One woman's path through doula training, childrearing, and a computer science Ph. D. program

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wear the baby

Wearing the baby has always seemed like the right thing to do. And I've really been trying. Through the last five months, I have tried several baby carriers, with one notable exception: the ring sling, which has been highly -- highly! -- recommended by the Attachment Parenting book (see my review). At first, I did not have one, and now my son weighs around 17 pounds (less if he has pood recently)... which, although within the guidelines, is too much for my poor shoulders to try.

Baby Bjorn Air

Lent to me by a friend, I tried the Baby Bjorn Air as soon as my son was 19.5" long, the minimum length at which you can wear a child in the carrier. Happily, I followed the instructions to the letter on how to adjust the device and put it on simultaneously with the baby. Finally in, he grunted, startled awake, and cried. He hated it.

I tried again a few weeks later. This time, my son liked the carrier much more, but I was concerned: all his weight was placed on the little area between his legs. Granted, he did not weigh much at the time, and prior to that he had all his weight pressing down on the top of his skull, but nevertheless I was worried. Was I smushing his balls?

We went around the block and ran some errands. Near the end, my back was killing me -- after only an hour, and the baby weighing in at under ten pounds, I was done with this device.

My score

  • Inconspicuous under a jacket
  • Easy assembly
  • Quiet buckles -- almost too quiet, if you know what I mean
  • Allows the baby to face towards the chest or away

  • Holy moly, my poor back -- places the weight directly on the shoulders
  • Probably some ball-squishing going on for small infants
  • Can not breastfeed with this carrier -- have to remove the infant, and possibly the carrier too, to get at the breast

Infantino SlingRider

This was a very kind baby shower gift. Actually, I had seen this exact baby carrier in Japan, when I was just weeks pregnant with my son. The padding on the strap, the soft Velcro on the inside (there is a Velcro safety belt for the baby), and the elegant design caught my eye. How my friend knew to get this very thing for me at the shower, I do not know, but he kind of read my mind.

I used this carrier almost exclusively in the first weeks of my son's life. I took him to class with me up on campus. When he was awake, I would let his head peek out over the side. When he would fall asleep, I would tuck his head in and let the sling wobble at my thighs as I walked, like a heavy purse. However, he wheezed in his sleep when in the carrier. I asked my lactation consultant about that; she suggested a rolled-up receiving blanket behind his neck. She said perhaps he is too small for the carrier. I tried that, but it did not help. Oh well, he did not spend much time asleep anyway.

The biggest bonus for the SlingRider is the ability to take off the carrier with the baby still inside, without waking him. Take off the sling, put it on the bed, and enjoy the ten minutes of peace before he figures out that his mom is not there.

My score


  • Ability to remove the carrier without waking the infant
  • Large padded strap
  • Can breastfeed in the carrier
  • Has a strap for the infant so he cannot roll out (is it necessary?)
  • Can switch sides easily to avoid muscle fatigue
  • Looks nice

  • Hard to adjust
  • Did I say hard? Dang near impossible to adjust
  • Wheezing problems with the sleeping infant
  • Prolonged use leads to shoulder pain on one side -- again, no back support
  • Has a pocket for a cell phone right next to baby's genitals... great idea, guys

All this talk about back support leads us directly to the Ergo. We have the organic kind, a couple of seasons old. The Ergo has thick, padded straps and a thick, padded, wide waist band that hugs the hips. If you are limber, you can adjust the Ergo one-handed. If you possess alacrity, you can get your baby into it without help.

For infants smaller than about four months, Ergo recommends the Infant Insert. I watched the video that shows the infant being placed into the donned Ergo ("...and now I accept my baby.") and scoffed: "That thing looks like a blanket!" So I grabbed a thick blanket and my infant and accepted my baby into the front-pouch.

I wore the Ergo for almost five months. What started out a diagonal pseudo-reclining position with the blanket, at first, later evolved into a squat for the baby. I would roll the blanket up on the bottom of the pouch and shove his little feet into the blanket, into a little squat. He stayed in there all day as I went from class to class, and from bus to bus. He slept; I ate; it was a great symbiosis. Eventually we removed the blanket and he continued his kneel. Sometimes he would stick one foot out and let it flop around in the breeze, in rhythm to my constant walking. Nothing hurt.

Then, something happened. I think it was the magical 15-pound mark. I would try to get him to sit normally in the front-pack, legs askew, but he would cry so I would stop and try again in a few weeks. But at 15 pounds, he was able to sit normally. But he did not like it because he could not see. I would sit him on top of the pack, facing out, legs dangling over the sides. The straps would have to be loosened all the way. All the weight was on my shoulders and none on my hips; the straps would fall off my shoulders one at a time; moreover, the tab that holds the straps together in the back would dig into my spine at the base of my neck. Ouch!

Any normal person would say, "Just sit him properly, and you will not have this problem." Yes, that is very true. But neither of us enjoyed that. He would get hot and grumpy; I would have to take him out to soothe him.

But for four months, I loved this pack. I nursed with it on the bus. I even nursed in it while walking several times.

My score

  • Great back support
  • Great shoulder support
  • When worn properly, can be worn for hours without pain or discomfort
  • Great nursing capabilities
  • Can be worn improperly for short periods
  • Easy to adjust

  • Only one way to wear the infant (toddlers can be worn as a backpack)
  • Baby can not see out
  • Is it really OK to sit the baby in the splits like that?
  • Does not work well for smaller-framed people

Moby Wrap

I saved the best for last. After my son's five-month birthday, after I had had enough of the Ergo and the perpetual bruises on the back of my neck and the straps falling off my shoulders, I decided something had to change. I had just been to a support group at the local birthing center, and talked to the four out of six women that were sporting various-colored Moby wraps. (The fifth had an Ergo, but did not bring it.) They swore up and down that this was the best wrap ever. Meanwhile, a local baby shop had a sale on Moby wraps... and I was sold. I bought the standard Moby wrap in Sienna, which is a fantastic bright orange color (my favorite)!

This carrier provides the best of all worlds. There is ample back support as the wide fabric spreads the pressure across the shoulders, back, and hips. The baby can face in, out, be cradled, or even be on the hip. I was a little worried about not being able to figure out the wrap, but after one attempt I had it down -- it is very simple. The important thing is to make sure the fabric does not twist too much.

You do not have to re-tie the wrap on your body every time you take the baby out.

The cuteness factor of my son has gone way up. When I took him out in the Ergo, even when he was front-facing, contrary to the Ergo instructions, he would get maybe 6 awws or coos from passer-bys as we walked to the coffee shop from my house and back. Using this distance as a metric, with the Moby, he gets closer to 18. The Moby more than doubled the cuteness factor!

My biggest regret is that I did not get the Moby when my son was first born. Dang, I love this thing.

My score


  • Holy moly comfortable
  • Fashionable -- looks like a shawl
  • Comfortable for baby
  • Versatile -- the basic wrap can face the baby in, out, cradle; feet covered or exposed
  • Can wrap baby to the parent when the baby is asleep, and go about the day (I have not tried this; my son no longer falls asleep on me)
  • Can do a hip-hold for older babies (I have not tried this, but plan to)

  • A little tricky to breastfeed in the wrap -- not having mastered this, I take the baby out
  • Need to use a mirror at first to make sure it is on comfortably for everyone
  • Hand wash only? Really?

1 comment:

  1. I went through a similar testing phase with various carriers. Totally agreed on the bjorn, that thing is a torture device. The only good thing is that it has that head support. I have a ring sling, and it is nicely adjustable but I can't handle all the weight on one shoulder. Supposedly its the best for nursing in too, but I've never mastered it. I have a moby wrap, but boil to death in all that fabric. To be fair, all carriers are hot, esp in SoCal. I'm a fan of the buckle mei-tai now, which is kind of like the ergo, but better ;)


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