There are many, many benefits to wearing your baby. Baby wearing has been found to be beneficial to babies’ neurological development, emotional and cognitive development, and the relationship between parents and baby.
Dr. Sears compiled a list of proven benefits to baby wearing that can be found here. Through his research, he found that babies who are worn in a sling or wrap on a regular basis cry less, have more periods of active or quiet alert time, and are better able to regulate their breathing patterns and temperature. It is comforting for baby to be near a parent’s chest and to hear their breathing -babies have just spent nine months being able to hear mom’s voice, breathing, and heartbeat from the inside! All of these sounds and the rhythm of her walking are very familiar and often comforting to them.
Baby wearing can also be beneficial to parents. Having your baby near you allows for bonding between parent and baby. It also allows parents to get in tune with their baby’s hunger and discomfort cues and attend to these needs quickly. Wearing your baby also often allows you to have your hands free to be able to do other tasks or self care which can be so helpful to new parents in the early postpartum period and into your baby’s first year.
Baby wearing is very beneficial to parents and to babies. However, it is important to baby wear safely and correctly. The three most important things to remember when baby wearing are:
- Baby’s face is exposed and chin is not tucked. This ensures he or she is able to breathe correctly.
- Baby’s legs are not hanging straight down. This puts a great deal of pressure on baby’s developing hip joints and can lead to hip dysplasia. Please see this link for more information about hip dysplasia.
- Your back is well supported. To ensure that your back is well supported while carrying baby, have baby’s head as close to your chin as is comfortable, ensure baby’s body pressed firmly against your chest/abdomen and the straps on your wrap are not loose. Baby should not be able to slump (this can be harmful to their airway as well as your back) and the straps on your wrap should be tight and in the correct location. The specifics of this will depend on which wrap you are using.
Types of Wraps and Carriers:
There many options for how to carry your baby. As baby grows and seasons change your carrying method may change or may stay the same. Some partners may have different methods that work best for them individually and then chose to have two options around for baby. Most baby wearing products that you purchase should come with instructions on how to use the product safely. There are also many parent blogs and youtube videos for specific products to help you figure out the best way to wear your baby.
This blog has compiled an extensive list of wrap styles and types that may be useful to you. Check it out here.
We know a lot of TCM families who’s favorite wraps are the the Moby and the Baby K’Tan, and whose favorite carriers are the Ergo, Beco and Boba. This blog will break down baby wearing by style. Please be aware that some companies make both wraps and soft-structured carriers.
A ring sling is a type of wrap that is a long piece of fabric that can be tightened and loosened with several rings. It can be used with infants or toddlers. Ring slings can be purchased or made yourself -if you do choose to make your own it’s recommended that you research the types of rings you purchase to ensure they are strong enough to support the weight of your baby. Ring slings can be worn in a variety of ways that work ergonomically for baby’s joints. They are almost always one-size-fits-all. Some popular ring slings that you can purchase on line are:
There are a great deal of options for baby wraps. They can be purchased online, in stores such as Target, baby boutiques or you can make one yourself.
Woven wraps are long pieces of fabric that can be used in a variety of ways to hold your baby close to your body. They work with both newborns and toddlers depending on the way in which they are wrapped. Two examples of a woven wraps are the Dolcino Woven Carrier by Moby ($125-$140) and the Tula Woven Wrap ($150). There are many, many options for woven wraps and there are also many, many blogs written about these wraps. If you’re interested in woven wraps please see these resources:
The Moby Wrap is a very popular option, especially with newborns. It is essentially a long piece of jersey style fabric that can be wrapped in many different ways. It’s most commonly used with newborns as is its best for light-weight babies. Their website has several different tutorials for how to use it. If you are interested in making your own Moby style wrap there are many, many online tutorials including this one. Moby Wraps come in several different styles:
- Original ($44.95): The first wrap Moby came out with is one of the most popular baby wraps. It’s a long piece of fabric used in variety of styles to hold baby close to you.
- Modern ($44.95): This wrap is the same style as the original Moby but made with light weight material.
- Designs ($49.95): This wrap is the same style as the original Moby but it comes it different print patterns.
- Organics ($59.95): This wrap is also the same style as the original Moby but it is made with 100% certified organic cotton.
- By Lotta Jansdotter ($59.95): This wrap is the same style as the original Moby but the patterns are designed by an artist.
The Boba Wrap ($45) is very similar to the Moby in that it is a long strip of soft, stretchy materiel with several wrapping options. It is designed to safely support babies from birth until about 18 months. Boba wraps can be purchased on their website, on amazon, Target, or many other stores.
The Ergo Wrap ($80) is a wrap that is similar to the Boba and the Moby but is made by Ergo and has some extra stretch material that is designed to firmly support baby’s weight throughout the day. Ergo Wraps can be purchased on their website.
The Baby K’tan is similar to a wrap in the way that it holds the baby but it differs from the Moby in that it slides on like a t-shirt; you don’t have to wrap it at all. It comes in a variety of sizes and partners may need different sizes for themselves or for other people planning to wear baby often.
The K’tan is designed to be good for the wearers back (provides good back support), can be used until baby is about 35lbs and provides good head support. The K’tan can be worn in several different ways -over 2 shoulders, over 1 shoulder and with baby facing your chest or facing out. As long as you are following the instructions and wearing baby correctly the K’tan is considered very safe for baby’s hips. Baby K’tans come in several different styles:
- Original ($49.95): This is the wrap that is described above and is made of 100% cotton. It’s their original product that all other products are based off of.
- Active ($59.95): Similar to the original, this wrap is made of polyester and is designed to wick away sweat and block UVA rays. It’s recommended for warmer climates or outdoor excursions.
- Print or Organic ($59.95): The Baby K’tan Print is the same as the original just with some fun prints. The Baby K’Tan Organic is the same as the original wrap just made with 100% organic cotton.
- Breeze ($59.95): This wrap is the same as the original but is made out of mesh fabric in order to be more breathable for both baby and the person wearing the baby.
Soft Structured Carriers:
The Beco: Beco makes several types of carriers that are ergonomic for baby’s hips and supportive of wearer’s backs. The Beco company has a focus on sustainable practices which can be important for some families. Here is a comparison of the Gemini and the Soleil Carriers by Beco.
- Gemini ($150): This carrier has a waistband for the wearer and the over the shoulder straps that criss-cross over the shoulders. Baby’s can be worn facing inwards (towards the parent’s chest), outwards, over one shoulder, over both shoulders and on the parent’s back.
- Soleil ($140): This carrier is similar to the Gemini but the baby can not be worn facing outward (away from the parent) because the hip supports are built differently in this carrier.
- Toddler ($200): This carrier is designed to support up to 60lbs of weight in either a front carry or back carry.
The Boba carrier comes in two different styles and can be used for 7lb-45lb babies. A newborn insert can be purchased to make sure little babies are safe while being in these carriers.
They have arm straps and a strap that goes around the carrier’s hips. They can be worn as front or back carriers. Boba’s website has many helpful ratings, tutorials and other resources. Bobas can be purchased on their website, on amazon, Target, or many other stores.
- Original ($125): The first carrier designed by Boba; has a waist band and two over the shoulder straps designed to support the wearer’s back.
- Air ($65): The Boba Air is the same style as the original Boba but is made of lightweight material and meant for use during the summer or in other hot climates.
The Ergo is a carrier that has 2 padded shoulder straps that connect in the back with a buckle (providing support for your upper back) and a waistband that supports your low back & the bulk of baby’s weight. Their original carrier is very popular and they have expanded into several different options from there. When buying the Ergo you can also purchase an infant insert that will make the carriers safe for newborns by filling in the extra space in the carrier. Here is a chart comparing the four carriers made by Ergo.
- Original ($120-$135): This is the first Ergo carrier and the one people are most familiar with. It has 2 shoulder straps and the waistband. It can be worn in 3 positions; front-inward (baby on your chest, facing your chest), on your hip (baby facing your body) & on your back (baby facing your back). All three of these positions are safe for baby’s hip joints.
- Organic Cotton ($135-$170): This carrier is built exactly the same way as the original and has all the same functions. The difference is that it is made from 100% Organic cotton which may be preferable for baby’s with sensitive skin.
- Performance ($140): This carrier is also built in the same way as the original and has all the same functions. It is made of breathable, light weight, mesh fabric to be used in the months or on an outdoor excursion.
- 4 Position 360: $160: This carrier has moveable hip supports so that baby can be worn to face outward, rather than only inward. The carrying options for this carrier are: front inward, front outward, hip and back. Some families find this carrier to be useful as baby grows and becomes very interested in looking out at the world.
Moby Soft Structured Carriers: Moby is most commonly known for their wraps but they also make several soft structured carriers. These carriers are similar to Ergo, Beco and Bobas but they differ in the over the shoulders straps.
- Aria ($160): The Aria carrier has a waistband and two over the shoulder straps. It is designed to hold babies weighing 7.7lbs-44lbs. It is meant to be an all-season carrier and has a mesh panel and button on front cover for changing temperatures. This carrier can be used for front, back and hip carrying.
- Comfort ($120): The Comfort carrier has has a supportive waist band and two straps that go both under and over the wearer’s arm to form an “x” shape on the wearer’s back. It is designed to hold babies weighing 7.7lbs-44lbs and worn in front, back or hip positions.
- GO Pocket ($79.95): This carrier is essentially the “comfort carrier” with an additional pocket that lies over baby’s back.
- GO by Lotta ($79.95): This carrier is essentially the comfort carrier with patterns designed by Lotta Jansdotter.
The Tula is a carrier similar in style to the Ergo but from a smaller company. They have two options for carriers and an infant insert to be used with newborns:
- Infant ($149): These carriers can be used from infancy-18mos and are designed to hold 15-45lbs. They have a waist band and two shoulder straps and can be used for front and back carrying.
- Toddler ($169): These carriers can be used from 18mos-4yrs and are designed to hold 25-50lbs. They have a waist band and two shoulder straps and can be used for front and back carrying.
The Kinderpack is a carrier similar in style to the Ergo but with a wider seat for baby and a large range of sizes for families planning to wear babies for many years.
The Kinderpack company is a small company and they are frequently sold out of products so if you want to get one you may need to order well in advance. See there website here. All carriers are $179.
- Infant: recommended for newborns up to 2 year olds because it has adjustable straps. Holds 8-35lbs.
- Standard: recommended for ages 8mos-3yrs or 20-40lbs
- Toddler: recommended for ages 18mos-4+yrs or 25-45lbs
- Preschool: recommended for ages 3-5yrs or 35-55lbs
As you can see, there are quite a variety of wraps and carriers to choose from! We recommend that you try them on before you choose one if you can. Baby Grand is a baby store that has a large selection (but not all listed) that you can try on. An even better way to try on a variety of baby carriers is to check out the Baby Wearing International meetings here in the Twin Cities. They have tons of wraps and carriers that you can try on to decide which feels best for your body.
Do you have a favorite baby carrier we missed? Let us know in the comments below and we will add it!