Anyone who has read this blog before realizes that some of my parenting choices are a little alternative, crunchy, hippie or whatever you would like to call it.
Just a few years ago my decision to mostly abandon a stroller in favor of one of many baby carrier options might have seemed super out of left field. But these days, babywearing is all the rage. Most of my friends, even the most conventional of them, have some kind of a baby carrier. They may not all have five (I know, I’m a little obsessed with them) but most have at least one.
When Miles was still a tiny little guy I carried him around in either a pouch sling (a tube of fabric that goes around your shoulder and across your chest) or Moby wrap (which is about six yards of stretchy fabric that wraps around you allowing to carry the baby across your chest or on your hip.)
Any time I ran to the grocery store, went out to eat, went to a doctor’s appointment or to a friend’s house I would put Miles in the sling or the wrap instead of lugging him around in his infant car seat. Not only did it just feel right (seriously, there’s no better feeling than a tiny, snuggly baby close to your chest) I think it was what was best for him. It kept strangers from coming up at the grocery store and touching him, it saved my back from hauling the giant car seat around, I was able to put groceries in the cart (you all realize that a car seat should NEVER be placed on the top seat portion of a cart, right; it needs to go into the main body of the cart where groceries typically go), my trunk wasn’t taken up by the gigantic stroller, Miles seemed much happier snuggled close to my chest and I always had the use of both of my hands.
Often when I had my little guy in the sling he was sleeping. The closeness to mom’s heartbeat and scent and the constant rocking motion of walking is the perfect recipe for napping.
When he was just a week or so old we decided to join friends at the Indianapolis Colts training camp in Anderson where we lived. I knew the ins and outs of camp as I’d covered the camp the previous year for the paper and had done some stories about it coming before I left for my maternity leave. Miles was soundly sleeping in the sling when we caught a ride with one of the Anderson Police officers on his golf cart.
He knew I was with the media as I’d dealt with him in the past and wanted to save me the 15 minute or so walk around campus to get to the field. As we stopped at the football field Miles made a little peep, and I peaked in on him and gave him a little peck on the forehead.
“There’s a baby in there?” the guy proclaimed. “I just thought that was your purse.”
I got that A LOT!
A baby carrier is also great for parents who may need to get something done but also have a baby that doesn’t want to be put down. I folded laundry, did a few dishes and some other household tasks while “wearing” Miles.
As Miles got older and heavier he outgrew those two carriers and we graduated to a Mei Tai carrier. This is one that has a large panel of fabric and then long straps at the top and the bottom. It can be used to carry older babies and toddlers on the carrier’s stomach, back or side with the baby always facing in.
A side note, it really isn’t ever safe (or comfortable) for the baby to face out. For older kids who are curious and want to see all around, a better option is to carry them on your back and they can check out the world from over your shoulder. I’m far from a babywearing expert, but have heard from enough experts about the dangers of improper wearing (hip issues, over stimulation, etc.) that I know it is important to babywear properly and safely.
Even at nearly 2.5 and close to 30 pounds I can still wear Miles in the Mei Tai, but like the Moby, it requires a lot of wrapping and tying. It isn’t like it takes hours to perfect, but sometimes you want a simpler option.
I recently bought an Ergo. It by far was the most expensive of my baby carriers but I’m in love with it. It’s pretty much a baby backpack. You buckle a padded belt around your waist and then place the child (up to 45 pounds) on your front, hip or back and then pull the carrier up over the baby with straps very similar to a backpack. They tighten and loosen with same kind of fasteners you’d find on a backpack but are much sturdier. These are great because they will fit almost anyone (like a Mei Tai, Moby or most ring slings) and are easily adjustable.
And it is comfortable to have Miles in this. I am also able to get Miles in the carrier and on my back in this one alone whereas I struggled doing that with the Mei Tai.
And I just bought a ring sling. I know, I know, I obviously didn’t need it, and haven’t even used it yet. But I really wanted one. I figure I’ll save it for baby number 2, when the time comes along. So it’s hard for me to sing the praises or challenges of it yet, but I know several people LOVE them. I have a friend who is a mom of three littles and she wears her infant often citing its ease giving her the ability to have two hands free to wrangle her other little ones.
With all that said, my stroller usage for the first year was pretty much nonexistent. We bought a stroller that our car seat would snap into and used it maybe three times, and at least two of them were only because we forced ourselves to give it a shot. We have used our umbrella stroller a lot more, although I still keep both the Ergo and Mei Tai in the car and pull them out often.
Do you babywear? What’s your favorite carrier? What did I miss out by not really breaking out a stroller until Miles was 1?