So, at a meet up for pregnant mamas, someone brought up the subject of baby wearing. There are meetings all over San Diego for moms who want to educate themselves on the finer points of baby wearing. What is baby wearing? It is the idea of using a wrap like a Moby or a woven, a soft structured carrier like a Mei Tei, a ring sling, a full buckle carrier like a Lillebaby, or a Half buckle carrier to carry your baby. These carriers keep your hands free but allow your little one to be close to your body for comfort, nursing, or a nap while out and about. Babywearing is huge here in San Diego. There’s a group for every kind of baby wearer on Facebook.
I always knew about baby wearing because my mother used a Snugli and a sling with me and my brother way way back in the 80s. I just didn’t know it had a name. I didn’t know a lot of things until I joined a few groups on Facebook. The idea of being able to keep my son close to me while having my hands free to do housework, walk around without a stroller, and soothe him to sleep when we are out in public sounded great to me. But the world of carriers is a rabbit hole of names, brands, and people who are strongly opinionated about it.
Some of these companies are:
- Tula- The brainchild of a multi-national couple who saw a niche in the baby wearing market, they make ergonomic canvas full buckle carriers with fun and unique prints, woven wraps, and woven ring slings. There are two ways to wear your baby in a Tula, a front carry with your child facing you or back carry. There are also two different age groups- the Standard and the Toddler. The Toddler Tula is made to carry kids 18 months to 4 years old and with a minimum weight of 22lbs. They really are works of art- I have coveted the Naida woven wrap conversion ring sling since I saw its mermaid print. These carriers run from $135-$800 depending on the print, whether its a woven wrap conversion full buckle carrier, or if its a simple wrap. Some of the more popular prints have been retired and thus become more valuable. They hold their resale value and there’s a high demand for Tulas here in San Diego- they sell out a lot. Visit http://www.tulababycarriers.com/ for more info and their official website.
- Ergobaby- The next carrier is most commonly found at Target, Babies R Us, and Bye Bye Baby. Sometimes you can find them on sale on Zulily. Ergo carriers are a full buckle carrier that allow you to carry your baby several different ways. They differ slightly from the Tulas in this respect. Additionally, you can wear your baby from infancy to toddlerhood- usually until they are 33 lbs- depending on the carry. There are 4 carries available with an Ergo- front inward, front outward, hip and back carry. For more information on the guidelines of these four carries visit http://store.ergobaby.com/baby-carrier/four-position-360?jumpTo=videos
- Lillebaby- This is the carrier that I use for my son. I have the Lillebaby Complete Airflow. It’s a mesh Full buckle carrier that allows 6 different carries- fetal, infant, face out, toddler, hip and back. I love it because it keeps my son cool with the mesh breathable fabric. I can wear this for a full day at the zoo and my back does not hurt. It’s also not as feminine as the Tulas can run so my husband will wear him as well. For their website visit http://lillebaby.com/
- Sakura Bloom- This company makes wraps and ring slings in linen and silk. They are beautiful in their simplicity and light and airy for warmer climates. There are all kinds of how-tos for wrap carries, I haven’t been brave enough to try them yet but the baby wearing world is full of women who are able to wrap their babes in these beautiful creations. The ring sling is popular for quick carries and for tiny babes. Sakura Bloom wraps and ring slings are for newborns to little ones weighing 35 lbs. Visit http://sakurabloom.com for more info.
- Mei Tai- A mei tai carrier is a square- or rectangle-shaped piece of fabric with straps on all four corners. The “traditional” mei tai has a history that stretches back hundreds of years. The carrier has its roots in Asia, where mothers often carried their babies in simple fabric carriers that tied onto their bodies. In the baby wearing world it falls on the line between a wrap and a soft structured carrier. Mei Tai’s are meant for front and back carries for newborns to toddlers. For more info check out http://meitaibaby.com/
- Babyhawk- A company that makes soft structured carriers in a similar design as the mei tai. Used for front and back carries. Some of these carriers are reversible and in patterns. To shop these carriers, visit http://www.babyhawk.com
- Kinderpack- The Kinderpack features a uniquely styled shaped and contoured body panel, that creates a rounded seat for baby’s bottom. It molds to your child so comfortably and cradles their legs in upward comfort by fostering the recommended “bottom-lower-than-knees” seated fashion. Offering 4 sizes for your child, including one of the only carriers on the market specifically designed for preschoolers. The infant size boasts an adjustable base to change the width of the carrier. The standard size is perfect for those who want to buy once, keep forever. The toddler size is a good choice for your little one that is approaching 30 lbs or 32 inches, and wants to be arms-in. And for those bigger kids there is the preschool size. Preschool size is also a great carrier for older children with special needs. The Kinderpack is similar to the Tula in its selection of cute patterned carriers, impassioned followers and frequency in which they sell out of specific prints. For more info check out http://mykinderpack.com/
With the variety of carriers, carries and safety guidelines. Baby wearing can be intimidating. One of the best ways to decide what’s right for you is to find a baby wearing group in your area. Here in San Diego, Babywearing International of San Diego has a lending library where you can rent different carriers, get educated, and see what your babe likes best. Their Facebook page announces meetings in your area and they frequent various mom and baby centered events. Don’t let anyone tell you baby wearing is harmful to your child, they aren’t educated enough about the benefits to know better. I may not be expert level but it’s worked for me.