Thursday, September 27, 2007

Baby Wearing

Are you a baby wearer?

Since Ewan's birth I have become a consumer of baby carriers. Someone from our Bradley class introduced me to the idea of having a sling to carry the baby in. Of course everyone knows about the Baby Bjorn and we got one of those but there was something appealing to a more non-Western way of holding and wearing my baby. I have to admit that when I first learned about it, it seemed like the cool, hip thing that naturally minded folks do. Now that I have 3 kids I love the benefits and versatility of wearing the little munchkins around.

When Ewan was born I bought the Native American Baby Carrier. He didn't like it too much as a newborn but did like it when he was about 4 months old. We used it quite a bit as well as the Baby Bjorn. The Baby Bjorn wasn't as helpful once Ewan got older. He was too heavy to carry comfortably and we used the Native American Baby Carrier on occasion.

When Isaac came along I carried him around ALL day in the Baby Bjorn because he had to sleep upright due to reflux and that he did not want to sleep apart from me. He also did not like the NABC as a newborn.

When we moved to Dallas I was more interested in trying some different kinds of slings. One of my friends in the neighborhood made (and still does) Mei Tai slings. They are great! Of course Isaac and Ewan were already 2 and 3 years old but it didn't stop me from using it. We took it to Canada and used the sling to carry the boys in while we went hunting for frogs and hiking. The Mei Tai can be used to carry babes on your back or front and the boys loved riding in it.

Once Isaac reached 35 pounds the Mei Tai was harder to use and was more uncomfortable--only because carrying 35 pounds is hard no matter how you slice it. I wanted to try a wrap sling that could do a hip carry. I decided to wait until I was pregnant again to purchase an Ellaroo wrap. These slings can also do different holds--hip, back, front, newborn depending on what size you get. I was interested in a wrap length that would do a hip hold. I was very excited about my sling but discovered once Graham was born that the length I chose was not long enough to do a newborn carry. I have to wait until he is older so I can do a hip carry.

One of my friends from my small group here in Pittsburgh was given a Moby Stretch Wrap. She let me try it and I was sold just by looking at all the different carries you can do from the directions! Not only that but cost wise, it is the least expensive sling and you can wear the baby in so many different ways. I hear from others that it is good until the babies get to be in the 20+ pound range because once the baby gets that big it stretches out easily. For now I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this sling! It is so easy to use--although it looks intimidating at first. Graham loves it. He usually falls asleep in it right away and stays warm and cozy. Jon even likes wearing it and can put the sling on and stick Graham in it all by himself!

The benefits of baby wearing are that it makes it easy to get some things done especially when babies like to be held so much. Baby wearing makes it easier when you have a fussy baby. Babies cry less when they are held and baby wearing even helps stimulate/boost your milk supply, and of course it promotes bonding with your baby.

I can't wear Graham around ALL day because I start to go crazy but it works awesome for grocery shopping, running errands, going for walks etc. My kids never liked being in their car seats and I have always hated lugging the infant car seat around everywhere. It is bulky and heavy and makes you contort your body in ways that you aren't supposed to. We leave ours in the car and I use the sling to carry Graham around everywhere when we are out and about. I find that people also tend not to touch my baby when I am wearing him because it invades my personal space. When the babies are in car seats it is very inviting for small kids and adults alike to spread their germs on your baby. I am a little sensitive about that so it works well for me.

I am now a huge fan of baby wearing. Some women have figured out how to wear their babies and nurse at the same time. I haven't got there yet but if we can figure that one out it will make grocery store excursions a lot easier! Another cool thing is that baby wearing is great for taking baby out for a walk. You carry around the extra weight which also burns more calories. Say good-bye to that extra leftover baby weight.

I think the hardest thing about baby wearing is choosing the right one. Common stores like Target or Babies R Us don't carry all the different kinds of slings and wraps. If you are interested in baby wearing see if you can find someone who will do a presentation and let you try on their slings to see which one you like the most. It is definitely worth it!


Dawn said...

I agree with that last paragraph; we bought 3 different kinds of carriers and the only one that works for us is the Snugli, which is, incidentally, the least expensive of them all. I wish we could have trial runs before committing to buying any particular kind.

Sharon M said...

Most of my friends in the ME just went to the cloth store and bought 5-6 meters of cloth and did a "homemade" moby wrap. I decided to do the same thing when we moved here. It ended up costing about 1/3 of the price and works great. I had to taper the ends myself, but since I bought the jersey cotton knit fabric, I don't have to sew it or worry about the ends fraying. I have an extra one if anybody wants to try it...

BTW, there are instructions on Moby wrap's website so you can learn to tie it yourself. And I agree Amelia, I've tried several carriers and I like this one the best! It just takes a little patience and practice, but I think it works the longest. I had to stop using the Baby Bjorn after 4 or 5 months.

Jenny said...

Joaquin lived in the Bjorn when he was a baby. He was kind of a skinny kid so he was in that until he was about 10 months old. I bought some cloth in Guatemala and asked some of the women there to teach me to tie it - rebozo style like they do there. Each woman had her own way and everyone said that my cloth wouldn't work. So once I got back to the states I had part of the cloth made into a Mei Tai. By that time Joaquin wasn't much into being carried so I saved it for Frida. But then it didn't seem to work very well for newborns (not enough head support). Finally I bought a Hotsling. I love it! I wish I had bought it earlier. By the time I got it Frida was too big for a cradle hold. But she sat in a front carry for a while and now that she's bigger it is soooo convinient for a hip carry. I like it because it sits higher than most slings (easier on your back). We still use the Mei Tai on fussy days when I'm making dinner or washing dishes and she insists on being held. We use it mainly for a back carry. I even went on a hike with her in it a few weeks ago and it worked great. The only thing that bothers me is all the tying. I have to get it just right and tight. Sometimes I have to retie 2 and 3 times and that’s hard with a baby balancing on your back. A friend of mine has an Ergo baby carrier. How I wish we would have known about these when we were in Central America. I kinda wish I had one right now. But I hate do bring it up to Jake he’d say something like - another carrier!? But I'm with ya on the baby wearing thing.

Amanda said...

I have been wondering about a sling type carrier. I use our Baby Bjorn with Annabelle all the time, but I have thought about getting a sling. When we go to the Philippines I know I will stick out like a sore thumb using my Baby Bjorn. Laura Abrams showed me a piece of material that the women in the Philippines use for everything. One of the uses is a baby sling. I am hoping to get one there and build trust with someone by them teaching me how to use it. But I also thought about getting a sling before I go. I just think they are really cool. Thanks for the info.

Kelly said...

I briefly used an older Snugli model with Melodee, but it was uncomfortable. I have a larger chest, and the extra weight on my shoulders was uncomfortable. I've been using it again with Kaitlyn (arm-carrying Kaitlyn in the car seat and holding on to three-year old Mel is NOT an option). After about 20 minutes of walking my shoulders start aching and my lower back starts cramping. I've been longing for some other kind of carrier, but I did not want to fork over $30 to $40 dollars for an item I've never even tried out. So, we went to Houston this weekend to finish Abner's passport paperwork and stayed with my uncle and aunt in Katy. On the Moby website I saw a vendor who lives there...I made an appointment, saw the demo, tried it out, loved it...BOUGHT it! I love how the material splays out over the shoulder and back - less stress. Of course Kaitlyn fit perfectly, but Melodee even sat in it (front carry and back carry)!! She was so much lighter than holding her in my arms! Of course the real test will be walking around for an extended period of time, but I am so excited about the relief it promises. I would make one myself, but I have no sewing skills - nor the patience - to put one together. Amelia, thanks for the baby wearing ideas and resources!

Spike said...

I had a Baby Bjorn but didn't care for it much and never ended up getting another carrier. Once I had the twins it wouldn't have been very useful anyway b/c I couldn't carry both w/o breaking my back! Anyway, glad things are going well with your family, and new addition. Babies are such a blessing! BTW, I don't have an e-mail address for you other than thru MySpace... e-mail me when you get a free moment (ha, ha)... I hate to loose contact with an old friend especially after all these years! Hugs, Andrea

Ginger said...

I loved the Ergo carrier for my adopted toddler. Helped so much with bonding and didn't kill my back!

amelia said...

I have heard great things about the Ergo. I haven't ever seen one up close and tried one on.

Kelly--I am glad you found a good sling that works for you. I think someone could make some pocket cash if they went around demonstrating how all the slings work. I do love the Moby. I use it every day.

Sharon--I thought about making one but I didn't think I had the ability to do it. It is probably the easiest one to make on your own--especially without sewing!