Thursday, October 29, 2009

Babywearing on a Budget

The birth of a baby brings many changes, many joys, and many financial discussions. For most families who are trying to save for college as well as pay for all the added costs of a child, there just never seems to be enough money. On top of that, many families see a drop in their income after the arrival of a new baby as parents choose to cut back their work hours, or pay for day care. All these factors add up to a new need to be frugal, while still trying to afford all those wonderful baby products, like baby carriers. Here are a few babywearing on a budget tips for those people who are trying to embrace their babies while keeping their checkbooks in balance.

#1 Try before you buy

The best place to try a baby carrier is at a babywearing meeting, of course! We have volunteer babywearing educators, as well as other friendly and knowledgeable parents who are happy to talk with you and let you try on their carriers. We also have a lending library with many styles of carriers. You can borrow a carrier for a few weeks to see if it truly is comfortable for you and your baby and that it fits your lifestyle. Before you go to a meeting, consider what you want in a carrier. Are you looking for something quick and easy for running errands? Do you hike regularly and want something sturdy, comfortable, and easy to clean? Do you do wear your baby all day and need something completely flexible? Knowing your needs will help us to pinpoint the right carrier for you.

Can’t make a meeting? Ask around. You’d be surprised how many closet babywearers there are. There may be other parents you know who have a carrier that you can try and borrow. Do not be afraid to ask. Most parents love to help other parents who are trying their best for their children.

#2 Buy used

Sure, we all want the best for our children, but used can actually be better. Many carriers are actually more comfortable once they are broken in. Personally, I never buy a new wrap because I do not have the time to make it soft and floppy. I just let someone else do all the work for me and then buy it used. Places like and as well as craigslist, ebay, and many consignment stores offer carriers for sale. If you are on a website be sure to post an In Search Of post to let people know what you are in search of a particular carrier. Every time I post on The Babywearer some nice mom looks in the back of her closet and finds the carrier I need.

The best way to get a good deal is to be flexible and patient. If you are set on one particular color or pattern you are not as likely to find what you are looking for as if you just choose a brand of carrier that works for you and search it out in a variety of colors and patterns. Likewise, waiting and watching the boards (and having your friends look for you as well) often proves to be the most financially savvy choice. Eventually someone will have the carrier you want at a price you can afford. Just be sure to always inspect a used carrier for wear and tear and never use any carrier that has signs of damage.

#3 Do it Yourself

I know this is a scary thought to many people, but it’s really not that hard. You don’t even have to sew. If you are looking for a stretchy wrap for a newborn, just buy 5 yards of jersey cotton from your local fabric department. Crinkle cotton gauze can make a great DIY non-stretchy wrap. That’s it! There are directions available for no-sew ring slings as well. All you need is good quality sturdy material and some sling rings (do not use craft rings from a craft store. They can break and are hazardous to your baby.) For those who have sewing skills or have a friend or relative with sewing skills, the sky is the limit. There are many websites with patterns and information on making any type of carrier, from a pouch to a mei tai. Two favorites are the Do-It-Yourself forum at and Jan Andrea’s directions . One of the great things about doing it yourself is that you can choose your own material and really customize your sling.

#4 Buy cheap

For those of us who do not do it ourselves, take advantage of good quality slings at a lower price. Once again, being flexible on colors and patterns can really help. Pouches are a great carrier to get at a lower price because they are notorious for being returned, since they can be hard to size. Take advantage and buy a returned pouch for less. Buy last season’s colors now, on sale, or look ahead to summer and buy those mesh and solarveil carriers in winter when they are cheap. Here are few examples of carriers on sale after a quick search of the web:

Kangaroo Korner has fleece pouches in their outlet for as low as $31. Mesh pouches are on sale for $50.

Hotslings has pouches in their outlet for $20.

Sleeping Baby Productions makes, arguably, some of the most comfortable and well made ring slings on the market, and the slings start, brand new, at $25. Also, you can buy your own material and send it to Jan and she will sew it for you for only $18!

Christmas Kozy carriers are on sale for $69

Comfy Joey has pouches and ring slings on sale for $27.50

Gypsy Mama has their Sarah wrap on sale for $55.

Don’t mind Pink Leapord? You can get a second from Ball Baby for $50.

Baby Sling Outlet- of course- is an outlet! (A long Hoppediz for only $32 sounds good in any color!)

Attached to Baby , Carry Me Away, Along for the Ride, Simply Slings and many other sites have clearance and outlet sections.

#5 You don’t need THE carrier (and borrow it if you really do!)

Sure a $300 silk sling would be nice, but my $30 ring sling is comfy, durable, and perfect for my every day uses. When it came time to baptize my son I borrowed a high-end ring sling (thank you!) from a very generous babywearer to look fancy for the day, and then went back to my regular, budgeted life just fine. Think you “have to” have a wrap handcrafted by fairies in the moonlight? The inexpensive used wrap that has snuggled a few babies before yours will do just as well without costing an arm and a leg. Once again, be flexible. There are a lot of great choices out there, and for special occasions, borrow! It will make the day feel even more special.

#6 Speaking of Special Occasions….

The holidays are coming up- so put that prized baby carrier on your list. Birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Baby showers are all great times to get a baby carrier as a present and not pay a dime for it! Many online retailers also have gift certificates. A few $50 gift certificates can go a long way and before you know it you will have that dream carrier and still have money in the bank.

Personally, I have at least 15 carriers but only regularly use 3 or 4 of them. If you take the time to find the carrier that works for your lifestyle you will be set to take on the world- or at least try. The most important thing to your baby is that you love him or her. So pinch your pennies, sew up your material, or snag that deal, and then enjoy the time spent snuggling with your baby.

Article posted by Carolyn

This article is intended for informational purposes. Carriers and vendors mentioned are for examples only. This does not constitute an endorsement of any one brand or vendor over another.

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