Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Baby Carriers

Since I've had E I have spent way too much time reading the message boards on Ravelry. Specifically the message boards for baby/parenting sorts of things that I do (like breastfeeding, cloth diapering, homebirth/natural childbirth, AP parenting, and the other lovely November '09 mamas). What can I say, I sit around nursing a lot or with a sleeping baby in my arms and I need something to read.

Well the other day I read about this blog entry and feel inspired to do my own review of sorts.

  1. My first baby carrier purchase was a Hotsling. Actually, I believe this was my first baby item purchased while pregnant. It was on clearance and I knew I wanted a sling, and the website made it look so easy. I love the fabric of the sling I chose. Unfortunately, I haven't really been able to make this sling work for us. I'm not completely giving up on it as I've read some people have liked it best for toddlers, so maybe it will be more useful down the road. My issues with it are mainly that I don't feel like it really fits me right even though I have the size that their chart says I should be using and I can never really get E in it where I feel completely comfortable with his position. I have used it really short-term a few times, so it has had some use.
  2. A few months later I realized after more reading message boards and such that I didn't just want a sling, what I actually needed was a ring sling. This way the sling could be worn by multiple people and didn't need to be a specific size and I could adjust it better. So I bought a cotton/linen blend that was on clearance from Taylor Made Slings. I keep trying to make this sling work. I have yet to get it right. I tried first when E was only a few weeks old. I just couldn't figure out how to get the sling on right and to stay in position long enough for me to safely get my newborn in it. It made me nervous since I didn't have any experienced baby wearers around to assure me I had it right or to adjust something I had wrong. I put it away and moved on to the next carrier (discussion coming shortly). One of my friends (K) who has a daughter about E's age recently got a ring sling from Sleeping Baby Productions and she loves it. So I asked her to show me how she uses hers, figuring that seeing it in person might help me out. Well, it did help me out, now I realize why this sling isn't working for me. I think it is all in the shoulder. The way this particular ring sling is sewn by the ring doesn't really allow me to spread it out over my shoulder without the rings being way too far down my chest for my comfort or for E's. I tried putting E in it in a front carry and had to watch that he didn't hit his head on the rings. I knew that couldn't be right. I tried the hip carry that K likes but that wasn't really working out for us. As with the Hotsling, when I tried to put him in a cradle hold he had a lot of objections, and I didn't feel I had him in right so I stopped trying. I still really wish I could make a ring sling work for us, especially since so many women say they can nurse discreetly in them, but I'm just not sure that it is going to be for E and me.
  3. This wasn't a purchase, it was more of gifted garage sale item that hadn't sold. It is a NoJo padded ring sling. Honestly, I've never really tried it because it seems so bulky and hard to adjust that it just didn't appeal to me. I guess this is a really unfair review considering I haven't used it, but since the other styles of slings haven't worked out for me I don't think I would have fared much better with this one.
  4. This is another garage sale item my mom brought to me, I don't remember if it was given to her as the NoJo sling was or if she actually bought it. This one is a Snuggli. I really wasn't into it and was set on the slings, so I told Mark that it could be his carrier and he was all right with that. He used it with E a few times and liked it and E did pretty good with it. I'm not very comfortable with him using it because of how it holds E. Rather than creating a seat for him it basically holds him by his crotch which isn't good for him. Of course Mark never really wears E for long periods of time, so I guess it isn't terrible. Mark liked it better than anything else for him because he could put E in a front-facing carry which we found out he prefers.
  5. This purchase came about a month after E was born once I realized that the slings were just not going to work for us, at least at that stage. At the suggestion of one of some of the ladies on Ravelry, I went for a Moby wrap. This was the first carrier I found that actually worked for us and I felt comfortable with! First I tried the cradle carry. That didn't work, but by then I realized that E just didn't like to be carried that way. Next I tried the hug hold which is an upright carry where E faced me. That worked for a few weeks and E liked it. Then we got to the point where he was just much happier being able to see everything. So I put him in a front facing carry and that was perfect! I could go to the grocery store again! When the weather got a little warmer I could take him for walk, all I had to do was wrap my sweater around both of us. He was happy he could see and I was happy I finally was able to "wear" him. Of course as most Moby users will tell you, even though it theoretically can be used into the toddler years, once a baby gets to a certain point, he or she is just too heavy for the stretchy fabric. I don't think I really reached that point with it, but I did get to the point where it was just too warm for me. It is a lot of fabric to have wrapped around you and especially if you are going for a walk, it gets too be a bit much having a warm baby (E is a furnace!) that close to you while exercising. Also, he was getting a bit big for the carry I was using and if I were to put him in it at this point I would need to figure something else out. If he isn't too heavy I may play around with it more this fall. It was totally worth it from December through April for me though.
  6. We had an unusually warm spring, so by April I was definitely thinking I was going to want something with a little less fabric for spring. I debated between the Ergo and Beco, I looked at the Baby Hawk and the Mei Tai Baby Carrier. I was pretty certain I wanted something in a Mei Tai style. I loved the pretty fabric options many of them had. I liked the look of ties better than buckles, although I knew if Mark was going to wear it I would have to go for buckles, but all the options were just so darn expensive and I didn't feel I could justify spending at least $80 for a carrier I wasn't sure I was going to like let alone whether E would like. At that point the only way I had been successful carrying him was front forward facing. He had quit liking to be carried facing me, and you can't really do a front carry with a Mei Tai or a soft structured carrier. I decided to take a look on Etsy and see if anyone made them (of course) and I could find something I liked for a more reasonable price. I found what I was looking for. I bought a Cuddle Me Mine Mei Tai from The Kitchen Sink Boutique. I loved the fabric in the one she had posted for sale. What I didn't realize at the time was that I wasn't buying that particular carrier (I didn't read well enough or misunderstood) and that she was in the middle of moving so she wasn't going to be able to fulfill the order for a few weeks. She wrote to me about these things and gave me the option of continuing or backing out of the sale. I chose to continue and wait it out and I'm glad I did. I got to choose the base (strap) color and let her know what type of fabric I was wanting for the back. I gave her an idea and she picked out a great fabric for me. When I got the carrier to my surprise E loved it even though he wasn't facing forward. It had a little bit of a learning curve to putting E on and tying it, but really so did the Moby. Anyway, as much as I liked it, I think it is my mom who has used it the most. She puts E in it in the afternoons when she watches him while I'm at work and takes a walk with him and he will fall asleep for her in it. He never does this for me by the way. What I like about it is that I can put it in the diaper bag and take along in case I want or need it better than I could any of the other carriers. As much as I like the Mei Tai though, it isn't perfect. Mark wouldn't wear it. If I put it on out in public I have to try to find somewhere that it wasn't a disaster if the straps drag on the ground while I initially tie it on. Sometimes I feel like is more secure in there than other times, and it is kind of hard to adjust once I have him in it without redoing the whole thing. Along with that if the straps get bunched up instead of laying flat they kind of cut into my shoulders.
  7. Having determined that we liked the Mei Tei style but could use something a little more easily adjustable and easier to put on and take off quickly I returned to looking at the Ergo and Beco carriers. Then I got a bonus at work. I decided that I could use some of that to go ahead and get one of the fancy expensive soft structured carriers. Then Cotton Baby Bottoms had an Earth Day sale and almost everything was 10% off. Actually Ergo was one of the exceptions, but by that point I had already determined I was going to get the Beco. Since I wanted Mark to use this one I asked for his input on the pattern. I also wanted a pattern that wasn't overly boyish but wasn't feminine either. We decided on the panthers. I liked some of Beco's new patterns a little bit better, but I figured that if I wanted pretty fabric on the back my Mei Tai fit that bill. I have to say that the panthers have really grown on me too, I love them, and E was enthralled with them when I first got the carrier. When I got it though, the one seem on the bottom was torn. Beco has a great warranty policy though and they sent me a replacement and a shipping label to return the defective one. It delayed me being able to try out the carrier for a few days, but once we did it has been a hit! I use this one the most now. It is more convenient for using at stores and I feel like I can be more sure he is secure in it. Mark has only tried it once and it was when E was in a fussy mood, so while I think it will work for him he hasn't been doing much baby wearing lately. I thought my mom would like this better than the Mei Tai but I think there are almost too many straps and in that sense the Mei Tai is simpler for her to use so she just uses that. The one time she did use the Beco she said she liked it. The only things I don't like about it are that the straps do hang and aren't nearly as pretty as they are on the Mei Tai and I wish the chest strap was easier to adjust. I love how easily the sides adjust to get him in and out easily and to make sure he is secure. I also like that it comes with a little hood I can snap on if it is raining or really sunny and I don't have a hat for him or if he were to ever fall asleep for me in it (haha). I also liked that it came with the infant insert. E is too big to need it, but for any future babies I would be able to use it earlier without having to buy it separately like I would if I got an Ergo.
So that wraps up my carrier collection. Of course I can't say definitively that I won't buy anymore ever, but I feel like I have a good variety of options for different seasons/stages/purposes. I may find I want something else as E gets to be a toddler, but what I have should actually work. If anything I think I would maybe try a different ring sling that would sit on my shoulder better. That, or if I had a summer baby I would definitely consider a wrap in solar veil.

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