20 January 2009

Sling it to me!

I’m a big fan of babywearing, as long as the conversation is limited to the theoretical. In practice . . . well, I want to like it, but I have so much fun delivering the baby, nursing the baby, staying up late with the baby, etc., that I’m all funned out come babywearing time. When at home and not in arms, my baby usually has to tough it out in a bouncy, on a blanket or within some other device of supreme torture.

However, I usually wear my baby when out and about. Strollers just don’t do it for me, and bare-arming leaves a little one too exposed to well-meaning but germy, touchy, kissy people (“I’ll just GIVE ME THAT BABY RIGHT NOW while you go and fill your plate. . .”). I appreciate the protection and security of a sling, but I have yet to find a product that lives up to its promises.

My search has evolved over the years, thus:

With my first kid, I used the Snugli front pack. Too many buckles, not enough ergonomics.

After 15 minutes in the pack, mom and baby are ready to eat one another

With my second, I tried the Nojo—a big step up from the front pack. Yet, the Nojo was a lot of fabric and padding for one person to heft, especially come summer time. And it placed all of the baby’s weight on one lone trapezius; after about hour of wear I couldn’t use the corresponding fingers and my face would go numb from the jaw clenching. Very embarrassing.

At -25 degrees, mom is thrilled to be wearing a crib mattress

So with my third, I looked for a nicer fit and less fabric. I found a little cargo sling and liked it more than the Nojo. If I can’t find anything better before this next baby is (DV) born I’ll likely default to this guy. Still, the cargo sling is really only good for the first couple of months, and it, too, ends up being pretty painful after about an hour.

She makes it look so easy . . .

Advise me girls. This is my hour of need. :D

After browsing about a bit, I found two possible improvements: Sleepy Wrap and Babyhawk. The Sleepy Wrap looks so sensible and is reasonably priced. I like the idea of being able to spread the fabric out over both shoulders to distribute the baby’s weight, and I like the option of switching between different holds. But I’m skeevy about all that fabric; it gets pretty hot around these here parts. And as I need to wear the baby to church I want something less conspicuous.

As for the Babyhawk, it just looks cool. ;) I’ve also had people tell me it’s terribly comfortable, easy to handle, easy to nurse in, and whatnot. Its biggest plus factor is its size. Its biggest downer is its price.

What do you think? Have any recommendations? Please?

I’ll even offer up a prize: if I take your recommendation, I’ll send you a full-color, autographed picture of someone else wearing her own baby in that particular product. Yeah? Oh, yeah.


Joanna said...

I have a Sleepy Wrap for my second baby, due in two months. I can't tell you too much about it yet, except that it is not nearly as difficult to remember how to tie it as you might think, and, when I tested it out on my toddler, it held him quite securely even though he was giving me weird looks the whole time. I have high hopes for the Sleepy Wrap.

Joanna (long-time reader, first-time commenter)

Marie M said...

Hi, Gauntlets! As a La Leche Leaguer, I have had the opportunity to try out many, many different carriers. My favorite, so far, is the Sleepy Wrap (or Moby wrap, as it is also called). It's easy enough to learn how to tie it, quite versatile, and distributes the weight around the body, much like pregnancy (as odd as that sounds...)! It keeps the baby from hanging "off" of your body by pulling it tight to your body. I've worn it for several hours with a 10 month old on a 90 degree day at the zoo. Many people commented that I and/or the baby must feel very warm, but I was quite comfortable.

I've never really tried the other kind (also called Mei Tai, I think), but several acquantainces LOVE them. The children always look like their legs are losing circulation, though!

I had borrowed the Moby wrap, so what I actually own and use the most is a plain old ring sling. They work for a variety of ages (newborn in the fetal position against Mommy's chest to supporting toddler on the hip.) I have very minimal swing skills, but I whipped one up in a hour. I think you can find a free pattern at ringslings.com

I also owned (note the past tense) both the Snuggli and the cargo type carriers, but had the same complaints as you... so maybe you'd find the Ring sling and Moby helpful, just like I did!

Good luck... and if you want to check some out in person, just go to a LLL meeting, mention the word baby-carrier, and you can have a 2 hour long conversation=)

Marie M said...

Actually, the link is slingrings.com

Melanie said...

nope, no circulation loss here! My little man loves his babyhawk, esp as a teether ;) He has spent hours on my back and fallen asleep for long periods of time. I have never nursed in it, but a good friend walked around the zoo for 2 hrs with her baby on her front, nursing and all and no one could tell.

Hope that helps! Oh, also, I carried my eldest in it until he was over a year and a half! The straps are sooo comfy from the padding, but not bulky.

MooreMama said...

I have a New Native sling - factory seconds, so it has some extra back and forth stitching on one of the seams and came with a hefty discount.
I loved it loved it when she was very little for the express purpose that she was safely in nursing range and out of the General Public Germ range.
I haven't used it of late because it's been cold and easier to carry her in the car seat (conveniently covered).
What I like about it is that it is minimal material so it folds to about the size of a recieving blanket - handy for throwing into a diaper bag or purse, justincase. (no mattresses here)
Callie was always very comfy in it as an infant, then when she started to get some head control, she wanted to be as much out as in and the sling just gave some extra support for carrying her upright.


For reference, mine is a Medium.

Rosie said...

Our favorite is the baby bjorn.

Dakotapam said...

I had a ringsling...I loved it Joy used the same one as well...and I think she loved it too. Mine had some padding at the shoulder and a long tail that doubled as nursing cover up. I like the idea of the moby wrap, but I think I'm most comfortable with the sling I know...and i carried my big babies in them up until age two or so in various positions.

Christine said...

I have big babies and a not-so-strong back, so I like the Ergo.


Joy said...

Yep. Loved the ring sling. Now I'm using a NOJO and love it too--but it's also a type of ring sling.

Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom said...

I used Pam's ring sling too! I loved it, especially when Emma was a newborn. She loved it too, and you're right, it keeps those grabby hands out of reach. (Except for Pam's...) Actually, I still have it, and use it to carry my 16 month old on my hip. It's very similar to a Maya wrap. I've also heard glowing recommendations of Kozy carriers and Kangaroo Korner slings.

Mossback Meadow said...

I"ve been wearing the Parenting Concepts sling in the petite size since 1990. I switch sides when every so often so I feel more "balanced." I'm 5'4" and the petite length keeps baby up higher and tighter which is more comfortable for me. I like a sling because baby can lie down or sit up facing away or facing me. I just switch it up to avoid fatigue.

Beth said...

It looks like everything's been covered, but I'm gonna add my two cents anyway.
I've used ring slings most often in wearing my 4. Like you, I prefer no padding and an open tail (handy for descrete-ish nursing in church).
I'm experimenting with a sleepy wrap with #4 (3 months) and like it for when she's going to be in there awhile. Not so easy for nursing, or maybe I haven't practiced enough.
Tried a babyhawk, and like it for the 3 yo who still likes to be on my back sometimes. But I feel that it spreads the young babies legs too far apart, and wouldn't be ideal for cradle-y nursing.
If I had to choose one, all purpose carrier, it would be a loose, unpadded ring sling.

Sarah D said...

I am the lone stroller person. Which has worked out great, since my kids can sit peacefully now for 4 miles while I push them. I trained them young. :)

But, I have heard many a good things from my MOMS Club members about the Mobywrap.

Gauntlets said...

Wow, people! This is wonderful, and I thank you ever so much!

It looks like ring slings have come a long way from their dark early ages . . . I guess I'll keep looking around. :)

Lauriinnc said...

I have never liked any of the ones I have tried! :( Liked the stroller until they could climb.

My recommendation? Older siblings. In my experience, both awesome and adorable. Kind of expensive though. ;)

johnqmercy said...

ERGO, baby. Don't wreck your back.

I know you've already got a lot of expertise here on slings, but I have no shame. Get the Ergo. We got one for me, but my wife hasn't touched her Maya wrap since. As far as I know, it's the only carrier with a hip belt, which (as any backpacker since about 1937 can tell you) works with your frame to make weight magically disappear, and which will most certainly spare your trapezoid(s) as well as other assorted important bits of your anatomy. Worth it.

Plus, it comes in colors that include HeartRose and Hawaiian.

Although I feel compelled to point out that I got the Black.

Reb. Mary said...

Johnqmercy, what I need is to see a picture of an actual real person wearing an actual real baby in that Ergo. I'll check my inbox ASAP and harass you till I get one.

Can someone tell me the difference between an Ergo and the Babyhawk? Is it the hipbelt? Cuz in the pictures I came across in my preliminary research (of 30 seconds' Googling) they look a lot alike.

The Baby Bjorn has been popular around here through 3 boys (though Boy3 spent much of his first two months in the "classic" Maya wrap). All this Babyhawking and Ergoing is making me think, though...I particularly like the idea of a way to carry an older/bigger baby, front or back.

Never had much luck figuring how to wear an older baby on the hip with the Maya wrap--never feels as secure as the Bjorn when I'm bending and chasing.

Pam said...

Anyone have this mei tai carrier?


I have been looking at the Ergo too, but this one looks more versatile, comfortable, portable, and oh, less expensive too. I sent an email to ask the gal if it will be as ergonomically sound as the Ergo claims to be, but I am thinking with the versatility and adjustability it may just be the
First Baby Carrier Ever I REALLY LIKE.

And with the eight babies I've carried, I have tried two NoJos, a backpack carrier and two totally different Snuglis. I like my newer Snugli except it's quite a pain to get everything on and adjusted right. Once it's on, it's great. Snuglis aren't what they used to be, this one has the panel that rests on the lower back or abdomen, and the buckle that holds the shoulder straps together.

If the Mei Tai Baby works like I think, I may get two so Dad can carry the two year old and we can all hike strollerless.

ooh, that's a new concept. ;)

Kelly said...

The Sleepy Wrap was nice, but definitely not for hot weather use and not much good for over 15lbs. E didn't like having her legs froggied, so we went legs out with her from 6 weeks. An absolute godsend was the Beco Butterfly. It's like the Ergo, but I really liked the infant insert. I like that you can transfer the baby from one wearer to another without having to take baby out. Back carries are also super easy in the Beco once baby is old enough.

For easy on/off around the house, I recommend the Beco Obi. They no longer make it but you can usually get them used off Diaperswappers or TheBabyWearer.com. I found the Beco a little uncomfortable once she hit 16lbs, so I have now moved on to....

Mei Tais. I have a babyhawk and a Bundle O'Baby (made by the fabulous Kara at momandbabynaturally.com). The BH is nice because the straps are padded. It is a wide bodied carrier though, so if your babe has short legs it may be a little uncomfortable until they lengthen out a little. That's why my go-to MT right now is the more narrow bodied Bundle O Baby. This MT has wrap style straps, which means they aren't padded, but I still find it comfy. Manny prefers the padded straps of the BH.

If you like slings, you could always try a pouch like a Hotsling, though this was not E's fave. I think you can even get these at Target now.

Check out TheBabyWearer.com for lots of good reviews and help. Let me know if I can help and I'll shoot you an email.

Whatever you decide you want to try, you may want to get your hands on it before February 10th. That's when the CSPIA law goes into effect and will be putting thousands of baby carrier making mamas out of business. Gottta love the Federal government sticking it's nose in where it doesn't belong. :P

Kelly said...

In my second paragraph, I should have said I found the Beco Obi uncomfortable over 16lbs. The Butterfly is still working great.

Joy said...

Holy cow, peeps. I can't imagine actually owning more than one sling. I used DakotaPam's ring sling when it was available (it's now with EZEM), and now I'm using Melisa's Nojo (which I believe was courtesy of Gauntlets). Sing it with me: It's a Small Synod After All....

Michelle in NM said...

So far, I have liked the Moby (made with 6 yards of jersey knit - not overly hot) for the twins, but I haven't gotten the hang of wearing them both in it. i have instructions on how to wear both girls at once but I think the 3 of us just must not be quite coordinated enough. For one baby at a time though, it is quite comfortable.

Melissa said...

Make your own! If you get 6 yards of a no fray cotton knit you can cut it into 20 - 30 inch wide strips and have a wrap for just a few dollars! If you have a sewing machine there are patterns out there for New Native style carriers that you can make from $6-$10 worth of fabric! They are so easy to make that I went from "I don't know how to turn on my Grandma's old sewing machine" to "I made my 3 year old daughter a babydoll sling" in about 2 hours. Google Jan Andrea for patterns.