When I first heard about babywearing, I wasn’t super impressed. All of the touchy-feely “bond with your baby” business seemed hokey to me (still kinda does, TBH), and I found and continue to find a lot of the “third world people do it, so it must be great!” crap to be extremely offensive (I’m looking at you, babywearing wikipedia page.)
That being said, there were a lot of things about babywearing–the act of putting your baby in a carrier you wear, as opposed to, say, lugging baby around in a car seat or having to schlep a 20+ lb. stroller all the time–that were appealing. I’m a petite person without a lot of upper body strength, so a carrier seemed like a practical, less physically demanding alternative to the typical ways of getting around with a newborn (i.e. heavy car seat or heavy and complicated stroller.)
Kellen and I did a lot of research on different kinds of carriers, and in the end, we settled on the Baby K’Tan Carrier. It’s basically like a Moby or other wrap without all the fuss and bother. It takes a lot of the wrapping steps out of the equation, so you just have to slip it on. (This video was extremely persuasive.) I kept the receipts on the carriers before Isla was born just in case we hated them, but we’ve since tested them out on our real live baby, and you know what? I don’t know how people with babies live without babywearing.
At our first post-partum check-up two days after we were released from the hospital, I wore Isla to the appointment. It was my first time really using the carrier, and as I walked into the hospital behind another guy awkwardly toting his newborn in a car seat–arm contorted at an awkward angle out to the side and the carrier banging against his leg with every step–I felt my first moment of babywearing smugness. This, I thought to myself, is clearly the way to travel with a baby. As we encountered more parents with their new babies in car seats–each one looking more uncomfortable than the last–my babywearing smugness grew. My arm wasn’t hurting! I wasn’t going to have a bruise on my leg from where the car seat kept hitting me! And since I’d had a c-section, I was actually able to carry my baby into the hospital myself, no husbandly assistance required! I would be able to leave the house with my baby on my own! Hoorah!
I felt like I’d been let in on some parenting secret, like babywearing was some sort of parenting sorcery that most parents knew nothing about and thus were totally missing out on. And in a lot of ways, this really is true. Babywearing really is about a gajillion times easier, but while you’ll see tons of people out with strollers and car seats, you rarely see anyone using a carrier. It’s baffling. Not only is it significantly less physically demanding and awkward, but Isla is extremely calm in her carrier in a way that she isn’t usually in her car seat. I put her in it at home when she’s being super fussy, and with a little bit of walking and bouncing, like magic, she’s calm and quiet. Plus, I still have my hands free to do laundry, make lunch, walk the dog (no idea how I’d do this without my carrier), or type up a super fabulous blog post about babywearing.
Out of the house, the carrier still works to keep her nice and calm, and it has the added bonus of being much less challenging to try to maneuver or manage. I don’t have to worry about fitting her car seat into the grocery cart. I don’t have to worry about maneuvering her stroller around racks of clothes or through crowds of people (think shopping malls or IKEA on a Saturday afternoon–babywearing is GENIUS at these times.) I don’t have to wrestle with the stroller every time I get into and out of the car.
Also? All those creepy, germy people who want to touch your brand new baby? Not so willing to go in for a grab when your baby is pressed up against your body and only a little bit of her cheek is visible outside of the carrier. Take that boundary-free danger strangers who are probably going to give my baby cholera! (Yes, I know that’s not actually how cholera is transmitted.)
In all, I love my carrier. It’s one of our most used and most useful baby products. I literally could not do most of my day-to-day activities without the carrier, because at home I wouldn’t have my hands free to do things like laundry or eating that I need to do, and outside the house, I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere on my own, because I’m still not allowed to lift anything heavier than my baby, which a car seat containing my baby or stroller certainly would be. I can’t believe more parents don’t use them, and I still feel that moment of “I know something you don’t know” smugness when I see some other parent struggling with their car seat or stroller.
If I had one tip to give new parents, it would be to try out babywearing. It will probably surprise you how much easier everything is without a car seat or stroller in most situations and how often you’ll use the carrier when otherwise you might have just put baby in a crib, swing, bouncer or other baby docking station. It’s made our lives so much easier.