I can’t seem to recall what first drew me to babywearing… I think I just saw the odd carrier here and there and thought it was a great idea for getting stuff done. I started reading online about the different kinds because if you go into Toys R Us, your options are pretty limited. I figured I would register for a popular Ergo and that would be that! And then the more I read, the more I got sucked into the world of babywearing…
It just made sense to me. I’ve learned quite a bit about attachment parenting while we were preparing to become adoptive parents. When we got pregnant, I knew our methods (and ease) of bonding with our child would be much different than if we were adopting a toddler. But I still looked forward to that closeness of having my newborn close to my chest. And, to be honest, I gravitated towards babywearing for the simple ease of having my hands free and getting stuff done. Leading up to my due date, colleagues and others I would engage with as I worked would ask how much time I was planning on taking off from my job. I told them I had anticipated taking much of December off, and then slowly getting back into things (a shock to some as in Canada many moms will take up to a year off). It was my hope that I could utilize babywearing as much as possible when I had to attend meetings, work functions and other events.
I was overwhelmed by all the different carriers out there… People would swear by their woven wrap, or their ring sling or their [insert baby carrier here]. Much like learning about cloth diapers, I had aimed to find the perfect carrier for us – why would we need many, I’m sure there is just one out there that would meet all our needs. And then I found that I wanted a couple… And then a few… I’m not suggesting that you need a million kind of carriers! I’m sure we could get away with just one! But we babywear so often and with working from home it is nice to have an assortment to choose for based on the situation.
As I said, I had planned on using babywearing as a way to work and care for A.J. simultaneously, Without intending for a previous post to be about babywearing, I just realized that my New Look on Life post (which focuses on how being a parent has impacted my look on life, work and social justice) features babywearing! It is just so natural to have A.J. close by as I work – not just work outside of the house, but around the house as I get stuff done here too. Case and point… Raking the leaves this fall!
I knew right from the get go I would want a soft structured carrier, a carrier with buckles that just snap into place. I figured it would be easy and give lots of support. My sister-in-law and mom gave me one for Christmas just after A.J. was born, an Ergo with an infant insert. We tried once to use it when A.J. was an infant (with the insert) and she admittedly she didn’t really care for it. But I also liked one of our other carriers better for when she was that tiny. But the Ergo is now (at 10 months old) one of our go-to carriers, especially on the back! Oh, the things I can get done around the house during cranky evening hours with her on my back!
Eventually I would love to invest in a toddler soft structured carrier (preferably Tula!), one that’s a little bigger with higher back support as she gets taller.
Yes, I knew I wanted an soft structured carrier like an Ergo (buckle it up and you’re good to go!), but I also wanted something a little less bulky for the newborn days. I was intimidated by these things I had come across called “wraps” (they’re so long! They come in different sizes! HOW am I supposed to hold a brand new baby and deal with all this fabric at the same time!). And then I came across K’tan, a great carrier for new parents who are a little intimidated by the number of products out there and how to use them. Some downsides to these types of carriers… They’re stretchy, so they don’t provide the best support past a certain weight (even if the product says they’re safe for up to 30 lbs or so, we stopped using ours after about 6 months). Also, K’tan comes in different sizes. So if you and your partner both plan to wear and you vary in sizes, a K’tan might not be the most practical. Mark and I both fit in the size we received, but Mark wasn’t a fan of the K’tan (he is partial to the Ergo!). In the newborn days, I loved the K’tan (like wearing an extra shirt) and how close A.J. snuggled to me. It will always be so special to me, the first carrier we used (she was about 5 days old) and lots of wonderful memories of our first days and weeks.
Once I saw just how easy baby wearing is, I thought “I can tackle wrapping!” This is also an overwhelming learning curve – there are different sizes (i.e. lengths) of wraps and all different ways to wrap. To be honest, I don’t use my wrap (a Little Frog, size 5 in Sandy Agate) as much as I thought. Partly due to the fact that I’m still not great at wrapping; it takes practice and of course I don’t think to practice until A.J. is fussy and needs to be worn in a hurry. New wraps also need the fabric to be broken in. But I love the colours and the variety of ways to carry with a wrap, so I’m going to keep at it!
I never thought I would want a ring sling. For the longest time, I thought this was a ring sling and I thought “that can’t be safe… And it can’t be used past the newborn stage!” I’ve learned that ring slings are much more versatile than I originally thought. I heard that they were great for quick ups and downs, and when Mark went back to work at six months, I found A.J. got super fussy around dinner hour when I was trying to cook. I found a used ring sling (Maya) off a local buy/sell/trade Facebook group (a great way to learn more about carriers and try them at a fraction of the price – sometimes at a fraction of the price… Wraps and ring slings, depending on the brand, can hold their value!). It wasn’t my prefered colour, but at a great price it was worth trying. For something I never thought I would want in the first place, it is probably tied with our Ergo for my go-to carrier! It is so quick to pop her in! I tend not to use it for long periods of times since it only goes over one shoulder, but it’s great for shopping and quick ups and downs during fussy periods.
Honestly, I only have one kid so far and don’t know what I would do some days without babywearing. How do parents of multiple kids do it without having their hands free?! I’m in awe….