Sunday, March 14, 2010


Babywearing has been around as long as women have been having babies, but yet, in our culture, it is rarely utilized. It is such a wonderful art - there are literally thousands of brands and types of carriers. Within each brand there are hundreds of designs that can be chosen to meet the personality of the mom and baby. It's entirely easy to make your own carrier, which, if you have the skills, can be far cheaper. It is important to make sure that the design you choose is a safe one. There are also some carriers that are simply unsafe and constructed poorly. Unfortunately, that's how most people hear about babywearing - a baby gets hurt or worse in an unsafe carrier and it makes the news. Suddenly there are warnings on every news venue out there, and it scares people away from experiencing the beauty of sharing the closeness with their children. Even when there isn't frantic news coverage, the most popular mainstream carriers are brands such as Bjorn which are incredibly bad for both mom (or dad) and baby. The way that the baby sits in the carrier, it can potentially hurt his spine and it does hurt his posture. Having the baby face outwards means that the baby has no way to turn his head away from the action when he is overwhelmed. Also, the Bjorn type carriers hurt the parent's shoulders, so they are more likely to stop using the carrier more quickly. Another problem is that men using these carriers is less common here in the U.S. than in Europe, so a fantasic carrier that could be used for 90% of trips gets used only when the mom is feeling up to using it.

A good designed carrier will last until the baby is 35-40 pounds, and last comfortably! There are tons of benefits. Primarily, it allows a frazzled mom or dad to put the baby in a sling or carrier and get things done around the house. I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have been able to eat during the first 3 months of James' life if I hadn't had a pouch sling to let him sleep in! The slings allow the parent to hold the baby close, while being hands free, and allows the baby to feel as though they are being held at all times. Scientifically, babies have fewer cases of apnea and their heartbeat stays in synch with the parent's - keeping the breath and heartbeats steady and strong. There are many different positions to carry the baby in, both in front, on the hip, or on the back, so there is a way to carry him no matter what you are doing. The carriers are much less bulky than the stroller alternative, and the baby can nuzzle up in mom or dad's shoulder if he feels overwhelmed. They come in many types of fabrics, so it is entirely possible to have a light weight option for summer, and a heavier type for winter. Also, for those of us northerners who had to buy maternity coats during our pregnancies - we will get at least one more winter out of the coats, because the maternity coat will zip up around the baby comfortably.

There are many different types of carriers, and once a week, I will be reviewing a different type (this would be beyond lengthy if I chose to do it all in one post). There are many used carriers for sale in excellent condition if a new one is out of budget. There are also local babywearing groups that have monthly meetings. Many of them have sling libraries so you can borrow a sling for the month to try it out before purchasing one. The groups also help each other learn how to properly wear a well constructed carrier. Online, there are several fabulous resources. My favorite is - there is a ton of information on there, and the forums are a great place to ask questions and get practical advice. I would also recommend the babycenter babywearing forum.

One only needs to look at pictures from women in all parts of the world to recognize the practicality and closeness these carriers confer upon the parents. I love the amazing photographs of women in Africa, Latin America, and all over the world - each carrying their babies on their backs while going about their life. I love when Phil puts on his sling and carries James around - and better yet, James loves it! I still use my carriers, even as James is now almost 11 months, to get work done around the house or carry him safely around places such as the county fair. I look forward to a time when babywearing is one hundred percent common place, and people are using the safest carriers!

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