What is babywearing?
Babywearing is a term used to describe the act of using some sort of fabric carrier to help you hold your baby. There are 5 main styles of carriers. Ring slings, pouch slings, wrap slings, Asian style baby carriers, and soft structured carriers.
Why I choose to wear my babies.
I wear my babies for many reasons. I love having my babies be close to me. They spent nine months being carried around in my womb, so it only seems natural to me to want to keep them close once they are born.
Fussy baby? Put the baby in a sling and start moving. You will be surprised at how they will calm down. Plus, the exercise will be good for you. (Some people say that they have tried babywearing but their baby was too fussy. That happens at first sometimes, but don’t give up.)
Have you ever felt like you couldn’t get anything accomplished with a baby who needed held and nursed all of the time? Babywearing helps me get things accomplished while still keeping my baby close. For example, last year I planted our entire garden while wearing Janna in a wrap sling when she was only 3 weeks old.
When I am at a store with my babies, I don’t like the idea of people touching them or coughing on them while they are in their car seats in a shopping cart. Not only that, they invariably wake up and want to be held. Have you ever tried to push a full shopping cart while holding a baby? It isn’t easy. Babywearing has saved my sanity on many a shopping trip since Julia was a baby.
Babywearing isn’t only for babies. My toddlers often want to be held and a baby carrier is just the thing to allow me to get things accomplished while holding my child.
Wearing a baby or toddler in a sling or other carrier is like having an extra pair of hands, and what parent wouldn’t agree that that would be helpful?
Types of Carriers
Ring slings are my favorite type of baby carrier. They consist of a long piece of fabric that is threaded through 2 special rings and then sewn in place. They are adjustable and accommodate any size of baby or toddler. They fit on one shoulder only which can cause some strain on the wearer’s neck after a long time of carrying baby around. However, being able to pop baby in and out of a ring sling is so nice.
Plus, I can easily breastfeed discreetly in public in a ring sling. The tail can cover up any exposed areas. One time I was nursing one of my babies in a sling when my father-in-law came by. He gave the baby a kiss on the head and said, “Aww, must be tired.” He had no idea the baby was nursing. I think it would have embarrassed him tremendously, but I saw it as proof of how nice ring slings are for breastfeeding in public.
Pouch slings are extremely similar to ring slings except there are no rings. This means that a pouch sling is not adjustable. It has to be made to the right size for the person wearing it. What may fit me, might not fit you. This type of sling is great for toddlers (That is Joshua in the picture back in 2006.) and folds up quite small when not in use. This type of sling is only worn on one shoulder like the ring sling, so it may cause strain on the wearer if carrying a child for a long time. Yet, the ease of use makes it a great option.
Wrap slings are very long pieces of fabric, usually 5 yards, that wrap around the baby and the person wearing the baby. They have a definite learning curve, but since they are worn on both shoulders they don’t cause as much strain for long periods of babywearing. A stretchy wrap is nice for a newborn, and a woven wrap is a good choice for an older baby or toddler.
Asian Style Baby Carriers
Asian style baby carriers are similar to wrap slings in that they fit over both shoulders. They consist of a rectangular panel and 4 ties. They fit over both shoulders, and tend to be easier to tie than a wrap for a beginner. (Look at my little baby Joseph. He’s so big now.)
Soft Structured Carriers
Soft structured carriers similar to the Ergo are different from a Baby Bjorn or Snugli in that they spread baby’s legs apart in a more natural way. However, the concept is the same. They have padding on the straps and buckle instead of tie. This style of carrier has less of a learning curve than an Asian style carrier or a wrap.
Plus, they seem more “manly” than other types of carries. 😉 (That is a picture of my brother and my niece on his family’s trip out west last summer.)
There have been some babies die while in carriers. That is so scary to me. I can’t imagine what that must be like to believe you are doing something good for your baby and then have something so terrible happen. Bag style carriers are usually the culprit in these cases. What happens is the baby’s chin is forced to their chest and they asphyxiate.
I personally would stay away from bag slings, the Baby Bjorn, and Snugli (or a similar brand) carriers. The problems with the last two types is that they cause a baby’s legs to hang down in an unnatural way. If you own one of these slings, I strongly suggest you do some research and consider trashing it.
What you want to look for when wearing a baby is for baby to be in a position that is similar to how you would hold him or her.
Here are a few links to posts I have written about homemade carriers.
Previous Baby Basics Topics:
- A Brand New Baby
- Cord Care
- Newborn Skin Conditions
- Tummy Time
- Clothing a Newborn
- When You Suspect a Problem
- Essential Gear
- Knowing Your Baby
- Trimming Nails & Suctioning Noses
- Baby Learning
- Attachment Parenting
- Sleeping Like a Baby
- Traveling with Baby
- Diapering Choices
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