Image by amcdawes
I’m betting most of you who are here know what baby wearing is. For any who don’t, baby wearing is using some type of carrier or sling to hold your baby against your body. Babies are worn a number of different ways, for many different reasons. I’ll detail some of those reasons for you, as well as discussing different types of carriers and their uses.
Why Wear Your Baby?
When your baby is born, he or she goes from a warm, perfect environment where s/he’s held 24/7 to a cool, strange environment where sometimes (maybe often?) s/he is set down alone somewhere. Some people are worried about holding their babies too much (which is absolute nonsense), but I once read somewhere that since your baby used to be held 24 hours a day, any amount of holding, even 18 hours a day, is a reduction from your baby’s point of view. Your baby wants, NEEDS, to be held — a lot. This will change, slowly, as he gets older, but while he’s little, he NEEDS you. So what are the benefits?
*Worn babies cry less
Why does the baby need to cry when he’s already with you? He can’t want to be held — he’s already being held. If he needs fed or changed, you’ll notice his early cues, so he won’t have to cry to get your attention. If he needs to sleep, he’ll probably be comfortable enough to simply drop off in his carrier.
*Worn babies are happier
It comes from having their needs met nearly instantly, but these babies are happy and quickly develop a sense of trust in their parents and environment.
*Worn babies are smarter.
Babies tend to spend more time awake and alert, according to The Baby Wearer, which is when they learn the most about their environment. It doesn’t hurt that they’re able to see a lot more from a worn position than they’d be able to see from the floor, and when they’re a bit older (3 – 4 months), they can “participate” too.
*Worn babies have better physical development
First, baby’s body regulates more easily because it picks up the rhythms of yours. But also, baby gets a chance to turn his head in the carrier, push against you with his feet and knees, push away from you with his hands, grab things if he’s facing out, etc. I’ve heard stories about people who wore their babies nearly constantly from birth and their babies walked by 9 months!
*Worn babies make it easy for moms to get things done
If your baby cries unless he’s held, you can’t get anything done if you have to sit and just hold him, and you can’t (shouldn’t) let him cry. Instead, put him in a carrier and your hands are free to fold laundry, cook dinner, or whatever else you need to do. You’re happy, the baby’s happy, and chances are, the rest of your house is happy too. I personally always put Daniel is my wrap while we’re shopping because I can do whatever I need and he’s right there with me. I can walk away from my cart and I’m not leaving him unattended, and there’s no chance he’s going to get fussy and demand I pick him up, forcing me to push the cart one-handed. If I have to chase Bekah, I have a prayer of a chance of catching her while Daniel is in the wrap and my hands are free!
Who Wouldn’t Want To?
With all these benefits, who wouldn’t want to wear their baby? I have worn Daniel almost EVERY time we’ve gone out since he was born (he is 4.5 months). I can count on ONE HAND the number of times I’ve carried him in somewhere in his car seat. By the way, it drives me nuts when people toss a blanket over a child’s car seat and carry them everywhere in it. Then leave them sitting in it, still covered, once they’re inside the store, restaurant, etc. Pay attention to your child. Pick him up and cuddle him. Even if he is sleeping, at least uncover his face and keep him close, and once he is awake, INTERACT WITH HIM. Your baby is a person, who needs more of your attention than anyone else. Your baby is not a convenience to be shoved aside until you feel like paying attention to him. This is part of personal responsibility as a parent: take responsibility for your baby and put your own needs aside! Don’t expect some object to baby sit your child! We have WAY too many toys and seats and stuff to put babies in these days so we can ignore them and pretend they’re learning so much and they’re so happy. No. Your baby doesn’t care about shiny toys or fancy seats, he just wants you to hold him.
Stepping off soapbox. It had to be said.
Types of Carriers
There are many different types of carriers and wraps. Let’s talk about the basic styles.
Ring Sling: This is a wrap that goes over one shoulder, wraps around your body, and tucks through a ring. It can be worn in many different positions (on the front, side, or back, and at many different levels) and is easily adjustable. However, all the weight is on one shoulder and across your back — not well distributed. Some people swear by them; I’ve never liked mine very much, though I have one. They’re easy to make, but if you choose to do that, you MUST use good quality rings, NOT craft rings from a local craft store. Zolowear, Maya Wrap, others.
Mei-Tai: Many, many of today’s carriers are styled like Mei-Tais. These carriers have wide straps that go around your waist and over your shoulders (usually crossing in the back) and tying around the baby. Modern carriers with buckles and padded straps are usually variations on this. This carrier is fairly versatile and can be worn on the back or front. It’s not quite as adjustable as the ring sling, but still fairly adjustable. It also has better back support. Little babies can be worn in these, but they often don’t feel very secure. This is better for older babies or even toddlers. Daniel really doesn’t like my Mei Tai so far, and I originally thought I’d use it the most. Mei Tai Baby, Baby Bjorn, Baby Hawk, Beco, Ergo.
Pocket slings: This type of carrier is like a little pocket that goes around you and the baby tucks down inside of. It’s not at all adjustable (you have to buy or make one that fits your measurements) and depending on your size and baby’s size, baby can get lost down inside it (or feel like that). But some babies love to recline and be cuddled close like this. It’s not great for older babies and it does only go over one shoulder, so it’s not great for back support. Peanut shell.
Wraps: These are really great for little babies. They are made out of several yards (5 – 6) of stretchy material, and you have to wrap them a special way. The baby tucks inside a pocket somewhere on you. Baby can be worn facing in or out, on your front, side, or back. They’re not great for older babies because they can stretch too much with baby’s weight, but until that time, they wrap over both shoulders, your waist, and most of your back so they are great for back support. This is my FAVORITE and Daniel’s too. I can tuck him into this any time and he’ll go to sleep. He just loves to be carried this way and I take him everywhere in this. Moby wrap, Metro Mamma.
Check the links at the end of each description for brands of carriers and places to buy them. Of course, there’s no reason to limit yourself to these! There are MANY nice baby carriers out there, several made by WAHMs. You can make them yourself, too, if you want to.
We LOVE baby wearing. I plan to continue wearing Daniel as long as he’ll let me (or as long as I can, depending on when I get pregnant again) and to wear all future babies.
Do you baby-wear? If you don’t have kids yet, do you plan to wear your babies? What is your favorite carrier?
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