Getting Carried Away
This week it is International Baby Wearing Week 2020 and I often get questions about my carriers. I have been wearing my kids (sounds like a designer!) for 3 years and counting. I'm contemplating at this very moment buying my fourth carrier - don't tell my husband...
I always knew from the moment I was pregnant that I would use a carrier - little did I know just how much! Don't get me wrong, I still love my buggies (all 5 of them, that's another story of what not to do!) but carriers offer one major advantage to me...
Of the many benefits of carriers it was the freedom that appealed to me. The freedom to carry on with and include them in my everyday life.
Simple things, like the freedom to get the dinner made, to head off on a family hike in the mountains, to chase after my 3 year old on his scooter, to the bigger things, like freedom to travel (OK not right now), but an airport with a carrier is so much easier than a buggy, freedom to BE YOU!
I think it gives the kids freedom too, freedom to explore the world together with you. You get to see the world through their eyes and vice versa.
The other benefits; increasing bonding, decreasing SIDS & flat head syndrome, aiding in development, helping with gas (theirs) and usually results in a calmer baby and caregiver, oh and the naps....did I mention the naps?
I have heard over and over again from such a range of different people that they would have loved to use a carrier, but their baby didn't like it or they were too small, too tall, it hurt their back, they found it scary or overwhelming, or just didn't know where to begin.
So here's the secret - talk to a Baby Wearing Consultant! They exist and are so incredibly helpful. I have just moved home to Ireland and I found Babywearing Ireland (www.babywearing.ie) has a list of consultants and shops that offer fittings and consultations. They can guide you on what type of carrier is suitable for you, teach you how to use it ergonomically and safely (for you and baby) and impart a wealth of knowledge.
Make it easy on yourself, babywearing is about reducing stress, not causing it. Most of us start our baby wearing journey in a sleep deprived, wtf just happened state and if you are like me (in the picture), in no way capable of remembering how to tie your own shoes, never mind the complexity of a carrier.
A babywearing consultant will take you through the various types of carriers, from wraps, ring slings, soft structured, structured and more. You and your baby WILL find the one for you.
My first carrier was the Ergobaby 360, it is a structured carrier, and can be used in so many different positions. It can be used from birth with the newborn insert, but I found it too stiff for the first few months, it came into it's own from about the 5 month mark, Jack could face either inwards to soothe him or have a nap, or face outwards and explore the world with me. It is an incredibly easy carrier to get to grips with, with simple clips and adjustments, it really reminds me of a hiking backpack. It is my husbands preferred carrier, and Nana and Granddad love it too. 3 years later, it is still going strong and we use it almost everyday. It costs just shy of EUR 140 (extra for the insert) and I think a really good option.
When Nova, my second came along, I knew I wanted to carry her from birth, especially with a 2 year old learning to scoot, climb, run and cause general chaos. I felt the Ergobaby wasn't right for me at this stage and wanted something softer. I got a Hana cotton wrap. They are suitable from birth up until 9kg - so roughly 9 months. They cost just under EUR 55. I loved my wrap for the first few months, I had practiced tying it a lot before Nova was born, so was relatively competent at it - and went back again to the consultant with her for final tweaks. It was so comfortable for both of us, and the softness really felt right for such a small baby. However it was a bit time consuming to put on. I was living in Dubai at the time and constantly in and out of the car for nursery drop off,I found it wasn't so convenient when I was under pressure to move quickly. This led me to my third carrier purchase - I wanted the softness of the Hana wrap with the ease of the Ergobaby....
Enter my favourite of all the carriers - my Tula Free to Grow. It was a love affair from the beginning. It was so easy to use, unbelievably comfortable, suitable from birth, soft, really funky designs and...has a POCKET POUCH!! Nova is 11 months old now, and even though this model doesn't facilitate her facing forwards (the Tula Explore does!), it is still my go to because of how comfortable it is. Had I got this carrier first, would I still have bought the others? I don't know - possibly, they have all served me so well, but I have a strange emotional connection to the Tula. It isn't my husbands favourite, and my mum and dad also rather the Ergobaby, but for me...and Nova I think...the Tula is our winner. They usually cost EUR 140, but Tula are doing a Sale for Babywearing week on the model and design we have, so they are at EUR 104,93. Link here.
Ours has been washed numerous times, and I am even more in love the distressed effect.
I mentioned I am considering a fourth carrier purchase...I know I might be mad...but hear me out. Jack at 3 is too big for the carriers we have - weight wise he can still go in the Ergobaby on your back, but he doesn't like that he can't see. He LOVES being up on your shoulders...so, we are consider the Mini Meis. A new carrier on the market that was invented by Scandinavian Dads, and gives you hands free, safe shoulder carrying. Suitable from 6 months to 5 years - it may be perfect for family hikes in places buggies just can't go. It costs EUR 149 and was voted Invention of the year by Time Magazine in 2019. Watch this space...I feel an order coming on...
So, the key things you need to know about Babywearing - get a consultant, try the different carriers, realise that there may not be just one carrier for your babywearing journey.
Importantly when it comes to safe babywearing these remember to follow the rule of T.I.C.K.S:
T = Tight. Tight enough to hug your baby close to you, no slack fabric.
I = Inview. You should be able to see their little face just my glancing down.
C = Close enough to Kiss. Your babies head should be as close to your chin as comfortably possible, and you should be able to kiss their head or forehead easily.
K = Keep Chin off Chest. A baby should never be curled so their chin is tucked to their chest, this can impair their breathing. Ensure there is always a finger width gap.
S = Supported Back. In an upright carrier your baby should be held closely to you, their back supported in it's natural position and tummy and chest are against you.
I'm not an expert, but after 3 years, I have worn a baby hiking, cooking, cleaning, at a wedding, on the loo, travelling, trying on jeans, moving house, to a festival and have converted my closest family to baby wearers! So please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org.