Sunday, November 8, 2009

does this baby go with my outfit?

People were wearing babies well before they were pushing strollers, but parents' different lifestyle needs have a lot to do with how often they do it these days. If I lived in a place where I was zipping around in a car, then my car seat/stroller combo would be the logical choice for most outings. But here in NYC, I'm not going to lug my stroller around up and down the subway stairs or into the tiny corner store to pick up some groceries if I don't need to. People definitely have strollers here, but they can also really get in the way (cut to mom with a double-wide taking up the whole sidewalk while I was rushing to get to work the other day). I have watched many mothers patiently waiting on the subway platform for a train empty enough for them to squeeze in with her kid's stroller. The solution? Make your baby part of your outfit.

Even though my back has been killing me since the second trimester of my pregnancy (try walking around in Manhattan all day with a bowling ball and two milk jugs strapped to your torso) and it's only getting worse with how much I hold Ruby and wear her in slings and carriers, I LOVE TO WEAR MY BABY!!!

There are so many benefits to baby-wearing--parent-baby bonding, baby's feeling of security in a womb-like environment (Jude dubbed our Hotsling with the newborn cradle hold his "man womb"), mama being hands-free while getting stuff done, etc.

I'm not gonna lie. I have an absurd number of carriers. Partly because I received some as gifts and partly because I have gotten advice for my aching back that has led me to try new ones. I am actually glad that I have more than one, because at this point I like different ones for different reasons and use a couple of them pretty regularly. That being said, now that I know them each so well, I could do with 2 or 3.

Here's what I have and what I think of them.

Moby Wrap:
Pros: most comfortable, cozy, affordable, various holds
Cons: time & space for getting it on
Regular Price: $39.95

This is the best wrap when Ruby is sleepy...or it puts her to sleep when she's not! The newborn holds are just so comfy and cozy--for mama and baby. The real selling point for me is back comfort--this is hands-down the most comfortable of the carriers for my back because it distributes the weight throughout my entire torso, hips, and shoulders. It's so kangaroo-like that it feels a little bit like being pregnant again, too...which makes me believe that it feels a little bit like being in the womb again for Ruby. She has always been immediately calm and content in the Moby. The downside, though (and it can be a pretty big one) is that it is a little trickier than the others to put on and take off. If this were as easy to put on as, say, the Bjorn, I'd wear this one every day! But, alas, it's not. It's one looooooong piece of fabric that you need to have room to spread out and then tie around you and pull around your back and over your shoulders. It's not that it's actually hard to do conceptually--it's actually quite simple--but you need space and time for it. If you've taken the baby out of the carrier to feed her in a restaurant, for example, it's hard to manuever in tight quarters to get the thing wrapped again. I use it whenever I'm fairly confident she's going to sleep through the whole outing.

Pros: easy to take on and off, various holds, great cradle for newborns, lots of fabric choices
Cons: weight on one side, less "hands-free"
Regular Price: $44

For the newborn cradle hold, this is very cuddly and womb-like. My Hotsling was my go-to sling for longer outings while Ruby was newborn to about 2 months old when it got replaced by the Bjorn as they easiest to get her in and out of. Now it's still easy and quick to use, but since she's sitting up in it, it makes her feel less secure to me and I end up "holding" her anyway; thus, not "hands-free." Also, the weight of it really drags down one shoulder, so I always hold her up from the botton to relieve some of the pressure.

Maya Wrap (lightly padded):
Pros: beautiful fabrics, easy breastfeeding, pocket on "tail"
Cons: difficult to maneuver the rings, baby squirms
Regular Price: $59.99

I really, really, really want to love the Maya Wrap. The fabric is gorgeous and I love that it is built to make breastfeeding easy in public (baby can feed from inside the sling and you can toss the "tail" over the top for privacy). However, I always struggle to get the fabric pulled comfortably through the loops and to get the tension and slack correct around the baby. And, while Ruby loves to be in every other sling, this is the only one that she squirms and squirms in to get comfortable.

Baby Bjorn:
Pros: fool-proof & quick on and off, best for dad
Cons: overpriced, weight pulls on shoulders & upper back, boring fabrics and design
Regular Price: 79.99 (currently $59.00 on

The Bjorn is the one that I never felt particularly compelled to love, but it quickly became our most-used carrier as soon as Ruby was old enough that we didn't feel like we were doing permanant structural damage to her body by holding her up between the legs (something that looks so uncomfortable to me, but she has never seemed to mind). When she faces in she put her head down to the side and snoozes. When she faces out (started doing this at about 10 weeks) she holds onto whatever she can grasp (we usually give her our thumbs) and takes in the world with awe. It's not very cozy, but it's just so darn easy to get on and off that it's a no-brainer to grab it and run. This, however, has been to the detriment of my poor, poor back. This one is the worst of all of them on my back, but the best on Jude's. I think it is because it hold all the weight from the shoulders and upper back and pulls down in the front, which is where women carry all their weight anyway, much more so during pregnancy and early motherhood. Still, though...did I mention just how easy it is to put on?

BabyHawk (BabyHawk Mei Tai):
very comfortable, sleek custom fit with different options for ties, most choices for fabrics & design
Cons: expensive, there is an "in-between" phase for babies where neither hold seems right
Price: starting at $80

This is my new favorite carrier! I just got it recently after trying on a friend's and finally breaking down to take the $80 plunge in the name of pain relief! Not only is the BabyHawk similar to the Bjorn in terms of ease to put on and take off (though nothing is as easy as the Bjorn), but the base of the weight you're carrying is set down into the hips because of the waist tie. The first time I used it I was amazed at the comfort. I didn't think anything could match the Moby, but this does. The only thing I can say mildly negative at this point is that Ruby is at an odd age for it right now--she's not quite big enough to comfortably straddle my whole torso for the basic hold, but she's also a little big for the newborn hold at the moment. I think within a few weeks this will be the best of the bunch! As for buying options: you can buy basic designs ready-made on, or you can customize your own by choosing from hundreds of gorgeous fabrics and accessories on their web site. This is what I did and it was so much fun, though you have to wait for the custom order (which is why some people prefer to order it ready-made).

I heart the BabyHawk.

Buy ready-made Babyhawks on
Buy custom-made Babyhawks on the company's site.

Baby-wearing is a wonderful way to connect with your baby, even while you're getting things done--at home or out on the town. It's like a permanent hug. How can you say no to that?

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