Firstly, congratulations! and secondly, listen up. Let me do you a huge favour and introduce you to the world of baby wearing. Yes, I know that it sounds like some hippyish baby fad (I thought so too) but you will just have to trust me on this one. In my last post I listed my baby carrier as my number one mummy/baby purchase and with good reason. Let me fill you in…
For you newbies who are still learning words like Bugaboo and swaddle, ‘baby wearing’ basically means strapping your little one to your chest, hip or back in some way. Parents all over the world have practiced this for years. The midwife in my antenatal class was a huge advocate of baby wearing and bluntly explained that many women in the developing world do not have the time and luxury that us spoilt western mamas have of putting our babies down in bouncers and play gyms. They have to get back to work and so their babies go with them, strapped to their chests, hands free to continue working.
So many parents find that their new babies need constant holding and rocking and hate being put down, placed in cots and some even hate the pram as they get older (mine does!). They are not bad babies with a secret plot to control your life, it is just that they have spent nine months inside a human body and the world is pretty overwhelming for them. They are used to hearing their Mum’s heartbeat, feeling her warmth and falling to sleep to the noise and movement of her walking around and getting on with life. Your baby is not clingy or high maintenance, they are just a baby. If you are happy to rock and hold your baby in your arms for the next six months then that is fine but I think that you will get pretty tired and frustrated that you cannot get anything else done. Whilst cleaning the house is not important, you will need to eat.
Once you are looking out for it out you will see parents all over the place wearing their little ones in carriers. You might be fooled into thinking that it is just another way of transporting the mini human and that your pram will do the trick just as well but it is so much more than that. I wear Belle around the house most days as she naps. I know that in the carrier she will sleep for a couple of hours whereas on the bed I am lucky if she does more than 20 minutes. I am sure that as she gets older she will be more comfortable napping on her own but at this stage she needs me to help her fall asleep. Whilst we are in this early stage, wearing her means that I can be productive during those nap times.
When we go out of the house we probably use the carrier 90% of the time and the pram 10% of the time. We live in London (zone 2) and therefore we rely on the tube and buses to get around. This means that we avoid taking the pram out unless we have to. I hate playing Mummy buggy wars on the bus or having to wait for a kind stranger to help me get the pram up and downstairs on the tube. Don’t get me wrong, nothing beats a walk in a pretty park with a pram but navigating trains and shops day to day is so much easier with a carrier.
Choosing your carrier…
I use both a wrap carrier and a Ergobaby 360 with Belle as they are useful for different stages/situations/weight: what type of carrier you like is totally down to the individual. Where you can, borrow a friends, try them on and do your research. (North London even have a sling library service that you can use to help you to find the right carrier – how amazing!). I have also found this website which is a great resource to connect with other baby wearing mamas.
The Wrap Carrier
A wrap is essentially a very long strip of fabric that you tie around your body to carry your little one. You do have to be patient with yourself as you learn to tie them but you will get the hang of it and eventually you will be able to do it with your eyes shut. If you struggle then there are plenty of youtube videos to help you. The wrap that I used was the Kari-me but there are so many out there so shop around. I was given mine by a lovely friend which was perfect because they can be expensive.
In the early days this carrier was great as Belle would snuggle in and sleep for long periods of time even if there was lots of noise or chaos going on around us. She was close to my body and would settle really easily once she was in it and I was moving around. We had a family wedding to attend when B was less than two weeks old and to get through the day I wore her in the wrap and she slept through most of it totally unaffected by the wedding craziness. It was great as she was close to me, I knew that she was ok and she didn’t get passed around every single guest!
Now that Belle is 5.5kg I feel that she is too heavy for this carrier. I am not the strongest person in the world and I don’t find this carrier as comfortable now. However, I know that people carry their older babies and even toddlers in a wrap carrier so that is just a personal thing. I should probably just research some new ways of tying it now that she is bigger!
One of my favourite YouTubers Amanda Muse has a really helpful review of a wrap carrier here if you are interested *link here*. She is a fountain of wisdom when it comes to anything baby wearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping related – check her out!
The Ergobaby 360
I am sure that there are more Ergobaby carriers trotting around North London than buses. J and I both use the Ergobaby with Belle – everyday, without fail. It is quick to put on, comfortable and most importantly, Belle loves it. The design means that her weight is spread evenly over the hips, back and shoulders which means that wearing her for long periods of time is not a problem. I did my research before buying the Ergo and I am really happy with my decision.
I remember thinking that it was crazily expensive when we first got it but now knowing how great it is and how much we use it, I would pay double. So whilst it is a more expensive carrier option, the comfort that it offers makes it worth while. Even if you would be using a pram/car when out of the house, I would say that you would still get your money worth just using it around the house.
Added bonus – I have recently entered a new skill level with baby wearing and now that Belle has more neck control, I can actaully breastfeed in the carrier. Game changer! Sure you get some funny looks but if the baby needs a boob, then a boob she will have.
So that is it from me on baby wearing. I hope that this is a bit helpful for anyone considering buying a carrier. Please feel free to comment with any questions and I will do my best to answer.