Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Thoughts on Baby Carriers

This is my take on a few different baby carriers.  These are just my opinions!

When I was pregnant with my first child, I knew I wanted to be a "baby wearing" mom.  Don't know if that term was around then, but mostly I just wanted to hold my baby more and not have to always put him into something.  So while preparing for my first child, I was introduced to the world of baby contraptions and thought, "Do I really need all that?".  

Me and My 1st Baby
Well turns out I did use a lot of those things, and I appreciated them when he was born.  But I pretty much failed at baby wearing for my first child not because of all the equipment I had, but because I had a crappy carrier.  It was the kind that you find at Walmart, fairly cheep, and had buckles with adjustable straps. My baby had to be forward facing with his legs dangling from this diaper shaped harness, putting all the weight on the crotch.  This was never comfortable for me, or him.  I pretty much gave up using it as I really didn't enjoy it.  I'm no baby wearing expert, but I found out later that this type of carrier is bad for your baby's hips.  If you want to know more about what I'm talking about, here is a link that tells you all about it.  I highly recommend checking that out and learning about hip dysplasia. 

I don't have any pictures of me wearing my first baby, because I really didn't. 

When my second child came along, I researched a little more.  I found a wrap much like the "Moby" that many people have today.  It was from a company called Parents of Invention and I chose it because it looked comfortable and snugly.  It's basically just a long piece of stretchy fabric that wraps around your waist and shoulders to hold you baby in snug, and distributes the weight.  I liked it at first, but did have problems with it. 

Forward Facing in a Wrap Carrier
For one thing, it takes a while to figure out how to use it.  If you get one thing off, the rest is off.  For instance, maybe it feels fine at the shoulders and your baby is in snug, but you wrap it too tight or too loose at the waist.  Then you have to adjust it, while doing that something else moves at the shoulder, or the pouch you've made for the baby loosens.  It's a big mess, so eventually you take it all off and start over.  It's a very long piece of fabric so that takes a while, and it's awkward trying to put it on in public, especially if it's dirty or muddy on the ground, because it will touch the ground when you are trying to put it on.  It also seemed to me that even when I had it just right, it would eventually sag at some point and I'd have to readjust it.  It don't think there was anything wrong with the brand it's just the type of carrier, or possibly I never learned how to do it right.  

My Sister with my 3rd Baby
I also got myself a pouch sling with my second baby.  This goes over one shoulder and is fitted so there is no way to adjust it.  I actually liked this one for a while, because it was so easy.  I was drawn to how small it was and simple, but I think this is really one of the worst kinds.  It's very limited because you can't adjust it.  I looked back on some of the pictures of me wearing it, and I'm embarrassed to think I walked around like that, with a sagging baby dangling from me.  I'll show you a picture of my sister wearing it because she looks much cuter than me.

Dangling From me in the Pouch...Fail!

Also, this is not the right way to wear a baby in a pouch.  She should be tummy to tummy with her hips supported, but I don't even know what this is.  I later made my own pouch sling, which was way more attractive and fit me better.  But I soon lost interest.  

It wasn't until my daughter was a toddler, that I finally tested out a ring sling carrier.  This one is a long piece of fabric that goes across one shoulder and fastens with a ring up high.  I was never interested in trying one because I thought it had too much fabric, and looked to difficult to use.  I was wrong!  I put my daughter on my hip, and went for a hike with her in the ring sling.  I was surprised at how comfortable it was, and I didn't realize you can adjust it in different places with the ring.  So I decided if I ever had another baby I would get one of those.  

It was around that time when I also saw the mei tai in action.  I'd never seen anyone wear this type in person so it never struck my interest.  It's an Asian inspired carrier that basically has a central piece of fabric for the baby, with straps for the shoulders and the waist.  My sister-in-law was wearing it at the mall one day, and it just looked so comfortable. Not only that, it was pretty because it was homemade!  I also put that one on my mental list for baby carriers to get for my next child.  

When I was about to have my fourth baby, I finally got around to making a ring sling.  I tried three different fabrics, one with cotton/linen, one linen/poly and the last was 100% linen, my favorite.  I bought the rings from an online store that just makes rings for baby slings.  I found a few online tutorials, but basically I cut about 2 1/2 yards by 30 inches of fabric and hemmed the long sides.  For attaching the ring, my favorite tutorial is here because it ends up looking really neat and pretty, but also makes the width perfect for comfort at your shoulder. Here is what it looks like!

See how evenly it distributes across my shoulder?

These are the other two, they really didn't turn out as nice, but they still work. 

Accordion Fold...Not Too Great
Didn't read the Directions...Oops! It still works though but not very pretty and maybe too wide. 

I was very excited to use my ring slings at first, but found it was very difficult for a newborn.  I never could get her in there very comfortably, and she didn't feel very secure being so small.  I was a little disappointed until she was about 3 months.  I love it now, and take it with me every Sunday to church.  It's just so much easier now that she's bigger and can hold up her head.

3 Months Old in a Ring Sling
Tummy to Tummy

So like I said, the ring sling didn't work out for me when she was a newborn, and this was bad because my baby always wanted to be held...otherwise she would cry.  Luckily I had made a mei tai as well.  I searched the web for tutorials, and found this one and just used the measurements because the instructions didn't seem put together right.  I didn't really take the time to read them all so I can't really say if they were or not.  I also was going to make the hood she had, but the proportions looked just looked huge!  So I didn't and I don't think the hood is really necessary anyway. 

My first impressions of this mei tai after it was made was that it reminded me of an octopus.  So I rolled it up and put it away because I didn't know you could put a newborn in a mei tai.  Well turns out you can, but at about 4 or 5 weeks I finally decided to try it.  As soon as I did, I wished I had done it sooner.  There was something about how snug it was, and the closeness between her and I that caused her to immediately relax and usually fall asleep.  We both loved it! I felt she was safe and secure, and I could actually use both my hands without a problem.  This is the first one I made, but she is about 3 months here.

My First Mei Tai

I wore this one a lot, and so I had a lot of people ask me about it because they wanted one too.  Eventually I decided to design my own because I wasn't all the way satisfied with this one and how it was structured.  I also put a pocket on it so I could stuff it into a little more octopus to have to carry around with me.  

Here is my new and improved mei tai, the one that I now sell in my Etsy shop.

4 Months Old

Using the Pocket

Folded Into a Pouch

So there you go. That's my take on baby carriers, and also how I ended up selling the Mei Tai.  I'd be interested to hear what you think about baby wearing if you want to leave me a comment below! And...I really hope I haven't offended anyone because like I said, I am no baby wearing expert, and I'm sure there are people out there with different experiences then me, who maybe love one of the carriers I don't.  That's okay, we don't all have to agree and maybe you know how to fix the problems I had!

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