Babywearing for Air Travel

Mother with baby in baby carrier

If you are preparing for airport travel over the holidays, consider wearing your baby rather than pushing a stroller. It is much easier to move through a crowd, and your baby will likely be happier up near the faces in the crowd rather than surrounded by a sea of legs.

Very young children might be bothered by the busy-ness and crowds at the airport. Babywearing gives your child a place to tuck into a familiar space and hide against you. Or, for a more adventurous child, babywearing gives your baby a good vantage point to see all of the excitement.


Choose a carrier that is very easy to get on and off.
You may need to remove it at security and carry your baby through in your arms. Some parents find that they are allowed to wear an all-cloth carrier (like a mei tai), but you will certainly have to remove a ring sling because of the metal rings. Be prepared just in case.

Choose a carrier that is comfortable. If you have to stand for a long period of time or if you plan to wear the carrier on a long flight, you will be glad you considered comfort. I wore a ring sling on every flight with a baby, and it was very easy to nurse or get up without too much fuss.

Front carry or back carry? You might find back carry easier as you check in or claim bags, but a front carrier will make it easy to just scoot into your seat if you are flying with your baby on your lap. A baby carrier that makes either easy is a good choice for air travel.

Greet the flight attendant. I think I’ve already told the story of me getting hassled for holding my baby in a sling on my lap on an Air Canada cattle car from Toronto to London. If you are going to have your baby on your lap, my advice is to board early and make sure the flight attendant sees your carrier and knows how you are going to use it. It’s better than having them threaten to turn around because you are a breastfeeding, babywearing threat to the flight. (I got to have a chat with the pilot while I defiantly breastfed. They didn’t turn around.) I understand that most flight attendants are better informed about breastfeeding on a plane now, especially to relieve ear pressure during take off, but just prepare yourself to calmly explain your carrier to avoid an incident.

Image © Sascha Dunkhorst | 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

Keep Halloween Fun for Babies

Mother and Baby at Halloween

For a baby who can’t yet walk or talk, this Halloween is likely the first she will remember of familiar people putting on costumes and making scary faces. To make this a fun holiday for baby, be sure to give her an easy escape. If you are babywearing, a hip carry can give her choice.


Baby Halloween Costumes

Baby Halloween costumes are for us more than for our babies. We can’t resist how adorable they are, of course. Very young babies don’t care, though, so don’t convince yourself that Halloween is important to your baby. Dress up and costumes are for you and for your older children.

Yes! Dress up the baby. Just know that it’s for your benefit.


A Lot of Stimulation

You know your baby. Does he love excitement? Will flashing lights, glow sticks, and wailing ghosts be fun for him? Or, does he startle easily with load noises and surprises? Even a party baby might find his limit on Halloween.

Make sure your baby has a way to choose to participate or not.


Babywearing Hip Carry

If you wear your baby at a Halloween party or as you walk through your neighborhood with older children, having your baby on your hip will allow her to see what you are seeing if she turns one way or let her tuck into you and hide when it is all too much.

A forward-facing kangaroo carry doesn’t give the baby the choice to look on or look away. It’s all stimulation all the time, which could be great for a baby who loves action. A back carry doesn’t let her see everything at the young child height where a lot of interesting things happen, so an active baby might be straining to see more from over your shoulder.

Hip carry leaves the choice to participate in Halloween up to your baby.

NOTE: Only use the babywearing hip carry once your baby can sit well. Newborns or babies who are just gaining head control will need more support.

Image © Olga Bogatyrenko | Dreamstime.com

Blog to Inspire: Babywearing Mama (and proud of it)

Can You Inspire banner

This following post was an entry in our Blog to Inspire contest. The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of Eco Baby Steps or Parenting By Nature.

Blog to Inspire entrant My Bloggy Life is Elizabeth.

My Bloggy Life babywearing

As a soon-to-be-parent-of-two, I had refused to invest in a double stroller. They seemed to be so expensive and bulky. I knew, also, that I would much rather have the baby carried and Hunter walking, but I didn’t want to lug the baby car seat. I had seen a babywearing blog and had grown curious about the different carriers that I had seen there and elsewhere. I thought that, with my very busy two-year-old, I should probably have some kind of carrier. I, unluckily, entered every contest that I saw. I was given a pouch sling and enjoyed back-slinging Hunter while I was pregnant. As I like to think I’m crafty, I decided to try making some carriers myself. I got what I’d need to make myself a mei tai, a wrap and a ring sling. I made the wrap right away and in the last weeks of my pregnancy I finished off my mei tai and my ring sling.  What great projects they had been.  I hoped to get the rewards I dreamed of from my carriers.

Susannah was a worn baby at one day old. Justin and I wore her all. the. time. I liked having her so close. I liked the snuggles. She was worn in a wrap and, as she got older, more often in a mei tai. I didn’t like the side-weight-bearing slings, compared to the wrap and mei tai. When she was wee, she would fall asleep as soon as I popped her in. It was so wonderful to have her so close to me, to feel her head resting on me, her breath on my chest, her hands beside her face. I loved that I could kiss her soft little head and cheeks so easily. It was so easy to get around with her strapped close to my body. I loved that I could talk softly to her all the time, that she could hear my voice and feel my heartbeat. I loved that I still felt like we had the same connection we had while she was in my womb. I loved that there was nothing between us (okay, clothes, but you know what I mean). When I wore her, I would always find myself rubbing her back and stroking her head, kissing her nose or resting my cheeks against hers. I know that she felt every touch and knew she was loved. Wearing her also allowed me to give her what she needed; if she was hungry I made a few small adjustments and I could nurse her discretely. The closeness and the contact were good for her; they gave her confidence and security. She could see the world from a different perspective and experience new things from the safety and closeness that she knew so well. She would feel my presence and relax and settle when she was snuggled in the familiarity of her carrier. I didn’t ever feel like my baby held me back from helping my older son, nor that I couldn’t meet her needs while I was playing with him. Susannah was crawling at six months and walking before eleven and we still wore her all the time. Babywearing is not only for babies, it’s for toddlers too.  I wore her while I was pregnant with my third (born in October). Even now, at 26 months old, she gets excited when she sees my carriers, ‘I go in da mei tai?’ or ‘Mommy, da’s my wrap?’

Babywearing was the easiest way to negotiate life with two children; to do housework with two kids, too. I could babywear while I vacuumed, washed the dishes, gardened, did crafts, played with my older child and made dinner. Now, as I am finding, it’s also the easiest way to negotiate life with three! These days, Sawyer (8 weeks old) is the one who is worn. My big kids get excited and want to wear him, too. We all know the benefits and intimacy of babywearing.

I am experiencing the same wonderful rewards, wearing Sawyer, that I experienced wearing Susannah. I have a wonderful connection with my baby and I am able to do the things I need and want to do, while keeping my baby close. And, I know it’s best for my baby. I can’t believe how wonderful the world of babywearing has been for me. It’s better than I dreamed it would be.

I’m so thankful that I have had the chance to keep my babies close: I wouldn’t want them anywhere else.

Read about the Blog to Inspire contest and read posts by the finalists and by the rest of the entrants. Forty-four bloggers reached out to inspire on the topics of cloth diapers, babywearing, breastfeeding, and natural parenting.

Baby Sling Safety Concerns

Have you heard the news today? Have you heard the real story about baby sling safety?

Several mainstream news stories today have said baby slings are bad—all baby slings. That is just irresponsible reporting that ignores real problems with specific baby carriers.

The real story is that bag slings—slings that carry the baby low and curled up—can constrict a baby’s airway. The U.S. CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) is preparing to issue a warning about baby slings. A bag sling is one particular type of sling that is not modeled on the traditional baby carriers worn around the world as long as mothers have had to carry their babies and keep working. The question is: will the warning be specific about bag slings or will the warning warn parents about all baby slings or even all baby carriers? I hope that when the warning is issued it addresses the real problems that experienced babywearing experts and teachers have continually warned about. Otherwise, that would be irresponsible regulation.

This issue is terribly important. Babies and parents benefit from the closeness of babywearing, and no responsible babywearing advocate would every recommend the positions and baby carriers that keep a baby from breathing freely.

Babywearing experts have called attention to design flaws in bag slings. Read this thorough article from May 2008 on bag slings. This article includes many photos, including photos that show the difference in safe positioning with pouch and ring slings.

The problem with today’s news stories: the average journalist does not know enough to tell one type of baby sling from another, and they rushed their stories too quickly to verify information with experts. I hope to hear follow-up retractions tomorrow from many major news outlets.

Quick Tips on Babywearing Safety:

  1. Make sure Baby can breathe
  2. Keep Baby upright
  3. Don’t let Baby’s chin rest on their chest
  4. Don’t cover Baby’s face with fabric
  5. Don’t curl Baby up in a “C” position

See Babywearing International for more extensive babywearing safety guidelines.

Parenting by Nature does not sell bag-style baby slings.