Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Babywearing 101

Interestingly enough, I have never done a babywearing 101 post before! I've been all over cloth diapers and other stuff, but neglected to post the basics about one of my favorite baby things.

Of course, being pregnant, I'm totally pumped thinking about wearing our next baby. Today a fellow blogger and friend, Rosey, asked if I would post about babywearing. Definitely!!!!

Gurumama Ring Sling
First of all, there are just so many benefits to babywearing. It's really amazing what just keeping your baby close to you can accomplish! Here are some of the benefits, and I have to give credit to a fellow babywearer, M'Liss from She has put together some fantastic information that she has passed on to me to share with other moms.

~Babies who are worn cry less! Research has shown that babies who are worn more than three hours a day cry 43% less overall, and 54% less during the evening hours!

Now, you might think, 'Well, of course they don't cry, you're spoiling them!!". But I beg to differ. If a baby knows that they are cared for, loved, and Mommy will attend to their needs right away, they will definitely cry less! They need that security. I'm not saying I'm an expert at actually doing this, but I can agree with it 100%.

~It's good for baby's mental and emotional development. Babies spend more time in a "quiet, alert state" when carried--the ideal state for learning. When carried, your baby experiences the world from where you do, instead of at knee-level from a stroller. Furthermore, research shows that carried babies are more likely to develop a strong sense of security and trust, and often become independent at an earlier age.

~It's good for baby's physical development. Research shows that carrying babies helps newborns (especially premature babies) to adapt to life outside the womb. By being so close to mama's body rhythms (heartbeat, breath, voice and warmth), newborns find their "rhythm" much more quickly.

There are also many benefits for the mother, just so you don't think this is all about the baby :)

~It frees mama's hands! Unfortunately, parents' responsibilities don't stop when the new baby arrives. By wearing the baby in a carrier, you are free to clean the house, prepare meals, tend to another child, shop, or attend a party, while keeping baby happy and well-rested at the same time. With a carrier, baby's, parents', and siblings' needs can be met simultaneously.

~It's a simpler alternative! Wearing your baby allows you to run errands, travel on a bus or subway, eat out and enjoy the outdoors without the hassle of a stroller. No longer do you have to struggle through doorways, crowds, or up and down stairs!

~Nurse your baby on the go! Newborns like to eat frequently. Many new mothers feel a bit tied down. "Baby-wearing" allows you to nurse discreetly, hands-free, while playing with older siblings, shopping, preparing meals, or socializing.

~It's a gift to the whole caregiving family! Father, older siblings, grandparents, and babysitters now have a powerful tool with which to comfort and bond with the baby.

So that's a long list of benefits, and I would venture to say that it is not limited to these. Each mother will have her own experiences to add.

When I share a presentation, I usually after share the background information, and maybe some real life stories, and then I go into the types of carriers and how they are used.

First of all, many of you probably have Snugglys or Baby Bjorn type carriers. Can I ask you an honest question? Do you find yourself more frustrated than anything, trying to get it comfortable, and actually be hands free?

The problem with these carriers is that they don't properly support the baby, or you! The baby's weight is not distributed evenly over your torso, which causes major pressure points, limiting the time you can actually wear your baby.

The baby also suffers in these carriers due to the fact that their growing spines are not supported by the carrier. They are sitting there, legs dangling, in a very uncomfortable position. Their backs are bone straight, and this does not promote healthy spine development!

So while these carriers have become widely popular, they don't necessarily have a great success rate.

Instead, I would like to offer you the following suggestions.

Ring Sling
Micki's Wing
A ring sling is a very simple carrier that anyone can use! Basically a long piece of fabric with two rings sewn into one end. By threading the fabric through the rings, you form a pocket for your baby to sit in.

These carriers are easy to use, very portable and are for the most part a one size fits all. They are great from newborn to toddler, though I found with Bria that my shoulder got sore pretty quickly as she got heavier.

Some favorite brands include:
Lil Peeper Keepers - Made from strong, yet lightweight, natural fabrics like linen, tencel, and silk, these are gorgeous, well-made slings.  I own one, and it's very tempting to order another, in a different color, lol.

Micki's Wing - This was my first ring sling, and I loved it!! Sadly, I passed it on to a friend.  Micki is also a blogging friend, and she's a really fun, crafty, BUSY mom.  So, for now, that means that her shop is closed :(  But maybe, if you send her a really sweet message, she'll whip up a sling for you :)

A pouch is similar to a ring sling, except that it is sewn into a circle, so there is no adjusting. There are some that close with snaps or zippers that are adjustable, but in general these are fit to the wearer. Very quick in and out, perfect for quick trips to the store!

The Sling Sisters - Actually, now that I think of it, this would be my favorite! These two sisters are amazing!! They custom make each pouch to fit the wearer, and they take their job seriously. Love them! I've met them in person too, and I highly recommend them!

Gurumama - These are very high quality, beautiful pouches. I got to try one out for a while, and it was really really nice! Gorgeous.

Mei Tai's
Homemade Scandi Mei Tai
These are Asian inspired carriers, and are very comfortable. Basically a square of fabric with four straps attached to the corners. This was my favorite carrier with Bria. It might not be the best for a newborn, but it does work. It is especially great for back carries. *Pictured is a homemade Scandi Mei Tai*  I personally find the Scandi to be an awesome design, and so comfy!

Some Brands:
Kozy Carrier - These are the 'original' if you will. They started it all in the US anyway. They have a fairly large body, and a padded headrest. A favorite of many!

Babyhawk - Probably the most popular Mei Tai out there. Available in fun prints and colors, very customizable. Really nice headrest as well. I would love to try one of these out someday!

Soft Structured Carriers
Ergo Baby
There are quite a few to choose from, including BobaBeco and Ergo. I used to own the Ergo, but I currently own a Boba. I never really loved the Ergo, but the Boba is awesome! This would be the most 'manly' looking carrier. Something that you can share with your husband if he is so inclined to carry the baby. They have buckles and straps, much like a Baby Bjorn, but are made ergonomically correct for both you and your baby. These carriers are designed to be really comfortable.

Stretchy Wraps
Boba Wrap
Brands like Moby Wrap, Cuddly Wrap, and Boba Wrap are very popular. They are made from a jersey cotton most times. Perfect for newborns! These wraps are very cuddly and keep your baby close to your heart. Not so great for older kids though. You have to wrap them incredibly tight to avoid sagging. After your baby reaches a certain point, you will likely find that it isn't supportive enough. *Pictured is my friend Drea and the Boba Wrap*

Woven Wraps
Girasol Donau
These are similar to stretchy wraps, except that the fabric is woven and not stretchy. They are amazing for any age or size of baby. Great for back carries or front carries. These wraps are incredibly supportive and comfortable. There are many many brands, but probably the most popular is a German wrap called the Didymos. Not cheap, but also having a good resale value. If you buy one used, you can save a lot!  I own a gorgeous Didymos that was gifted to me. I used to own a Girasol that I bought second hand from The Baby Wearer forum.  I highly recommend both!  Though I did find the Girasol to be much softer, and I used it more often.

Obviously not everyone will love every type of carrier, and that's OK! If you have one that you love, then use it. And I must mention too, that it is possible to make your own carrier, which makes babywearing even more economical! I have made many, and in fact, most of mine have been handmade. From a simple piece of cloth, to an elaborate Mei Tai, use your imagination! For some great sewing instructions, check out Jan Andrea.

Whew. Now that was a post!

*Updated August 2012*


Dallas and Tara said...

we have the babyhawk and I really like it. I really only use it when we're out someplace where the stroller gets in the way or if we're walking a lot and Carter uses the stroller. It's very comfortable though and worked great when Logan was a newborn too.

Stam House said...

GReat post! Did a good job on it :-)

Ellen said...

I enjoyed the post! I got a mai ti with my daughter - I used it a few times but when she was a baby I didn't feel it was supportive enough for her (head) but I may also not have tied her in correctly. My biggest thing is, how do you position your baby (newborn to about 6 months) correctly in each type of carrier (that works for a newborn) I just couldn't seem to find anything comfortable for both of us (mind you I only had the one carrier). I would really like to find something that works well for when we decide to have another baby.

Also, this may be a silly question, but can you bend down to pick things up/wipe little noses/attend to other toddlers with having baby in carrier? or do you just have to walk around upright all the time? :) It seemed like I couldn't do a lot while I had my baby carrier on. Thanks :)

Kalle said...

I use a cuddly wrap and love it! Couldn't do half the things I do without it. Can't wait to try out a few other carriers.

Great post.

Stacey said...

Good questions Ellen!

For a newborn in a Mei Tai, they need to be facing you, in a froggy type position. So their knees are up by their belly. Then, when you tie the top straps, make sure you pull them snug across your back. Cross them in the back, and then tie them in front of you, across your baby's back for extra support. Some Mei Tai's have better head support than others, so that could have been an issue as well.

Making sure your baby is high enough on your torso is also very important for comfort. Don't tie down around your hips, but high up on your waist.

Bending over shouldn't be too hard. Your baby should be tied close enough to you that it won't flop out at all. I think in this case a good wrap is best, but again, if you use the carriers well, they should work!

Ellen said...

Thanks Stacey! Oh and I noticed I wrote carrier where I actually meant wrap :) oops..

Travis, Rosey and Zipporah said...

Thanks Stacey for your blog on the topic, Now I am completely overwhelmed on all the styles out there. I think for me I would like to make a pouch sling for when the baby is newborn, and might go back to the moby wrap when it is bigger. I can't really buy any of them anyway and since I enjoy sewing I think I might sew some. I made some with Zippy but I don't think I used the right style of fabric, as soon as she got a little heavy it was impossible to use.

lulu said...

babywearing posts are long ones. good information in yours!! mine was more opinions.

see you at the meeting next week.

jennifer said...


Chicks-n-chickens is gearing up for International Baby Wearing Week with a variety of online and live events. We would love your help spreading the word. Additionally we are looking for baby wearing moms who blog to review Lullaby Exercises. Reviewers will receive a copy of the Lullaby Exercises DVD/CD set and we will also provide an additional copy as a giveaway sent directly to the winner from Chicks-n-chickens.

More about us:

Chicks-n-chickens, Lullaby Exercises is a fun, new exercise DVD/CD Set for moms with babies 6 weeks to pre-walking. A series of effective, low-intensity, easy-to-learn movements that you perform while baby wearing. It’s designed for new moms to share moments with their baby, put a little one to sleep, and to feel good emotionally and physically. Groove to soothe….mind, body, and baby.

Our complete schedule of events for International Baby Wearing Week is below. I hope you will help us make this a wonderful week of celebration for baby wearers everywhere.


Jennifer Ashdown, Vice Chick
Chicks-n-chickens, Inc.

Chicks-n-Chickens Celebrates International Baby Wearing Week 9/21-9/25

9/17: Twitter Party #MomsRock
9/18: Mom Active Radio 11 a.m.
9/23: Live Chat 11 a.m.
9/25: Chicks-n-chickens on
9/25: Free class at DayOne, Walnut Creek, CA September 25th, at noon

Coming in October:

**10/15: Radio 11 a.m.