Many people, including many strangers, ask me about my baby carriers. If they’re comfortable, if I like them, are they too hot to use in the summer, etc. So I thought I’d share my experience here.
Babywearing is such an essential parenting tool, I’m not sure how some parents do without it. They must have more patience than I do because the typical parenting tools that people use instead of babywearing (mainly strollers when out and baby swings when at home) I find annoying and made my life more complicated.
One of the major reasons babywearing is great at home, is because the baby is used to being close to mommy, well in mommy’s tummy, and since the baby is still developing a sense of who they are in relation to their surroundings, it can be terrifying for them to suddenly not be close to mommy for much of the day after birth. Babywearing helps to slowly ease them as they come to learn in the coming months, that just because their food source may walk outside the room, or even just be a few feet away, it will come back and they will not starve to death. So I think from the baby’s perspective, babywearing probably means “comfort and food stay close by and I am not abandoned.” From Mommy’s perspective babywearing means, “my baby cries less, therefore I feel less stressed, therefore I can accomplish more tasks around the house I need to, without having to hear the baby cry every time I step away.”
When you become a parent you obviously have to change your lifestyle to accomodate a new person with needs, but babywearing helps to transition you from your old lifestyle of being able to freely walk anywhere without feeling like you’re pushing a shopping cart, and being able to accomplish tasks around your house. You don’t have to just sit around all day and feed the baby. If you want to go to the kitchen and get something to eat, you take the baby with you. You wanna go for a walk outside without having to deal with confusing buckles and pillows and adjusting seat inclines? If you’re babywearing, chances are the baby is already strapped to you, so you just walk outside, it’s that easy. You wanna actually make it through the time it takes to cook dinner without the baby screaming his head off that he wants his dinner now and doesn’t care that you want to cook yours too? Stick the baby in the wrap and nurse while you stand at the stove and keep cooking. Here is an article on why babywearing is more convenient for parents and babies.
There are many ways to carry a baby in a wrap. The most traditional front carry is pictured at the top with the baby facing you, with legs out, being supported by two straps from the wrap that are spread across baby’s legs from knee to knee to give a nice supportive seat.
It’s important that baby’s knees are always at or above his bum in a baby carrier or else the baby’s not supported well and it’s bad for hip and back development. More information about how to properly support baby in a carrier is here. Some of the more famous carriers in mainstream baby stores don’t adequately support the baby. When I see parent’s carrying their babies with them, I feel sad for the baby. The baby looks uncomfortable, their back looks arched and they are getting a wedgy from the seat in the carrier, but until I learned a little more about babywearing, I didn’t know any different, and I would’ve carried my baby the same way because that’s what I had seen other people do.
Another way to carry the baby is forward facing, but make sure you have the knees up, and don’t put the baby in this position for very long, just a few minutes so they can enjoy the view a little more:
This picture reminds me that we were at an outdoor museum with a watchtower. I wanted to climb to the top, so I just did. Other parents had to get their baby out of the stroller and carefully carry them up, or just stay down with the stroller. Babywearing made this much easier.
Here’s another forward facing position with baby’s legs in (sitting Indian style). Again don’t leave baby in this position for long, just so they can enjoy the sites for a little bit. After a few minutes you want to turn baby around again so that he’s properly supported and can easily fall asleep again if he wants.
Here we are on his first flight! Babywearing made that soooooo much easier for boarding, maneuvering through the airport and getting off, I just moved like I would normally with my carry-on on my back and baby on the front. In fact, the first flight left late, making it really close for getting to our connecting flight. We rushed through the airport as best we could and when we got to the gate they said, “Oh you made it. You’re the last ones to board.” Then they saw on the computer or something when our previous flight landed and said, “Wow you made great timing! 12 minutes… with a baby… a sleeping baby no less.” Having a stroller or carseat with us would’ve made that impossible.
Another great thing about having a wrap on the plane is Mommy getting sleep. During take off and landing they don’t let you have the baby in the wrap cause it’s not safe, they said. I still don’t really understand why, but I complied. But since we didn’t have a bassinet or anything to put him in, during the main part of the flight, I had him in the wrap securely so that I knew he wouldn’t fall off my lap, so I was able to completely relax and fall asleep without having to worry at all about the baby.
Here we are exploring a European city on one of our layovers:
Here we are visiting my grandmother in a nursing home. It was important to us that our baby meet his grandmother even if he won’t remember later. But he was at the crawling stage at this point. If I had just carried him in my arms, he would’ve wanted to get down to crawl all over the not so clean floor. If I had used a stroller that would’ve been a pain to maneuver around other people’s wheelchairs and getting in and out of the main door with the alarm, it just would’ve been a pain. This way he got to meet his grandmother and be kept away from germs.
Here we are exploring another European city, in the very cold winter. It was so much easier to just put normal clothes on him, stick him in the wrap, and wear a loose jacket that zipped around both of us to keep him warm, rather than trying to bundle him up in a crazy huge outfit with a million blankets in a stroller. I would be concerned my baby couldn’t breath in that kind of set up.
The great thing about cities is public transport, which means no carseats! Carseats are annoying, but necessary for your baby’s safety. When using trains and buses it’s so much easier to just walk on with your baby than deal with getting a stroller over the steps and into the door, or being forced to use the elevators, which are slow as molasses. Plus if you’re baby happens to need to nurse while you’re waiting for your train or bus, you just nurse your baby in the wrap. That way if your train comes and baby isn’t done nursing yet, you don’t have to sit there and wait for the next one, you just walk on like everyone else.
This picture below is just for fun. My husband took it cause he thought it looked funny, like a baby wrap tornado. We were at home about to go out and I was trying to get ready, but he needed to nurse, so I nursed him in the wrap and he fell asleep, but I needed to change my clothes. So I gently unwrapped him and laid him down on the floor, with the wrap draped next to him as it fell when I unwrapped it, while I went and changed my clothes.
Just to prove I’m not completely anti-stroller. We do own one and use it sometimes. Here he’s enjoying the stone wall that was at his level. He likes stones and gravel a lot.
Here we are (in the picture below) at a park that had nicely paved trails so we decided to use the stroller instead of the carrier when we got out of the car. But as you can see in the picture, we still wanted to venture off the trail and go in the grass, which is not stroller friendly. Most of the time that we use a stroller, which isn’t often to begin with, I end up wishing I just brought the carrier. But I still do think strollers serve some purpose: walking on nice paved areas, such as paved trails in a park or sidewalks around a neighborhood. That’s it. Anywhere else, you’ll inevitably end up needing to use stairs or walk through a narrow space, such as in a store or cafe, or will be running over people’s toes, such as in a crowd at a fair, that the stroller will just get on your nerves. And the truth is, when I look at other parents using strollers, a lot of times they look uncomfortable, annoyed and anxious to get home. I don’t see that same look with parents that are wearing their babies. And often times the strangers I mentioned earlier who ask me about my carriers are moms who look tired and frustrated and have an enormous stroller with them and tons of stuff all over it, and their babies look bored.
Why do you like babywearing? Give me your thoughts. You’re also welcome to tell me why you like strollers if you do.
Note: a Moby wrap can only be used for front or hip carries, because a baby will fall out of a back carry. Next time I’ll show you a different carrier I have for back carries with an older baby.