Keep them close

Reviews and information about babywearing, slings, wraps and carriers for keeping your baby close and content


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Babywearing on a budget

You’ve just had a baby. You’re no longer working. You’ve just forked out all your savings on a cot, car seat and pram. There’s not a lot of spare cash around and then you see wraps and carriers selling for more than $150 and you feel like it is out of reach for you. Don’t despair, there are cheaper options.

One of the misconceptions about babywearing is that it costs a lot of money. Sure, you certainly can spend a lot of money on high-end wraps if you want to, but by no means is that the only way to carry your baby. You don’t need an expensive stash of different carriers to be a ‘real’ babywearer – anyone can babywear, even on a tight budget.

First though, consider this. Wearing your baby in a carrier is a legitimate way to transport your baby, comfort your baby, and bond with your baby. Try not to listen to people who say you can’t spend that much money on “a piece of fabric”. If you can spend a few hundred dollars on a pram, it is perfectly reasonable to spend a similar amount on a baby carrier (if you can afford to) that you may end up using more often than you use your pram (I certainly do!).

That said, sometimes there isn’t a couple of hundred dollars in the bank account, but your baby still cries and wants to be held, and you can’t get anything done.

So, what are your options?

Stretchy wraps

From newborn to around 8 kilograms, a stretchy wrap is a wonderfully comfortable and snuggly way to carry your baby. While new ones can be a bit expensive, there are often second hand ones available through Facebook groups, eBay or Gumtree for $50 or less. Some brands to look out for include Hug a Bub, Moby and Boba wrap. Another option is to buy some cotton jersey from a fabric store and make your own. You’ll need about 5 metres in length and you can then split it down the middle and make two wraps, it wont fray so no hemming required – go halves with a friend in the cost!

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Ring slings

Ring slings are also suitable from birth, and being a relatively simple construction with a shorter length of material they are often cheaper than long wraps or structured carriers. When looking for a cheap ring sling though, there are a few things to keep in mind. Try to avoid the bag or pouch style slings with padded rails, these can be quite hard to adjust and hard to keep baby in a safe position. A ring sling should have rings made from a continuous piece of aluminium, with no visible join. Consider how long you want to use the carrier for. Some cheap cotton ring slings will be fine for a small baby, but you will probably find it uncomfortable as baby starts to get heavier, which will mean you either stop wearing or have to buy something new – spending a bit more initially on a ring sling made from a woven wrap can be a better long term investment. Woven wrap ring slings can be purchased for as little as $74, check out my useful links for vendors.

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Mei tais

Mei tais can often be picked up cheaper than a buckle carrier, and can also be easier to learn how to use than a wrap. A basic mei tai such as the one by Infantino is under $60. Baby Hawk and Kozy mei tais should also be available for under $100, or maybe even less second hand.

DIY

While not specifically designed for babywearing, there are a number of materials available from fabric stores that could be used for that purpose. I’ve already mentioned cotton jersey, but once bub has outgrown that, there are cotton options like osnaburg or even all linen. There are downsides to this: it probably won’t be as comfortable as a wrap made for babywearing, particularly as baby gets heavier, and you can’t be sure that chemicals used in the manufacture of the fabric are safe for children, but it can be a cheap way to see if babywearing is for you. Keep in mind, unless you find yourself a fabric on the bargain bench, it might not actually be much cheaper than buying a woven wrap, which you can pick up for under $100.

If you can sew, making your own ring sling is not complicated; there are instructions online. You can get a size 5 or 6 woven wrap for under $100 and chop it in half and make two ring slings – which is excellent value.

Gifts

I don’t know about you, but I would have loved my friends or family to pool together and have purchased me a carrier as a gift for my newborn that I might not otherwise have been able to afford. Two hundred dollars is a stretch for a lot of people’s budgets, but if 10 friends chuck in $20 you can get just about any sort of carrier that you’d like – and I reckon that’s better than another pair of baby socks, muslin wraps or onesies!

And a final word on buckle carriers

Buckle carriers (or soft structured carriers/SSC) are very popular due to their comfort, convenience and ease of use. If this is the type of carrier you are looking for, please be aware that there are many counterfeit Ergos on the market, sold mostly through eBay, for prices well below recommended retail. They seem to be too good to be true, and they are. Fake Ergos have not been safety tested to meet the required standards for baby carriers, may use fabric that contains unsafe chemicals and dyes and buying one supports the unethical practices of counterfeiters. The only way to know if an Ergo is real is if it was originally purchased from an authorised retailer.

Baby Bjorn is another popular buckle carrier and probably one of the most well known babywearing brand names. While expensive new, they can often be picked up cheaply second hand (particularly early models). Baby Bjorns have been given a bad rap in the babywearing community over recent years, mostly due to the less than optimal position for baby’s legs and the ability to carry baby facing out. And while it is true that ideally baby’s legs would be better supported in an ‘M’ position like in an Ergo and that facing out isn’t something I would recommend, Baby Bjorns are safe (if TICKS guidelines are followed). So if you’ve been given one or can pick one up very cheaply then don’t be afraid to use it – keeping your baby close is the key, however you make that happen! But be aware that the other major drawback of the Baby Bjorn, particularly the early models that you can get cheaply, is that they won’t be very comfortable for you once baby gets heavier – so do consider some of the other options I’ve outlined above.

Want to know more? I’d love to hear from you!

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Is babywearing for you?

Welcome to my blog! I’m here to share some information I’ve learned on my babywearing journey – I want to help other parents and carers to enjoy some of the many benefits of keeping your baby close. Before I get started, for simplicity I am going to use the word “carrier” on this blog to mean any device you use to carry your baby, whether it be a wrap, sling, mei tai or structured carrier.

I think one of the greatest misconceptions about babywearing is that it is complicated, and I completely understand that, it does involve a bit of learning and can seem a bit overwhelming at first. But absolutely anyone can do it, whether you’re a first time mum, only finding out about it with your fourth child or even if you’re a grandparent wanting to bond with your beautiful grandchild. And babywearing isn’t just for “crunchy” mums or “hippies”, I wouldn’t use either of those words to describe myself – it doesn’t matter what parenting style you ascribe to, if you want to wear your baby you can!

So why babywear? There are many major selling points for babywearing, but you don’t really need any other reason than because you want to.

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If you’re still not sure about it, or need to convince your husband/wife/significant other, here’s a few good reasons you might like to consider:

Having your hands free to do something other than hold your baby

Sure, snuggling your baby is one of the best parts of being a parent, but unfortunately there are many other things that need your attention, particularly if you have other children. Babywearing means you can have your hands free to get on with your day when your baby just wont be put down, or you want to keep them close to you when you’re out and about. I don’t know about you, but trying to push my enormous pram down the tiny aisles at my local IGA supermarket and only being able to buy what I could fit in the pram was one of first things that turned me towards babywearing!

Calming that fractious, unhappy baby who just wont be put down

The witching hour. Arsenic hour. Call it what you like, but there will nearly always be that one time of the day (or night!) when your baby is crying, can’t be consoled and wont let you put them down. Invariably this is time you need to make dinner or help your other children with their homework! Wearing your baby during these times can help your baby stay calm and hopefully cry less.

Convenience

One of the biggest reasons I started babywearing was convenience. I lived in a house with stairs up to the front door and more stairs inside – I couldn’t just push the pram out the front door onto the footpath, and getting the pram in and out of the car was a massive pain. It was so much easier to just wrap baby up and head out for some much needed fresh air. I also had to do school pick ups and drop offs, and I soon found that babywearing was the quickest and easiest way to get this done, because let’s face it, car capsules are just not designed for comfortable carrying, and did I mention I hated getting the pram out of the car?

Bonding with your bundle

Holding your baby close to your body is an amazing bonding opportunity for you and your baby. It is also great for dads to babywear as, particularly if mum is breastfeeding, it can be hard for dad to get quality one-on-one time with bub, and sometimes mum needs a break too! Even when baby gets older, babywearing is still a great way to enjoy cuddles with your child when they start to spend more and more of their time running away from you!

That’s not an exhaustive list, and you’ll probably have your own reasons to add, but hopefully that’s enough to help you feel confident to get started.

Still not sure? Had negative comments from others? Despite people all over the world carrying their babies while they work and look after their families for eons, there still seems to be a sometimes vocal component of society that doesn’t understand babywearing and may admonish you about your choice. Whether it be your Aunt Maud, a stranger on the street, or even doubting voices in your head, here’s some myth-busting about babywearing.

Is baby safe in there?

There have been some very sad and scary stories in the media about deaths occurring as a result of babywearing, and it has rightly made people act with caution. But it is important to remember that babywearing is much like anything else with your children, if it is done correctly it is safe. The babywearing mantra is TICKS, and applies no matter what kind of carrier you are using.

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Always adhere to the TICKS guidelines when babywearing, and seek advice from a more experienced babywearer if you’re unsure.

Carrying my baby all the time will spoil her

Parenting has come a long way since the 1950s when children were to be seen but not heard. It is now well understood that babies need to be responded to and held when they cry, and that carrying your baby (whether in arms or using a carrier) helps them to feel safe and secure, which is important for healthy emotional development. If you are feeling pressured to put your baby down when you don’t want to by well-meaning relatives or friends, try this line: “Food spoils, babies don’t”.

I can’t carry my baby anymore, she’s too heavy

If your child wants to be carried, there is a carrier on the market that will suit – whether you have a 3kg newborn or an 18kg pre-schooler. Chances are though, they’re not going to be the same carrier. There are so many different options on the market these days, that if you feel your child is too heavy for the carrier you are using, it is probably just time to upgrade to something more suitable for your child’s age and weight so you can continue to comfortably carry your child for as long as they will let you!

She’ll never learn to walk if you carry her all the time

Just like breastfeeding, there are people out there who seem to think that past a certain age you shouldn’t be carrying your child anymore. I’m hoping that with babywearing becoming more and more popular this opinion will start to wane, as I’ve never heard anyone comment that a child will never learn to walk if you push them around in the pram all the time!

Ready to get started? Facebook has a plethora of groups and pages dedicated to babywearing with amazing communities of people willing to share knowledge and advice with new babywearers around the globe. In Australia, check out the Baby Wearing Buy Sell Swap Facebook group for information, advice and sales of all sorts of carriers. Most Australian capitals and some regional areas have local babywearing groups that have Facebook pages and regular meet ups where you can get advice in person. Not on Facebook? There are a number of online retailers dedicated to babywearing, check out my useful links. Bricks and mortar baby stores also generally have a few different babywearing options to choose from, and staff who can show you the ropes.

Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you! Happy babywearing!