Baby Wearing Tips

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Baby Wearing TipsI have a confession to make; I have a bit of an obsession. It started off innocently enough, but over the last few years (and three kids) it has progressed and grown without me even realizing it. So what is this obsession? Baby wearing.

It all started during birthing classes when I was pregnant with my first child eight years ago. I had seen women wearing their babies and thought I would give it a whirl once my little one was born, but with the various slings, wraps and carriers on the market, I wasn’t sure where to begin. The instructor recommended baby wearing to help soothe the baby and improve bonding, and in her opinion, a ring sling was a great one to start with.

I went home and began researching. Before long, I had placed an order for my own sling. The purchase ended up being a wise one. Once Jonas was born, we quickly realized that close contact was imperative to keeping him happy…or at least calm. In no time, I got to try out the sling and soon enough my husband and I were also sporting the Baby Bjorn in an attempt to keep him calm. Not to mention there was the added benefit of a greater calorie burn when he was strapped to us.

We have since added two kids and five more carriers to the mix. They have been lifesavers in grocery stores, on trips, during neighborhood walks or just trying to get dinner on the table. Our first liked them most as a young infant. Our second appreciated them from age one to two when she was curious, but too small to see the action, especially in the kitchen. Number three? Well, she has spent plenty of soccer games, cookouts and even a Zumba class in one, often snoozing or otherwise just chilling out.

There has been plenty of trial and error through the three kids and six carriers, but we’ve gotten somewhat of a system down. The following is an overview of what I’ve learned along the way, the pros and cons, the good and bad, the his taste and her preferences.

Baby Bjorn

The Baby Bjorn is a buckle carrier, also known as a soft structure carrier (SSC), that keeps your baby on your front. You can wear baby facing into you, or as she gains head control, she can face outward, which happened to be my children’s favorite position once they gained head and neck control.

Pros: Super easy to put on and take off. This has been a lifesaver for us during shopping trips especially. We have no need to lug a stroller around. My husband has always preferred the Bjorn to other carriers as it doesn’t seem quite as feminine, in his opinion. I like how the baby can face inward or outward.

Cons: As the baby grows, it can put strain on your shoulders and back. This has been the greatest complaint from other friends who have also used this carrier. Plus, you cannot position the baby on your back. And, there is controversy over how supportive these carriers are for babies, and whether or not they put too much strain on baby’s developing hips.

Backpack carrier

These carriers have more structure and framing to them to make them more supportive for walking and hiking. They can often support a toddler’s weight.

Pros: They are a great option for older kids and their structure makes it possible to be more active with them. They definitely pass the dad test.

Cons: They are bulky and are not suitable for infants under six months who do not have good head and neck control. Depending on the style, they can be difficult to get on by yourself.

Baby Wearing Tips

ErgoBaby

This is another SSC that uses two buckles, one at the waist and one at chest level. Baby can be worn facing towards you on your chest, back or side. It comes with a napping hood that snaps into place to support a sleeping child’s head and protects them from the sun.

Pros: Very quick and easy to put on. I especially like the zipper pouch in the front where I can put my keys, phone, cash, etc. It can support a toddler’s weight, while still feeling supportive and comfortable through your shoulders and lower back. The Ergo spreads the baby’s legs wider than the Bjorn, arguably creating a more comfortable ride for baby and perhaps better supporting his growing hips and legs. It also passes the hubby test, being manly enough for him to sport in public.

Cons: Baby cannot face outward. While Ergo says a baby feels more secure when facing towards the adult’s body, my little ones liked to face outward and see the world before them. Also, you need to purchase a separate insert for use with a newborn.

Baby Wearing Tips

Maya Ring Sling

This sling consists of two rings and a long piece of fabric that is threaded through the rings. Baby can be positioned in a variety of ways, including on the front, back, side, facing inward or outward, with legs tucked or out.

Pros: There are numerous positions to place a baby in this carrier and it can support the weight of a toddler. Without the structure of a backpack carrier or SSC, you can place your baby in most any position, including the cradle hold, fetal with legs tucked or with legs hanging down. This is a great option for newborns with little neck control and can be a great option for babies who love being swaddled.

Cons: It does take practice to get a handle on proper positioning. It can take more time to put one until you are well versed in how to use it. For me, it doesn’t feel as secure as an SSC.

Baby Wearing Tips

Moby Wrap

The wrap is a long piece of fabric that ties around your body in different ways to wear your baby in a variety of positions, similar to those mentioned for the Maya.

Pros: As with the Maya, there are endless positions and holds. I have found this to feel more supportive than the Maya, better distributing the weight throughout. It’s also a good choice for a newborn and can even support a toddler.

Cons: The learning curve is quite high. It takes a lot of practice to get the tie right. It is a lot of fabric, which can drag on the ground, while you are tying it in place. Because of all the fabric, it can be quite hot for both you and the baby.

Baby Wearing Tips

Baby K’tan

This wrap is similar to a Moby Wrap, but it comes in two pieces, making it easier to manage. One piece is two loops that fit over your shoulders, while the other piece is a long piece of fabric that ties around your body and supports the baby.

Pros: It is easier to use and has less fabric than the Moby, so you don’t have to worry about dragging material across the ground as you attempt to position the baby in place. It can carry most children up to age three.

Cons: I did not feel the baby fit as snuggly or securely into the K’tan compared to other carriers, and I wasn’t able to master a secure hip carry.

Baby Wearing Tips

In the end, I highly recommend baby wearing. It may take some practice, but the extra cuddles and ability to be hands-free are worth it. Did I mention the extra calorie burn?

Do you baby wear? If so, what is your favorite carrier?

{While baby wearing has great benefits, please make sure you do so safely. To learn more about safe baby wearing guidelines, visit this site.}

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