Babywearing 101*

Let’s begin this lesson with the fact that I am not an expert.  I’m just a lady who has worn a few slings in my day.

Also, it must be noted that I do not wear my baby all day.  Those who are strong enough to do so were probably professional wrestlers or trapeze artists before they got knocked up. Weight lifters?  Yogis?  Babies are heavy, man.  Especially sleeping ones.  Especially my sleeping one whose nickname might just change from Trucker to Truck someday soon. ( An incredibly cute Truck, mind you.  But a Truck nonetheless.)

When Cakie was a wee babe of fiveish pounds, a friend gave us a whole pile of slings.  I had envisioned carrying him around in our Baby Bjorn, but the baby needed to be at least eight pounds for that.

My favorite sling when he was fiveish pounds was one that was basically a big pocket or a handbag you could just drop baby into and go, much like this one, the New Native.  It was easy to put on, the baby seemed very comfortable, and it almost looked as though he was in the womb, which was great fun for this non-bio mom.  Until he put on three or four more pounds.  Do you have a bike messenger-type bag?  Fill it with concrete and sling it over your shoulder.  Then walk around Prospect Park.  Then go to your chiropractor.  That’s what it felt like when he got a little bigger.

So we moved on the the Baby Bjorn.  You see lots of folks with this one.  It is arguably the most main-stream baby wearing device on the market.  Probably because it is pretty darn easy to use.  It also looks a little more like a briefcase than a hippy-dippy shawl, so maybe more people feel comfortable strapping one on, so to speak.  Hard-core baby wearing zealots (nope, not me) do not love the Bjorn because the baby is basically held away from your body.  The point of baby-wearing for those who think of it as a philosophy, is that the baby feels closer to you, returning to the womb-like state he had when in, well, the womb.  Thus enabling the baby and the wearer to bond.  The Bjorn is more like a carrying device, than a bonding tool.  Though I beg to differ a little bit.  It is much more bond-y than a stroller.  AND when the person wearing it starts to ache from the inevitable pain the the back the carrying device causes, he or she will seek out alternate, more crunchy granola baby wearing possibilities, and thus bond more later on.  Or throw the kid in the stroller.  I don’t love the Bjorn because it maybe has just a few weeks of wearable time before it starts to hurt your back like crazy.  That said, it does have a way to wear the baby facing out, which most other slings and wraps lack.  And the babies, they love to face out.

We took a babywearing class at a local baby store and ended up purchasing a ring sling.  These also seem to be pretty popular with the more crunchy baby-wearing crowd.  I was down with it.  Prepared.  Ready to take on the sling world with my ring sling.  Then I tried to put it on.  There was a video.  I remember watching certain parts of it seven to ten times.  And I didn’t even have mommy brain back then, one of the many advantages to being the non-bio co-mom, BTW.  I think I figured it out and used it a few times, but I honestly could not remember how it worked. It also hurt my back a lot. I think it is still in the closet.  That said, several of my friends did manage to figure it out and used it even when their babes got pretty big.  So I guess they are just smarter than I am.  Because when Lo asked me to help her put hers on, I think I just laughed weakly and asked her if she had the video.

Moving on… the best babywearing money we spent hands down, was spent on the Ergo carrier.  It is the only baby wearing contraption that does not hurt my back.  We were able to carry Cakie in it well into his second year of life.  That said, Trucker seems to be an in Ergo no-babies-land right now.  They have an infant insert…aka, blanket, that is supposed to make it work for little babies.  Let me tell you this, it does work.  But it is awkward.  It just is.  And it does hurt my back because all of the baby’s weight is on one side.  Trucker is a little too big for the insert.  But he’s a little too small to not use it.  Once he’s big enough, this will be my carrier of choice.  If you are pregnant, register for it.  For reals, girls.  It rocks.

My other favorite, the one I’m wearing right now, is the Moby Wrap.  Or as some people call it: the-one-that-is-really-just-a-really-long-piece-of-cloth.  Yeah, that one. It doesn’t have any hooks or rings or clasps or webbing.  It is just a big piece of cloth.  That makes it very comfortable.  It also has that same womb-like effect.  It feels very secure, if tied right.  It also immediately puts my baby to sleep, which is great when he’s cranky and doesn’t want to be put down.  You can both not put him down, and make him feel less cranky and, ahem,  post to your blog.  The drawback to the Moby is that it is a really long piece of cloth.  It is really, really long.  So it is best put on in your home where you know the floors are clean, or at least the dirt on the floors is your dirt.  It is a little time-consuming to wrap onto yourself.  So if the baby is screaming bloody murder, you’ll have to listen to the howls a few more seconds than easier-to-adorn slings or carriers.  Once I put the wrap on, I just leave it on, even if I take the baby out.  Then it looks like I’m wearing a strange scarf-type shirt.  It is on the boarder between looking cool and looking weird, which kind of sums me up anyway. But at least I don’t have to wrap it around myself again!  Trucker’s also a little bit in Moby limbo.  He was fine for the wraps in which he had to froggy up his legs.  But now he doesn’t like to froggy up so much, but he also is not as fond of the non-froggying wraps.  Sigh.  Everything is an adjustment, I suppose.  Oh, and the Moby is way cheaper than a lot of other wraps and slings.  Proabably because it is just a long piece of, well, you know.

I’ll leave you with one more thought,  you will see, if you look for wraps and slings, some pretty gorgeous slings made of some lovely dry clean only fabrics.  Unless your kid’s name is Apple, or Shiloh, or Denim (do you see where I’m headed?) don’t buy them.  Kids puke, yo.  You need to be able to toss that thing in the washer.

Do you have a sling or wrap not mentioned here that people should know about?  Do tell.

*This post is deidicated to my friends and readers, S and MER, whose backs are starting to hurt.

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12 Comments

Filed under baby gear, Trucker

12 responses to “Babywearing 101*

  1. Early for us yet, but I am totally digging the E.rgo C.arrier. Thanks for the review!

  2. goldengrrrl

    Back in the olden days when you were a wee one I simply wrapped you in my arms. No other options then except for a hugh back pack kind of thing which was only useful if someone else put you in it and once there, you were pretty much on your own because you were out of reach. It was only used a few times. The last time was on a shopping trip to Pottery Barn where you enjoyed picking glasses off of the shelf and dropping them on the floor unbeknownst to me. At glass # five I finally realized that crashing sound was coming from directly behind me. Good thing you were an adorable little red headed baby who loved to smile at everyone. The store personal were very understanding. We paid for the glasses and hightailed it out of there. You were delighted with the entire episode.

  3. sn

    so flattered! and appreciative–thanks so much for the info and the back salvation.

    the moby has been ordered. how very delightful that the long piece of fabric also has sleep-inducing properties.

    it is very fun that your mom comments on your blog. hi, goldengrrrl!

  4. mer

    ohh, thanks for the dedication. 🙂 what a super-useful post. wish i’d known more about the moby sooner. you are so right about the bjorn. i almost stopped two blocks from our house and pulled our sleeping baby out of it because my shoulder was killing so much (and she is not an easy one to put to sleep)!

  5. Great Article! The secret to making any sling comfortable is to carry your baby high and tight. I wear them close to my body not so much for bonding, but for my own comfort. If they are close to your center of gravity they will not feel as heavy.

    Also, the upright (facing in) position works best for most babies.

    Last, you want the weight of the straps to be on the outside (ball) of your shoulder, not on the muscles on the top of your shoulder, otherwise, it may strain your neck.

    I’m glad you found 2 of my favorite carriers: the Moby & the Ergo.

    Marni
    http://www.theSlingStation.com

  6. vee

    Fantastic. We’ve been talking slings, but jay has an intermittent bad shoulder, so is somewhat reluctant – your review should help us narrow down our choices.

  7. Jen

    I’m 6 months pregnant and have been reading lots about babywearing gear. Thanks for your description of your experiences! And I love the Pottery Barn story–it’s great to have a parent available to tell embarrassing stories even on the web…

    My partner and I have settled on the Beco Butterfly. It’s supposed to have some of the same advantages as the Ergo (like it’s easier to figure out than the Moby and it works for tiny babies all the way to toddlers). But it is made in the US. And comes in lots of pretty fabrics 🙂

  8. Kim

    Thanks so much. I am pregnant with number 2 and trying to avoid that whole double stroller thing. I keep stupidly thinking, “I will just wear the baby for a while.” But you reminded me that my back might not go for that. So as a former user of the bjorn, I am interested to see what else is out there and what other options I have. This was the perfect post for me. Thanks!

  9. Bri

    My two favorites are the Moby and the Ergo, though I haven’t used the Moby since he was about 6 months – too squirmy!

    I loved the infant insert but found the sideways position impossible. We just stuffed Beck in and let him fold his legs under him like a frog.

    There was an Ergo no-baby-land for us when he was too big for the insert but his legs weren’t quite comfy straddling us yet. It was brief, though.

  10. Lo

    We also love the Ergo. We have Scootababy, which might not be great as an only carrier, but is great for larger women, and has a side carry that I find comfortable now that J. is a big guy.

  11. Thank you for your reviews. We are totally sold on the ergo and the moby… I have been wanting those two carriers since last November. I am excited to hear you really like them.

  12. This post cracks me up, but it’s also completely practical. Thanks for helping us figure out our baby-wearing issues!

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