Babywearing 101: Why I love my baby carriers and how you can get started

babywearing fun

I LOVE babywearing.

Seriously, besides diapers, my baby carrier is my #1 must-have item as a new parent.

I don’t proclaim to be an expert on babywearing, but here I’ll share with you how it’s helped me and some tips and resources to get started.

What is babywearing?

Love this Lego Babywearing mama :) Photo by Ava KC
Photo: MamAmor

“Babywearing is the practice of keeping your baby or toddler close and connected to you as you engage in daily activities through the use of one of a variety of types of baby carriers. It is a traditional practice in many cultures that is not widely used by modern industrialized societies, but it nonetheless has many benefits for both children and caregivers. Babywearing promotes bonding, supports breastfeeding, can help combat postpartum depression, makes caregiving easier, and can be a lifesaver for parents of high-needs children. Carried babies sleep, feed, and grow better. One study found that carried 6-week-olds cried 43% less than other children.” – Babywearing International

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Why do I love babywearing?

1. I have stuff to do! 

On my first maternity leave, I was completely content to snuggle my baby on the couch all day. I was an expert on all things Netflix and how to do things one-handed.

My second maternity leave has been a bit different, since now there is a 3-year-old in the mix that constantly needs a personal escort to the bathroom, wants to play outside, begs for snacks, etc. Babywearing is the next best thing to growing a second set of arms! While baby dozes in the carrier, I can make dinner, do crafts with the preschooler, or even pee all while saving my sore arms (they are tired enough from rocking the little one to sleep).

2. My baby hates the car seat 

I fantasize about taking leisurely strolls around the neighborhood in my fancy new double stroller, but baby E absolutely HATES his car seat and still doesn’t have enough head control for the regular stroller. Wearing my baby makes it possible for me to walk down to the neighborhood playground with the preschooler or log some extra steps on my FitBit I need to achieve my daily StepBet goal.

3. It’s super convenient for shopping

Have you ever tried pushing a stroller around in a store? Most aisles are teeny tiny and you can forget about getting around any clothing racks. A double stroller is even more challenging. Baby wearing is convenient. You won’t crash into displays or struggle folding up a stroller and getting it into the car while baby is screaming for attention (did I say mine hates the car seat??).

The grocery store is my favorite place to babywear. I’m honestly not sure how you’d shop without one before baby learns to sit up on their own in the cart. Do you know how many items can fit around an infant car seat in a shopping cart? It’s not many.

4. I get to snuggle my baby

5. AND he naps longer!!

When I put baby E down in the crib, he will nap for about 45 minutes, then wake up cranky. In the carrier, he sleeps about two hours and wakes up with a smile. I’m sure most parents understand the value of a baby who sleeps well and want to avoid an overtired child. For us, the solution has been babywearing.

 

How to get started:

1. Select a carrier

There are several things to consider. Why do you want to babywear? What benefits are you looking to gain? How old/big is your baby? What is your budget?

Read more here about the different types of carriers.

I have tried 3:

 

Ergo 360

I purchased this carrier while pregnant with my second child (along with the infant insert, which you are supposed to use until your babe is about 4 months.). As I write this, my youngest is 3 months, and I use it every. single. day. It’s super comfortable, sturdy, and looks nice. Little E seems to find it comfortable, as it usually puts him to sleep within 5 minutes.

I’m not the biggest fan of the clip in the back, since sometimes it can be hard to reach on my own. I also wish it had some sort of case or way to roll it up easily, since I always travel with it to the store, my daughter’s gymnastics class, etc. and hate throwing it on the floor of my minivan (since who knows what’s down there….)

Moby

I bought the Moby Wrap when my firstborn was a few weeks old. I wanted to wear her around, but she was teeny tiny (born 5.5 lbs) and was too small for the Baby Bjorn. I tell all new moms to get a Moby. It’s perfect for the littlest babes and they seem so comfy bundled up in the fetal position in the soft fabric. I used this carrier religiously with my second born until he had enough head control for the Ergo and seemed to be getting more uncomfortable in the fetal position. I haven’t tried the Moby wrap with an older infant in other positions, but I’m sure it works fine.

The only downside I found with the Moby (or any wrap) is that it can be rather complex to tie, and you sometimes have to fiddle with the fabric a bit to make sure it’s not too loose or tight. For this reason, I find a structured carrier easier to use while out and about.

Baby Bjorn

I bought this carrier with my first baby, and found it super easy to use. As I said before, I couldn’t use it until my girl grew a bit, but after that I used it for all trips to the grocery store and on walks with my dog.

I have read online that there are some people who believe the carrier doesn’t hold the baby’s hips in the right position to prevent hip dysplasia, but I’m not sure about that. The only thing I didn’t like about this carrier was the way the long straps hung down loosely.

 

2. Educate yourself on how to babywear safely

Follow T.I.C.K.S. to keep your baby safe:

Image result for babywearing ticks

Find a local Babywearing International chapter.

They have local support groups focused on babywearing education and can help with positioning, safety, etc.

3. Focus on ergonomics

Read the carrier’s manual to ensure you are using the carrier appropriately. Your back shouldn’t hurt. Contact a consultant or attend a local International Babywearing Chapter meeting if you need help.

In my experience, the carrier will be most comfortable for you  if:

  • Baby is close to you – meaning the straps are tight and baby is nestled close to your body, not hanging away in the carrier. If baby is sleeping, gravity should take him near your chest/back, not against the carrier.
  • Baby is high up – meaning you can kiss the top of baby’s head. If baby is too low and the weight is pulling your shoulders down, it likely will be uncomfortable to wear for very long.
  • Shoulder straps are the same length and evenly distributed

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute recommends wearing baby with his/her hips in the M-position  (right picture below) to encourage healthy hip development.

I encourage you to read more on babywearing on Babywearing International’s site

 

Hope you enjoyed reading. Happy Babywearing!

-ML

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