An in Depth Look at Wrap/Carrier Options for Newbs*
When starting out in the babywearing world, not only are there so many DIFFERENT WAYS TO WEAR your baby, but it feels like there are infinite options of WHAT TO USE to wear your baby....... because expecting a new baby (or 2) isn't overwhelming enough right? In this portion of BEGINNING TO BABYWEAR, we take a look at the DIFFERENT OPTIONS to consider when getting ready to begin YOUR babywearing journey.....
REMEMBER SAFETY FIRST!!
*The purpose of this post is to spotlight the main features, pros, and cons of carrier options in the babywearing world, and is NOT suggesting that all carrier options (i.e. back) are safe for beginners. Back carries are addressed in each section, however it is important to be fully aware of back wearing safety, before attempting!
Please thoroughly read over ALL ABOUT BACK CARRIES and PLEASE use your discretion when it comes to your baby's safety! Don't forget to check and see if there is a babywearing group around you,*NOTE: Back carries are addressed in each section, however it is important to be fully aware of back wearing safety!!
When getting started, having a few of these answers in mind will definitely help you narrow down which option may be best for you!
THINGS TO CONSIDER: What are the GOALS of your babywearing journey?
- Why are you wearing? (multiple children to care for? "stage 5 clinger"? active/on-the-go? tired of your baby crying? teething? for free snuggles?)
- Who are you wearing? (one baby? twins? siblings?)
- When are you wearing? (for outings? house work? for walks? while running errands?)
- Where are you wearing? (store? bus stop? at home? in and out?)
- How big is/are your squishy(ies)? (nb? infant? toddler? preschool? <-- yes, you CAN wear that long!)
Since the only person that can make the best decision for you is YOU, here are a few "highlights" about your options! (Be sure to visit the full BABYWEARING SECTION for more details!)
**click on the pictures below for more info about the carry shown!**
These are great for starting out with wrapping AND for newer squishies, but the amount of fabric can be slightly overwhelming, especially for beginners. (Note: we are talking about wraps like Mobys.) Keep in mind that even though you are also going to be limited to a handful of carries that you can do with this wrap, it is a great place to start learning what wrapping is all about. The great thing about this option is that with these carries you can PRE TIE them before you leave the house, which means that you just have to "pop" baby in and tighten. (VERY useful for "quick" stops with a tiny squish!) Keep in mind that after a certain size/weight, the stretch in the material will cause the wrap to sag, which means that you will have to readjust the wrap more frequently (and start looking into wovens!). Remember NO BACK CARRIES WITH A STRETCHY!!! (WATCH WHY NOT HERE!) Personally, we LOVED the DIY option because we were able to get TWO wraps out of the purchase! We were able to use them for about 6 months, but keep in mind the girls have always been on the petite side! I wasn't sure if I was going to end up liking (or even being able master) wrapping and didn't see me spending money on something just to "try it out." Another budget friendly option for this wrap is Children's consignment shops :)
MEI TAIS (MT)
It is MY firm belief that no stash is complete without a MT! MT's are a "hybrid" of wraps and carriers. It has the panel of a carrier, but straps that give you a wrapped feeling. You have the option to front/back/ hip carry with a MT. You can use a MT from birth until your baby hits the weight limit! (Usually around 35-40 lbs.) You can also BACK CARRY with a MT, so long as you do not have to make any modifications and you have EXPERIENCED help if baby is not yet sitting. (If not, it's best to wait until baby can sit.) You can also tandem wear two MTs or use a wrap and MT! (Visit our Tandem Wearing for Beginners Post for more info!) We did not get our first MT until the girls were 6 mo, and I SO WISH I would have known about these sooner! They make for a PERFECT "quick up" go to, and are compact for travel! With newborns and petite sized babes, you are more than likely going to have to make some adjustments to better secure your baby safely, but it's nothing too difficult. (READ MORE ABOUT THOSE HERE!) The thing I love even more about MT's is that they are one of the most budget friendly LONG TERM options. Infantino makes a MT that is available that Walmart/Target/BRU for a VERY decent price! (Often you can find a better online deal, and Target price matches THEIR online prices as well as Amazons. I have def seen these, and purchased one myself, for less than $20!)
*The general stance is "teach what you know," so bw education will obviously vary between people/organization that you consult with, however it is ALWAYS recommended that back carrying be done by experienced wearers. Please read ALL ABOUT BACK CARRIES for info on back carrying safety and more. As a fellow Volunteer Babywearing Educator (VBE) once put it, "It's kinda like snowboarding. You aren't going to watch a few videos and the strap on a board and hit the advanced slopes! There is a LOT to learn"
SOFT STRUCTURED CARRIERS (SSC)
These tend to be one of the most popular options when people begin to babywear. Ergo, Tula, and Boba are just a few names you may have heard before.* We did not get a chance to try these out for the first time until 14 mo, so I feel my opinions may be slightly partial to what I "grew" with. While I will say these are one of most convenient options, I don't find them to be a favorite tandem option. When I tandem wrap, I feel like the girls are extra snuggled up to me, like my second layer of skin. While SSCs still give deep snuggles, two can feel REALLY bulky..... "whale" was a word I used to describe my first SSC tandem. (Visit our Tandem Wearing for Beginners Post for more info!)It is also important to note that you CAN NOT BACK CARRY with a SSC until baby can SIT UNASSISTED! The reason is pretty simple: babies who can not sit unassisted have muscles that are not yet able to fully support their spines in a convex position. The SSC can not conform to the smaller baby, hence the need for the NEWBORN INSERT when wearing a smaller squishy in font. And by no means am I saying SSC is a "bad option," because there are MANY times I can think of where a quick SSC up could have saved the day! SSCs are the MOST CONVENIENT when you just need to snap and go! (Ring slings come in for a close second, but since they still have a bit of learning curve, I stand firm in my rankings!) One issue I had with getting an SSC was my budget. Brand new they can run up in the $100's, but there are always options! Places like TJ MAXX and ROSS often have marked down carriers. There are also options like consignment shops, FB groups like BABYWEARING ON A BUDGET (where everything is under $100), and local B/S/T groups as well. (FB will be your best friend when it comes to looking for gently used babywearing items!) Also keep in mind to check and see if there is a BABYWEARING GROUP LOCAL TO YOU! Lending libraries are the PERFECT way to try out a variety of options to see what you and baby love best BEFORE investing!
*Note: Narrow Based Carriers (NBC; ie: Bjorn, Infantino, etc) were excluded from this section., however I feel it is important to mention them because they are always a hot topic in the babywearing world. We DO know that they do NOT CAUSE hip dysplasia (HD), and that there should ONLY be a concern IF your baby has a PREDISPOSITION for hip dysplasia! HD is hereditary and children are tested for it with the hip click motion. IF your baby has hip dysplasia ALREADY NBC can negatively contribute to the condition. It is also important to note that Forward Facing Option (FFO) is different because there are FFO that ARE ergonomic! FFO do not CAUSE hip dysplasia.The International Hip Dysplasia Institute clearly states that it is unknown why it happens but is mostly attributed to genetics... Read more about HD and BW! For me, it's just a question of comfort.... but either way, as long as you AND baby are happy, wear away how is best and safest for you!
RING SLINGS (RS): Even though we haven't had a chance to learn and play with a RS as much as we like, we still have some GREAT info available for you! A big thank you to our guest blogger and her post!!!
(You CAN BACK CARRY w/a RS! But, this is not recommended for beginners because it is a difficult carry to master. Not only do you need experience with a RS, but you also need experience with back carries! I'm just throwing this info out there for now so that you know all of your options when considering what you may want to invest in....)
(Saving MY personal favorite for last!) The thing that I LOVE about wovens is that I can always count on getting deep, deep snuggles no matter HOW rough the day! Wovens are rumored to have the most difficult learn curve of all the options, but are worth EVERY BIT of effort and energy you invest in it! You can front, back, AND hip carry with these. And unlike the stretchy, you DO NOT need to have a multiple layered pass (i.e. PWCC & FWCC) to wrap securely. You CAN BACK CARRY in these from NEWBORN and up! (READ MORE ABOUT BACK CARRIES). You can also wrap certain "poppable" (Poppins Hip Carry) carries perfect for toddlers who want in and out, or for a day out with constant in and out of the car. There are a few things to keep in mind when venturing out into the world of wovens. There are different sizes which can be used for different carries. For US starting out, we had a size 4 and a size 7. The 7 I used for the first 4 months to tandem wear in and I used my DIY STRETCHY for solo carries when we were out and about. The 4 came into play once I started doing back carries (3 mo for the first time; 5 mo "in public"). I retired the stretchy at 5 months because I enjoyed the plethora of options with the woven! (Our FAQ PAGE has answers to what carries you can do with each size and more!) Had I known what I know now, I would have also invested in a size 3. (Keep in mind ALL of my wraps are DIY! Even the WOVENS!) When I first started out I automatically made the assumption that all I would be doing is tandem wearing (which turned out NOT to be the case), and looking back I feel like I missed out on lots of snuggles :( (It wasn't until after the girls turned one year that I started branching out more and trying new things, like POPPIN'S HIP CARRY AND TWO WRAP CARRIES!)
We have more posts coming up including, What to Expect When Beginning (and the Tandem Edition) and more to help ease your transition into the babywearing world! IF you FOLLOW OUR BLOG, you won't miss a beat! And don't forget our FACEBOOK PAGE has more updates and adventures too!