Baby on a Budget: Just One Baby Carrier

Wrapsody Hybrid Baby Carrier Wrap

 

Before you have a baby, you probably aren’t sure exactly what you need. I’m sharing my experience to help you avoid buying stuff you won’t use.

A baby carrier is one of the baby essentials I recommend for you, even if you have a short list and a tight budget. Save money by buying just one baby carrier.

Why Is a Baby Carrier Essential?

  • Your baby gets what s/he wants: being close to you.
  • You keep baby close enough to kiss, so you become atuned to your baby’s needs. (The “attachment” in attachment parenting.)
  • You are free to use your arms and keep moving.

Especially in the first few months, most babies want to be very close to their parents. After babies start to move around, they will still spend a lot of time asking to be picked up. You have a higher vantage point to see the world. You are comfort when there is too much stimulation. Even a toddler wants to be held a lot. I still think of my little boy (before he was 6′ tall) saying, “Hold me,” and me getting out the sling that was sturdy enough to hold a toddler.

You will hold your child a lot. A baby carrier makes that a lot easier.

How to Save Money on Baby Carriers

Baby carriers are an expensive item because they involve a lot of high-quality fabric. I wouldn’t advise you to save money by getting a low-quality carrier or low-quality fabric. This is a safety issue. The baby carrier industry has done a great job in the past few years creating a standard that keeps your baby safe. It’s worth choosing a carrier that adheres to the high standard.

So, my alternative method of saving on baby carriers is to get just one carrier that works for all sizes and situations.

The One Baby Carrier: Wrapsody Bali Stretch Hybrid

The staff at bynature.ca recommends the Wrapsody Bali Stretch Hybrid as their most versatile and economical carrier over the lifetime of your use.

  • Wear newborn to toddler
  • Use as front carrier, hip carrier, or back carrier
  • One size fits all. 6 yards of fabric with hemmed, tapered ends so it is easy to tie
  • Soft fabric doesn’t create pressure points on your body, like heavier wraps or too quick wrapping sometimes creates
  • Compact enough to fit in your bag
  • Includes a DVD to help you learn wrapping

It is perfect for newborn.
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Wrap Aphrodite pattern

Perfect for napping babies.
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Wrap Alyssa

And also perfect for toddlers who really need to see the world.
Wrapsody Bali Stretch Wrap Chronos

What makes this carrier a particular favorite is the soft, stretchy fabric. This 100% cotton fabric is soft like a stretchy wrap but strong and supportive enough to function like a woven wrap.

One of the most important things for about a baby carrier, since you will be spending a lot of time wearing it over the next few years, is what it looks like. I hated my baby sling that had pastel baby patterns on it. I always reached for the one that matched my clothes (black). Think about how you dress, and buy your baby carrier accordingly. You will save yourself having to buy another one because you hesitate to wear the first.

With the Wrapsody Bali, the choices are gorgeous. Each one is unique because of the variations in hand-dyed and batiked fabric (from Bali, Indonesia). You can get a beautiful pattern, if that fits you, or a rainbow stripe, or a more subtle, neutral color. You have choices, and they are all dyed with baby-safe dyes (no heavy metals). You baby will suck and chew on the carrier, so that is important.

You will probably be wearing this carrier every day for a year, most days for the year after that, and occasionally into the third year. You will get a lot of wear out of your baby carrier. Don’t let the price tag scare you into skipping the baby carrier or opting for a cheaper version that you will have to replace.

Choose wisely the first time, and you will save in the long run.

More Baby on a Budget

All this month we will feature posts on saving money with babies.

See my short list of baby essentials and the stuff you will find on all of the other lists but you probably won’t use: “Baby on a Budget: What Do You Really Need?”

What is the best way to save on cloth diapers? Find out in “Baby on a Budget: Cloth Diapers.”

And, simplest of all, what do you need to buy to breastfeed? My answer in “Baby on a Budget: Breastfeeding Supplies.”

6 Tips to Help Your Baby through Holiday Time

Mother comforting baby

Holidays are a stimulating, even over-stimulating, time for a baby. Especially if this is your baby’s first holiday season, there is likely to be a lot more going on than usual. Between parties and family, shopping and looking at lights, and other situations full of crowds of strangers, your baby may need a break. Here are a few tips to avoid an over-stimulated baby.

1. Keep Up the Routine
As much as you can, keep the same general structure that your baby is accustomed to. Don’t skip feeding and sleeping times.

2. Carry Familiar Items
If your child has a toy animal or doll that seems to spread calm, bring it. The more unfamiliar the surroundings, the more comforting familiar items and faces will be.

3. Explain What Is Happening
If your child is beginning to talk, the content of what you say might actually be helpful. For a baby who doesn’t yet understand your words, just the periodic sound of your voice will be reassuring.

4. Take Breaks
Before your baby gets anxious, take a break. Sing, talk, sway, or do whatever your baby finds soothing. If you will be in a noisy environment—a New Year’s Eve celebration, for example—build a relatively quiet break time into your plans.

5. Follow Your Baby’s Cues
Follow your baby’s lead. When your child starts pushing and getting restless, it’s time for a break. If you wait, you risk a meltdown, which could be far more uncomfortable for all involved. Just excuse yourself briefly for some rest time, to breastfeed, or just to go into a quiet place and talk face to face.

6. Wear Your Baby
When you wear your baby facing you, it is easy for you to face out talking while the baby turns in when she wants to. She isn’t stuck facing the unfamiliar with no way to make it stop. If she can nuzzle in your neck, she has a positive choice to make when facing out it too much.

Friends meeting your baby for the first time will want to hold and talk, but that during that phase at about 4 to 24 months old, most babies will not want to be passed around. Let this first introduction be at a distance if that is what your baby needs.

Give your child the best chance to be at his best when he meets friends and family for the first time. He won’t care about making an impression, but a lot of eager people really do have a genuine desire to get to know him. Help them both by bridging their expectations and being your baby’s refuge when holiday parties get to be just too much.

Image © Vanessa Van Rensburg | Dreamstime.com

Compare Baby Carriers – Baby Wraps

Moby Wrap baby carrier

There are so many choices in baby carriers today that it can easily become overwhelming for someone just starting out. Add to that the vast amount of information available online, and it’s no wonder many parents just purchase the first or most well-known carrier they come across. Unfortunately, some carriers are not designed for extended periods of use or with an older, heavier baby, and they end up pulling mercilessly on your back and shoulders. Some have so many buckles, snaps, loops and straps that they dig into you, the baby, or both. We’ve been there, and we’re happy to compare baby carriers so that you can narrow down which carrier or carriers might work best for you.

For the next few weeks, we will give an overview of baby carrier styles. Despite the incredible variety of baby carriers on the market today, nearly all fall into one of four basic styles.

  • Baby Wraps
  • Baby Slings (includes pouch slings and ring slings)
  • Mei Tai Baby Carriers
  • Soft Pack Baby Carriers


Baby Wraps

Baby Wraps, also known as wraparound baby carriers or just wraps, are without a doubt the most versatile baby carriers available. Simple carrying cloths are also the most common traditional baby carriers around the world because of their simplicity and versatility. The caregiver uses a square, rectangular or long strip of fabric to wrap and tie the baby to their body. Knots are used to secure and adjust the carrier to the baby and to the wearer. Carrying scarves can be useful long after your babywearing days are over.

Carry your baby in unlimited carrying positions with a wrap, and one size will fit any babywearer, from Mom or Dad to Grandma or Grandpa.

Advantages

  • very comfortable for baby
  • most versatile, offering unlimited number of carrying positions
  • ergonomic support for both baby and adult
  • easily adapts to various baby weights and sizes for both front and back carrying
  • one-size fits most baby carrier

Wraparound carriers are particularly suited for kangaroo care, the practice of holding premature and full-term newborns skin-to-skin for optimal neurological development.

Disadvantages

  • lots of fabric can be confusing
  • somewhat steeper learning curve – requires practice to become efficient in tying the baby carrier and adjusting to the baby
  • can get warm in the summertime (but keeps baby warm in cooler weather!)


Wraparound Baby Carriers Compared

Moby Wrap twin baby carrier

Moby Wrap Baby Wrap
Style: Baby Wrap Carrier – Stretchy
Age: Best for for newborn to 30+ lbs
Carrying Positions: Unlimited – Front, Hip/Side, Back
Fabric: 100% cotton double knit-interlock
Origin: Made in Thailand


Cuddly Wrap baby carrier

Organic Cotton Cuddly Wrap Baby Wraps
Style: Baby Wrap Carrier – Stretchy
Age: Best for for newborn to 30+ lbs
Carrying Positions: Unlimited – Front, Hip/Side, Back
Fabric: 100% ORGANIC cotton
Origin: Made in Canada under fair trade labour practices

Ellaroo baby wrap baby carrier

EllaRoo Woven Baby Wrap Carrier
Style: Baby Wrap Carrier – Woven
Age: Suitable for newborn to toddler
Carrying Positions: Unlimited – Front, Hip/Side, Back
Fabric: 100% handwoven cotton. Non-toxic, baby safe dyes
Origin: Handmade in Guatemala under fair trade labour practices

Blue Celery baby wrap hybrid baby carrier

Blue Celery Baby Sling / Wrap Hybrid
Style: Baby Wrap / Sling Hybrid (2 pull-on loops + waist sash) – Stretchy
Age: Newborn to toddler (35lbs)
Carrying positions: Cradle, Kangaroo, Tummy-to-tummy, Forward Facing, Hip/Side
Fabric: Organic stretch cotton
Origin: Made in Canada

I Wore My Baby in a Sling

Baby in Maya Wrap sling baby carrier

I wore my first baby in a sling starting the day she was born. I knew no one else in person who owned a baby carrier, but another local homebirthing parent recommended that I read Dr. Sear’s Baby Book. I learned about babywearing from Dr. Sears, and my local baby store happened to sell ring slings with big, padded rails in pastel baby patterns.

I practiced wearing a 10lb bag of flour while I was still pregnant and had my husband do the same. I told him it was only fair he carry around the flour all day long since I was carrying at least twice that much baby weight.

By the time my daughter was born, my husband and I both wore her tucked up close to our chests.

This was a baby carrier lifetime ago.

Once I discovered Maya Wrap ring slings, I never wore another pastel nor padded sling. My daughter was close to me all day long. She loved facing out, seeing what I saw.

Several people told me that my daughter must be uncomfortable sitting in her sling, but I reminded them that she was, until very recently, quite a bit more tightly packed inside me and that I was quite confident that she was comfortable and happy.

And safe.

I carried my daughter safely and happily in a sling until she was a toddler and just stopped asking to be carried. She often slept nuzzled into my neck, hid in my hair, and watched my students as I taught university classes. The sling made my life easier and kept my baby close to me when she wanted to be close.

I can’t imagine how I would have parented my babies without a sling, but this is a real possibility for future parents in Canada and the U.S.

Baby sling safety has been called into question by consumer groups, Health Canada, and the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. Most baby carriers on the market today are similar in style to traditional carriers around the world. These are time-tested carriers that give mothers freedom to carry on with their work while giving a baby closeness that helps with physical, mental, and emotional development. Unfortunately, the CPSC “has mistakenly lumped all carriers together and inadvertently tainted our industry as a whole.”

“Baby slings are the optimal place for babies to spend time safely developing and bonding to parents in a nurturing environment. Research shows that this caregiver attachment and stimulating, safe environment are critical to early childhood development. Parents, educators, advocates, manufacturers, and our civil servants need to stand together to maintain the rights of babies and allow parents to buy, make and use baby slings.” From “Position Paper on Babywearing and Kangaroo Care,” Baby Carrier Industry Alliance, October 2010.

The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) has gathered 50 years of scientific research showing the benefits of infant carrying and kangaroo care in their recently published “Position Paper on Babywearing and Kangaroo Care.” They are working to ensure continued “access to the safe, quality baby carriers that emulate in-arms carrying, providing the greatest benefit to both caregivers and children.”

If you care about the future of babywearing, the BCIA can use your donation and your offer of help now at http://babycarrierindustryalliance.org

New Mother Gifts: Baby Carriers

FreeHand Baby Carrier with infantFor a new mother, I find the best gifts are those have been helpful or meaningful to the giver. When you tell a new parent “I found this helpful when my first baby was born” or “I wish I had this when I was starting out,” the gift is far more than a consumer product to go on a shelf. A much-loved item offered to a new parent is a loving embrace in support of their new parenthood.

Some new mothers won’t have considered babywearing, so giving a baby carrier as a gift could help them to change their whole approach to parenting. Rather than looking down on the baby in a stroller, they will be face to face or chest to chest with their baby. Babywearing is a much more intimate way to move a child around. By giving a baby carrier, you are giving an opportunity.

That said, which baby carrier works best for a particular parent depends a lot on lifestyle. If you are going to make such a kind investment, be sure to consider how and where the parents will likely use the baby carrier most.


Is she a hiker?

A new mother can sometimes worry that having a baby will interrupt an active lifestyle, but babies can easily come along on many outdoor adventures. While the Ergo Sport Baby Carrier is often thought of as The Outdoor Baby Carrier, I’m going to suggest an even more versatile soft pack baby carrier because you want to be sure that a gift can be used in as many ways as possible.


FreeHand Baby Carrier

The FreeHand Baby Carrier (shown above) has a cross-over support system that can be adjusted for babies and toddlers to give each the support they most need. As a first baby carrier, this is easy to get on and off, easy to understand how it is meant to fit. It is padded and adjustable to give a parent a comfortable fit.


Will she be mostly around the house?

For simply working around the house, washing diapers, and cleaning up, I think the simplest slings work the best as baby carriers. An Upmama Hybrid Sling may work for many, but I am going to recommend an all-cotton ring sling for cool, breathable comfort.

Maya Wrap Ring Sling
Maya Wrap

The lightweight cotton of the Maya wrap ring sling is very soft and it hugs a baby without pressing too hard. I like how easily it can be adjusted by pulling on the front or back of the tail. Though a new mother may need a little practice to create a pouch with the sling, it won’t take very long before she is moving the sling from front to back to hip to accommodate whatever she needs to do with baby. The vivid colors are also refreshing in a world of pastels.

When you are looking for the best new mother gift, look at your own experience and offer the new mother your best advice through your gift. See our suggestions for cloth diaper packages as gifts for new mothers.