July 17, 2012 by Leah
In the spirit of reporting on how the use of all that exhaustively-researched baby stuff (remember the baby checklist?) is going, I’ll take a look at baby carriers (which I believe I filed under “mobility” on that checklist) today.
I ended up with two stretchy Moby wraps (5.5 meters long), one woven wrap (Didymos size 5, so 4.2 meters long), an Ergo (organic, and, per Aaron’s request, navy blue), and a linen ring sling (made for me by my awesome friend Leigh Anne). Certainly, one family could get by with one baby carrier (if you’re going to do that, I’d suggest the Ergo), but I’ve been having a great time with this embarrassment of riches.
I’d practiced wrapping the Moby on our baby cousin when I was still in my second trimester (thanks to a suggestion from my friend Kristina – it’s hard to wrap a Moby when you’re eight months along), so when E. was born, I started with that. I did not brush up on my wrapping skills, and started out doing a front wrap cross carry rather than the suggested pocket wrap cross carry (I’m using terminology from wrapyourbaby.com just because I like their picture tutorials). Once I figured out that I was doing it “wrong,” I went back to the Moby-approved pocket wrap cross carry, but it didn’t matter. E. was not a fan of the Moby unless he was asleep. I would stick him in it in the mornings (before it got too hot) to clean the kitchen and whatnot, anyway, but eventually I got a little tired of wrapping all that fabric.
I tried the ring sling on, I think, day four of E.’s life. I carefully read the instructions Leigh Anne sent with the sling, and it took me about two tries to get everything properly situated. From that point on, though, the ring sling became my go-to carrier for running errands. (We got a convertible car seat rather than an infant travel system, so we don’t have to upgrade after only a year. This worked particularly well since E. was a big baby, but as we were unaware he would be a big baby, the situation was just serendipitous.) It’s really easy to get E. in and out of the sling and to tighten it appropriately, thanks to the rings. Plus, Leigh Anne added a pocket on the tail, so I didn’t need to haul my purse into the grocery store.
During our first meal out, I discovered that the ring sling is ideal for nursing, too. I just loosened it and flipped the baby sideways. The sling supported the baby while he nursed and provided a nice privacy shield for a somewhat terrified new mom – and I still had a hand free with which to eat my breakfast. (Note, if you’re going to do this, say, in church, when you’re sitting next to someone to whom you are NOT related, you might want to use a blanket to provide a little more covering.)
The Ergo is designed so that baby’s will be carried in a position that is ergonomically correct and supports healthy hip, pelvis, and spine growth (per their tagline). This is as opposed to, say, Baby Bjorns, that dangle babies by their crotches, which apparently can be hard on the spine. I have done zero actual research on this; I chose the Ergo based on the glowing recommendations of basically everyone I know. (There are other brands of carriers, like Beco, that position your baby the same way; mei tais are similar but you generally have to tie the straps rather than buckling them.).
The best thing about the Ergo? There is no learning curve. Also, there is not a ton of fabric. And, it keeps baby centered on your body in a way that wraps and slings don’t always (helpful when you’re kind of a klutz, like I am). And apparently it can be used forever – like for small 5-year-olds when they get tired on long hikes. The Ergo can also be used for back and hip carries, and daddies tend to enjoy using it (because it’s engineered? I don’t know).
Because E. is still an infant (he’s almost 8 weeks) and under the 15 lb recommended minimum weight (barely), we’ve been propping him up on the special contoured pillow that came with the Ergo infant insert. This makes it so that his legs don’t need to splay any more widely than they should be splaying at this stage in his development. The infant insert also has a little cocoon thing that is great for helping young babies support their heads. We used this for a couple of weeks, but E. was only a newborn for like three seconds and he has good head control, so if he wants to nap or loll his head around while out and about in the Ergo, we just snap up the nap hood. (This can also prevent random strung-out strangers from touching your three-week-old, but only if you have both sides snapped. FYI.)
Finally, I have a woven wrap. I got a coveted Didymos (swanky Euro brand) for the low price of like $60 off the FSOT (for sale or trade) boards on TheBabywearer.com. Because I was getting it used, I didn’t have a choice of sizes, so I ended up with a size 5, which is 420 cm, and makes for a shorter wrap on my rotund person. This is okay, but it required a lot of research and practice before using the wrap became possible, let alone fun and easy.
I’ve been reading about, watching videos about, and looking at pictures of how to wear your baby in a woven wrap for months. I tried a cradle hold with E. in this wrap several weeks ago, and managed hands-free nursing, but neither of us loved it enough to do it again. I got frustrated, and he only likes the cradle hold if he’s nursing (so if you hold him sideways, prepare to be rooted upon).
Yesterday, I broke out the wrap again to try the short cross carry and we both loved it! I think E. likes the feeling of support from a woven, vs. a stretchy, fabric. I like how there’s not as much fabric and how it’s cooler. (Note: maybe he’d like the Moby better if I kept his legs out?) We also tried a kangaroo carry and I almost dropped him while tightening it (we were practicing over the bed, so it would not have been a catastrophe), so we went back to the short cross. We even managed to nurse while he was in this carry.
Moby: Nice for small babies; popular, so lots of resources. Good for around the house. Can be hot; lots of fabric. Many people make their own stretchy wraps.
Ring sling: Easy to use, high “poppability” (ease of getting baby into and out of carrier), E. likes it, surprisingly comfy for up to about an hour. Great for errands.
Ergo: Super-easy to use; works from birth to childhood; men will wear; feels secure for both parent and child. Front, back, and hip carries possible depending on age of child.
Woven wrap: Highly versatile (front, back, hip carries possible); E. likes it; requires research and practice before it becomes easy to use.
People nurse successfully using all of these different types of carriers, but it often takes some maneuvering.
If you’re interested in babywearing and just want one carrier, I’d suggest an Ergo or something similar. If you’re not interested in babywearing, I’d suggest you at least try it, because it is SO much better than hauling around an infant carseat or setting up and taking down a stroller. It’s also super-handy for the days your infant will only nap on you and/or refuses to be put down while awake. Plus, it’s very beneficial for the baby and everybody gets more snuggles. Snuggles = win!