I’m so grateful that Stephanie Precourt of Adventures in Babywearing agreed to demo her favorite slings, wraps and carriers for a group of expecting and new moms at my home on Saturday. Steph is a mom to four and longtime babywearer; you can also find her writing here and here as well as directing and producing Listen to Your Mother on May 7 in Valparaiso, Indiana.
And without further adieu, The Beginner’s Guide to Babywearing with our own personal tour guide, Stephanie. A special thanks to Casey for capturing some great shots.
The Ring Sling
What it will cost you: $88-$198 at Sakura; starts at $30 for a custom sling from SBP
Why Steph loves it: Perfect for newborns, great for nursing, comfortable, fashionable and versatile
Favorite carry: Tummy to tummy but Sakura Bloom’s YouTube channel will show you many more. Keep the ring high on your shoulder, similar to where a corsage would be pinned.
Update: Steph bought her first ring sling on eBay for $15! Shop around! You’ll find many options on Etsy.com, too.
What it will cost you: $40-$70
What Steph says: It’s typically less expensive than a ring sling, small and convenient, but they usually only come in one size so it’s difficult to get that perfect fit. Hotslings does sell an option that’s adjustable.
Favorite carry: You’ll start to see a pattern — Steph prefers tummy to tummy, which keeps the baby upright and against your chest. A cradle carry can be hard to achieve, especially with a tiny newborn with no head strength.
What it will cost you: $40-$70
Why Steph loves it: Another great carrier for a tiny newborn. It’s a little bit of work to get on, but it’s SO comfortable and has two layers of support for baby. You can also wear it all day because of the two shoulder support.
The Mei Tai
What it will cost you: $80-90
Why Steph loves it: Like the wrap, the mei tai also has two shoulder support but it offers more structure. It’s also great for backwearing an older baby. Wait until baby is about 3 months old or has good head support to use the mei tai.
The carry: Front, back, facing inward or outward.
Who makes it: Ergo Baby (the brand name)
What it will cost you: Starting at $105
Why Steph loves it: “I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like the Ergo,” she says. “It’s also less intimidating than a sling or wrap.” It has more structure and bells and whistles than the mei tai, and it’s perfect for outdoor activities like hiking. Wait until baby is three months old or has good head support. Ergo does sell infant inserts for smaller babies.
How to carry: Downloadable instructions here.
What it is: A babywearing accessory to keep you and baby warm!
Where you can buy it: Find it here.
What it will cost you: $80
Another accessory we can’t pass up: Children’s Play Slings by Sakura
Questions for Steph:
I don’t know anyone who babywears. What resources do you recommend for me?
TheBabyWearer.com — forums, chat rooms, safety information and much more
Correct Positioning Guide (from TheBabyWearer)
Sakura Bloom’s YouTube Channel
A local La Leche League meeting (that’s how Steph was introduced to babywearing)
What age do you stop babywearing?
Stop when it becomes uncomfortable for you or when baby is too heavy. For Steph, that meant around age 3 for her son. Follow your carrier’s instructions and weight limit, too.
Can Dads babywear?
“Dads who babywear are hot!” Steph says. (We agree!) Encouraging your hubby to babywear may require you to buy a neutral carrier — stay away from pink and floral patterns. Babywearing is also great bonding for Dads, especially if Mom is nursing exclusively.
Can you babywear when you’re pregnant?
Stephanie says: “You can babywear while you’re pregnant. It’s recommended to carry whatever is most comfortable for you. The Ergo worn as a back carry is popular, with the belt worn low under the waist. I wore Gray in the mei tai on my back while pregnant with Ivy. I just tied the straps so that it was comfortable for my pregnant belly and back. If you find that you can still carry your child in your arms while pregnant, you can wear them in a carrier. If your doctor recommends that you should not lift or hold a certain weight while pregnant, then of course heed that advice.”
I’m scared to try babywearing!
Go with your gut, Stephanie says. Keep trying different carriers and positions until one if right for you and baby. If your baby starts fussing in a carrier, start moving. “It’s almost like a car ride,” she says. “It’s a guaranteed nap!”
Isn’t babywearing for crunchy moms only?
From Steph: “I think that no matter what your parenting style or choices, almost every new mom registers for a baby carrier like the Baby Bjorn when they first have a baby. Wearing a Baby Bjorn is babywearing! I think the traditional baby carriers are lumped into the crunchy culture because they aren’t readily available at big box stores and might be harder to find. I think many moms don’t understand the different types of carriers so they make assumptions about the people that wear them!
Now, of course moms that practice attachment parenting often rely on baby carriers to get through the day and keep their baby close. Those that parent this way are more likely to exclusively breastfeed and cloth diaper as well. But babywearing is really any act of keeping your child close in a carrier.
Crunchy or not, babywearing works wonders for parents and caregivers that don’t want to lug around a stroller, have multiple children to keep track of, or to just soothe their baby while they get things done, keeping their hands-free.”