Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thoughts on Baby Wearing from a Self-Proclaimed Non Baby-Wearer

I don't consider myself a baby wearer, and yet I've been wearing my babies more and more frequently with each successive child.  

Awkward mirror selfie.  I don't think I'll be doing any of those again...
I count myself as a non baby-wearer because I've never worn my babies because it was the "right" thing to do.  I'm not an enthusiast because of theories, or studies, or philosophies, though I certainly respect moms and dads who enthusiastically wear their babies for those reasons.  For those families, encouragement like this is lovely...

But this kind of stuff...

... I find ridiculous, bordering on offensive.  I mean, really??  I'll wear a baby or keep him in a car seat or stroller as the situation warrants, but does that mean you have to portray me and my kind as unhappy-in-our-marriages, indifferent-towards-our-children, and living life in a black-and-white depressed funk??  Oh brother.  I'm actually not super offended by it because I'm confident in the parenting decisions I've made in this regard, but I do think it's unfortunate that this kind of thing even came up when I Googled "baby wearing images" :(

My choices don't get me down.  I feel very comfortable letting my babies often be near me, but not on me.  I'm happy to let a sleeping baby nap on his back or his stomach and don't believe that sleeping on me is any more valuable.   I may start out on a walk wearing the baby but switch him to the stroller once the toddler hops out.  As far as I know, my mom never "wore" me and we've had a close, healthy, loving relationship my whole life.  (Right, Mom?)  And I've witnessed that my own kids feel close, secure, and loved by me despite having been taken for walks in strollers between the ages of just-born and 3.  

So, I guess I'm not a baby-wearer in theory.  I'm just a baby wearer in practice.  I don't do it because it's important, or right, or healthy.  I do it because it's convenient and it's sometimes the easiest way to manage four kids plus a newborn in the day to day.  

I just love love love that tiny piece of face peaking through!
My reasons to wear babies:

* to enjoy the use of two hands (examples of activities that require two hands: making lunch for other children, giving insulin injections after said lunch, getting children out of trees that they climbed up but could not climb down, changing a diaper, and other mom necessities like crocheting and opening a bag of emergency I-need-chips-now ;) )
* to avoid having strangers ask to touch and hold my baby in public (this has been an especially critical technique for the grocery store, where it seems like everyone you run into wants to stroke your baby and hold him for a little while.  "Oh no, I'm so sorry.  He's plastered to my sweaty body with fourteen yards of elaborately wound fabric.  You holding him is just not in the cards today."  Crisis averted.)  
* to calm fussiness when nothing else will 
* to prevent baby from being trampled when other kids are playing "Running of the Bulls"

You too, may be cut out for baby-wearing if:

* you don't mind still looking and feeling pregnant even after the baby is born
* you enjoy having spit-up down your shirt and in your bra
* you appreciate the feeling of a sweaty torso
* you're under the impression that a drool-soaked shirt is the height of fashion
* you feel like having your hair pulled by sticky hands is sort of like getting a head massage
* you use your baby accessories as an easy way to strike up conversations with other moms at the playground and can easily use fancy words like Mei Tai, ergonomic, and sciatica.
* you believe that it's not at all awkward to have a tiny person attached to you by various straps and buckles and knots

Even though I'm not a baby wearer, I have seven - seven! - different baby wearing "devices."  (What???)  

When we had our first child, Russ or I would carry Aaron around in a (hand-me-down) Baby Bjorn because that was the thing to do in the trendy neighborhood we lived in. The Bjorn hurt my back.  

Then when Dominic was born, an acquaintance assured me I could not manage a toddler and a newborn unless I had a ring sling, because unlike the Bjorn, the sling could hold a toddler on your hip or back.  So I went and got some material and metal rings and made a ring sling.  I used it occasionally, but never to wear the toddler on my hip or back, only the baby close to my chest.  The sling hurt my shoulder.  

Then when Ruth was about 1 1/5 we were planning a trip that would involve hiking in underground caves, so we bought a Kelty baby backpack.  Russ wore Ruth down into the caves, hundreds of feet deep in the earth's crust, and we almost had to leave the two of them down there for good because that dang backpack almost got stuck in some pretty tight crevasses.  I would occasionally wear Ruth when we'd do normal above-ground hiking, but it never lasted long because you know toddlers... they want to walk independently... and slowly.  When in use, the backpack is not at all painful, when not in use, it is a major pain to store. 

Russ with Clare - hike to the Eternal Flame, Chestnut Ridge State Park
Then when I was expecting Clare I started to panic at the thought of expecting a fourth child while simultaneously not expecting to grow another set of hands or receive the gift of bi-location.   So in a moment of sheer terror, and having the assurance from those who know about these things that a Moby Wrap was the most comfortable way to carry a newborn, I went out and bought material to make three Moby Wraps.  (I don't know why I did that.  One for at home, one for in the car, and one for in case the other two were torn off of me by the vicious wolves we might encounter in our local suburban nature preserve???) 

Well, anyway, I love the Moby.  It took me one Youtube video to figure out how to use it, and then I. used. it.  (not so much though, that it disintegrated into shreds and necessitated having three of them.)  The Moby is easy to use, so comfortable, has  no bizarre straps or clips to adjust.  As your baby gets bigger, you don't have to do anything to the carrier, it just always fits no matter what.  I mean, sure, you do look a little like Moses while you're putting it on, but a few minutes of looking like an Old Testament figure while in the parking lot is worth a 1/2 hour of blissfully sleeping Moby-wrapped baby in the store.   

I had Clare in the Moby a lot.  I liked the Moby a lot. 

Letchworth State Park. Clare in Moby ::
Nature walk.  Clare in Moby :)
But there was always something else out there.  Something was always tugging at me. That something was the elusive Ergo Baby carrier.  I had heard that it was the Cadillac of all baby wearing contraptions.  It was for infants and it was for toddlers.  It was for your front, your side, and your back.  And it was the most comfortable option out there.  But it was mucho dinero.  And what if we never had another baby?  Could I justify spending that much money on an Ergo that I might only use for one child???  I could not.  My husband definitely could not.  And everyone loves their Ergo so much they are very difficult to find second-hand.  I know because I looked for years.  

After James was born, he spent a lot of time in one of the three Moby Wraps - brown, purple, or red - whichever one suited my mood or had the least amount of sour breast milk on it.  

Did you know you could tuck your yarn in the Moby wrap and crochet as you go??
I resigned myself to the fact that the days of acquiring a new baby carrier for each new child that I had were at an end.  But... you know what my mom treated my sister and I to a few months ago????  Lovely, wonderful, versatile, comfortable, worthy-of-all-the-hype Ergo Baby carriers!  I can't say enough great things about the Ergo (and my mom!) It truly is the most comfortable baby carrier I've tried.  And the only negative thing I have to say regarding it is, Foolish, foolish me for not doing this sooner so we could have been enjoying it with all the previous babies!!!!  

James hidden by Ergo
Allow my ridiculously vast experience to be your guide if you are hoping to have a baby or two and think there's a reasonable chance that you'll want to wear your sweet little one: Moby for newborn.  Ergo for all the other years :)  Nothing else needed.

I'm not a "baby wearer" but... I guess I kind of am :)

And, oh yeah.  One of the other reasons I do it?  To shower that sweet-smelling, silky-soft head with kisses (without the added annoyance of bending over, of course!)  


  1. Yes, exactly. (Typed while wearing Ergo on back.)

  2. I love this! I'm a sling person, myself - to each his own.

    1. Thanks, Ann-Marie! I have some friends that love their slings, and I love some of the beautiful patters they come in! I don't think I could ever go back, though :)

  3. Yes! I went through all those first carriers you mentioned and never found anything comfortable until the Moby. THEN (since my babies are large and fat and bulk up quickly WITHOUT learning how to walk until forever) I got a pricier, but awesome, Didymos wrap. It's basically a thicker and more-supportive Moby, made from a different material. Not the best thing in the summer, but still awesome. I have now decided not to spend any more money on wraps, much to my husband's relief. ;)

    1. Haha! I saw a funny ecard that said something like, "If I die, please tell my husband how much all my baby carriers are really worth." :)
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Kelsey!

  4. Okay. I'm going to have to bite the bullet and convince the husband to spring for an Ergo. We have a Bjorn now and it DOES hurt my back!

  5. "Oh no, I'm so sorry. He's plastered to my sweaty body with fourteen yards of elaborately wound fabric. You holding him is just not in the cards today."

    Yep. After a sketchy couple tried to touch my babies hand in Wal-Mart the other day (while she was in her carseat), I will be wearing her every time I go grocery shopping. Every. Time.

    1. Wal-Mart does breed some sketchy characters. But then again, I sometimes go there, so where does that leave me... :)
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Hannah!

  6. Haha! Moses! Yes! That's the one drawback for me to the Moby...when you have to put it on in places where it is very sketchy to have fabric you're about to wrap around you and your baby dragging all over the floor and/or dirt. But still worth it.

    1. I hear ya. It took me a few times dragging the fabric over the grocery store parking lot or playground dirt to realize, "I should just put this on at home before I even get in the car." And wrapping that thing around me in private spared me a lot of awkward looks in public :)

  7. haha. i think i tried every baby carrier too and hated them all. finally using the moby wrap with Daniel but I too always wondered about the ergo will your mom get me one too? ;)

  8. Just. Lost. Comment. Must reboot post-partum brain....
    Okay, Love the last picture- so cute!!!
    I totally agree about the Moby, and I'm thinking of upgrading to the Ergo now, but hate to shell out the cash. I do have a question-- does the infant insert really work to keep the baby upright? Mine always gets squished in the Moby and I'm afraid he can't breathe. Also, is it quick to get on? That darn Moby takes time, and if I don't get it tight enough the first time, I have to start all over..... urgh....

    1. Anne, I didn't use the infant insert, so I couldn't say. I started using the Ergo when we was about 3 months old and by then he was big enough to go w/o it. It took me a few tries to figure the Ergo out. The front carry is easy. I still haven't quite figured out the side carry, but I hardly ever use it anyway. And the back, though I can do it on my own, I'm still new enough at it that I like to have an adult spotting me while I'm getting him in an out. I think once the baby's a little bigger/stronger it will actually be easier to get him on my back. If you try the Ergo, let me know what you think! (congrats on your new little one!)

  9. "I guess I'm not a baby-wearer in theory. I'm just a baby wearer in practice."-- yes, that is me too! Its so much more convenient for a long grocery trip or a cranky baby... but I don't wear her just because, and sometimes I find it more convenient to stick the car seat in the shopping cart rather than tangle us up in the Moby just to get one thing at the store.

    Just came across your blog today through a friend. I thought this was an appropriate post to comment on as I just figured out the ergo for the first time today (she's 12 weeks) and was wearing a cranky baby in it as I read your post (standing up. Because I was not allowed to stop moving.)

  10. Hi Katie!
    "...tangle us in the Moby..." haha! so true!!
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


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