If you haven’t tried babywearing, you’re missing out!
Cluster moms always have their hands full (and everyone feels the need to tell us such) so anything that can free up our hands while we are chasing our kids around is worthy of our attention. I was exposed to babywearing going into my senior year of high school when I saw women working with their small children strapped to their backs or even fronts while on a mission trip to Rwanda. This was back in 2006 before babywearing started really gaining popularity (and possibly before I really noticed such things).
These women were amazing working all day with their children extremely content just handing out in the wraps. I had never seen babies so content. They rarely cried and overall were extremely happy all the time. It seemed crazy given the circumstances in which they lived but there they were happy as clams.
As I prepared for my first baby almost 10 years later much had changed in our culture and babywearing was quickly becoming popular. Everywhere I looked I found moms praising the benefits of babywearing. When my oldest was little I even took a babywearing fitness class. It was wonderful to get in a workout and also keep him with me.
Now there are tons of companies out there and several different types of carriers to choose from. It can be a bit overwhelming so let’s start at the beginning.
Different Types of Carriers
There are really 4 main types of carriers wraps, slings, soft structured, and structured. However, structured carriers are generally reserved for outdoor activities such as hiking so the focus today will be on more everyday babywearing. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. This is just an overview but I’ll do a more in-depth post about those later.
There are generally 2 types of wraps – stretchy and woven.
Stretchy wraps are great for when little ones are very little. Those first few months are perfect because they love to curl up in little balls anyways. In my personal opinion, this is the easiest carrier for newborn babywearing. They get all snuggled up and the stretchy material is forgiving as you try and figure out the most comfortable positions.
I did have more problems with my stretchy wrap once mine got to be above about 11-12 lbs. By then I was mostly switched over to a soft structured carrier.
I never owned a woven wrap but have seen them used by a lot of moms who love them. From what I have been told they are great because they can be tied a multitude of ways and accommodate children of just about any size.
I never owned a sling but I used one whenever I would watch my niece and my sister loved hers. She started using it because of my niece’s reflux. The sling allowed my niece to be held in a more upright position but freed up my sister’s hands to care for her older daughter.
Slings have the advantage of being extremely easy to put on and adjust while still wearing it. There aren’t any buckles are straps that have to be snapped behind you. No tying or wrapping either.
They are ideal for moms who don’t want to deal with any complicated wrapping techniques or buckles.
However, baby’s weight is not distributed to your hips with a sling as with other baby carriers so that is something to consider if you plan to wear your little one as they get heavier.
This is my favorite type of carrier once they are out of the newborn stage or if I need to wear them for longer periods as a newborn.
I used my Ergo 360 when we took a family vacation to Washington DC for a week. N was 4 weeks old and I literally carried him around in it all day every day for the entire week. We had a stroller for C since he was only 15 months at the time but I didn’t want to try and navigate subways and museums with a double stroller or two strollers. Plus it kept N super happy about 90% of the trip. We even managed to see a bit of the Holocaust Museum with two under 2!
These carriers are great for kids as they get older because they distribute the weight across your shoulders hips and back. I love that I can still carry my 3 yr old if I felt so inclined. Generally I don’t, but I have been known to still toss N on my back when he’s fussy and wants to cuddle from time to time.
I also used to use 2 soft structured carriers to carry both C and N at the same time. There were occasions where it was simply easier to carry them both then try and negotiate a stroller through a crowd or if they were both fussy it came them both a chance to be close to mom.
When To Babywear
This is all about personal preference but I have found some situations where babywearing is particularly helpful. Plus, there are plenty of other benefits to babywearing.
I still wear A shopping if I know I am going into a store without the big double carts. It frees up the seat for N and C is now usually able to walk near the cart without too many problems.
This was, however, particularly important when one of them was too small to sit up in the seat. Wearing them prevented me from having to lug in my infant car seat and it taking up the whole darn cart. It’s impossible to shop with those things in the cart.
I am not sure I would have ever learned to venture out on my own once N was born if I didn’t babywear. Other moms of cluster siblings I know feel like that can’t leave the house because it takes so much effort to head out with two under 2.
I get it. I really do but I refused to allow the overwhelm to get me. Babywearing allowed me to manage and be confident going out.
One of the worst things about a new baby is that everyone wants to TOUCH them!!! How on earth people still think this is acceptable in today’s understandings of germs and immune systems is beyond me.
Plus, if I’m at an event and I don’t 100% know and trust you, the only way you’re holding or touching my kid is over my dead body. I know other moms might not feel that but I am fiercely protective when they are newborns and have no desire to let 100 people hold them.
Top that off with the fact that we found out our daughter had heart defects at 5 weeks old and then had to be hospitalized less than a week later because she caught a stomach bug.
Nope! Not letting you and your germy hands touch my kids.
Babywearing an infant keeps them tucked into your chest and I have noticed most people are a lot more reluctant to stick their hands right into your chest to touch the baby.
Any Time You Need Your Hands
I could never have left the house in those early years and months with the kids without babywearing. Seriously! I needed my hands to chase my toddlers around and help with everything from A-Z. They weren’t old enough to do just about anything themselves at home let alone at someone else’s house.
Babywearing allowed us to visit the park, go to the store, head to family events, and even take on a family vacation with a 15-month-old and a 4-week-old.
I would babywear at home as well anytime C or N needed my attention but the baby needed some cuddles. I pretty much packed and then unpacked our house with A strapped to my chest.
It offers a freedom that otherwise isn’t available to new moms and particularly Cluster Club Moms.
Bonus Tip: You should practice babywearing when …
- You’re cooking. A back carry is generally fine but a front carry can be dangerous if grease splatters or you spill something.
- Doing projects/tasks that require a lot of bending at the waist. When you babywear you have squat so anything that requires a lot of bending is a no go for babywearing.
Reasons I Can’t Live Without My Carrier
- Most people won’t reach in to touch them since they are so close to your chest. Like I mentioned early people love to touch babies and this keeps a lot of grubby hands at bay.
- Keeps them super happy during the 4th trimester. If you have never heard of the 4th trimester Google it. This was one of the most eye-opening concepts to me as a new mom.
- Skin to skin bonding. We all know this is great for babies but when you also have a toddler that has needs of their own getting skin to skin bonding in can be hard. Babywearing newborns is a great way to make this happen.
- Don’t have to bring in a car seat. Babywearing an infant (after about 3 months or so) is awesome because you don’t have to lug that big ol’ car seat around or take a stroller everywhere. Plus it means you can actually have room in your grocery cart and baby is much happier most of the time. No screaming infant making your milk leak down your shirt.
- Appropriate carriers can be front facing. All of mine have loved front-facing in my Ergo 360. I just caution you to make sure your carrier is approved for the front-facing position. In particular, N and A both loved to be front-facing while an older sibling was in the shopping cart seat. They would interact and “talk” to each other. Both stayed entertained and happy for the majority of the shopping trip that way.
- Don’t have to use a stroller ALL THE TIME. I never loved my stroller. I got the “travel set” with the big stroller that the infant seat could click into because that was what you were “supposed” to get. However, I honestly rarely used it. I have gotten far more use out of my $100 umbrella stroller and my collapsible wagon. Babywearing is what led to so little use of my big stroller and I loved that.
- Keeps them contained. I would wear C when he first started walking and in those early toddler days because I knew exactly where he was at all times. I didn’t have to fight him to hold my hand nor did he get frustrated in the stroller unable to see what was going on well.
- Can’t wander off. If you have a wanderer then walking through crowds is more than a bit stressful. Wearing them keeps them from being able to follow wherever their little heart leads them. N tends to think that we will just automatically follow wherever he goes. He has gotten “separated” (always in my sight but a bit of a way off) several times because of this. “Making him a backpack” as we call it keeps this from happening and the inevitable meltdown because he “couldn’t find me.”
- Spreads out the load when they need/want held. Sometimes N just needs his cuddles but I have things that need doing. Tuck him into the carrier and he’s a happy camper. Soft structured carriers spread the load out to your hips, back, and shoulders enabling you to carry larger children for longer periods.
- Anxious toddlers feel safer in crowds. C is more timid and anxious than N and he loved riding in the carrier anytime were around a lot of people because he felt safe there. If you have an anxious toddler hopping in a carrier can give them a sense of safety and security.
Whenever I know of a brand new mama or a mama-to-be that is asking about what she needs I always suggest a carrier. If I happen to know she is or will be a Cluster Club Mama I really encourage her to check babywearing out.
Babywearing seriously saved my sanity when it came to having three kids in 3 years. I feel it is such an asset that I want to shout it from the rooftops!
If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a shot. You might just love it as much as I did.
If you love babywearing, drop a comment below to let me know how it saved you as a Cluster Club Mom.