What is babywearing you ask? According to Babywearing International's website:
"Babywearing" simply means holding or carrying a baby or young child using a cloth baby carrier. Holding babies is natural and universal; baby carriers make it easier and more comfortable, allowing parents and caregivers to hold or carry their children while attending to the daily tasks of living. Babywearing helps a new dad put a fussy newborn to sleep. It allows a new mom use both hands to make a sandwich. It lets an experienced parent or caregiver carry a baby on her back and wash the dishes, do the laundry, take a hike, or weed the garden, all while keeping the baby safe and content.Couldn't have said it better myself. It's nothing new. Women have been wearing their babies for centuries. And take a peek into any third world/developing country where women are doing lots of manual labor--yep, always babywearing. It's catching on again here in the U.S., and with good reason.
For me, I wore Kian (my first) a little bit, but not a lot. I had time, I had another hand, I had a stroller, I didn't have any other kids. But, when Karter came around, I needed something. Kian was in full-pottying training mode, we were almost done and I desperately needed my hands free for helping him with that, or getting him food, etc. I had a sling before, but it was not sized properly and I ended up just getting rid of it. I ordered a Peanut Shell sling when Kian was a year old, used it a few times for hip carries. I remembered I had it and got it out of storage. It was perfect. Karter had reflux, was fussy at times and I was able to put him in a semi-upright position and on me while I made lunches and dinners and wiped hienies ;) success.
Then, he got bigger and I wanted something that I could use more long term. I was having trouble with getting the positions right and not having pressure on my shoulders. I saw Heavenly Hold's site from another site and clicked on "clearance". I didn't want to spend a ton right away since I didn't really know what I wanted. I found an ABC (Action Baby Carrier) (or here on HH's site) half price and ordered it. Love. Love at first click. Karter was 4 mos old. He could straddle the seat just fine and it was lightweight and perfect. I still can carry him at 17 mos and 19.5 lbs in the front carry, but he's getting a bit long. I love that you cris-cross the straps over your back, it feels more supportive. However, i don't love this one for back carries. I personally had a hard time with it the bigger he gets and the waist support isn't as much as I'd like. This could be because I'm short and need the weight spread differently. I love the sleeping hood on this, as it's straight cut across, and not forms to the child's head. I felt like there was plenty of breathing and space to see out of, yet fall asleep if needed or block the sun.
But, by now, I was becoming a baby carrier researcher and follower and wanting more! Then, it happened...one day on Baby Steals (a daily "steal" site of all things baby) was an Ergo! I'd heard a lot about them, the praises, the awesomeness, I had to have it. One click and it was on it's way. Front carry, back carry, up to 35 lbs, thicker and more durable waist belts, multi-snap sleeping hood...who wouldn't want it?
Karter was now 5 months old and still couldn't quite fit into the Ergo (see here) seat by straddling it...so I waited til he was a closer to 6 months. The Ergo is firmer and a bit more structured than the ABC, has thicker, wider straps. The fabric is heavier which can translate to hotter in the summer, also because I have a black one. I don't like using the front carry on the Ergo, I could never get the hang of it, even with help. My short arms can't snap the chest/back strap clip, and I dislike that I can't criss-cross the straps while wearing baby on the front. But, the back carry makes up for those short-comings to me. It's so versatile, I can switch Kian and Karter in and out of it at any given time. Kevin and I took turns wearing the kids hiking up and down Watkins Glen. You can't do strollers in the Glen. I used the ABC with Karter on front and he'd wear Kian in the Ergo at 3 years old and 34 lbs on his back. Neither of us had any pain or discomfort in the miles we hiked up and down.
What started me in this babywearing frenzy you ask? I wanted my babies close--strollers are great, but not for those tiny babies way down close to the ground and facing away from you. I got a baby bjorn carrier (think souped-up snugli). But, after wearing Kian in it a few times around the block, it hurt. My shoulders hurt, I felt like he was pulling me forward and down. Now I see this is mostly because those cheaper carriers don't have the waist/back support belts. But, also I read some articles opposed to those types of carriers because they "hang" the babies by their crotch. The newer, nicer carriers have actual "seats", so the weight is not on the baby's crotch and is on the butt/hips, the way it would be if the baby was sitting on the floor. Plus so much nicer on the wearer's back!
I was pretty afraid of wraps and ring slings when I first started looking. But, now I think I need a wrap...well and another newborn ;) It looks like a lot of fabric, but everyone says they love theirs and that they're very comfortable.
Obviously the type of carrier you choose is personal. It depends on your needs, how often, how long, where, when you will be using it. I keep the Ergo in my van all the time-just in case-you never know when you might need it. Most babywearers end up with an assortment of slings, wraps, structured carriers, etc. because then you have lots to choose from and you can wear your child from newborn to preschooler. My husband wouldn't touch the sling but gave into the Ergo and admitted it was "pretty good". Some moms have certain carriers just so the dads will wear/use them. Here is a link about choosing a baby carrier from Babywearer.com.
It gives you freedom to do things with other kids when the baby is on your back or if baby needs a nap while you're out and about. It keeps sticky toddler fingers from pulling groceries off the shelf and standing up and out of the cart. It allows you to go places that strollers just can't go. It calms colicky, fussy babies. It gives them closeness and can keep them from over-stimulation in a busy situation (think holidays, shopping mall, etc. ) that might otherwise overwhelm them. Mostly, "it's try it and you'll like it" kind of thing. Once you find a carrier you like (love!) and you know how to use it, and get used to it, you'll probably be wearing your baby all the time. Karter is now 18 months old and I can count on one hand the times he's been in a stroller.
*Note that all pictures are from the official sites of the carriers.
Dr. Sears & babywearing
Now...if I could convince Kevin the Ella Belly Full Click would be good for me to own... ;)