Wednesday, August 31, 2011

intro into babywearing: choosing a carrier

babywearing has become a passion of mine (and my husband may even go so far as to call it an obsession). i have done so much research on this subject, and if money weren't so tight right now, i would become a professional babywearing instructor. as it is, i am just a mama who wants to share a few things with you. when i first started on this journey, i was so overwhelmed by the options. and so friends, this is my post to you! a great place to start your wonderful journey.

so many people will tell you to buy a baby bjorn and so much inside of me screams NO, DON"T DO IT!!!!

they are the most uncomfortable carrier i have tried. it hurt my back and made me feel wobbly. plus, lily did not feel secure and if i had bent over too far, i fear she would have fallen out. baby bjorns and the like (i.e. snuggli, infantino, etc.) are referred to as "crotch dangler" baby carriers. if you look at the way the baby sits in these carriers, they are, indeed, suspended by their "crotch." not only are these carriers super uncomfortable and unsafe, they can also be detrimental to a baby's physical development (another post will address safety). they are not ergonomically designed and having a baby's legs dangle in the manner they do can cause hip displasia and puts stress on their little spines. while there is little scientific evidence that i have found to support this, why chance it when there are much better and way more comfortable options out there?! not to mention, these brands (especially infantino and snuggli) have shotty workmanship and i have heard multiple instances where a strap or buckle starts to come loose! yikes!

have i convinced you to try a different kind of carrier yet?!

all of the carriers i am listing here are from reputable companies or work at home mommies. the carriers are made with the quality materials and safe hardware. they also keep baby secure and all will keep their knees above their hips in a nice deep seat.

if you were looking at a baby bjorn, you may like a soft structured carrier (ssc). these have a body with straps that snap close. we recently bought one of these for josh so we can go hiking with our baby as they have padded straps on the shoulders and around the hips. they can also be worn on the front or the back (often times people want to get frame carriers for hiking. just make sure you can try it out before you buy to make sure it is comfortable for you and your baby, that your baby feels nice and secure, and make sure it doesn't dangle baby by the crotch).

recommended brands (based on personal use or ratings/reviews i have read):
olives and applesauce (o&a)
oh snap from babyhawk
action baby carriers
dream carriers
two mommas designs
kanga carriers
ella belly click
pikkolo by catbirdbaby

this is like a ssc except the straps tie instead of buckle. these are nice for multiple wearers as the straps don't need to be adjusted every time someone new wears the carrier. these can be worn on the front or the back. there are variations of this carrier as well. you can get a taller body or extra long straps. a wrap conversion (wc) is a mei tai (mt) that is made from a woven wrap so you get the best of both worlds. wrapstar is a pretty reputable company that makes wc. others are boutique bella bambini, bamberoo, dream carriers and ocah). a podaegi (pod) has a soft body, like a blanket that you tuck under baby's bum and then tie the straps around his or her body. zidee makes a pod, but i couldn't find a website to link. wrapstar also makes a pod. there is also an onbuhino (onbu) that has rings and no hip strap as well. two mommas desings makes these. and so does happy slings.

recommended brands:
dream carriers
two mommas desings
ella belly
happy slings
catbird baby

quite a few mommas make these on etsy. however, i want to caution you. the fabrics that are safe enough to hold a baby tend to get pricey so while $30 seems like a steal, it is probably not very safe. also, as i have seen, many of these mommas don't do X boxes on the straps which is also worrisome. you wouldn't want those straps to come out while wearing your baby! there are also directions online, but i would just recommend buying used.

these are great slings to use right from the beginning (as mt's and ssc's sometimes can't be used in the brand new little squish stage). these are also very affordable (but can also get very pricey). some brands even have water slings that are made to dry quickly but protect baby from the sun!

ring slings (rs) go over one shoulder and are threaded through rings. once a baby gets bigger, they help a momma with a hip carry but it can be straining on the wearer's shoulder and back. they are also probably the cheapest to make yourself. these are NOT the same thing a bag slings, which have been recalled and are often called bags of death. if you cannot wear your baby up by your face, it is NOT a safe sling.

recommended brands:
sleeping baby productions
maya wrap
sakura bloom
boutique bella bambini
kalea baby
comfy joey
posh papoose

directions for diy
remember when you make your own rs only use recommended fabrics and aluminum or nylon rings. hardware rings or craft rings can come apart. again, safety is the issue here.

pouches are similar to rings slings as they drape over one shoulder. they fold up very small and fit great in a diaper bag. however, they must fit perfectly or they don't work right, aren't safe, and tend to be very uncomfortable.

recommended brands:
karma baby
gorgeous baby
peanut shell
lucky baby

while i know that sevenslings offers codes for a free sling (all you pay is a ridiculous amount of shipping) stay away from this brand. they are a single layer, cheap fabric, scratchy sling. they aren't even double stitched. they are making money on the shipping and may not be safe! remember, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. plus, they are uncomfortable and in my honest opinion, not worth the money.

i may dedicate a whole post to wraps in the future. they are my loves. :)

wraps are a long piece of fabric that you wrap around your body and tie in various ways to hold the baby close to your heart.

stretchy wraps:
these are probably more well known through the brand moby. they are made from a jersey material so they are soft and snuggly and perfect for a newborn. however, once a baby gets to be about 15 pounds, they are not supportive enough and start to sag with baby.

recommended brands:
sleepy wrap
anaju by 3 tree designs
wrapsody bali stretch (great for a little heavier babies as they are more supportive)

yes, you can even make your own!! this is probably the least expensive option, which is good as babies grow out of these quickly.

woven wraps:
these are made from organic fabrics (usually) that are specifically woven to carry a baby. they are pricey but can be used from brand new little baby all the way up to 40 pound kiddo. the reason that these are soo expensive is because of the quality and you really do get what you pay for in this area. a good size to start with is a 6 or a 4.6 metered wrap (but if you are really fluffy, you may want one that is a little bigger). some of these can be hard to find new as they are all made in other countries.

recommended brands:
gypsy mama/wrapsod

you can also make your own woven. however, i did not feel safe using a cheap fabric for this and the other recommended fabrics ended up getting so pricey that i was better off buying used.

some places to buy new carriers:
piece of cloth
granola babies
the blueberry tree
metro minis

to buy used:
the baby wearer (tbw)
the baby center (bbc) babywearing swap (and their fb page)

happy hunting and i hope you feel more brave now and are willing to try something new!

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