I was very ideological when I was pregnant. I was sure of so many things, even though I was entering very, very, uncharted territory. I would exclusively breastfeed for a year (I introduced formula at six months); I wasn’t going to give my baby a pacifier right away (gave it to her one week postpartum); I’d read to her once a day (more like once a week); I would make all her food (I most definitely purchased some jarred); she would sleep in our room with us until she was AT LEAST six months old (I kicked her out at three); and I would baby wear all day everyday when she was a newborn (NOPE).
I put three different wraps and two carriers on my baby registry, with the thought that I’d start out with a wrap and move to a carrier once my daughter was a bit bigger. When the time came to use them, however, the experience was nothing like the sweet, comfortable, natural experience I thought it would be. To start, even with the handy instructions and online videos, I felt completely confused on how to use the wraps and questioned their safety since I was convinced I wasn’t putting them on properly. Then, I was scared that, although she met the weight requirements, she was way too small to be in one. I also had some idea in my head that I would be way more “active” in my early postpartum days. I imagined myself wearing her around the house when I did “things.” You know what I did in those early days? I stayed reclined on my couch or in my bed. I was not cooking or cleaning. I barely even showered. The opportunities for baby wearing seemed far and few between, because when we went out and about, I chose to keep her in the car seat, covered, in my attempt to ward off any unwanted baby touching from strangers during flu season. The few times I did attempt to wear a wrap while at home resulted in both of us sweating profusely. So, those $60+ wraps that were gifted to me made their home in the bottom of my daughter’s closet and have yet to see the light of day, since.
Although wraps were essentially a fail for me, I have completely sold into baby carriers. I have four (yes, FOUR): Ergobaby 360, Stokke, Baby Bjorn, and an Infantino carrier from Target. I’ve used all of them, and I guess it should come as no surprise that the Ergobaby is by far my favorite. It’s the most versatile, softest, and my daughter’s booty and legs make the perfect “M” shape they should make, allowing me to feel a little less anxious about the effects baby wearing may or may not have on her tiny joints. Since I do have anxiety about baby wearing and a general lack of knowledge around the subject, I decided to enlist the help of my friend, CLEC (Certified Lactation Educator Counselor) and fellow doula-sister, Amber Navarro, to help answer some questions. She is not only a veteran baby-wearer, but also went through babywearing-specific training with Laura Brown from Ergobaby, so she’s an excellent resource, in more ways than one.
Q: What should mamas know about babywearing?
A: The biggest misconception that comes up with parents and caregivers is that they’ll, effectively, “spoil” the baby by practicing babywearing. However, we know from peer reviewed research that babywearing practice helps facilitate bonding and attachment. Another big plus for those with breastfeeding specific goals is that babywearing really helps promote responsive feeding practices. It’s a lot easier to pick up on nursing cues when baby is “right under your nose.” A second common concern that comes up frequently is whether parents should be worried about hip dysplasia since this is a buzzword in the motherhood community. It’s important to know though that, to date, we do not have any current data to support this. Mom should also know that babywearing doesn’t always have to be done for sentimental or bonding purposes, sometimes a mama just really needs two free hands and that’s ok!
To learn more about hip dysplasia, check out the article at this link.
Q: How does a mama go about finding the right baby carrier for her and her little?
A: Lucky for us we have several carrier styles available: soft structured carriers (think Ergobaby), ring slings (Sakura Bloom), stretchy wraps (Solly Baby), and woven wraps (Tula and Girasol) just to name a few.
So, if you find that you or your baby aren’t 100% happy with one, you can always try another. The best way to find the perfect carrier for you is testing them out in person and getting help from a veteran baby wearer. Here in Orange County, we have a great group called So Cal Babywearers that hosts babywearing playdates. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these! The playdates are 100% free to attend and while there, parents can test the various carrier styles while receiving hands on help from a volunteer or certified babywearing educator. To locate a meetup near you start by joining the So Cal Babywearers group on Facebook. This is where I first started learning about proper wearing several years ago!
Q: Any absolute “do’s” or “don’ts” when it comes to baby wearing?
A: DO always follow proper positioning when wearing your baby: tight, in view, close enough to kiss, keep their chin off their chest (unobstructed airway), and support the back.
DO ask for help if you’re having trouble with a carrier’s fit or if you feel uncomfortable.
DO buy used (if open to that idea). Facebook is full of buy/sell/trade groups where caregivers can purchase reputable, safety tested, carriers that are budget friendly. Personally, I would purchase a pre-loved carrier before a homemade carrier from a site like Etsy (for example) that was not safety tested.
Q: Do you suggest any articles or resources regarding babywearing?
A: Yes! There is a ton of great information on the subject. Here are a few of my favorites:
Evidence-based info here:
Q: What are the best online stores or brands for mamas to read about or purchase specific baby-carriers?
A: My go-to brands:
Online stores that sell various carrier brands:
I conducted this interview while in Amber’s home, along with her four-year-old, two-year-old, and a baby wearing collection that is deserving of respect. She knows everything there is to know about any carrier on the market and is passionate about educating mamas on how to find, and use, the perfect one for them. While I was there, she showed me how to use a ring sling, and I can tell you that there is a tab open on my internet browser with a ring sling in the cart, and all I need to do is press “checkout.” So, thanks to Amber, not only am I about to spend another $50, but I also have a new-found confidence and comfortability with baby wearing, which comes in handy now, but I imagine will be even more beneficial when we decide to have baby number two, and I can no longer stay in a semi-horizontal position in my postpartum days since I’ll have a demanding toddler, and only two hands to spare.
To wearing all the babies,
Resources: Amber Navarro of Mamá Sol Birth | https://mamasolbirth.com/