When I became pregnant and started to dip into the crunchier side of life one thing that came up was babywearing (read about my journey with Baby Led Weaning HERE or Baby Sign Language HERE)I did not grow up knowing anyone that used a carrier or “wore his or her baby”. You either held your baby or they were in a stroller when on the move. Those were the options. I am so excited to see more and more mamas wearing their babies! #wearallthebabies When I discovered baby carriers I realized how much sense it made and why your baby would want to be close to your heart plus the added benefit you had free hands to do other things while you wore them. Read more about the top 3 carriers to use from birth to toddler-hood.
My actual experience with carriers
My first son was what Dr. Sear’s defined “high needs” there was very little that made him happy or kept him happy. He wouldn’t nap without being held by me, he wouldn’t sleep in general without me. Babywearing became my saving grace. I even mastered nursing in some of my carriers!
I have had vastly different experiences with my 2 sons and carriers. My first one really only liked to be worn if sleeping or if we were moving. I was unable to simply wear him and maybe do any light tasks around the house. He wouldn’t have it. By 4 months he would only be worn if I wore him on my back. By about 12 months old he simply wanted to walk around by himself or just be held. He disliked all carriers and strollers at that point.
My second son at 13 months still loves all carriers. He will be worn on my front or my back and will also happily ride in a stroller. At 13 months we have moved to only using our Tula and a water ring sling for when we are at the local water park.
I will also state that though you are able to have your hands free you still have a child on your front or back and not every activity is open to you. Maybe my kids were both light sleepers but the bending up and down jostled them too much. I had to stick to fairly light activities to keep them asleep. But the feeling of bending your head down to kiss your squishy little one while they were snuggled up on your chest? Amazing.
How do you weed through all the information?
I am a big proponent of local support so I joined a local Facebook group for babywearing that had meet ups twice a month. They had monthly meetings that I went to to get advice and see the carriers in action. I joined multiple buy/sell/trade Facebook groups for different types of carriers so that I could trend different prices and compare and contrast different types of carriers. I purchased multiple carriers some gently used and some new. Babywearing, like cloth diapering, has a great resale value and the carriers tend to stay in good shape.
I ended up with a ring sling, a couple soft structured carriers (SSCs), a wrap, a k’tan, and a mei tai carrier. Though most say they are good from birth to about 35 pounds, I found that some were better when they were littler and less comfortable as they got bigger.
So what carriers should you get?
My favorites for when they were just born were the ring sling and the k’tan- both were super easy to put on myself as well as get baby in and out. When you are running errands these two were the most efficient for us. The ring sling was big enough that my husband could use it as well. The k’tan is most comfortable until baby was about 15-20lbs. I am able to still use my ring sling on my 13 month old today though as he’s become bigger it’s better for short trips.
The Baby Hawk Mei Tai Carrier was great from about 1 month old to 4 or 5 for us. Once he hit about 20 lbs he didn’t like it as much. It is kind of like a hybrid between a wrap and an SSC. It has a pouch for them then ties to tighten up your hold.
For soft structured carries (SSCs) I have both an Ergo and a Tula and I can say for us the Tula was much better. My husband is a big guy- over 6 feet tall 200lbs-and we can both use the Tula because it has more areas to adjust straps etc so the fit feels better overall. This is by far the most used carrier in our household. My son likes it for both front facing and on our backs. Below is My squishy youngest in our Tula!
I do have one wrap, a Didymos size 6, and though I did learn some different ways to wrap and wrapped my first son for the first few months I simply just never reached for this type of carrier. Perhaps because I did not spend enough time learning about all the ways to wrap this one always seemed the most difficult to use.
Don’t forget grandparent wearing! Though my parents have never worn babies before they have been happy to jump on board!
Get a ring sling OR a K’tan for when they are little and oh so squishy. They can’t froggy leg (spread legs open) at that age and tend to keep balled up as close to the shape they were inside you. You can buy infant inserts inside most SSCs but I still preferred with both my boys the ring sling and K’tan.
As they get bigger (about 20lbs) my recommendation is the Tula. It has the most areas to adjust for the best fit for you and if you hold them for any amount of time having it fit with the most support is key to long term success with the carrier. The Tula also has a toddler version for when they get bigger. I’m excited to use that with my second son once he outgrows this one.
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