To Wear or Not to Wear (the Baby)

This is a quick review of five different baby carriers that I’ve owned, plus my thoughts on the art of babywearing. (The carriers are: Moby Wrap, Baby K’Tan, Nuroo Pocket, Ergobaby, Maya Wrap ring sling, and FreeHand mei tai carrier.)

Before I had Cody, I learned about the benefits of babywearing and I decided that I would be a frequent babywearer. For those of you who don’t know, babywearing is pretty much what it sounds like—wearing your baby, or in other words, carrying him or her in a carrier that attaches to your body. It’s a convenient way to keep your baby close and happy while still having one or two hands free to do other things, or so they say.

I bought myself three baby carriers that I thought I’d like: a Moby Wrap, a Baby K’Tan, and a Nuroo Pocket. After only a few weeks with Cody, I realized that none of them were going to work for me.

I bought the Moby Wrap for $45 from Buy Buy Baby. It’s a very long length of stretchy soft fabric that you wrap and tie around yourself in special ways to hold the baby. It’s versatile, comfy, and secure. Unfortunately, it’s extremely long, as in probably three times my height if I had to estimate. That makes it a bit challenging to wrangle, especially when you’re out of the house. I honestly didn’t even try to wear Cody in the Moby Wrap because it was just so difficult to deal with and I wanted to find something easier. I tied it on myself a few times without him in it and it was simply too big. I had to wrap the fabric around myself several times to keep it from dragging on the floor. Another reason I didn’t like the Moby Wrap is that because it’s such a large piece of fabric that you wrap around yourself, it’s quite toasty in there when all is said and done. Since Cody is a very warm little baby, I figured it would be way too hot and uncomfortable to wear him in it.

I bought the Baby K’Tan for $50 from Target. It’s a unique type of carrier made up of two loops of fabric connected by another very small loop. It’s worn sort of like a backpack on the front, with the baby nestled into the pouch created by the fabric. It seemed like it would be a comfortable and secure-feeling option, plus there’s no tying or wrapping involved so I figured it would be easy to use. Unfortunately, I found it incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. Getting the baby into the thing was challenging in itself, and then it was near impossible for me to get him into a comfortable and safe position. I think that the main problem is that it’s not adjustable really at all, so it can’t be opened to put the baby in and then tightened around him. It’s very important in babywearing that the baby is snugly attached to you, not sagging or dangling loosely. That was not possible in the Baby K’Tan.

I bought the Nuroo Pocket for $60 at Babies R Us. It’s a shirt with a pocket in it that holds the baby, and it’s designed especially for newborns. Like the Baby K’Tan, I found the Nuroo Pocket to be awkward and uncomfortable, for the same reasons. It isn’t adjustable, so Cody ended up sinking down into the pocket and that wasn’t comfortable or safe. Even using the support belt that came with it to try to hold him up, it simply didn’t work well.

After those three failures, I started to doubt that babywearing was going to be something I enjoyed. Before giving up though, I decided to do some research and try to find a carrier that worked for me.

I should also mention that at my baby shower, Cory and I received an Ergobaby carrier as a gift, and Cory has been using it to wear Cody since the beginning. The Ergobaby is a structured carrier that can be worn like a backpack in front or back. It has buckles and adjustable straps. I’ve never found it to be that comfortable or easy to use, but it works extremely well for Cory. It’s secure, fairly easy on the back even with extended use, and Cory can get Cody strapped on with it in under a minute. The Ergobaby can be purchased at most baby stores as well as at Target, for around $115.

Finding a carrier that I enjoyed using was a struggle, though. After researching, I came up with two options that looked promising: a ring sling and a mei tai carrier.

A ring sling is a piece of fabric that is threaded through two rings to form a loop. It is worn over one shoulder, and the baby sits in the pouch that is formed. I bought a Maya Wrap ring sling on Amazon for $75. So far, I have had mild success at using it. Some of the benefits to a ring sling are that it is quite versatile, and you can wear a baby in it in many different positions including facing out or on the hip, whereas most carriers I’ve seen are mainly used for tummy-to-tummy carries and back carries. It’s also relatively quick to put on. There is no tying or wrapping involved, just pulling the tail of the fabric to tighten it around the baby. That being said, I haven’t found it to be that comfortable and it can be awkward and frustrating to try to put it on. Another disadvantage I have found is that ring slings are designed to free up only one hand, as one hand should always be kept on the baby. They simply aren’t as secure as other carriers, and I can tell that when I’m wearing it.

A mei tai is a type of carrier that crosses between a structured backpack-type carrier and a wrap. It’s basically a rectangle of fabric with ties on all four corners. The bottom ties go around the waist and the top ties go over the shoulders and back around. I bought a FreeHand Baby Carrier for $35 on Amazon. This is by far my favorite carrier, and it’s ironic that it was also the cheapest. I like it because it’s extremely adjustable and also easy to adjust. It takes a minute to tie it on, and it can be a tiny bit tricky, but it’s so worth it for the security and comfortableness. I can easily get it on by myself, even in the car or out and about. Once it’s on, it feels snug and secure and it balances the weight evenly over my back and shoulders. I can wear Cody in it with his legs out, which he prefers, and once he’s bigger I can use it to wear him on my back. I like that this carrier actually frees up both of my hands.

In the end, I’m happy to say that I found a carrier that works for me. I’m hoping that the ring sling will get more use as Cody gets older and we become more comfortable with it. For now, the mei tai works really well, as does the Ergobaby for Cory.

Even with my mei tai carrier, though, I have not found babywearing to be as easy or comfortable as I’d hoped. Yes, I have my hands free and my arms don’t ache from carrying him for a long time, but I still have a baby strapped to my chest. I can’t do anything that requires use of the space immediately in front of me, which includes eating, sitting close to a table, using the computer, and many types of cleaning (try doing the dishes without standing close to the sink, or doing the laundry without leaning over the machine!). Cody also tends to get fussy if I try to sit down while wearing him—he’d apparently rather be sitting in my lap. And it’s not safe to cook while wearing a baby. So, even though I do appreciate the break for my arms and it tends to be soothing for Cody, babywearing really isn’t a magical solution to let me get things done.

That being said, babywearing is great for outings, walks, and soothing a fussy baby. It’s wonderful when your baby wants to be held but your arms are tired. I would still consider a baby carrier a must-have baby item, and I am very glad to have mine. No, babywearing isn’t what I thought it would be and it isn’t something I do on a daily basis, let alone for hours each day as I had envisioned. But it still has its benefits and I enjoy it when I can.

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