Today is a post that I dedicate to first time mom me. When I had G, she wouldn’t sleep anywhere but in my arms. Not in a playpen, or swing, or Mamaroo, or carseat… just my arms. It was exhausting. I couldn’t get anything done, and my ability to actually care for myself was essentially nil. I wouldn’t eat or go to the bathroom all day because I felt like I absolutely COULD NOT put her down. Unless my mom came over to help me, I was trapped! This became especially true after we started sleep training her (another post for another, more controversial day). With her, I didn’t really do any babywearing… until she was about 6 months old when husband and I started finally figuring out that it might be helpful. When I would finally wrangle everything together to take her to the mall or something (once in a blue moon, and only when I had help), I would end up carrying her in my arms all through the mall, terrified that I would smack her head into something/someone, or drop her because I am the least graceful gazelle on the savannah. I would always pack my Ergo carrier under the stroller, and end up using neither the Ergo NOR the stroller because of her insistence that I carry her.
This will not do, friends. This is not ok.
With Leo, I decided to make babywearing a mission. And boy howdy is it worth it. You get your hand(s) back (I use the optional plural there because honestly I’m still not great at it and feel like I need to continue to support his little head with my one hand) which means that you can do the following things:
-cook yourself a meal (or at least grab a snack)
-brush your hair
Seriously. If you’re a new mom, you know that these three things are next to impossible when you are carrying your kid everywhere. I’m not so ambitious as to include “clean” on that list, though I’m sure my husband would love to see it on there, but if you are one of those people who get their yahoos from cleaning, go ahead and insert your insanity into that list mentally (because let’s be real: if you’re a cleaner, you probably love lists, too). Point being: babywearing gives you two incredibly important high fives in one. First, you have a teensy bit of independence back! You could go check your mail, or prep dinner, or do some laundry… whatever floats your boat! Second, you get to still be holding your baby, which is super important, especially for new moms who often feel like their baby is going to disappear or turn green or something if s/he is put down at any point.
But babywearing is also super intimidating. Ergos/Baby Bjorns have a lot of straps. Moby wraps and Solly wraps are just a hugely (like, ridiculously) long piece of fabric that I definitely get tangled up in almost every time I use them. Slings look cool, but um… what’s holding the baby? And I find that, in the face of anything overwhelming (or even just whelming), I shut down completely and just carry my kid because it’s “easier.”
So! My simple list of pros and cons, with links to good how-to videos for each.
Option 1: The ERGO 360
This is a harnessy backpacky thing. But a front pack. So like a fanny pack for a baby. A big, baby-carrying fannypack (don’t act like you didn’t totally own a rad New Kids on the Block one in elementary to go with your neon windbreaker – you do you, nineties me, you do you). There are a bunch of versions of the Ergo (or maybe the ergo is a version of one of the others), like the Baby Bjorn and the Lille Baby carrier, but I have an Ergo, so that’s what I’m going to talk about… plus they’re basically identical.
-can be worn in a bunch of different ways (front carry, side carry, back carry)
-very secure! (baby is not going ANYWHERE in this beast!)
-decently easy to figure out how to do at least one of the carries
-has a handy little head cover thing for protecting baby in inclement weather
-ergonomic! This baby is pretty easy on your back, which is nice
-apparently you can nurse in it (yeeeeaaaaaah not this E-Cup mama over here)
-this is the only one my husband would wear so maybe that’s a pro…?
-not very convenient to pack; it’s pretty bulky
-Although it’s usable in a bunch of different ways, I honestly could not ever figure out any of the other ways and have only ever used it front-facing, which is fine… that’s all I’ve ever needed it for
-expensive (Lille Baby is between $150-$250, Ergos and Baby Bjorns are $200-$300 PLUS an infant insert)
-I feel nerdy wearing it. Like two-strapping your backpack in the 4th grade… sure it’s more secure and you know it’s probably for the best, but they’ll still shove peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into your indoor shoes when you’re out for recess.
Here is a tutorial on using the Ergo 360 with a newborn… which I just learned a few things from while pre-watching haha
For me, the Ergo is the one I go to if I think I’m going to need to take him in and out of it. I use it when I go pick up my daughter from daycare: I wear it in the car, then I slip him into it and tighten the straps, go in and get G, then loosen the straps and put him back in the car. I found that the Ergo worked much better for me with a slightly older baby – especially one who likes to look around. I wasn’t able to figure out how to do that with the Moby, so once G started wanting to look around while I carried her, the Ergo became my go-to. My husband was excited when L started getting “big enough” to use the Ergo (technically you can use it with a baby of 7lbs and up, but neither of us felt like testing that).
Option 2: the Moby Wrap
The Moby is a hugely long piece of fabric. That’s it. It’s just a big ol’ stretchy rectangle. This one is by far the most complicated to figure out (deceptive, considering that it is seriously just one piece of rectangular fabric). It’s also the cheapest of the options, coming in under $100 for most versions.
-To me, this one makes me feel the most secure. Baby is seriously REALLY snug in there once you figure out the wrap. I go hands-free in this one and it’s the only one I feel like I can really do that with. I can even bend over and pick things up!
-cost! This is half the price of the next cheapest carrier.
-good support for your back
-skin to skin! (I’ve worn L in the moby without a shirt on so that we can get lots of snuggly skin-to-skin time. The wrap completely covers both my front and back, so it’s essentially a shirt!)
-the most complicated to get on
-tricky to get in and out of (both the other options can be sort of pre-set to slip baby in and out… this one is tricky to do that with and you have to re-tie it everytime you take it off)
-My moby wrap seems to make L very hot… not great for in the summer!
-I have for sure tripped and fallen while trying to tie this one around myself.
The Moby is, despite its challenges, my personal favourite carrier. I don’t use it as often as I’d like, but, especially in the winter with a little one, this is my favourite. I can wrap him up super securely, with his little face shielded, and throw my coat over him. I can’t say how effective it is with a toddler, because once G started wanting to look around, there was no way this baby would hold her. But for Newborns? Oh man, the Moby is the best for snuggles. There is a 0% chance that either of my kids could stay awake in this one once I got moving – it is instant naptime and that is a hard luxury to turn down. You can wrap a moby differently so that they can look out, but I found G WAY too squirmy and busy for it when she got to that age.
Option 3: Ring Sling
The ring sling is basically exactly what it sounds like: a sling with a ring. It comes in all kinds of fabrics, colours, finishes and lengths. A lot of people make their own. I want to love it. I really, really want to love it.
– arguably the easiest to get the baby in and out of
-older babies get a good view
-carrying position is nice and close to your chest and baby’s head is unobstructed for smoochies
-totally customizable in terms of style
-all of the cool instagram moms wear them
-once you figure it out, it’s really easy to use and can be very versatile
N.B. all of these cons are probably ones of inexperiences, so please don’t yell at me, ring-sling-moms
–This one feels the least secure to me; I honestly don’t understand the physics of it
-to buy one of these seems to be kind of hilariously expensive: they run about 150$ on average
-you do not transform instantly into the stylish mom that you saw on insta (it’s like every time I get bangs thinking I’ll suddenly look like a Victoria’s Secret model and then I’m mad at my hairdresser)
–nothing to protect baby from inclement weather. I ended up having to carry a hat to put over his tiny head, which gets continually knocked off because I’m awkward and gesticulate wildly when I talk.
Most moms that I know who swear by their ring slings will also tell you that it took them a long time to get the hang of it. One of my friends had a practice baby (a bag of oats named Otis) that she used until she felt comfortable enough to switch to her real baby. I am not that comfortable, and I don’t have it in me to practice enough to GET that comfortable. Also, I swear that instagram convinced me that as soon as I put one of these bad boys on, I would become some sort of sun-flushed cheek, long wind-tossed hair, earth goddess type who easily maneuvers the playground in stylish clothes with one baby snuggled in her pre-softened-chambray-and-rose-gold fashionista sling and the the other running happily about the slides under my careful (but not hellicoptery) gaze. This. Did. Not. Happen. I will admit that L sleeps in it, but I am terrified that he will fall out because I’m super new to it.
Here is a tutorial for wearing a ring sling. I’ll point out, though, that she starts off by saying “I assume you know how to thread your ring sling” and see now that’s already too many steps for me.
Here’s my wrap up (boom. pun.): the Ergo is for sure the easiest to figure out, and, in my opinion, probably the one you’d be able to use the longest and in the most situations. The Moby is wonderful for snugglies with your newborn. The sling is an enormous lie made to make me feel inferior. Whatever works best for you, use it! Babywearing is a life-saver!