn more. Babywearing is a deep and wonderful rabbit hole. Enter at your own risk!!!

Are you a baby wearer? What are your favorite carriers and resources?

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