The day I first wrapped my baby up close to my body and read a book as she slept, I had a whole new outlook on being a mom. Those first few weeks felt scary and new, when I wasn’t holding her, I was waiting for her to wake up. I was afraid to start doing the dishes or reading for pleasure because I knew as soon as I picked up a sponge or a book, I would hear her cry.
“How did you do it?” I asked my mom one day.
“I just had you strapped to me at all times,” she said, “you were happy and I could get things done.”
It made perfect sense. We tried out the baby carrier I’d gotten from my registry. Taking it out of the box, I didn’t know how I would figure out which strap went where and how to put the baby in without her ending up on the floor. Once I read the instructions and felt comfortable, I put her in the wrap. We did a lap around the living room as I rocked her back and forth, my hands needing only to rub her back, and she fell asleep for two whole hours.
The Benefits of Babywearing
Having your hands free is a huge babywearing perk, but it’s only a small benefit. “The fourth trimester,” known as the first three months of life, are an extension of the baby’s time in the womb. The baby needs to eat, sleep, and feel touch. In the womb, the newborn felt tight and safe, there was the booming of mom’s heart and the comforting sound of her voice. It is a shock when the baby exits the womb, suddenly they are in open space without constant movement or the sound of mom’s heart.
Babywearing got me through plane rides, dinner dates, movies, house cleaning, studying for grad school finals, workouts, hikes, walking the dogs, and my first year of motherhood. The ease of being active while wearing my baby and minimal crying were just perks that came along with having her right there. She snuggled close and comfortable throughout the day on me.
What to Wear?
Babywearing can seem very intimidating, which is why I avoided wearing my baby (and any and all housework) for two weeks. The first time I took the carrier out of the box, it looked like endless buckles and straps. Of course, at that time, I was living on minimal food and sleep so everything seemed more complicated than it needed to be. How do you know what’s best for you? Wrap or carrier, side sling or front wrap, front carrier or back carrier? With so many options, here is some info to guide you to make your decision:
I loved using the wrap for many reasons. The tight fabric seemed as though it was giving the baby a hug, giving her the womb-like sense of security. I also liked how comfortable it was. I could wrap it up and wear it comfortably in the car, knowing I would place her in it when we reached our destination. The fabric is lightweight and breathable for me and the baby during the hot Texas summer. It seemed to work like a magic sleep inducer, I would put her in the wrap, walk around rythmically and she would drift off to sleep.
I used the Solly Baby wrap. I loved the lightweight fabric, cute colors, and the tutorial videos! It’s daunting holding up the long piece of fabric and wondering how the heck to wrap it so it holds your baby securely. I loved that the wrap came with clear instructions and YouTube tutorials to be sure I got it right. For me, there were no cons to this wrap. There is less fabric than other wraps but a wrap in general might be daunting before you figure out how it wraps. The Solly Baby allows you to wear your baby up to 25 lbs. I still use it when little one is having trouble going down for a nap.
The Moby Wrap was one of the first wraps to be widely used and is a go-to for many mamas. Similar to the Solly Baby, it wraps baby facing toward you. There is more fabric to the Moby which can be a plus or minus. Some caretakers feel the extra fabric makes the baby feel more secure. Or the extra fabric can be too hot for baby in the summer months.
The Baby K’tan is a favorite for parents as the instructions are easiest to follow. It comes in a loop so there is minimal wrapping involved but gives the same tight security as the prior wraps. The fabric can be thicker, which isn’t great for Texas summers.
Many parents love baby slings because they’re easy to use, you simply sling it across your body. They also work well for bigger babies. Many parents find the sling to be easier on their backs and easier to hold larger babies than a wrap.
The Balboa Baby Sling is one of the most popular slings. It adjusts to four different positions and comes in different colors and designs. Caretakers recommend this sling for babies who are able to hold their heads up as there is minimal head and neck support.
Carriers are wonderful if you are navigating non stroller territory or if you like to wear your little one rather than use a stroller. I use our carrier more than our strollers because I like to have my little close. I find it allows us more interaction — we can view the world together. Each carrier is different and is made for a different person. Do you want it to have good back support for long hikes? Zipper pockets to keep items you might need? These are all things to think about before making your decision.
Infantino makes many different style carriers. We loved their Flip Advance for when our girl was smaller. Again, the lightweight fabric won us over due to those crazy Texas summers.
I realized it was time to upgrade our front carrier when our daughter was 10 months. When a mommy playdate recommended we wear our littles on our backs for a hike and I realized my carrier didn’t have that capability. We upgraded to the ErgoBaby, which takes pressure off my back. Use different carrying positions that include back and side, and pick a cute color (we got the polka dotted one). I still use the carrier more often than the stroller as it’s easier to take around and we like to be active.
The BabyBjorn is another carrier that is very popular. Both the ErgoBaby and BabyBjorn grow with your baby and some designs can hold toddlers up to 36 months old. The ErgoBaby tends to have better joint support for baby’s legs while BabyBjorn may be harmful. The BabyBjorn has excellent back support and continues to be one of the most popular styles of carrier.
However you choose to carry your baby, certain safety hazards stay constant:
- Your baby should always be at a “kissable” distance meaning if you bend your head down, you can kiss their forehead.
- Baby’s face should be visible at all times to ensure they are getting enough oxygen and all airways are free and clear.
- Do not fall asleep with baby in a carrier.
- When wrapping newborns, you should be able to stick two fingers under their chin — their head should be up rather than down.
- Follow the instructions of your baby carrier. Make sure you are wearing your baby only in the ways listed in your carrier manual.
Babywearing can be a wonderful and magical thing if it is right for you and your little. They are only little for so long and in those days we should hold them close and soak in all the moments we can.