Here are a few babywearing truths you need to know BEFORE you can adequately share the love:
1. If you wear your baby... you are a REAL babywearer.
I've had so many people say to me at meetings, "I want to learn more so I can be a REAL babywearer. I only have a frontpack or big box store soft-structured carrier." Babywearing isn't like the Velveteen Rabbit. An expensive German-style-woven doesn't shed a thread into the ground to grow a fairy and make you into a REAL babywearer. You ARE a real babywearer, don't let anyone tell you that you aren't. Even if you measure in yards or inches. Even if you own "only" one carrier, and even if you made that carrier in your kitchen or bought it from a BigBox store, you ARE a real babywearer.
|A "REAL" Babywearer|
|Also a REAL babywearer with her real DIY mei tai (and awesome matching headband)|
2. Babywearing is a SKILL and not a product. Let me repeat, Babywearing is NOT a product that you buy.
|Towel kanga at the beach|
|Pillowcase and duct tape podegi from the |
first Babywearing Conference Emergency
You do not need a carrier to babywear. You're shocked right now, aren't you? It's true, a product may well make it EASIER for you to babywear, but it isn't the end all and be all. If you have the SKILL of babywearing, you can use any carrier, as well as a large variety of *not a carrier* to carry your baby/toddler. For example, a sheet, towel, or pillowcase and duct tape can be used in a pinch. For more examples, check out my emergency babywearing posts.
3. No carrier works for everyone.
Have you ever had a friend tell you, "omigosh, I just got the most amazing shoes, you HAVE to get some." You head to the store and the shoes pinch your toes or your feet swim in the shoes, or you just think they look like boats on your feet? Carriers are like that. The one I think is awesome may be misery for you. Brand doesn't matter. The Latest-Greatest doesn't matter. Does it fit your child? Is it comfortable? Does it fit your aesthetics and more importantly budget? If so, it's a good choice for YOU.
Ouch that rubs!
4. Toddler carriers are not made for the moment your baby can toddle.
Most toddler carriers don't properly fit children in the 90+ percentile for height/weight until after 2. So, most kids have been running for a long time before they fit a toddler carrier properly. A too small child in a large carrier is at risk of over-extending their knees and hips. I'd go so far as to say this is much MORE not ideal than a baby/child in a narrow carrier, and a too small baby is certainly at risk of getting lost in the fabric and possibly suffocating. In this way, smaller is better than bigger.
Too tall: Bamberoo, 5mo
Toddler Kinderpack, 13.5mo, has been walking for 5mo
Carrier is too tall and too wide. You can see the side of the carrier
where the buckle is sits well past her leg bend
5. Toddler carriers aren't necessary to wear a toddler, or preschooler, or elementary schooler, or high schooler.... and there is no such thing as "toddler worthy." If a toddler is in it, it's worthy.
Okay, I'll admit, wearing a high schooler wouldn't be my first choice, but if I had a standard carrier and I had an injured high schooler I needed to carry, I'd make use of that standard carrier like a boss. In general, you don't wear big toddlers for multiple hours a day like you might with an infant. So, if the carrier/wrap isn't the MOST comfortable carrier to ever hold a kid, so what? You're wearing for 15-20min, maybe an hour tops. Are there situations where a toddler carrier makes sense? Sure. Special needs kids who might be worn more often, kids who struggle with new situations and might be worn more often, parents with an injury that requires more support, or even a parent who just wants one for their toddler, all of these might make a toddler carrier make sense, but let's stop saying everyone needs one, and especially not with a 12mo old.
|ErgoBaby 15yr old, Diane is SO Boss|
Recently, I've heard of folks telling women who founded the modern babywearing movement, women who are leaders in advocacy and the establishment of babywearing as an acceptable universal practice that they aren't REAL babywearers. To be frank, How DARE they? Even if she was a new mom who'd been wearing for a week, where does anyone get the right to tell others their babywearing isn't real enough for them?
Remember as advocates, our first goal should always be to help them work with what they have. If what they have truly won't work for them, start with a few examples of carriers that will do the job that are easy to find at a reasonable price point. If someone wants to jump down the collector's rabbit hole, they can make that decision on their own without feeling pressured to do so. So, I ask you to take this time to become familiar with these carriers that I have heard "can't" carry a child over 8-12mo. Notice the wide variety of sizes that children of the same age are. Notice that all of the pairs seem to be wearing and at the very least content with their *not specifically toddler* carrier.
Kozy Mei Tai
Great article. Thanks! :)ReplyDelete
Love this article, but I do have one caveat. Any arrier that is sewn is going to have a weight limit. They are guidelines and the occasional wearing is fine, but if you're going to put a 50lb child in a carrier with a 35lb weight limit then please be extra sure to check all stitching when you're done.ReplyDelete
If manufacturers are not making their carriers withstand pull tests of at least 100+ pounds they are doing a disservice to their customers, IMO. Most carriers are perfectly capable of supporting several hundred pounds worth of weight before stitching fails. Most people, however, are not going to be comfortable wearing a heavier baby for long. I'm not saying be cavalier about it, checking stitching is great practice anyway, but having done a ton of product testing, I can tell you these things NEED to be able to withstand the forces involved with picking up a child from the floor, swinging them over a shoulder, and bouncing them into place while tugging on straps. If you do that with a 30 pound child, there are points in that process where the force on the straps is well over 40-50 pounds, due to the pull/gravity/tug combined with the child's weight.Delete
I've had carriers fail with a 20 pound child due to fabric or stitching weakness in the santa-toss or "bounce into place" part of the process. If a carrier is only rated for 35 pounds and they mean "if you put a 40 pound kid in here the thing will fall apart" it's not safe to use with any child.
(in general, the bigger a kid gets, the less bouncing you have to do to position them, in my experience. A 15 year old in a carrier is mostly sitting on the hips, the carrier is just steadying.)
Thank you for writing this! When I entered the baby wearing world 18 months ago I felt very similarly. In response I started the blog "Where We Wear" a project that features the baby wearing stories and moments of parents with a focus on why, where, and how we wear, instead of WHAT we wear. :) Two posts that I think you will find of interest are "Letter from a Disillusioned New Babywearing Mama" and "Babywearing is Something You Do, Not Something You Buy".ReplyDelete
I thought you would appreciate 2 posts in particular:
All my best!
Thank you so much for writing this article, I started babywearing 5 yrs ago and have since got into tge facebk pages, the "craze" seems so much more money orientated than it was back then ! Creating yet another new mother hang up and competition, moving away from the main reason for babywearing in the first place , whats best for child and mother is completely different for everyone !Delete
More about the duct tape baby carriers:
Babywearing is a skill. It is a skill for mother AND for baby, interestingly enough. The older they get the better they are at "helping" and clinging and the less you need any carrier at all. I "wear" my son down the stairs all the time...I sit down, he gloms onto my neck, I walk down, he slides off. He's two and has been doing this for months. I only wear him (in a calyx designed for smaller kids but which is still the most comfortable thing I own) taking him to the bus because it is the best way to keep us both warm and keep him out of the road while I"m pushing his special needs sister. Can he sleep in it for 3 hours? No, but he never wants to.
I had someone ask me if I was a CERTIFIED babywearing educator once. I pointed them at this: http://babywearinginternational.org/pages/jenniferrosenberg.php
If 20 years of wearing, designing, testing and teaching with over 200 carriers going through my hands is not sufficient, whatever. Babywearing is a skill. It is best taught peer to peer, best experienced rather than read about, and it does not have to be perfect, it just has to get the job done. It is a tool, not a medal.
I love this so much. As someone who wears every day in her DIY carriers, I get tired of the "you NEED handwoven X" or "check out my HTF/HSA/unicorn hair stash!" Yes, the fabrics are beautiful. But you know what? I learned to wrap with gauze. I don't feel I need to try 20 wraps to find a "toddler worthy" one. Honestly, I don't even wrap most of the time, I prefer a ring sling. :p But I worry about so many new babywearers that feel they *have* to have a collection to babywear and may be turned off of babywearing. So THANK YOU for writing this!ReplyDelete
Bravo bravo bravo!! This is such a much needed post in the babywearing world right now.ReplyDelete
BWI of Phoenix
I love this! I still wear my 2.5 year old in my homemade ring sling, even over my 8 month pregnant belly! We all need to do what works best for us.... Thanks for posting this, I'm going to share it!ReplyDelete
Thank you SO much. My first baby carrier ever was handmade and my second a gift because I really cannot afford the expensive handwoven or ssc carriers. This is a really, really important post. I don't like the condescending attitude of some moms when it comes to babywearing. Just because I don't know 50 different types of carries doesn't make me any less of a babywearer. Thanks a lot for this post!! <3ReplyDelete
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thanks sooooooo much for this article!!ReplyDelete
thanks for this page. i love carrying both my girls just my elest now 3 is getting too heavy not to have additional support, now will try find onethat suits us, my youngest still fits my tomy origionalReplyDelete
I would love to know where you got your Amauti and how it works!ReplyDelete
Wonderful post! So well-said. I'm an "old-timer" in the babywearing world, and I've seen and heard a lot of what you're talking about over the past few years. I wore my oldest (who is almost 10) in the same carrier for almost 2 years straight--a padded ring sling. Around here, almost nobody had ever seen a sling before. The comments I got were usually something like, "Wow, where did you get that thing? Is it comfortable? Your baby looks so happy! Where can I get one for my pregnant daughter?" My simple sling was a big deal. Fast forward a decade, and now, it isn't "real" babywearing. I remember when many of these brands you've pictured here were new and "all the rage", and it's really sad when new moms with limited budgets are persuaded to believe that they must have the newest, latest, trendiest carrier if they want to be "real" babywearers. With 5 babies, I've tried a lot of things--from DIY to wrap conversion--and I do have a little bit of a stash (because it's a fun hobby), but if we really want to spread the babywearing love we need to give mamas the message that it is not only possible, but perfectly acceptable, to happily wear using one simple, inexpensive carrier. Bless you for saying as much! :)ReplyDelete