Monday, May 13, 2013

All the Advice I Have to Give about Babywearing

As a baby-wearing mom of four, I loved reading Lili Kalish Gersch expert opinion on the subject. She hits the nail on the head with all of her great advice, tips, and recommendations. Baby-wearing can be a daunting experience with all of the different options and price tags. Today, the industry is booming, and information is easily available when you are ready to chose a carrier.

In my case, some people collect handbags, but I collect baby carriers and my personal favorites depend on who I am carrying and what we'll be doing. I love our easy to use soft-structured carrier for my chunky six-month-old son and a ring sling in a hip carry position with my thirty-five pound toddler Stella.

Read and print out the entire Crib Sheet about babywearing now.

Why Should I Wear My Baby? Have you heard of the fourth trimester? Basically, it is the notion that after spending forty weeks snuggly inside of the womb, the first three months on the outside is an adjustment period for both mom and baby.  One of the best ways to provide those extra snuggles and loving is to wear your baby close. If you ask my husband, he'll tell you that he likes baby-wearing because, “stroller are a pain” and “it sure beats chasing the toddler around a busy space.” Said perfectly, I agree that baby-wearing doesn't have to be all or nothing, even if you are attachment parenting. Do what works for you, if it is more convenient to grab the stroller or use the cart at the grocery store then that is totally fine too!

Where Can I Get One? The good news is that baby carriers are quickly becoming a favorite when it comes to planning a list of must haves. This has sparked the industry to really take off – making many options available in types and costs. Secretly, my favorite places to hunt down a coveted carrier is Craigslist, swap groups, or by putting a “in search of” out into the social universe. I agree that Amazon, Ebay, and sometimes Target have a good variety, but when I have friends looking for more affordable options, I always point them to Etsy.  You would be so surprised by how many mamas have created some amazing carriers of all types!
Choosing A Carrier: I would give the same recommendations as Lili Kalish Gersch! A soft stretchy wrap is best for infancy.  While a soft-structured carrier is a great “one fits all” option, I always like to bring up the forgotten ring sling. The ring sling is comfortable, almost always affordable, offers so many carry options, is my favorite to breastfeed in (all that extra fabric hanging down is a built in cover!), and comes in some fun color and fabric options. Recently I also discovered that the infant insert that is available for purchase works with many types of carriers aside from the one it is marketed with. I used mine in a mei tai and conversion wrap as well. Can't afford the insert? Don't let anyone fool you, a rolled up blanket works just as well in most cases!
How Can I Do This? I couldn't agree more with Lili - “Knowing is half the battle.” Manuals are your best friend and these days you can easily look them up online. More complicated carrier with many position options usually come with a DVD, and if it didn't, then YouTube will most likely have an abundance of visual tutorials for you. Sometimes when we are at a playdate, a mama will pull out her carrier and ask for advice or for someone to check if she is using it right. So, don't be afraid to ask your “expert” friends too!

Safely And Comfortably Baby-Wearing: 
I agree with Lili, there is a right and wrong way to wear your baby so just remember these few tips and you should be okay!
  • Close enough to kiss.
  • Never with their head resting on their chest.
  • Knees higher then butt!
  • Head well supported.
  • Absolutely no fabric covering baby's face.
Baby-wearing is meant to mimic the way we hold our babies. When you scoop your newborn up they will automatically pull their legs up into a “frog” position, which is most natural and comfortable to them. Avoid a carrier that cannot offer this position to your baby - often called “crotch danglers” - because these carriers can possibly lead to hip, leg, and spine problems.
My Baby Hates It! I love Lili's take: “Babies smell fear.” They totally do! My son doesn't always love being worn or quits loving it after just a little while. The best thing you can do is to keep moving forward. Play with your carrier around the house for a dress rehearsal before you rely on it out and about. Try all the positions at home along with your baby. One thing I know for sure is that babies are fickle; one week, my son loves this carrier and the next week, he loves the one he hated a month ago.  This is why it is really nice to have an option or two on hand.
Before You Buy! The best advice that I can pass along is to try before you buy! Thankfully, with a rise in interest in baby-wearing, a lot of baby boutiques offer the opportunity to do just that. Borrow a baby, bring your toddler... or if you're in a pinch... bring a sack of sugar and get a good feel for how the weight will be distributed on your particular body type. Then think, is it easy to operate? Can I buckle this with one hand? Does it have pockets for extra pacifiers? The worst thing you can do is hand over a hundred plus dollars and then hate the carrier you choose.

Check with your community recreation department or birth center too. I know my doula offers classes where you can get a hands on approach to learning about all the carriers out there, how to use them safely, and try some on before the class is over. I have even had luck finding comparison charts just like the ones we use when we chose a new cellphone!

What is your favorite carrier? Or what one would you love to get your hands on to try?

This post is part of the Absolute Beginners editorial series, made possible by Pampers and BlogHer. Our advertisers do not produce or approve editorial content.


melissa rohr said...

What a wonderful and very useful post! Thank you! I love the idea of the "fourth trimester" too <3 Will be using your tips for sure.