Adventures in Babywearing

I am a great fan of babywearing. Although there is definitely a time and place to use a buggy instead, wearing a baby (or toddler) in a sling means you can keep them close and get around, but can still climb stairs/go down muddy tracks/chase your 3 year old without the assistance of strangers or a great deal of swearing.

I started off wearing Tom when he was tiny. He was definitely one of those ‘can’t be put down’ babies. I hadn’t really anticipated this. The only carrier we had to hand was one that had been passed onto me by a colleague, which involved tying the baby into the carrier first, then negotiating what felt like endless bits of string like fabric to secure him to our bodies. Fiddly and, as I now know, not very ergonomic for the baby since it didn’t hold him in the ‘m’ position. I hated it.

When Tom was about 4 weeks old, I phoned my mum and requested a sling for my upcoming birthday. The one I liked the look of was a pouch sling, because it seemed easy to get the baby in and out of. She kindly obliged, but Tom hated it. For a newborn, it involves nestling them down between the folds of fabric and I didn’t seem to be able to get him comfy in it. Plus it only carries on one shoulder so I couldn’t wear him for long.

I went back to the drawing board, did some proper research, and ended up with a stretchy Moby wrap sling. It was lovely. So comfy to wear, held Tom tight against me, and I could carry him for hours. Granted, it was a bit fiddly to negotiate the lengths of fabric but I soon mastered a ‘popable’ carry which meant I could leave it tied on and just pop him in and out as needed. In the early weeks it was the only place he would nap for longer than 30 minutes.

Close observers will note that this is actually Piper, not Tom, in the Moby

We used the Moby until he was about 4 or 5 months, at which point he became heavy enough that I was having to stop to re-tighten pretty regularly. After that he was mainly a buggy baby, with short bursts in our pouch sling which then came good for quick nips out to the shops. Finally, when he was about a year old, I purchased a soft structured carrier (SSC) – a toddler Patapum – and mastered back carries. Since he soon learnt to walk, we rarely used the buggy for our adventures from that point on.

I wore Tom until he was 2 and a few months and would have continued… except I was pregnant with Piper and found the weight too much for my changing body. But I knew that I would want to carry Piper from birth, so I could have my hands free for Tom.

My mum stepped in again and gave us another SSC, this one a Connecta that could be adapted for use from birth. I loved it. So easy and quick to put on, and comfy in a front carry even for long periods of time. Piper has so rarely been in the buggy that I can count on my fingers the number of times and not use them all (and she is almost 6 months).

Recently though, I’ve been finding that she is getting a bit big to have on my front during longer trips, especially when we do the nursery drop off and I have to negotiate the stairs with a buggy and all our bags. She’s tall enough that I find it difficult to see around her going down stairs, which doesn’t feel safe, and heavy enough that having her on my front whilst carrying a buggy made me feel a bit off balance. Plus she is getting too big to easily reach around.

Since she is now strong enough to sit for short periods, I wanted to start back carrying, especially for longer trips. I was comfortable using the Connecta and was already used to back carrying from Tom, so we gave it a go. And I was sad to find that I hated our lovely Connecta for back carrying. It was diggy even after just a short period, no matter how much I tightened. I couldn’t get her high enough on my back to be able to see her. When she fell asleep, she would face plant into my back meaning I panicked every few minutes and had to stop to check she was breathing. And the waist strap dug into my ‘mummy tummy’ making me look like I had a few extra rolls of fat.

I have always been a bit daunted by woven wraps (despite thinking they are beautiful), but I found a secondhand Little Frog on Ebay for a song and decided to give it a try. I’m very much still a beginner with it, and struggle to keep a good seat when attempting anything that involves a sling pass (one day I will master a double hammock, one day), but I can now manage a passable rucksack with fairly little effort. It does take a while though and, especially now it is winter, I’d struggle to manage it out and about.

Enter my final purchase, a wrap conversion mei tai. I saw that these Soul Meh Dai’s were pretty reasonably priced, and had amazing reviews so I went ahead and ordered one (we don’t have a sling library close by otherwise I would have rented first). It arrived yesterday and I did the nursery drop off and a few errands in it today.

It is AWESOME. Padded shoulders prevent digging but I can get her nice and high on my back. No buckles, so no tummy squidging issues and wrap straps mean I can spread them to do fancy chest belt finishes or to add an extra reinforcing layer to her bum. And it is still fairly quick to put on, with no way for Piper to ‘pop’ the seat, the way she can with my inexperienced wrap jobs.

I’d still like to master wrapping since I feel like it will be the most comfortable way of carrying for really long periods (just not loving ruck straps so need to get some other carries under our belts). And I can imagine using the Connecta for quick trips out when I don’t want to faff about with tying lots of fabric. But I’m going to be reaching for the mei tai most for the immediate future.

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