Our regular reader Kristin at Going Country asked me a question I hear a lot:
I know you wore both your babies, in various carriers, approximately 14 hours each day. So what baby carrier do you recommend?
Ooooh, that’s a good question. With wonderful, cuddly answers. BABIES! Kiss them and cuddle them. And eat their cheeks. And fingers. Their sweet little chubbsy fingers!
Where was I? Yes. Advice. Photos and videos at the bottom of the post. I make no links to stores because I don’t have strong feelings about where you buy. Check craigslist (not for Kristin, though, whose neighbors are sheep and horses and goats and can I move there soon?) Or search the name of the carrier with “clearance” and see what you get. Some of the best deals I got were from the manufacturer on their “sale” or “outlet” sections.
For an infant and newborn, I love love love Moby Wrap. Did I mention I love it?
It’s soft, it’s comfy, and it’s the only way you can nestle baby where they prefer: high or low, upright, diagonal, or almost sideways. It holds them in firmly without squishing them, it allows nursing, it fits regardless of how swollen your belly or breasts are. It’s cooler than other carriers in summer because it’s a light, stretchy cotton fabric) and warmer (because it covers so much) in winter. Babies don’t really outgrow the Moby because you can wrap it so many ways. As newborns, they cuddle in little lumps on your front, feet tucked under them like they’re still inside. As they age they can be more upright or face out (carriers like the Bjorn do this, but put too much weight on baby’s tailbone and are too structured for my taste). You can carry an older baby on your back with the Moby, but my kids are so active I could never get it wrapped before they ran into the next room, cleared the shelves, emptied the cabinets, stripped naked, and peed on the cat.
The only problem with the Moby Wrap is it takes a good minute to get on. Practice now, with a doll, and it’s easy as pie. There are videos and diagrams to help (see end of this post). It’s really easy once you’ve done it even one time. But with a toddler or older child (Kristin’s is Two-ish and will be under-Three-ish when baby comes), you can’t be putting it on and taking it off several times a day. The Moby is a “put on once and leave it on all day” kind of carrier. Put it on at home before you go anywhere. Baby can be strapped safely and securely to you all day if you want (comfortably without any pressure on shoulders or neck) and taken out easily for diaper changes. Baby can be in and out several times an hour if you need, once you get that thing on. But you need two hands free for a full minute to wrap it properly. And with a toddler that’s hard.
I cannot say enough how valuable the Moby is. I’d send mine if a desperately loved baby cooking RIGHT NOW in New York wasn’t getting our Moby this week. Ooooh, she’s gonna love it.
Also for newborns and infants is my favorite all-’round-until-they-hit-20-pounds carrier: the Hotsling. With baby in your arms you can pop it over your head and gently place baby into it. They can hang out in the Hotsling for HOURS as newborns or get in and out as needed when you need your hands for sandwiches and toys and plows and whatnot. If you bend over, as with potty learning tasks, put one hand on baby. They won’t fall out, but pouch slings aren’t as secure as the delicious Moby is. With the Hotsling, they can graduate to sitting and face out as infants (my favorite is this Buddha sit from about 4 months on), and it can hold them securely on your hip beyond seven months or so. I love these pouch carriers *if* you can get the right size. Ideally, try a few on. (Kristin, I guess you check to see if the chickens have a spare for you to try?) We bought two: one in a smaller size for infant and Mama and larger size for Papa and baby and Mama and toddler.
[Photos courtesy of HotSling and SlingStation; totally not photos of me.]
After 20 pounds, the pouch slings just hurt too much on your shoulder and neck. The weight is on one side only, and 20 pounds for one mile is my limit. Spouse can still use the pouch with a 25 pound toddler going two miles. But he has a higher pain tolerance than I do. Or rougher neck skin. Or something.
[NB: In *my* day pouch slings were not adjustable. I didn’t know until I searched for images for you that apparently enough people whined about this that Hotslings has an adjustable pouch. Meh. I like the sized version because there’s no adjusting and less material. I’d find an old school “classic” Hotsling if I were you. Their old sizing included special instructions for larger breast sizes, too. The new adjustable hotslings look as annoying as the models wearing them (Sorry, attractive teenage models. I’m a “judge Moms by their appearance” kind of Mom, and you look rested, showered, fit, and made up. In other words, like no mom I know.)]
For babies five months and older, I like a mei tai or an ErgoBaby. With a mei tai you can carry baby front or back, facing in or out.
Photos courtesy of meitaibaby.com
Wrapping is pretty easy, but as with the Moby, you need two hands free for at least thirty seconds, and you might never have that when you need it. Plus, the straps are long and dangle on the ground if you’re putting it on again) outside. Near the chicken coops, this will be an issue.
With the ErgoBaby, you have clips for your waist and shoulder straps (think more conventional backpack).
Both mei tais and ErgoBaby carriers easier on baby’s spine than a Bjorn. Ergo makes an infant insert so baby can cuddle in close (with knees up and feet tucked against you) to make it extra safe. WHY, though, when there are Moby wraps that are perfect for everything including nursing, hiking, and tractor rides? Mei tai has a slight edge with the 5-12 month baby because baby can face out while riding in front, which the Ergo does not accommodate. But Moby gives you that feature up to 12 months. ErgoBaby has an edge past 12 months, because toddlers want to get up then down then up then down then up again, and a mei tai’s shoulder straps are not fun after the third time. Mei tai is more versatile for baby is you don’t have a Moby; Ergo is more versatile for you.
If I had to choose, I’d get a Moby Wrap and probably, later, an ErgoBaby carrier. If you’re not going to have the Moby on all day every day for quick tasks. Get a pouch sling, too. I know that’s a lot. But all three on sale will cost less than a stroller and will be useful for every moment inside and outside. Plus no parking them or fighting to get them into the car.
Now. For the most awesome hot dad video instructional video I’ve seen. (Sadly, it’s not a video on how to be a hot dad. It teaches humans to put on a Moby. But “hot dad instructional video” has a nice ring to it.) This is only one way to wear a baby in the Moby. Since he’s not worried about nursing he can put the teeny bean a bit highter…search for more videos. But I love this one. I posted it on facebook long ago and my babywearing posse loved it. Now you can, too!
[Spouse wore Peanut in a Moby everywhere we went. He’d pace the back of the breastfeeding support group while I cried to strangers about thrush and Reynaud’s of the nipple and nerve damage and sleep loss and pumping and…and every one of those women ignored me and watched Spouse pace with a sweet lump nestled on his chest.]