October 12, 2010

Babies Have I Worn (+ a Giveaway!)

I planned to publish this for International Babywearing Week, which started on the 6th. Then I spent the majority of that week in an incredibly beautiful and remote part of the country for my brother's wedding. How I thought I would put this together in a spot where internet and computers are scarce, I do not know. Seriously, there wasn't even radio where I was. No AM radio.

But today is still part of Babywearing Week, albeit the last day. So let's just consider this me extending the babywearing fun!

Todd and I are both pretty frequent babywearers. Partly convenience, partly our personalities, partly our parenting style. After swearing I would never be one of those parents wrapped in yards of baby-containing fabric, I...became one of those parents wrapped in yards of fabric. But once I experienced how comfortable and useful it was, there was no going back.

There was a deeper, adoption-related reason that drew me to babywearing, too. I am not going to jump into a bonding/attachment debate in this context. But I'd hope any adoptive parent would agree that we start from scratch as far as familiarity goes between us and our kids. Babywearing can be one great way to build that connection with very young children. It creates a comforting, safe space for most little ones.

Read on for my favorite carriers for each baby stage and get the chance to win one of your own!

Itty bitty baby phase: Sleepy Wrap
My advice to all parent of infants: get three a soft wrap of some sort. During Mari's first several months, she and I literally spent hours every day in the Sleepy Wrap. We did skin-to-skin time in it, ran errands, took naps (her, not me), had feeding time.

It's comfortable (like a soft t-shirt), cozy and ridiculously easy to use. It's very, very similar to the Moby Wrap. I personally like the Sleepy Wrap's stretch a smidge better because you don't have to worry about how much space to leave for the baby (I don't like to think too much when using a carrier). Tie it super snugly and you're done. Newborns snuggle into your chest or in a cradle position while slightly older ones can face the world. It kept the weight distributed evenly across my shoulders and back, and supported Mari's hips and legs (and head, before she did that herself) without putting pressure on her spine. So we were both happy and comfortable being wrapped together for long periods. And I was able to take her in and out of the wrap without taking off my coat. So nice during the rainy, cold winter months.

Little bit bigger babies: pouch slings
I'm not a personal fan of ring slings (again, too much thinking), but I lurve my pouch slings. You purchase a specific size, so you don't have to think about adjusting the length every time you put it on. (Do you see a theme with me and the idiot-proof carriers?) My favorite brand seems to be going out of business, but these look very similar. I like that mine have a padded rail (the rail is the edge of the sling--in some carries the baby's legs rest on it, so it's nice to have padding), a wee bit of stretch, and consistent sizing. I scored some great eBay deals on pouch slings--people often sell them barely used.

I used my pouch slings from newborn on up, but my favorite time for them is the midsection of the first year, when babies can hold themselves up and love to be carried around perched on your hip as your wee partner in crime. And few carries are more fun than the kangaroo carry (left). Some of my favorite Eddie memories from that age are of him sitting cross-legged in the sling, peeking out at the world.

Bigger babies: Babyhawk mei tai
When the baby gets a little heavier, I break out a carrier with a little more heft. A mei tai has long cloth straps that you can tie just where you want them, back or front. No buckles or clasps, just simple cloth. This is one of Mari's favorite carriers; we still use it quite a bit. I like BabyHawk for their super sturdy construction (mine spends a lot of time on the floor of my car getting stepped on by kiddie feet and it doesn't have so much as a frayed thread) and comfortable padded straps. I also like that you can choose your own colors and cool fabrics. It may or may not have taken me a full week to make my choices when I bought mine. I'm shallow, I admit it. And indecisive.

Big big babies and long walks: Boba soft-structured carrier
Sometimes you don't want to deal with mei tai straps, especially in a rainy parking lot. This is when the buckles of a soft-structured carrier come in handy. I have an Ergo and a Boba and I reach for the Boba way more often. The Boba is designed for kids over a year old. It's got a longer body than most soft structured carriers, so it keeps bigger kids nicely tucked in (helps them feel lighter). Todd even carried tall four-year old Eddie around in it on our summer vacation. I really like the wide, padded waistband that doesn't squish out my love handles. The arm straps have a slight curve to them that I find really comfortable. This is the carrier I took on our desert trip last week, wearing Mari through the airport, on hikes, and just when she needed some snuggle time. I only wish it had a pocket built in for ultimate handiness.

Your turn! What are your favorite carriers?

Now, for the giveaway! I wrote to the Sleepy Wrap/Boba makers to tell them about my plans for this post and they generously offered to give one of you your very own Sleepy Wrap. Soft snuggly baby goodness! Click over here for the actual giveaway. (Sorry about the extra clicking--per my BlogHer agreement the giveaway needs to run on a page without ads.)

To sum up: tell us about your favorite carrier in the comments, then head over to enter the giveaway!


mereburk said...

I have had a sling for our adopted son, now we are starting the process over again to adopt again and I would love a sleepy wrap - these look super comfy and easy to use! I think it can help with bonding too! Thanks for your reviews - very helpful! I am so glad I found your blog!

luna said...

ooh ooh, I want a Boba!!!!

I love love love baby carriers.

our daughter practically lived in the moby for the first 3 months of her life, for all the reasons you mention. I was so happy to pass it along to someone to enjoy when we were done with it.

instead of an ergo, I bought a baby trekker [http://www.babytrekker.com/advantages2.htm] because of all the positions. now that she's 16 months, I especially love that she can face outward, something other carriers didn't allow. but she sits a little lower than the other carriers.

my hub now uses a pack for long hikes, but I still love the trekker. always looking to try something new though! thanks.

JC said...

I wish I had done more research on carriers before we brought DD home, because then I wouldn't have wasted money on the crappy Baby Bjorns. They killed my back, and as soon as DD was old enough to hold her head up, there was no way I could wear her in them.

I have an Ergo now that I LOVE. It's true it's not meant to face forward, which bothered me at first. Then I read an interesting article how when babies are small they tend to get over-stimulated, and when in a carrier facing front, there is just no way for them to "turn it off". When facing you, the baby can cuddle in and sort of shut-off the barrage of stimuli. Made sense to me after that, that the Ergo doesn't afford the front carry. :)

Heather said...

I loved my Moby wrap when my son was teeny tiny (he was born 5lb 11oz). But now he isn't comfortable in it anymore.
I think I'd really like a Boba!

Lori said...

I loved the ring sling for little ones. And the Ergo for when they got a bit bigger. I thought the wraps looked too complicated but upon your advice I now have a Moby Wrap waiting for baby #3.

Anonymous said...

The ring sling was good for when Jack could sit on my hip.
He never liked the mei tai, and I never got the hang of tying it.
We both liked the Baby Bjorn, but he grew out of it too quickly.
I really like our Ergo carrier, but we didn't start using it until he was 2, so I don't know what it's like for a baby. It rocks for a toddler, though!
The wrap-type carriers did not work for me, because I'm so short. I was wrapped up so much, I was hot and looked even fatter than I was.

Anita said...

We have three carriers for our little guy, all of which seem to work well for different reasons and at different ages. The Baby Bjorn is not my favorite to wear, but it has lead to some awesome James Brown dance times lately as my husband puts the baby in the carrier facing out and he and I get to boogie down. He thinks this is hilarious!

Heather said...

@Anita - I liked our Bjorn for things like brisk walks with tiny infants (or dancing!). But you're right--it's not very comfortable!

Heather said...

@luna - Being able to do outward-facing carries with bigger kids would be cool! It's one of the things I missed when the kids transitioned into the more structured carriers.

We found a good hiking backpack on clearance at REI, but only T. really uses it. I've just never felt comfortable in it for some reason. I have trouble hefting it onto my back with the kid in it, which offends my vanity a little. :) It sure is nice to have the big storage space built in to the bottom, though. And the sun/rain shade and the water bottle pockets...they really are well-designed for long hikes, huh?

Chris, Renae & Annie said...

I picked up a Peanut Shell to use with our future child but haven't gotten to try it out yet (failed placement).

I've tried our friend's Moby Wrap with her tiny 10 month old and loved it - same with the Ergo.

BU said...

I was just looking at slings yesterday and had no idea what to get. Thanks so much for this post!

Jana said...

the pouch sling looks cool.

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