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Our Journey in Babywearing

Ah, babywearing.  I love having a baby all snuggled up next to me in a cosy wrap.  It wasn’t an easy road for us though, especially at the start.  Finding the right carrier took some trial and error, but in the end there were one or two indispensible carriers and a bunch more that we’d tried for varying lengths of time.  If you’re just getting started babywearing, or you’re expecting a baby but don’t know what kind of carrier to have on hand for those early newborn days, hopefully you can learn from the successes and failures I’ve already made on my journey in babywearing.

mom carrying a baby on her back

Homemade ring slings

Being a crafty, enthusiastic and relatively experienced sewer, I decided to make two ring slings while I was pregnant with my first baby.  I’d never felt a commercially made sling before, didn’t have a retailer near me who sold them nor any friends who had one that I could borrow or even feel to judge the type of fabric that would be appropriate.  I used an online tutorial, some cotton that wasn’t nearly thick enough, and while my slings looked good I couldn’t ever get them adjusted right.  They were quickly abandoned. This is not to say that making your own carriers isn’t a good idea. Home sewn carriers can be excellent, but it’s important to to choose the right fabric.

Baby Bjorn

Next, we got a Baby Bjorn as gift.  It was an immediate hit.  Suddenly I could actually DO THINGS while wearing my baby, which is what I’d wanted in a carrier all along.  Baby felt securely contained, it was easy to put on and off, and DH loved it.  Bea would often fall asleep and I would just unhook the front and lay her down.  Of course, she woke up 20 minutes later, but the Bjorn was very “poppable” so I’d just pop her back in after a feed and change.  The downsides of the Bjorn became obvious four or five weeks later, when my newborn gained several pounds and my shoulders started getting very sore after carrying her for a little while.  I started to look for other options.  Later, I learned that the Bjorn is also an ergonomic nightmare for babies, as their entire body weight is supported by a small piece of fabric between their legs.

Didymos size 7, in the Katja colourway

Finally, after much research on thebabywearer.com and an in-person test run with a friend’s Didymos, I took the plunge and invested in a long woven wrap.  The wrap provided so much more comfort and support than the Bjorn, but it took some time to get really comfortable tying it, especially in public.  Of course, I could have chosen a more subtle colourway, but then again, it’s hard to be subtle when you’re wrangling 5 meters of cloth in any colour.  Tom held fast to the Bjorn for much longer than I ever could, but eventually he too learned to tie the wrap and spent many evenings singing Bea to sleep while walking through the rainy streets.  I love my Katja for wearing a small baby tucked up close on my front, as it feels the most comfortable and secure.  I can also tuck baby’s head behind one of the wraps in front to support the neck.

Didymos size 4, in the Blue Indio colourway

After using my Katja for a while, I realized that it was a terrible pain to try to tie certain carries with a very long wrap.  I wanted to try the rucksack, and hip carries, but I’d end up with two long tails of extra fabric that would drag on the ground.  I was also spending too much time now on thebabywearer.com, and saw many people showing off very large stashes of wraps, and so I ended up buying a mid-size wrap.  This was my rucksack wrap.  After this purchase I started cutting my time on thebabywearer.com way back, as it was getting to be too addictive and compulsive to search through all the pictures of different carriers.

The Ergo

I bought our Ergo as a present for Tom when we wanted something to wear Bea on our backs during long hikes.  The Ergo has been our most-used carrier in our entire babywearing journey.  It’s the best I’ve found for carrying a big baby or toddler.  It’s soft, so it squishes into a backpack, but it’s also structured and comes with buckles and straps for adjusting, which makes it a bit quicker and easier to put on than the Didy.  It’s easier than navigating a long wrap, especially for back carries, although definitely not as cosy or pretty.  It’s by far the most practical and useable though, which makes it the first thing I reach for.

Girasol Earthy Rainbow shorty

This short wrap was an indulgent impulse purchase when Claire was small.  It is so, so pretty.  I found it nice for carrying a little baby, but I find asymmetrical carries too difficult with heavy babies or toddlers. Sadly, this one found the end of its usefulness rather quickly.

One carrier we never tried that many parents love, especially for the newborn stage, is the stretchy wrap like a Moby or a Cuddly Wrap.  I don’t think I’d get one now that we have as many carriers as we do, but if I could go back and make a different choice in my own history I’d definitely choose a stretchy wrap for a first carrier.  As it is now, I love the Didy for carrying a little baby in the front and the Ergo for carrying a big baby or toddler on my back.

What does your babywearing journey look like?  What is your favourite baby carrier? Check out The Hippie Housewife’s post for more information on babywearing.

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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Cynthia February 28, 2011, 10:40 am

    Such sweet pictures. We had a lot of trial-and-error in finding what worked best for us too. With my first, I loved wraps. With my second, I find myself reaching for our mei tai more often, because the extra time it saves it worth it when juggling multiple kids.
    Cynthia´s last blog post ..Attachment Parenting Series- Babywearing

    • michelle February 28, 2011, 9:52 pm

      Yes, I found the same thing – as soon as Claire was big enough to fit in the Ergo I used that all the time instead of reaching for my wraps. Those few extra moments are crucial when an older sibling is dashing off!

  • Dawn February 28, 2011, 1:41 pm

    Our journey looked like (in order):
    Fleece Hotsling, Snugli carrier (that I used twice), Heart 2 Heart padded Ring sling, Cuddly Wrap, Homemade Mei Tai, Ergo, Long Woven Wrap, Rebozo.
    We still have the Ergo, all the others have found new homes. Luke=won’t often let me put him in the Ergo, but it still travels in the bottom of our stroller, for when we’ve been out all day and Cayden and Luke both need a rest. Cayden has been in the Ergo recently, all 40+ pounds of him. He had fallen on our way home while it was a crazy cloud burst, so instead of cuddling him in the rain, I swung him on my back and off we went towards home. It was great to feel a cuddle from him on my back just like the good ole days, when we started this babywearing journey together so many years ago. SO sweet.

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