Christina and Marcus: Six Months of Babywearing So Far

Q: Does he like it in there?

Since he was born, my baby Marcus has loved being worn (a.k.a. held closely against my body in a fabric sling or wrap): he's calm and content when worn, and he either sleeps peacefully against me or else looks out curiously at everyone and everything, quietly alert and intent. He's closer to me, so he stays calm and comforted even when we're in crowded places, and he stays warm even when it's cold outside. He's higher up, closer to adult eye-level, so it's easier for him to see faces and easier for strangers to smile at him (both of which thrill him).

Q: Why do you hold him so close to you like that?

When I wear him, I know he's safe and secure; I can feel every breath he takes, if I think about it, as his chest risesand falls right next to my chest; I know he's warm and safe whether we're on the subway or in a supermarket or anywhere, really. I have my hands free to push a shopping cart, type on a computer, eat in a restaurant, or hold onto a railing on a bus. When I put Marcus in a stroller (pretty much only when we have to schlep heavy, bulky things around--library books, vegetables from the farmers' market, etc.), I always feel like he's so far away from me--way down there, all isolated and self-contained and weirdly distant. He doesn't mind the stroller, but I think he likes it better being closer to me.

Q: Isn't it uncomfortable to hold him that way?

Because I wear him virtually everyday, I don't really notice as he's getting heavier and longer, until one day I realize I've been tying my wrap a little bit differently to make room for his longer legs. I plan on wearing my little guy as long as he'll let me--we both stay warm and happy this way, and no, it's not uncomfortable, and no, it doesn't hurt my back.

Q: Why do you keep saying you "wear" him?

I proudly identify as a babywearer--I have nothing in common with the mother who occasionally carries her snow-suited baby in a Baby Bjorn strapped outside her own winter coat. That's carrying your baby, periodically, for convenience--this is something entirely different. It's a way of looking at my baby, at our life: I still feel a little like he's inside and part of me. I feel like this is how a mother and baby were meant to be together--nine months me cradling him inside, and maybe twice that long me wearing him outside.

Q: What kinds of wraps/slings do you use?

First I started out with a Hotsling (size 4), a pocket or pouch sling (no rings, no adjustable parts, etc.). I practiced with it before Marcus was born, and when he was born I wore him in there during dinner the very day I had him. The sling was too big on me, though, and I could never get comfortable with it, despite watching their video several times and trying him with a rolled-up receving blanket inside to prop him up. I then got another Hotsling (size 3), but I swear that that one was too small for me; when on, it fit Marcus and me well, but getting it over my head and shoulder--and then getting it off too--was a nightmare of wrestling it over my head and shimmying it down over my chest. I decided that pocket slings are nice, but that they're not for me. I think I still have the size 3 Hotsling somewhere, but I haven't used it in almost six months.

Someone from work gave me an adjustable Kangaroo Korner fleece pouch sling, and I've used that once or twice. I'm never sure if I've got the sizing correct, though that's less of a pressing concern with this sling: the big problem here is heat. Marcus and I are both sweaty, warm-blooded people, and when we're in contact with each other, our own body heats keep us pretty warm. Add a fleece pouch into the equation and we are drenched. This sling, too, has remained in a box in the back of a closet for a long time--though I did pull it out for this photo (below) just last week.

The last sling that I have is a Maya Wrap (below; despite the name, it's a sling--a ring sling--not a wrap). I thought this would be great for getting on quickly, but really, in order to be hands-free, it's not actually that quick to put on, and it requires slightly more fiddling with the rings (inner rail, outer rail, etc.) to adjust it perfectly. Marcus is comfortable in it, and he even nurses in it, so I'll sometimes wear this around the house in the late afternoon to get things done while he cluster-feeds, but it's actually a little bit of strain on my back and shoulder. I still use it occasionally, but not very often.

maya wrapmaya wrap

When Marcus was ten days old, I went to Magic Beans in Brookline, where the nice folks let me try on all their wraps and slings and suggested I try a Moby Wrap (below, pictured at approximately one month, two months, three months, and four months). I tried it several times there with their weighted baby, Jack, and then I tried it with Marcus in their store, while the saleswoman watched and advised. The Moby seemed daunting at first, but it rapidly got easier to put on and tie. For the record, my big tip with the Moby is that you can never tie it too tight--because it stretches so much, I always needed to leave less room for my baby than I thought I would. I loved the Moby--it was a revelation, and though warm once on, and with a good-sized learning curve, it converted me to babywearing. By the time Marcus was four months old, though, the Moby was starting to stretch too much with his weight, and it was becoming a little less comfortable--it would start out fine, but then sag after half a block of walking, for example.

moby wrapmoby wrapmoby wrapmoby wrap

At Christmas I decided to trade up to a better-quality, woven wrap, and I decided on a Storchenwiege wrap (below): it's truly lovely. It distributes the weight so well I never feel it, and it doesn't sag like the Moby, or require cinching back in. The material also doesn't bunch up and roll, again like the Moby--I would still suggest the Moby for newborns, and for newbies to wrapping, but the Storch at this point is my absolute favorite, hands-down go-to wrap. Currently I keep the Moby shoved down in the bottom of my book bag at school for daycare pickups (it's adequate for the three-block walk home, and since I never use it any other time, I know I can't forget it and accidentally end up without a wrap at daycare). I use the Storch for everything else, including in-and-outs when shopping, taking the T, going to Isis and out to lunch, etc.

storch wrapstorch wrap

I also have two warmer-weather wraps, which I bought back in September when sweating buckets in the Moby: a Gypsy Mama Bali Breeze wrap and Water Wrap; since the Storch is so comfortable on its own and also less stifling than the Moby, I might end up not using the Bali Breeze much or at all, though if we had a summer wedding to go to with Marcus, I could potentially see choosing the Bali Breeze for the more dressy look. It's a lighter-weight wrap that is indeed cooler, but which can also bunch up a lot if it's not perfectly smoothed out, and it is a little bit too stretchy for my tastes now, but I've used it maybe half a dozen times so far. The water wrap I haven't used at all, yet, but I definitely will this summer, in a pool, at a beach, or even in Minnesota on the lake. It's a great material that blocks UVA and UVB rays and it's also very quick-drying; I don't think it will be my everyday summer wrap, but I'm sure I'll get use out of it.

Finally, just for fun I have a Korean wide-blanket podagei (below), which I dragged my parents and Robert all over Flushing, Queens, looking for at Thanksgiving. We finally found it at that baby store on 39th Avenue near the pedestrian pass-through to Roosevelt, after asking in every store that even seemed like a slight possibility, up and down Northern, Union, and Main Streets. I'm not expert enough at tying it on yet to wear him really securely, but we keep trying it out around the house just for fun and for a little bit of a different carry.


Q: Where can I read more about babywearing?

I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here with this webpage--there are lots of great babywearing resources on the web. I haven't yet made it to a Boston Babywearers meeting, but as soon as I can fit one into my schedule, I'm definitely going to be there. So, just a couple good babywearing links: Boston Babywearers | Flickr Babywearing | Magic City Slingers Blog | | LJ Babywearing | International Babywearing Week

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Created: 3/1/09. Last Modified: 3/1/09.