The 3 Babywearing Carriers Every Mom Needs
As a mom of seven, there is no question - I have my hands full (both figuratively and literally!). I love motherhood - with its ups and downs, sloppy kisses, endless giggles, and the ever-changing phases my kids are going through. A lovely invention that has proven to be a lifesaver over the last several years of parenting is the baby carrier.
Baby carriers, more specifically babywearing, has given me my hands back and allowed me to multitask safely. As you can imagine, multitasking is non-negotiable with kids ranging from 13-months to 13-years old. While many moms babywear because their baby needs it, I do it because we both need it! There are dozens of brands and several types of baby carriers to choose from, but I want to share what I believe to be the three babywearing carriers every mom needs.
But first, what exactly IS babywearing?
What is Babywearing?
“Babywearing is the practice of keeping your baby or toddler close and connected to you as you engage in daily activities through the use of one of a variety of types of baby carriers.”
- Babywearing International
Babywearing International goes on to explain that “Babywearing promotes bonding, supports breastfeeding, can help combat postpartum depression, makes caregiving easier, and can be a lifesaver for parents of high-needs children. Carried babies sleep, feed, and grow better.”
When I first started carrying my babies in carriers, “babywearing” was not really a “thing” in the US. Now that it has become more mainstream, there are actual babywearing groups for moms and dads! More and more people are opting to keep their babies close. If you are expecting or have a young baby and are trying to decide if babywearing is for you, I urge you to give it a try! (Especially if you have more than one kiddo!)
Here are my three favorite types of carriers!
Wraps: Simple & Comfy
As a stay-at-home mom with a lot of kids running around, I never got a lot of rest when I came home with a new baby. To keep up with our kids and the insistent housework, I need my hands-free the moment I get home from the hospital. More importantly, I like to keep my babies close to me so I can learn their signals and meet their needs. Baby wraps have helped me do that.
I love babywearing with a wrap because it keeps my newborns snuggled up against my body. They call the time right after you bring baby home the “fourth trimester” - and for a good reason! With a wrap, the baby is literally wrapped on to you. This is a fantastic way to provide kangaroo care for tiny babies. Skin to skin contact is lovely for both baby and mommy the first several weeks after birth, and when wrapped correctly, babies are safe, warm, and comfortable. What more could you want?
Some people wonder if newborn babies are too small to wear. In my opinion, this is the best time to wear a wrap! Your baby will thrive being close to you (you cannot spoil a newborn!) and you will quickly pick up on your baby's cues for hunger, tiredness, changing, etc. Of course, check with your pediatrician to make sure wraps are suitable for you and your baby.
Worried about safety or how to properly put on a wrap? The key is to make sure your baby’s face is not covered at any time. There are dozens of Youtube videos to learn the proper wrapping techniques for the particular wrap you purchased.
Learning how to put on the wrap takes patience and practice. Don’t give up! Once you learn, you will be good to go. The key is to make sure the wrap is tight enough. My thought is that while the wrap gives me the option to be hands-free, I always want a hand available for my baby, just in case. I do not do any activities like lifting boxes while carrying a baby in a wrap.
Still need convincing? Wraps are easy to wash, small and compact, and most importantly, the fabric is soft and cozy and can be worn over most clothing.
Ring Slings: Traditional & Beautiful
Ring slings are the perfect carrier when you want your baby on your hip, yet need a different option than physically carrying your baby with both arms. Not to mention, they are super easy to put on - they just slip over your head!
According to Babywearing International, “a ring sling is a modern adaptation of traditional one shoulder carriers found in Mexico, Indonesia, and other cultures. A pair of metal or nylon rings are securely attached to the end of a roughly two-meter-long piece of fabric.The tail end of the sling is threaded through the rings to adjust to the wearer's body. The weight of the child in the carrier secures the rings against slipping.”
I have used ring slings the most when my babies or toddlers want to be held, but my arms are too tired, or I am standing for a long time. I use this type of baby carrier when my kids are a bit older, although I know many moms start using ring slings when their babies are quite young. These carriers are cozy and give your child the sense that you’re holding them while giving you back one of your arms.
I tend to use my ring sling the most at church, school events, waiting in line somewhere, or right before supper if they are fussy and want to be held but I can’t stop what I’m doing.
One of the benefits of ring slings is all of the fabric options you have. You can get ring slings that are woven cotton, raw silk, and linen. You can also get single or double fabrics. The thicker and stronger the fabric, the bigger the baby you can hold. I would recommend starting with a single fabric ring sling, as they are easier to manipulate.
Keep in mind that with ring slings, your baby is not totally locked in and as they get older, they will be able to move around some. My personal preference is to have one arm free when my baby is in a ring sling and not to wear it for long periods of time (any baby gets heavy on your hip eventually!). All in all, this is an awesome carrier for when you need a little more freedom to get things done!
Soft Structured Carriers: Convenient & Supportive
Soft structured/buckle carriers are the perfect solution if you’re looking for an ultra-secure baby carrier that you can wear for an extended period. I love wearing mine when I am hiking, grocery shopping, or if I simply need the baby to sleep for a little while. This is the carrier that I wear if I want to be completely hands-free and trust that the baby is secure.
According to Babywearing International, “Most feature a thickly padded waistband and shoulder straps for a comfortable, ergonomic fit and can be used for front, back, and sometimes hip carries.” With many soft structured carriers, you can wear the baby on your front facing in or out, and also on your back. This gives you the flexibility to alter the way you carry your sweet little one as they grow.
Soft structured carriers are probably the easiest ones to wear - all you have to do is put on the straps like a backpack, buckle-up, and go! As always, you will want to make sure your little one’s nose and mouth are never covered. One thing to keep in mind is that soft structured carriers tend to be a little hotter than other carriers. You want to make sure that your baby doesn’t get too hot if you are out on a warm day or if they are in the carrier for extended periods of time.
Another great thing about soft structured carriers is that you can use them with an infant insert when your little one is a newborn and continue to use them until your child is a toddler!
When it comes to babywearing, I am a bit bias. As a mom of seven, I can’t help but think that every mom and baby could benefit from babywearing in some way. These three types of carriers have helped me accomplish more, spend quality time with my babies, and ultimately, manage the chaos of everyday life. I encourage you to try one of these wraps based on your lifestyle, needs, and of course, your baby. Keep your baby close and provide the mom-and-baby time they crave and need.
I’d love to hear, do you babywear? What’s your favorite type of carrier? Comment below!