First off, I have to thank my friend Kristen for getting me completely hooked on babywearing and changing my life. She is a mother of two beautiful daughters, photographer, designer, and a leader of her local babywearing group.
WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?
Every time I have a baby in a wrap, people stop and ask me about them. “Wow. Your baby looks so comfy and you have both hands free. Where did you buy that?” Older ladies almost always say, “I wish I had one when I was having my babies. They didn’t have things like that when I was young.”
So many people have been asking me about babywearing I thought I’d write up a page instead of trying to write an e-mail every time … not that I’m an expert or anything. Wearing my baby is just one of my favourite things to do.
There are literally millions of sites about babywearing and thousands of merchants selling wraps. I’ve put together some pictures and links to get you started.
WHY WEAR BABIES?
Here’s why I wear my babies. If you want scientific backup for everything, check out the links in the paragraph above.
There are various kinds of carriers. I have the most common ones: a few wraps, a mei tai, a pouch, and a ring sling.
A wrap is just a long piece of cloth. A mei tai is a type of soft structured carrier, usually a rectangular piece with four long straps coming off each corner. A pouch is a ring of fabric you put around yourself and put the baby inside. A ring sling is a strip of fabric with a ring on one end that you slip the other end through to adjust the size. It’s sort of like having an adjustable pouch.
I haven’t written anything about ring slings because they just drive me crazy. A lot of my friends really like them but I could never adjust it quite right to where it was comfortable and as with all one-shoulder carries my back hurts if I do it too long.
There are 2 kinds of wraps: knit (stretchy) and woven (not stretchy). The stretchy kind is soft, cheap, and is easier to learn to wrap with. It works best with newborns and small babies but as babies gain weight you may want to switch to a woven wrap which has better back support.
If you want a soft stretchy knit wrap to start with, you should check out the MobyWrap. It’s the most affordable option out there if you pick one of the plain solid colours so it’s good for a first wrap and for practicing with. If you want something prettier they have organic wraps and ones with silk panels. Each wrap comes with a very helpful booklet of instructions (available online for free).
I don’t use my Moby very much because I prefer using my Storch (the one Ben is using on the right with the purple backpack) or Ellaroo. I just keep it on hand to lend it to people who want to try out babywearing.
After trying out various kinds of carriers, I keep coming back to wraps. They are my favourite because they are the most adjustable, customisable, and versatile. They have the best back support which is important for carrying babies for longer times. Also, I enjoy feeling and using beautiful woven fabric. The way these things are made is absolutely fascinating (Storchenwiege, Didymos, Hoppediz).
If you have a slightly longer wrap, you can share it with a tall husband or little friends and you can use it from newborn to toddler, as your weight and torso size fluctuates with pregnancy and nursing (pre-baby 125 pounds to end-of-pregnancy 185 pounds, hehe). It can double as a baby blanket for naps or in the car, a nursing cover, and a belt plus cushion for shopping carts.
The beige wrap in the pictures is a Storchenwiege (Leo Natural, 4.6 m). I call it Storch (“stork”) for short because it’s such a mouthful of consonants. It’s a German woven wrap sometimes called the Mercedes-Benz of baby carriers. The wrap is so strong you could use it till they are 3 or 4 years old … and then pass it on to your kids to use with your grandkids. It a medium weight wrap meaning and I find it wonderful for all seasons except summer. After a few washes it gets really soft.
I also have two woven wraps made by EllaRoo (LaRae rebozo, 2.7 m; Christiane, 4.2 m). It’s the lightest, thinnest wrap I’ve found. I end up using these the most because it gets really hot here and because there’s less bulk in the diaper bag. I don’t have any pictures of the Christiane yet.
I love using the rebozo because it’s so light and it takes about 5 seconds to tie on securely. It’s nice for babies who want to be picked up and put down every couple minutes or for a quick run to the store. People often stare as I tie her on walking across the parking lot.
In the picture on the left, I am 4 months pregnant carrying at Rinah 14 months old and the rebozo still works just fine. On the right, I am holding 2-month old Zuri while doing housework.
You can make one yourself if you want to (instructions here). I started off my babywearing with a few yards of stretchy fabric I bought on clearance from Jo-Ann Fabrics. They cost me $5 each and worked great till Rinah started gaining a bit of weight.
The BabyHawk is a type of Asian carrier called a mei tai (pronounced “may tie” … NOT “my tie”) and it’s better for extended wearing because it goes over both shoulders and it’s padded. I can throw her on my back and do housework or travel from airport to airport with both hands free. I was really excited that the BabyHawk site has hundreds of beautiful fabrics to choose from and a bunch extra options for customizing your mei tai.
The one on the left is called Hotsling. I got a black and silver one (Reversible Mirror Ball) which I really, really like because I wear a lot of black and because I can use it with boy babies or girl babies. That pattern is discontinued now but there are a lot of new pretty patterns all the time. The fabric is kind of plasticky, though, and I don’t like it.
The pouch on the right is a Petunia Pickle Bottom Sojourn Sling in India Ink. I want this one. I tried it out at a store in town and the fabric is very soft and a bit stretchy. Lovely, lovely. There are a bunch of other patterns here and here that are definitely worth taking a look at.
What I don’t like about pouches is that if you’re like me and your weight goes up and down like a yo-yo, you need a new pouch for every size. Very annoying. Everything you can do with a pouch you can do with a wrap and they only go over one shoulder so they are not good for longer periods of time because they put more strain on your back. Bottom line, the only thing that pouches are better for than wraps is that they are faster to put on and take off.
WHERE TO BUY
When I started hunting for woven wraps, after hours of Googling I ended up at Cotton Cradles, where you can get the Ellaroo, Storch, Moby, and BabyHawk (but not custom BabyHawks … those have to be ordered directly from BH). It was the cheapest place for new wraps but it also sells “used” wraps in like new condition so you can get great deals on expensive wraps. The owner Lisa is a really sweet lady.
Cotton Cradles is the only place I’ve seen that rents wraps. Yes, rents them! If you’re not sure what you want, you can rent a wrap for just $10 plus shipping. All around amazing store. And I don’t get anything for saying that. I just like it.
If you don’t want to pay shipping and you know exactly what you want, go to The Natural Mothering Shop. They take PayPal and they have Moby, Storch, and Hoppediz and have free shipping over $75.
If you’re buying a Hotsling or a Moby, you can get them with free shipping at Cotton Babies.
MamaToto and WrapYourBaby are good sites with lots of pictures on how to tie the baby on. There is a book and a video available as well. Moby Wrap has clear instructions with photos on how to wear your baby.
HISTORY OF BABYWEARING
Until the 19th century, everyone around the world from the ancient Egyptians to the 16th century Europeans wore their babies. Now everyone except “civilized” people do. I “borrowed” the paintings from this site andthis site about the history of babywearing.
ONLINE BABYWEARING COMMUNITY
If you spend a lot of time online, then there’s a big online community of baby wearers and a forum where people will answer any questions you have at TheBabyWearer.com.
It’s very easy to wear your baby. You will love it and your baby will, too. Babies who are worn are much more emotionally secure and develop better mentally and physically. Picture and video instructions on how to wear them can be confusing (I found them to be, anyway) but don’t give up! If you live nearby and would like me to show you how to do it, I’d be really happy to. Feel free to e-mail me or call me anytime (five-oh-nine, four-two-zero, three-seven-six-seven) if you have questions or want to meet up. I’d love to hear from you!