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
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.
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!