Welcome to our first post in our series celebrating International Babywearing Week! In the words of Dr. William and Martha Sears, "Baby wearing does good things for babies, and it makes life easier for mothers." It's really quite simple as that!
So... where to start?
There are endless styles and types of carriers available to parents. It can definitely be overwhelming trying to choose the right one for you and making the financial investment. We recommend borrowing one from a friend or checking out your local babywearing lending library, they will have many to choose from!
When learning how to safely wear your baby carrier, don't underestimate the power of YouTube video tutorials or better yet, sign up for our Babywearing 101 workshop held every other month in Irvine.
Four Steps to Get Started Baby Wearing
1. Prepare Prenatally
We recommend an in-person class for hands on education and a chance to touch and feel all of the carriers before your little one arrives. Our workshop includes safety tips, the opportunity to see each carrier being worn and an optional add-on that allows you time with instructor & babywearing specialist, Ashley Mullen for hands on help!
2. Decide on the type(s) of Carrier to buy
Knit wraps are made of stretchy cotton or bamboo and geared towards 0-6 months of age depending on baby’s size and weight. Most can accommodate a baby up to 30lbs, but parents usually find them most comfortable during the newborn stage. Wraps are a wonderful addition to your babywearing stash because they allow for a very snug fit and are an easy way to get in skin-to-skin bonding during the 4th trimester. Some popular brands are Moby, Boba and Baby K’tan.
Soft Structured Carriers distribute weight evenly to the hips and can be worn in a myriad of ways including facing inward on the front, back carry and hip carry. Some soft structured carriers (or SSCs) are set up to be worn with baby facing out in an ergonomic position such as the Ergobaby 360 model. SSCs are a very user friendly carrier with thick padded shoulder straps, a wide seat, buckle waist strap and a hood for sleeping and nursing on the go. Some popular brands are ErgoBaby, Tula and Beco.
Ring Slings are a simple carrier that are quick and easy to use once you get the hang of it. They are made from one piece of fabric (typically linen, cotton, or silk) with two rings. The ring sling hangs like a sash over one shoulder and you tighten the fabric through the rings to create an appropriately tight and supportive fit around your baby. These are great for the newborn stage and like many of the other carriers can grow with your baby into toddlerhood. We adore the Sakura Bloom and Wildbird ring slings.
Woven wraps are extremely versatile and offer a wide variety of different carries for your baby from the newborn stage until 45-50 lbs. Machine or handwoven wraps provide a breathable and strong seat for your little one and come in an endless assortment of designs and colors. Since the wrap conforms perfectly to the wearer and baby, they are a perfect choice for both petite and plus size parents. The standard sizes come in 2-8. Take a look at Kanthabae, Girasol and Risaroo wraps to get started.
There are also Mei Tei’s, Water Slings and External Frame Hiking Carriers available. All carriers have a learning curve and every parent/baby duo is different. Be patient with yourself and your baby as you learn. It will get easier and before you know it you’ll be wearing your baby like a pro!
3. Connect with other parents
Find a local or online group to connect with other babywearing families in your community. It’s a great way to meet other parents, gain insight on carriers and find your village. Babywearing LA aghas chapters all over Sourthern California, including a chapter in Orange County with meet ups often scheduled at local parks throughout the month. Babywearing International also has various groups and lending libraries.
4. Get Guidance from an Expert:
All of DOC's Postpartum Doulas are well-versed in the basics of babywearing and can help parents try on carriers and make sure baby is in a safe position and both are comfortable during your in-home care shifts.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post Happy Mom, Happy Baby about how babywearing encourages bonding, assists in soothing and promotes more skin-to-skin contact.