Babywearing may seem strange to some people. A Mei WHAT? A soft structured carrier? A size 7 wrap versus a size 2 wrap? What does all that mean?
When my first child was born I had a Moby stretchy wrap. I didn’t really like how hot it was, but there was something about being able to clean a bottle and get it ready while holding my screaming not-quite-as-much baby that left me amazed and wanting to dig in more.
Within the next year I fell into the rabbit hole of trying ALL the sizes and ALL the carries.
Types of Carriers
Soft Structured Carriers
A soft-structured carrier, or buckle carrier, can be snapped around the waist and arms and then a chest clip snaps the arm straps around to help secure baby.
Mei-Dai is shaped like a soft structured carrier, however, the waste and arms are tied, not buckled. Sometimes the straps are wide providing more support for baby’s bottom.
Ring Slings act as a “pouch” that can be adjusted using a specifically designed to carry weight ring to adjust to baby’s size.
Wraps appear to be “just fabric,” however the rules for selling tend to be strict, such as being able to carry 300 lbs and woven with care for baby. Although cotton is the most used and least expensive, other blends may include wool, cashmere, camel hair, silk, bamboo, tencel, and even linen. Many brands exist that make these wraps in all kinds of shapes and sizes. On the more expensive side, handwoven wraps can be customized based on colors and weave designs that the purchaser prefers.
The length of the wrap is identified by sizing, with size 2 being the shorted up to an 8. The wraps are measured in meters, generally starting at 2.6m all the way up to 8m. These lengths determine what type of carries (ways of wrapping) can be done as well as what works best based on the woman’s size. For example, a tall and average weight woman might use a size 7 as her “base” for front wrap cross carry (often the first wrap taught), while a more petite woman might have a size 6 base wrap.
Try Before You Buy
All babies are different and they will like different carriers. Check for local Babywearing Chapters or Moms Groups where you can test out carriers. Some retailers will have them available to try out as well.
Benefits of Babywearing
- Multi-tasking. Need to get the baby to sleep and clean the dishes? No problem, wrap her up. How about when you need to do the dishes and every time you put the baby down he screams? Again, WRAPPING for the win. When my second son was very small and I had a C-section that made carrying him harder, I would wrap him (High up where he couldn’t get my scar) and then I would have my hands free to entertain my older child. The jealous older child really appreciate that! (I think I even managed to take him to the park a couple of times this way).
- Breast milk production. When my supply was low babywearing (especially skin to skin) always reminded my body to make more and increased my supply (even when ALL the suggestions for increasing production didn’t work). As an added bonus when baby is strong enough to hold their head up he can breastfeed while wearing. I vividly remember being able to shop for summer clothes relatively quietly in a Walmart aisle while my oldest ate in his anchor printed buckle carrier. And the hood covered up the cleavage when a blanket would have made him scream.
- Helping baby get to sleep. Both of my kids would be on nap strike (or bedtime strike every night in the case of my oldest) and go to sleep a lot faster once in a carrier. While I have heard of some moms wearing their babies for hours for nap times (which is awesome if you can do it), I usually was able to transfer quietly to the crib where they stayed asleep (often longer than if not worn)!
- Bonding. Although I didn’t realize it when he was a baby, my oldest craves physical touch and pressure, so babywearing with a snug wrap or carrier was great for that (and probably why he seemed happier after he had been worn). At five he occasionally still asks to be worn or hugged tightly because it helps him feel grounded and connected. In public, babies and toddlers like to know mom or dad is close in the midst of all the new faces. What better way to do that than to be worn by parents?
- Decreasing anxiety. Something about babywearing helped me feel less anxious about taking my children into crowded stores or family gatherings. I could go grab some cheese off the refrigerated shelves without worrying the toddler will climb out of the cart of the baby will get bumped by one of the “speed shoppers.” People were less likely to touch my baby if they had to practically touch me to get to him (perhaps my “mama bear” face came out too).
Babywearing With The Mommy Wrap
The Mommy Wrap is a great resource for babywearing! It is not completely hands-free but it carries the same benefit. The Mommy Wrap can also be used with carriers. It provides extra support, keeps mom and baby warm, and it is lightweight. Bulky items can make babywearing difficult, especially during cooler months.
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Let us know what you love about babywearing and which carrier is your favorite!