Friday, January 13, 2012

The Basics of Babywearing

I already talk about babywearing on here a lot, so forgive me if you're an experienced baby wearer, or just not interested at all, but it's such a HUGE part of my life and HUGE part of my parenting style, I have to try and share the love!

I'm writing this post because I feel like I've either emailed or facebook messaged this to several of my friends in the past few months, so I thought it would be nice to just direct them here instead of typing it out numerous times! And maybe you can do the same for your friends if asked. :)

If you are pregnant, or have a newborn, go ahead and start reading here. If you have an older baby (15lbs+) skip ahead a paragraph! If you already know about babywearing, but want my money-saving tips, skip to the bottom!

My number one choice for a newborn carrier is a Moby wrap or a Boba wrap (same concept, two different companies).  This wrap is made out of a t-shirt like material. You don't have to treat it special (like you would have to with a non-stretchy woven wrap) and apparently it's perfect for newborn snuggles. I never had one with Keevia (mainly because I'm cheap, and they aren't) but I've managed to score two for this new baby. I love wrapping, and I think a stretchy wrap would be PERFECT for tiny ones! There IS a learning curve for a wrap of any kind, but finding someone who has used it before, or merely spending a few minutes on Youtube can usually help! I tried out one of my wraps at a babywearing meeting this week and I cannot WAIT for my little girl to get here! The only downside to this wrap is that it IS a stretchy wrap. Therefore a lot of moms have complained about it not being comfortable past 15 lbs (although moms I talked to at the meeting were wearing 1 and 2 year olds in them!). You can also use smaller Mei Tei's for newborns (which is what we did with Keevia. She made her babywearing debut in a Wal-Mart at 2 days old in a home-made Mei Tei!). I do NOT recommend using a Bjorn or Snugli style carrier (these carriers have whats called "crotch dangle" which is A) not comfy for mama and B) can be detrimental to baby's spine) nor a pouch sling. I have absolutely no experience with ring slings (something I need to try, ha!).

If you have a bigger baby, a stretchy wrap may not be your best option. If you're looking to transition into baby wearing, or out of a stretchy, you have a TON of options. If you wrapped with your newborn and simply adored it, you may want to look into a woven wrap. While these can be the priciest of carriers, they can also go from birth until the end of your babywearing days. I don't personally own a woven wrap (I would LOVE to, but just don't right now) I have numerous babywearing friends who swear by them. The difference between a woven wrap and a stretchy wrap is simple. Moby and Boba wraps, which are made out of a stretchy t-shirt like material, well, they stretch -- a lot sometimes, and that causes them to be less supportive with an older child. A woven wrap does NOT stretch (or has very minimal stretch) and allows you to wear throughout your toddler years. There are a TON of options with a woven wrap, from brand, to colors, to the material it's made out of. I've heard at a 100% cotton wrap is recommended for beginners. Some brands to look into are Didymos, Girasol and Vatanai. There are also a variety of sizes when it comes to wrapping. It's kind of overwhelming when you first start looking into it... but wrapping is definitely the most versatile of carriers. You can wear the baby on your front, back, or hip, and there are numerous "carries" for each position. Again, youtube is your friend! :)

If wraps are a little too daunting for your taste, then a Asian Inspired or Soft-Structured carrier may be a better choice for you. In my opinion, these are the most user friendly. All of these carriers snap on at your waist (just like, say, a fanny pack) then you sit the baby against your chest (or your back for an older baby) and pull the carrier up over your arms. They wear just like a backpack (if you're doing a back carry), and are very comfy. They all include a "chest clip" that clips to ensure the straps don't slip off your shoulders and also adds more support. I own (or have owned) four of the major brands. They're very similar, but have a lot small differences. The ones I own are the Boba 2g (I now own a 3g, but a review will have to wait until this little lady makes her appearance!), Beco Butterfly 1 (Ahem, I would really like to try out a Gemini....) and a Ergo Carrier. I also own an Onya Baby Carrier, but as of yet haven't really got to use it (I have to purchase the waist extender and just haven't done so yet...). Check out my reviews of the Boba, and the Beco & Ergo. All of these carriers are anywhere from $125-150 when purchased new. With the Boba 3g and the Beco Butterfly 2, you can go from birth (7-8 lbs) through toddlerhood. With the Ergo, you need to purchase an additional infant insert. The Onya is only marketed for 15lbs+ (The Boba 2g is the same way). Onya recommends you use as wrap for the newborn stages. The MAJOR difference between these carriers is the rise (how tall) the carrier is. Onya baby has made up this great, handy little chart that is oh so helpful! That chart also gives you an idea of HOW MANY different SSC's there are. I simply listed the ones I own (or have tried).

The Beco Butterfly (I'm unsure about the Gemini) has a inner harness that allows you to get the baby on your back with less stress. However, if you plan on nursing in the Beco, it is slightly more difficult to do. The Onya has a neat little feature that allows you to use the carrier as a high chair by using certain buckles. The Onya and the Beco Gemini allow you to criss-cross the straps when using a front carry for extra support. The Boba 3g also has a hand dandy purse strap thing that lets you snap your purse/diaper bag straps onto the shoulder of the carrier. SO nice.

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend either doing a carrier trial (both Heavenly Hold & PAXBaby do this) or finding a baby wearing meeting near you. All of these carriers have their positives and negatives, but honestly, you need to find which one works for YOU and fits YOU the best. The Ergo does NOT work for my body type. The Boba does. I have friends who are the exact opposite. I had HUGE buyers remorse on my Ergo because it fit me so poorly, but they fit other mamas perfectly! It's not a fault with the carrier in any way, it's just that certain carriers fit certain body styles better. So please, before you buy, either do an $8 trial (through Heavenly Hold) or buy through PAX where you can return it within 90 days. Or, like I said, go to a babywearers meeting. I went to my first one earlier this week, and would have been able to try both a Boba and a Beco there. Most places that sell them also let you try them on, HOWEVER, make sure that you put your baby IN it and let them STAY in it for at least 10+ minutes. That's the only way you will know if it works or not. Seriously DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!

Now, I realize you're a new mom. And I realize that all these carriers I listed cost $40+. That's if you buy them new. I have purchased one carrier (my Ergo) at full price. The rest of them I have either won (Onya and Boba 3g) bought on sale (Boba 2g from Zulily), or purchased used (Moby and Beco Butterfly). You have to be patient, and you have to be watchful. Stalk your local children's resale places. I scored a Moby at Once Upon a Child for $20 earlier this week. Stalk Craig's List if you live in a city. Stalk Spot's Corner (as of right now there are Beco's and a Ergo on there for around $60, and a Babyhawk Mei Tei for $50).  Join The Baby Wearer and stalk their For Sale or Trade forums. You may not be able to get the EXACT pattern you want (unless you're patient, or lucky), but you probably will get a fantastic deal (half off or better!). Spot's is probably my top choice here. I see Beco's on there ALL the time, and have seen numerous Ergo's and Boba's recently too. There have even been wraps on there. Save up your money ($50-80 or whatever you're willing to spend) and then be ready to POUNCE.

So... that's babywearing in a nutshell. Stay away from Bjorn's and Snugli's. Invest in a good carrier and you will thank yourself SO MANY TIMES OVER! And please, PLEASE email me if you have any questions! Feel free to leave comments as well, but if you want a response, make sure your email is listed in your profile!

1 comment:

  1. After Baby Girl #2 gets here I'd love to see some pics of you wearing Keevia. Now that NR's bigger, I don't wear her as much and that's partially due to not really knowing how to wear an older child. I know YouTube's my friend on this...but so are you! ;) Great post, btw!


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