Posts Tagged ‘ring sling’

My Babywearing Story

October 3, 2010

I suppose you could say I came to babywearing in a pretty typical way. I was working in my shop, about 6m pregnant, and saw a woman come in with her baby all wrapped up in fabric. It was red, and looked far sassier than the ubiquitous navy blue carrier that I’d seen everywhere else. Her baby looked so close and snuggly, I stopped her to ask what it was and where I could get one. I think I went out the next day and bought my first Moby wrap. I couldn’t wait for the baby to arrive so we could try it out.

Michael and I both loved it. Peanut was born pretty little, just over 6 pounds, and wouldn’t have fit in that other carrier. The Moby wrap was perfect. We wore it ALL THE TIME. I wore it so much, I thought, hey, there must be other stuff out there that we may like…let’s do some research. I spent most of my summer quarter that year sitting in class, reading on The Baby Wearer about other carriers. I decided that a Hotsling would be perfect for us: easy to put on, snuggly, and cute! I loved my Hotsling even more than I loved my Moby, and we soon found lots of other amazing carriers.

The things we were able to do with Ryan in a carrier was amazing. People often commented on how well-behaved Ryan was out in public, how she never cried, how she seemed so content. Studies certainly support that children carried more cry less, and are generally calmer, no doubt because their needs are attended to more quickly. Babywearing also helped us become more confident parents. We were able to sort out Ryan’s needs quickly, and we learned more about her as we wore her in slings and carriers. We knew our daughter amazingly well, and could anticipate her next move.

We were also able to go on with our lives as we liked them (to a point!). Ryan just came along in the slings and carriers! She napped anywhere, through anything. She went on 20+ flights in her first year and we were always complimented on her wonderful behavior. Of course she was happy, she was close to her parents! We went to fairs and festivals, big cities and small road trips. None of which would have been as easy if we hadn’t had carriers.

Through all this, REgarding Peanut was born, too…so you could say that babywearing helped me give birth to my second “baby”. My little business has offered me an outlet to help new parents, and was a gateway towards finding another passion: childbirth education. I plan to become a doula some day, and would probably have never found this path without carriers.

Fast forward 4.5 years to the birth of our second daughter, Finleigh. I honestly don’t understand how one can parent a subsequent child without a baby carrier! Finleigh spent the first 3 months of her life almost exclusively in a sling. It was easy to nurse her when necessary, but still tend to Ryan’s needs. I was able to take Ryan to her usual playdates and parties, while keeping Finleigh safe and warm on me. I am able to make lunch for Ryan, take her to ride her bike, and help her get dressed, all while wearing Fin. Without carriers, one of my two daughters would have suffered the loss of mommy’s attention. Ryan would have been plugged into the TV while I tended to Fin, or Fin would have been relegated to a bouncy chair while I tended to Ryan. Babywearing is a win-win.

And scientifically, babywearing is a win-win for all involved. It’s THE SAFEST WAY TO TRANSPORT YOUR BABY. Hands down. Over 7 million slings have been sold in the last 20 years, not including those made by desperate mothers needing to calm an upset baby. True, 9 babies have died while in slings. None of those deaths (though tragic) were found to be the fault of the sling. Slings are good for babies. They’re good for parents.

If you feel this way too (and I know you do, you’re here!), please consider joining the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance. A baby sling recall is imminent this coming week, and the BCIA needs our help in several ways:

If you can find $25 to join as a supporter, please do.

Share your babywearing story on your blog, on a friend’s blog, on my blog (email me to have your story included), or on the BCIA page.

Write to your Senators and Congress people about how babywearing affects your life, and the lives of those you love. They are our representatives in government, and they have the ability to control or alter the scope of the CPSC. They are the ones who can help us most.

If it comes to it, we may be asking you to contact your local media outlets in support of babywearing.

Please stay tuned for more information, and more ways to support babywearing. Our childrens’ futures literally depend on our actions today.

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What Carrier Should I Get??

February 4, 2010

This is a question that I’m asked all the time: what carrier is going to work well for me?

Well…if I could answer that in a simple word or two, you wouldn’t be asking me! But I do have some simple guidelines to help you decide. Of course, if you’re local to me, call or email for an appointment and we’ll sort it out in person. If you’re out of the Seattle area, you can find a local babywearing group, another babywearing junkie, or take advantage of our fantastic return policy (30 days for a full refund, minus shipping).

So, you’ve got a newborn. And she doesn’t want to be put down. Ever. Well, biologically, that’s her job. She knows that she needs to for survival, and so her greatest desire is to stay with you. You’re food, warmth, and you smell really good (baby does not care if you haven’t showered today). So, you might want to go for a walk, or eat a sandwich, or go potty, or chase a toddler…you NEED a carrier.

Or, you’ve got a 9 month old who’s all of a sudden scared of new people, new situations, and pretty much anything that’s not mom or dad. Oh, and he’s going through a growth spurt, learning to crawl, and teething. You NEED a carrier, too!

What carrier will work for you will depend on several different scenarios, including the age and size of your baby, the length of time you expect to wear him/her, your own physical abilities, and of course, personal preference.

Ring Slings:

Ring Slings are great for newborns as they position them upright, which so many newborns love (helps with digestion, especially for reflux/colicky babies). They’re quick to put on once you learn how, and easy to take off when you’re ready. It’s one of the easiest carriers to learn how to nurse in, which makes it particularly convenient for moms of more than one child. Ring slings also work well as the baby gets older. They can sit on your hip and see the world around them without facing directly out. Not only is this more comfortable for you (and your kiddo), but it allows your child to lay down her head and fall asleep when she’s overwhelmed with that big world out there.

Ring slings may not be ideal for you if you’ve had back, neck or shoulder trauma in the past. If you’re thinking, but what about that long tail? It’s kind of hippy dippy! I have to admit, when I first started babywearing, I shied away from ring slings for that very reason. But, the tail can be wrapped around the rings, tucked into the carrier, used to cover a sleeping baby or cover a baby as you run to the car in the rain, and I like to believe it hanging all long and pretty makes me look taller and thinner! Don’t know if that’s true, but I’m rolling with it! They also “fancy” up a plain outfit…ring slings make sweats look good!

Pouch Slings:

Pouch slings are super easy to use, and really quick to put on. They’re ideal for a slightly older baby, one who’s ready to see the world and hang out on your hip. Because they’re so quick to take on and off, they’re great for running errands, and for that baby who likes to be up and down and up and down and up and down…Pouch slings are great for babies 4 months and older, once they can hold themselves up pretty well and are ready to sit on your hip.

They’re not the ideal carrier for newborns, as it can be challenging to get a newborn properly positioned in it. Additionally, many newborns dislike the cradle carry, which is just about the only way to wear a newborn in a pouch sling. Like the ring sling, these are not great for parents with back, neck or shoulder trauma. Pouch slings also MUST be sized correctly to be both comfortable and safe for parent and baby. Because of this, most families will need to own more than one pouch sling to fit both mama and papa (and any other caregivers) properly. Good thing we’ve got some serious steals on pouch slings right now…

Wraps:

Stretchy wraps, or the Wrapsody Bali Baby Stretch Wrap (my all time favorite, and a hybrid, rather than a full stretch) are excellent for younger babies, but work great for bigger babes as well. Because these wraps stretch only in the width, they offer a lot more support than many of the other stretchy wraps on the market today (which have 4 way stretch, and will stretch out in the length). Wraps offer the most versatility of wear: baby can face in with legs in or out, can face out with legs in or out, can sit on your hip, can ride on your back, and can be used with no minimum weight limit all the way up for 30 pounds, making them perfect for preemies. Wraps are super comfortable, offering full body support for you and baby. They’re perfect for parents with body pain, like fibromyalgia or MS.

What’s not perfect about wraps? Well, they’re long. And that can be overwhelming. Most parents get the hang of it in just a few days/wearings, but can feel like it’s a lot of fabric some days. Wraps can be pre-tied, making errands a lot quicker, and they’re really snuggly at home with baby, when you know you’ll be wearing for a length of time.

Woven wraps feature most of the same pluses and minuses of the stretch wraps, but they can comfortably support a much bigger child. Parents who need to wear an older child (maybe due to low tone, or just a super whiny 4 year old) would do well with a woven wrap.

Mei Tai:

Mei Tais (may-tie, not my-tie, those are drinks…) offer a lot of the same benefits of the wraps, but can be a lot less overwhelming to wear. A newborn will be snuggled deep in the mei tai, offering the ultimate of swaddled snuggliness while a bigger kiddo will be able to have arms and legs out and be free to see the world with you. It will offer plenty of support for the parent, with wide straps and a waist strap that helps distribute some of the baby’s weight onto your hips. Though the straps are long, once you get the hang of wearing it, you can tie a mei tai up in a matter of seconds. Mei tais can be worn on the front, the hip, the back, and some brands (like Cat Bird Baby) can even be worn with the baby facing foward.

A mei tai might not be right for you if you feel insecure with tying your carrier, or like the idea of buckles (discussed below). It may not be right if your baby really prefers some freedom at the newborn stage, and isn’t keen on swaddling or being tightly snuggled (in that case, a wrap might be better). An “off the rack” mei tai might not be for you if you’re very small or more generously sized. The straps are a “standard length” and may not offer enough support for bigger parents, and may be overwhelming for tiny parents. They seem to fit mamas sized 4-16 best, and dads up to at least a size medium, depending on how broad those shoulders are.

Soft Structured Carrier:

This is where it all gets a little tricky…soft structured carriers (like the Pikkolo, Ergo, Beco, Boba, Oh Snap, etc) are awesome for bigger kids. And I do mean AWESOME. But for smaller babies, under 15 pounds, and newborns will little core strength, they’re just not ideal. The Pikkolo will do. It’ll totally work…it has a taller body and will support a small babe well. It can also cinch at the base, allowing a newborn to have legs out (which many, but not all, enjoy). The others in this category do not allow for a newborn to have legs out, which requires that the newborn (or smaller baby) froggy his legs. Not all kids like this. Some of them (Ergo in particular) have a short body, and will not support a newborn’s head, or the torso of a very tall, young baby. Yes, there is an insert, but it can be cumbersome, challenging to use, and honestly, if you have to stick something extra in it, it’s probably not the right carrier for this phase of baby’s life.

BUT, once your baby hits about 15 pounds (give or take, of course), the Soft Structured category is amazing. They’re supportive, comfortable for both of you, and “industrial strength”. They’ve seen me through a zoo trip with a three and a half year old who didn’t want to walk anymore, and helped me bowl with a 6 month old on my back (asleep!). But for a newborn, I recommend something much snugglier.

So, in the end, is there ONE carrier that’s perfect for you? Maybe. But more likely, it’s going to be more than one…if really pressed to make a choice, I’d suggest a ring sling (for ease of use) and something with 2 shoulders (so a wrap, mei tai, or even soft structured carrier). I think with two carriers, you’re likely to be a very happy parent. Plus, if one gets spit up on or pooped in, you’ll have an alternate!

Check us out!!

February 4, 2010

We’ve been featured on Sakura Bloom’s blog

They’re doing an amazing “Share the Love” event, focusing on local babywearing groups. You can purchase a raffle ticket to win a $100 gift certificate to any number of shops, and the babywearing group with the most tickets purchased will win a full set of Sakura Bloom slings for their lending library (all the groups will get at least one sling).