By Christine Gross-Loh
Issue 113, July/August 2002
Six tips to help you wear your baby comfortably and safely.
1. Try several types of carriers. Different ones serve different purposes. Soft structured carriers such as the Ergo are popular among many babywearing parents. Wraps, such as the Moby or GypsyMama are also very versatile, and gorgeous to boot. I highly recommend buying or borrowing a few other types as well. I consider a ring sling to be all-purpose and easy to get baby in and out of, a soft structured carrier or mei tai helpful for longer walks or shopping, and the Korean blanket carrier nice for regular housework or other activities at home. Each has its pros and cons, and you'll be able to figure out what suits you only through experimenting. Because of my small build, not all slings work for me; many are too cumbersome and full of padding, but there are so many out there that you can choose one that fits you well.
2. Be persistent, start early, and try the carrier again if it doesn't seem to work out at first. I had great success with a sling for the first few weeks, but after that, Benjamin went through a stage where he didn't seem to like it. I tried the sling a few weeks later and it worked well for us again. Depending on the baby's head control and your own proficiency with different positions, some carriers will work at some times and not at others. I had the Baby Trekker for a month before I figured out how Benjamin liked to be carried in it. And I was not comfortable with the Korean blanket while Benjamin was a very tiny newborn. I recommend trying out a new carrier just after your baby has been fed and is in a good mood; this will make the experience smoother for both of you.
3. Wear your baby high with both the sling and vertical front packs like the Baby Bjorn. This prevents back discomfort and allows you to carry a much heavier burden.
4. Get expert help. I felt a bit odd carrying Benjamin around in a sling when no other mothers in my community were doing so, but then I went to a La Leche League meeting and encountered many sling-wearers. From their examples and hands-on advice, I was able to master several different carrying positions. The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears [Little, Brown & Co., 1993) has some great advice and diagrams on babywearing, but there's nothing quite like having another mother help you out. Relatives and friends taught me how to use the Korean blanket carrier, after which I felt instantly connected to the generations of mothers who had used it.
5. Go on-line. There are lots of resources with information about baby carrying.
Here are just a few:
- SoBeBabies: www.sobebabies.com
- The Portable Baby: www.theportablebaby.com
- Peppermint.com www.peppermint.com
- Baby Bundler - www.babybundler.com
- BabySling.com - www.babysling.com
- Maya Wrap - www.mayawrap.com
- Babywearing International www.babywearinginternational.org
- Babywearing Safety Facebook Page www.facebook.com/BabywearingSafety
- Kangaroo Korner www.kangarookorner.com
6. Teach others how to use your carriers. My husband enjoys using a fleece sling or a frame backpack to carry Benjamin; my mother puts him on her back. Our occasional mother's helper has learned that having Benjamin close to her guarantees a fuss-free afternoon and a nap. As for Benjamin, he hardly notices which one of us is carrying him.