Saturday, October 9, 2010

Have you worn your baby today?

Me with my daughter (then 4) and my son (then 6 months).

A friend on Facebook posted this link: Baby Carrier Industry Alliance

And since I'm all for Babywearing, I figured I jump into the mix with a blog of babywearing of my own!

In the 8 years I've been a parent, I have tried many slings, carriers, etc.  I have two, out of the dozens that I have tried, that I highly recommend.

The first one is the Moby Wrap.  I love this wrap.  I'm using it in the above photo.  It's everything I want and nothing I don't.  I wraps around my body and my baby so securely, so snugly, so perfectly that it's hard not to fall in love with it immediately.  My only dislike about this wrap is the back carry.  I could not get my boys to stay on my back while I wrapped them in, but also because my boys were constantly up and down.  For them, as infants, the Moby was a life saver.  But once they became a part of the mobility crowd, the Moby did not fit my needs, as well.

So, then I found the Ergo Carrier.  This is perfect for the back carry.  I would just "swing" my kids up onto my back, pull the staps up and go.  In fact, it worked perfectly with the Moby.  How?  Because when I had my boys, they were 18 months apart.  I would wrap myself and my newborn in the Moby.  Then I would put my toddler on my back and pull up the Ergo (I wish I could find a picture of this...I know I have one somewhere).  There were times we were out (myself and my 3 kids) and both boys would be sleeping (the Ergo has a "sleep hood" where you pull it over the sleeping child's head and it keeps their head from falling back) and I was still able to be out and about with my daughter.  Now, I do have to say this:  I did not like the Ergo for a newborn.  Even with the infant insert.  Why?  I always felt that it allows too much "slouch".  Baby couldn't really be supported as well, I felt, as the Moby--which would wrap them and keep them from slouching down.  So, I only used the Ergo for when they could sit up on their own and were mobile.  But, I do have friends who swear by it for the entire time a sling/carrier is needed.  Preference, but it's completely safe either way and it just depends on how you feel with the carrier vs. a wrap.

For myself, personally, the Moby and the Ergo are all that is needed.  Now, some people prefer the Mei Tai (not to be confused with the drink).  I did try this carrier and while it was good, it just wasn't for me.  Although I do know a lot of people who prefer the Mei Tai over the Ergo (again, preference).

Still, there are others who prefer the Ring Sling.  I tried this sling and it just wasn't as comfortable for me to use.  I tend to prefer carriers that distribute weight evenly across my back and shoulders.  Obviously, with the ring sling, one shoulder will take the weight.  This always caused my back to feel "off"...so this sling ended up in the donation pile.

Of course, no sling/wrap/carrier is safe if you do not use it properly. And there are some slings that just are not safe (remember the Infantino Sling Rider?).  Just because a carrier/sling/wrap gets a lot of "stars" online, doesn't mean it's a great sling.  You have to try the slings on yourself and make sure you are comfortable with the safety and comfort of the sling (and keep in mind that whatever carrier/sling/wrap you decide on should keep the baby upright and fully supported without "hiding" their face).

Not all carriers are alike.  And not every great carrier is great for everyone.  More and more stores are carrying a variety of carriers (I noticed that Babies R Us is now carrying the Moby Wrap and Ergo in addition to the BabyBjorn).  Use this to your advantage!  Really try them out and see how they work for you.  Most stores have a 30 day return policy, so you can take your choice home, try it out in "real life situations" and see if it works for you.  If you cannot do this, Craigslist always has a bunch of Ergos and Moby Wraps for sale (please do not buy "knock-offs" from anyone, as their safety cannot be ensured).  Ask around in your community and see if there is a local babywearing mom who will help you.  I remember when I had my 2nd, so many people commented on the Moby Wrap and were genuinely interested in it.  There were numerous times I actually unwrapped myself and my baby and let the other mom try it on with her child (and several times I saw the same mom a few weeks later with the wrap).

The next issue I wanted to touch on was the statement that slings "reduce the incidence of PPD in mothers".  I'll make a very short comment on this, since I do have personal experience here (which I blogged about here).  Babywearing didn't do that for me.  I still got a full blown case of PPD (in my case, it was more aptly named PPTSD).  HOWEVER, I will say that because I was so adamant about babywearing, I believe that I held my 2nd child (and 3rd) MORE even though I had PPD/PPTSD.  More than I would have if I wasn't babywearing.  I can imagine the stress my little guy was going through during that time and I hope that wearing him and keeping him close to me, despite my issues, helped give him a sense of love and closeness that I was, otherwise, unable to give him at the time.  So, while I disagree that babywearing can prevent or reduce PPD, I do believe that babywearing can help during PPD.

Babywearing is very important.  It keeps your baby close and warm (just like they want to be) and allows you to still do what you need to do.  Despite what a lot of people say, you cannot hold a baby too much.  It does not prevent them from being independent--all of my kids were worn as much as possible and they are all very, very independent.  In fact, I believe it helps with their independence as long as the parent respects when the child wants to get down and explore and when they want to be held.  Babywearing instills that sense of safety that a child cannot get from being in an infant seat or stroller, and while those items do have their place, I believe that babies really need to be held close to the ones who love them.  Everyone can successfully wear their baby and I think that most people who do, will find that it agrees with their lifestyle pretty well (we can keep doing most of the adult stuff we need to do and still hold and cuddle our bundles of joy).  But the thing I love the most about babywearing (well, besides the closeness)?  I don't have to cart a stroller around.  Frees up the trunk and is more easily maneuverable.

Overall, I really do believe that babywearing makes for a happier parent and a happier baby/child.  What better way to keep you little one close while still having 2 hands to do the things you need to do?  :)

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