Babywearing = the only way I get things done.
Seriously. I have no idea what I would do if I didn’t wear Hudson.
So what is babywearing? It’s just what is sounds like: where you wear your baby (say that five times fast…). It’s not a new concept, really. I mean, people have been wearing their babies for years! But I feel like it has just recently become much more popular and mainstream and there are tons more options. Everyone is familiar with Baby Bjorn’s and the metal framed ones of years past (my mom wore me in one) but all the choices that we have now can be overwhelming to navigate.
Why baby wear? Well, for me one big reason is that it allows me to get things done. Hudson loves to be held but realistically I can’t hold him all day long; however, by wearing him he can be close to me and happy but my hands are free. Some other reasons for me (some small, some big):
– Hudson is less fussy when I wear him – he’s close to him mommy which is where he is happiest
– I can go places and do things that I wouldn’t be able to with a stroller (like on a hike or a crowded consignment sale)
– People are less likely to touch him and get in his face if I’m wearing him which is great if you’re concerned about germs
– Your shopping cart is empty and there is room for groceries since you don’t have a baby and/or a carseat in there
Note: you do not have to be a crunchy, all natural, cloth diapering, organic eating hippie to baby wear (even though I think cloth diapers are awesome and you should totally consider them). So don’t write it off!
Here’s a handy little guide of some different types of carriers to get you started babywearing.
1. Stretchy Wraps
A long piece of fabric (5.5 meters or approximately 18 feet) that you wrap around your body.
Popular Brands – Moby, Boba (I have a Moby)
Pros – This is a popular wrap that many people have so it’s easy to find (and easy to find good deals secondhand). The stretch is very forgiving so you don’t have to get it exact. It’s perfect and cuddly for brand new babies. Once you figure out how to wrap it (watch YouTube videos, there are tons) it is super easy.
Cons – Long and bulky and it can seem overwhelming. Because of the stretch you can’t use it once baby reaches a certain weight as the wrap can no longer support them. For us, I think that was around 15 pounds or maybe even less that I felt like it wasn’t supportive enough. Can’t back carry with a stretchy wrap.
My Thoughts – All new mommies (and daddies) need one of these; in fact, I listed this as one of my newborn must-haves. When Hudson was first born he wanted to be held all.the.time and many days the only way I could eat or blog or read or anything was by wearing him. No, they aren’t used long term but it’s great for the beginning months.
Pricing – A new Moby or Boba is around $45ish. I got mine new but unused at a consignment sale for $20 I believe and I see them sold used for about that price all the time. I’ve seen them on Zulily before and I’m sure other baby deals websites have them too. Some people DIY stretchy wraps but by the time you buy and hem that much fabric I’m not sure if it’s worth it.
One of my last times wearing him in the Moby. At this point I would wear him in it while I was sitting down (at a restaurant, at home while he napped) but he was too heavy for me to wear him comfortably while I walked around. He was about four months old.
It definitely served its purpose and got tons of use in those first few months
my friend Gina wearing her son in a Boba wrap
2. Soft Structured Carriers (SSC)
A carrier that fastens with buckles and has more shape/structure, usually has straps like a backpack.
Popular Brands – Ergo, Beco, Boba, Tula, Kinderpack (I have an Ergo)
Pros – Very easy to use; no wrapping or tying, just fasten the two buckles. Also very quick on and off. Can be used for front, back, and hip carries (front carries from birth, back carries when baby gets a bit bigger, and I don’t know anyone that uses them for hip carries, but it is possible). Another very popular one and easy to find good used ones. Popular with dads since that are less complicated (not that dads don’t use other carriers, it’s just that the majority seem to like SSCs). Can be used with children up to 35-40 pounds (varies by carrier)
Cons – Can be expensive. You usually have to use an additional insert when baby is very tiny (at least you do with an Ergo). Not as comfortable for sitting down (in my opinion). Requires a bit of adjusting when switching from one wearer to the next (if they are different sizes).
My Thoughts – This is another must-have carrier. I have an Ergo and love, love the ease of it! It is by far the quickest to put Hudson in so it’s my favorite for running errands as it doesn’t take but a second to get him in and out, and when you’re going multiple places that’s really nice. Michael will use it too since it’s so easy.
Because of how quick and easy it is, my Ergo gets the most use out of all my carriers. It goes shopping, hiking, to church camp, to Bible Bowl, basically everywhere.
I started front carrying Hudson in the Ergo when he was maybe three months old? I’m not sure. At the time he was too small to sit in it regularly but I didn’t have an infant insert so I used a rolled receiving blanket under him to modify it. I started back carrying him around 5 months old. Back carrying has been a life saver when it comes to cooking, cleaning, or doing anything else where Hudson wants to be held but I need my hands free.
Pricing – This varies widely. A new Ergo is around $120, although you can often find them on sale or at TJ Maxx for $60. You can usually find them used for less than $100. Some of the custom carriers and toddler sized ones that can support children larger than the 35ish pound weight limit are upwards of $200+.
One my first back carries with Hudson in an Ergo. He loved it!
3. Ring Slings
A long piece of fabric that adjusts to fit with a pair of rings
Popular Brands – Maya, Sakura Bloom, Sleeping Baby Productions, ZanyToes
Pros – Compact and easy to take with you. Easily adjustable from person to person. Quick in-and-out.
Cons – Not quite as intuitive as a SSC, has a bit of a learning curve. The rings can be hard to figure out how to adjust and the shoulder can be uncomfortable. Weight is all on one shoulder instead of both.
My Thoughts – Ring slings are my least favorite of all the carriers. I know some people love them so don’t rule them out based on what I say. I just find them harder to adjust and not as easy to use overall. Hudson is a major leaner so it doesn’t feel secure enough for him when he starts leaning backward but I think I just need to practice.
Pricing – Again, this varies widely. I think a Maya Wrap ring sling is around $80, then there are many others more expensive than that.
These are also very easy to DIY but of course f you want to make one yourself then please do some research as to what kind of rings and material to use as you want to make sure you use safe materials. I have made two slings – one was a mesh sling that is not sturdy enough for long term everyday use (the mesh is quite slippery) but is perfect to use in the water. The mesh and the rings cost me $10. I also made one out of half of a tablecloth (lots of tablecloths are the perfect material) and the materials for that cost me $17 I think.
4. Woven Wraps
A long piece of fabric made out of a non-stretchy woven material. Unlike stretchy wraps that basically come in just one size, these are sized (usually 2-7 are the most common sizes) and you buy the size based on your size and what kind of carries you want to do.
Popular Brands – Girasol, Natibaby, Kokadi, Didymos, Pavo, Little Frog (I have a Girasol)
Pros – Basically no weight limit (I’ve seen pictures of people wrapping other adults just to show that they can). Can be used from birth onward. Many, many different carries for front, back, and hip.
Cons – Definite learning curve. It takes practice to learn how to use it and just wading through the brands, materials, and sizes can be overwhelming.
My Thoughts – I love my woven for at-home use more than when I’m out and about. If you’ve been reading my updates on Hudson then you know that he is a terrible napper. Lots of days the best (and only) way to get him to take a real nap is to wear him so I wrap him and let him take a “wrap nap”. My woven is so much snugglier and comfortable for than then wearing him in a SSC.
These are not for everyone. If you are totally new to baby wearing I probably wouldn’t encourage this at first, but that being said don’t let it intimidate you! Once you’ve got it then it’s pretty easy. This is a fantastic blog with YouTube videos for a bunch of carries based on the size of the wrap. It’s a pretty comprehensive list and a wonderful way to see them in action and learn for yourself.
Pricing – Extremely varied. Lowest price for a new one is probably around $80. Average is in the $150-$200 range, but there are quite a few that cost $300+.
However, you can easily DIY a wrap. That’s what I did at first because I wanted to try it out for a bit before I decided if I wanted to spend the money on one. I got onasburg (a linen-like fabric) at Hancock’s for $2 a yard and then hemmed it. It isn’t pretty (although you can dye it if you want) but it works and that’s what matters. Later once I knew what I wanted I bought a Girasol (Light Rainbow, Size 6).
5. Mei Teis
Pronounced may-tay (although I think my-tie sounds better). A cross between a SSC and a wrap; it has a fabric panel like a SSC but ties instead of buckles.
Popular Brands – Infantino, Baby Hawk
Pros – Less complicated than wrapping but you still get that snuggly wrapping feeling. And you get the SSC structured feeling without the cost and bulk of a SSC. Easier to switch between users (like mom and dad if there is a significant size difference) than a SSC since you re-adjust the carrier each time anyway.
Cons – Not as convenient as a SSC because of the tying, still has a long tail to deal with. Sometimes the straps dig uncomfortably into my neck.
My Thoughts – Mei Teis are fine carriers, nothing wrong with them, I just don’t care for them since I have an SSC and a woven to do basically the same things. I got an Infantino used for about $15 so I keep that in the car as my back up carrier in case I happen to be out and left my usual ones at home. That being said, some people love them and that’s all they want to use and they are a fantastic price if you’re on a budget or aren’t ready to sink money into one without knowing if you like it.
That being said, I got this out of the car to take a picture for this post and it’s the first time I’ve used it in months; I liked it a lot better than I remembered! I think I may start using this one a little bit more now.
Pricing – A new Infantio mei tei like mine is $30ish, so one of the cheapest carrier options. But then of course you have some in the $100+ range too.
These are not the only options but these are the most popular ones. The world of babywearing can be super overwhelming. As with all things there are some people who just have one carrier and some who collect them and have tons of them in all colors, varieties, price points, etc. Babywearing can have it’s own language too! Try not to let that scare you! If you have a local babywearing group then try to go to one of their meetings so you can check out different carries and see what you like. Or get with a friend (me!) who has several you can try.
There are some great Facebook groups out there too:
Babywearing Love and Support
Babywearing on a Budget (a buy/sale/trade group for carriers less than $100)
The Babywearing Swap (a buy/sale/trade group for carriers more than $100)
Babywearing DIY Advice & Support (if you want to DIY any carriers)
Do you baby wear? What is your favorite carrier?
Note: This is not a how-to post on baby wearing. Please make sure you do some research or better yet visit a local baby wearing group (if you have one) to make sure that you are properly and safely baby wearing.
Big thanks to Gina for sharing her babywearing pictures for this post.