Carry On!

Michaelyn updates us on what’s available in the world of baby carriers.

The first time I “wore” my infant son, I was desperate. He wouldn’t sleep anywhere – except on me. I loved the cuddling, but resented feeling so stuck. I couldn’t get dishes done, couldn’t change or fold laundry, and really couldn’t do much of anything very easily. I should have relished my forced relaxation. What an excuse! “I’m sorry, I couldn’t iron that shirt; the baby was sleeping in my arms.”

But, as much as I enjoyed my reason for sitting on the couch and reading a book instead of vacuuming, I just couldn’t stand that carpet anymore. Or those dirty dishes. Or the backed up laundry. At some point, things just have to get done. But, how would I do them with a child in my arms?

About that time, my sister introduced me to the world of baby-wearing by handing me a carrier she’d received, saying, “Here, maybe this will help.” Did it ever! Suddenly, I could do things a bit more easily with my son cradled against me, my arms freer to do whatever needed to be done.

It’s been five years since then, and as I neared my daughter’s due date this past June, I looked forward to wearing her, too. This time, though, I would give the carrier more thought. As I looked at the old one, I began to recall its drawbacks. It was a one shoulder pouch sling – great for ease of use, not so great for security. I recall that every time I bent over even slightly when my son was in it, my arms couldn’t be totally free. Any slight bend risked him tumbling to the floor.

So, I spent the months before my daughter’s birth testing out other options in baby-wearing. Here, I share how things changed, even as they stayed the same.

The Sling

Interestingly, in the five years since my son was born, basic pouch slings have become quite hard to find in stores, at least in my area. When I questioned a sales clerk about their disappearance, I discovered that many of the slings they carried were recalled due to suffocation and fall hazards.  Hmm . . . exactly what I worried about when I wore my son in the sling I used to use.

pouch sling

Michaelyn with her newborn son in a pouch sling

Still, some updated slings were available, mainly the ring sling. Unlike my rigid yet basic sling from half a decade ago, the ring sling is typically made of soft, stretchy fabric that allows the wearer to adjust to fit the baby as needed. And, friends who swear by their ring slings rave about how easy it is to breastfeed in them. Though they were around five years ago, ring slings have certainly gained popularity – and style – over the years. I found myself drawn to them because between the various ring colors, vast choices in patterns, and flowing fabric “tail”, they were just so pretty.

Zolowear Ring Sling

Zolowear Ring Sling

Some popular ring slings: Zolowear, Sleeping Baby, Sakura Bloom, Kalea Baby

Buckle Carriers

Gone are the days of Baby Bjorn reigning as the “in” carrier, as it did when I was pregnant with my son. It’s the one I registered for and received as a gift . . . and the one I never used. Why? Personally, I found all the clips and buckles too cumbersome. Still, buckle carriers have a devoted following, and for good reason. They’re super secure and dads seem to like them best. On the surface, the Ergobaby Carrier (the one that was quite prevalent in each store I recently checked) resembled my Baby Bjorn, but with many improvements. Its seated positioning is better for babies, the waist belt keeps Mom or Dad from an aching back, and it comes with pockets and a “hat” to protect your baby from the sun. Still, since I had a summer baby, I wasn’t fond of the heavy weight of the material. I imagined my baby and I both getting sweaty pretty quickly! As we head into cooler weather, however, I may just need to give this one another chance!

ErgoBaby buckle carrier

Ergobaby buckle carrier

Some popular buckle carriers: ErgoBaby, Tula, Beco, Boba

The Wrap

Not the popular carrier the year my son was born, the wrap has since gained attention for good reason. The soft material is comfortable and giving – and free of buckles. It allows full control of how loose or tight the wearer needs the carrier to be. Also, the baby is fully secured, easing nerves about the baby’s safety or his dislike of anything getting between him and Mommy or Daddy! Some are turned off by the fiasco it can be to get the wrap on in the first place. To combat that problem, some brands, like Infantino, have made “wraps” you can pull on like a t-shirt, or you could actually buy a pocket wrap shirt that you can tuck your little one safely inside of. Still, once the traditional wrap is on, I haven’t found a better carrier for allowing both my hands complete freedom while my baby nestles securely against me. Bonus: some wraps are now made with built-in UV protection, so you can enjoy the rays while your baby’s skin stays safe.

Moby Wrap

Moby Wrap

Some popular wraps: Baby K’Tan, Moby, Wrapsody, NuRoo

While none of these types or brands is exactly new, where all these carriers have made great strides is in their fabric and style options. From tie-dyed to paisley, organic cotton to linen to silk, there is sure to be one carrier to fit every parent’s taste, not to mention outfit! And despite the differences in carrier types, I have found one common theme in baby-wearing: a parent’s preference in carrier is as unique as the many carriers themselves these days.

So, get out there and try some on! Then, enjoy both the closeness and freedom – and new, chic look – your purchase affords you. Don’t worry – there will still be time to snuggle on the couch with your baby and a good book…while the washing machine is cleaning your pretty, well-worn carrier.

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