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Friday, July 10, 2009

Babywearing: A Beginner's Summary

I first heard about the concept of "babywearing" when I was pregnant with David. I had known all along that there were different styles of wearable carriers for infants; when Wendy was a baby, we had a (very uncomfortable) Evenflo Snugli that we used a time or two. Because the Snugli was uncomfortable for Wendy and for whoever was wearing her, we only used that carrier when the stroller wasn't practical.

When I heard about babywearing, it piqued my interest - I knew that having my hands free would help a lot in taking care of a newborn and a toddler at the same time. I researched different products and talked to friends who had different styles of carriers. From all of that information, I chose two products to try - the Moby Wrap and the Maya Wrap. I was also given a gently-used BabyBjorn from someone whose baby had outgrown it.

Here are my thoughts on the different carriers, after using them for about six weeks:

1. Moby Wrap

The Moby Wrap is an 18-ft long piece of slightly-stretchy cotton knit. It feels a lot like a comfy old T-shirt. It comes with an instructional booklet that is easy to understand, illustrating how to wrap it and different positions for carrying your baby. It takes a little practice, and it takes a few minutes to put on, but it is by far the most comfortable of my three carriers. When David rides in it, I don't feel any pressure points; his weight is evenly supported along the wrap. There are many different ways to carry a baby with the Moby Wrap. Right now we use the Newborn Hug Hold and the Cradle Hold; I look forward to trying the other holds as soon as David is developmentally ready!
  • Advantages: very comfortable, very versatile, easily washable
  • Disadvantages: need practice to wear baby confidently, can be hot due to all the fabric

2. Maya Wrap

The Maya Wrap is a lightweight woven ring sling. It comes in different sizes for different body types; mine is actually too big, but that just means the tail is too long - and we can work with that. There is a nice zipper pocket in the tail for storing the Binky or Mama's cell phone or whatever. It comes with an instructional DVD that clearly demonstrates how to wear the sling & how to position baby comfortably - it even shows you how to wear more than one sling if you have multiples. I haven't used the Maya Wrap as much as the other two, because I've had a hard time getting David comfortable in it. The material isn't stretchy at all, so it takes a little time to adjust it. The woven material is nice and breathable, and it's definitely the coolest of my three carriers. There are a few different positions for carrying baby; we've only tried the tummy-to-tummy and the cradle. I think with more practice, I'll prefer the ring sling for certain situations.
  • Advantages: simple to put on, much cooler than the other carriers
  • Disadvantages: no stretch - not quite as comfortable as the other carriers

3. BabyBjorn

The BabyBjorn is a structured carrier for wearing baby in a tummy-to-tummy hold. It is very easy to put on, and is easily adjusted for different wearers. The seat and back are padded for baby's comfort, but the padding does restrict airflow. The top edge can be folded down once baby has good head control, so that he or she can look around while being carried. My BabyBjorn lives in the car, because it is the easiest to put on and use when I'm on the go. It's also a good carrier for James to use, because it is so simple, there's just no learning curve to it. It's fairly comfortable but can get hot since it isn't breathable. It's also not quite as secure for babies without good head control; David's little noggin can get to bobbing around quite a bit if he's trying to look around.
  • Advantages: Very easy to use, fairly comfortable
  • Disadvantages: Not breathable, only one carrying position

Babywearing is often tied to attachment parenting. We aren't into attachment parenting per se, but wearing David definitely has benefits. He is more calm and content when he is in one of the carriers, especially during times when his tummy is upset or he is fussy. He generally settles right down & goes to sleep. David is a natural snuggler, and would happily spend all day being held & carried around. That makes it difficult to take care of Wendy & get other things done, so wearing him has definitely helped. (I don't wear David 24/7 - some days I don't wear him at all, it just depends on what we're doing.)

I've also noticed that wearing David helps him to stay asleep in situations where he might otherwise be disturbed & wake up. I've worn him in the grocery store many times, in the backyard playing with Wendy, and even during Bible class last Wednesday night. If babywearing helps him to sleep when he needs to sleep & helps us keep to a more normal schedule, I'm all for it!

I hope this has been helpful for anyone interested in babywearing. This information is all based on opinion and my limited experience, since I've only been trying it for about six weeks, and only with a newborn. As David gets bigger, I definitely want to try a mei tai carrier and an Ergo carrier, because I've heard such good things about both of them.

Do you have any experience with baby carriers? What's your favorite?


Anonymous said...

awsome post my first 2 monsters just wanted to be held not worn LOL just gust got a carrier like the bjorn has diff positions we will c if he likes it

Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph said...

This is a great post for beginners! I definitely think you'll like trying a mei tai!


Monica@DailyDwelling said...

I used a Moby Wrap with my youngest when he was a baby and I absolutely loved it!!! I ordered a Maya Wrap, but sent it back because it just did not feel comfortable or secure to me. There are so many options out there!! I think I'll probably stay with the Moby and maybe try something new in addition with the next baby....whenever that is.

Tara said...

Cool post! I'm looking forward to trying my ERGO with our new baby.

Mrs_Scotsman said...

I'm 7 weeks pregnant and found your post to be very helpful. I'm not going to be able to breast feed so I'm looking for alternative way to get that close time with the baby.

M Shriver said...

Nice overview- thanks! I find that I like my ring-sling a little more over my shoulder, and less next to my neck, so it's sorta cupping my shoulder with the fabric spread out. But, with that said, I can't wear it for nearly as long as I can the Moby wrap, but I get so hot with that one on if we're outside! :-) Super overview- very happy looking baby!

Melissa Stover said...

with this last baby i've used a sling and an ergo and i love both.

Andrea said...

I loooove my Moby. In fact, due to my current hormonal state (about 3 weeks from having a baby) seeing the picture of your little one in the Moby almost made me cry!
There is certainly a learning curve, but once you get it it's so great!
I only use mine up until about 6 months then I switch to my Ergo. I also just adore the Ergo and didn't stop putting my little one on my back every day until I was visibly pregnant and it was too uncomfortable.
Baby wearing is the greatest! I don't know how I would survive a day with little children and a baby without it!

Mary said...

I am a lot like you. I got a BabyBjorn as a shower gift. I used it but didn't love it. I got a Ergo at Christmas when Girlgirl was 6 months and still use it now on bad day (when she needs to be with me a lot) and she is almost 3.

Kim said...

Question: can you change the fabric in the maya ring sling? Seems like that would combine the best of both :-)