Seven years ago I traveled to rural Alaska to visit my friend Amy and be in her wedding . One day, Amy’s sister-in-law came over to visit with her children. She was carrying her youngest child in a homemade sling – essentially a big piece of fabric tied around her body to hold the baby against her. I remember thinking how strange it seemed. I was shocked when she used the sling to tie the baby to her back for her drive home. Amy shared with me how normal it was for native Alaskans to wear their babies, even while driving. Now that I’m a parent myself I totally understand the desire to “wear” my baby – although I will always opt for a carseat for my little ones!
You may have heard the term “babywearing” floating around the past few years. Basically the idea is that parents wear their babies in a sling or other infant carrier as much as possible to promote bonding, increase infant health, support breastfeeding efforts, as well as a number of other benefits. Rather than dig too deep into it, I’m going to point you over to this article on babywearing for more information. (If anyone else has a babywearing site they think I should link to, please let me know.)
I was excited to try a sling with Alex. They were popular on the mommy message boards I frequented during my pregnancy and I wanted something different and more natural than the Baby Bjorn
carriers that graced every Target baby registery I ever saw. I used a Hotsling
because I wanted something simple and easy to use. It was a very hot summer when Alex was born, however, and he overheated easily if I kept him in the sling too long. When Alex was a few months old I was able to turn him so he could face outwards. He really enjoyed that position. I mostly used the sling for family outings and the occasional walk – I didn’t use it much around the house. Eventually he was too heavy to carry in the sling and my shoulders and back hurt. I didn’t have another type of carrier, so my babywearing days were over.
Until I had Avery. By this time I had heard of a new carrier on the market called the Ergo Baby Carrier. It was designed to be ergonomically correct for babies, allowing them to sit in a natural position for their hips and spine (unlike many commercial carriers that awkwardly compress babies’ spines). And it’s better for parents by redistributing the baby’s weight to the hips. A number of my friends raved about the Ergo, and I decided it was worth a try.
It was a great decision! The Ergo is awesome and I can’t recommend it enough. I started using it when Avery was about a month old and I had a difficult time carrying her for long periods of time due to back pain.
When I went back to work after three months, I read the book Nursing Mother, Working Mother
to look for some new tips on breastfeeding and pumping successfully as a working mother. This AWESOME
book suggested carrying/wearing your baby as much as possible when not at work. All of a sudden I made the connection (a ha!) that baby carriers aren’t just an alternative to a stroller on a trip to the mall – but in fact I could use it to carry Avery around the house whenever we spent time together
– to make our time together more meaningful than if I were to just set her down so I could accomplish whatever tasks lay in front of me. I began using the Ergo daily, at home and out and about.
The Ergo allows me to carry Avery for longer periods of time, as well as LONG periods of time, without back pain. I managed to put Avery on my back with the Ergo (all by myself, yeah!) a couple weeks ago and she seemed to enjoy it. I’m going to practice it some more and see how well that will work for us.
One great feature I appreciate on the Ergo is the sleeping hood. It’s the fabric flap hanging down behind Avery’s head in the pictures. It can be pulled up and attached up on the shoulder straps to shield baby’s head from the sun – or for a little privacy if they are sleeping. Some moms breastfeed their babies using the ERGO and use the sleeping hood for privacy. I also like how well made the carrier is and its many other special features that make it a high quality piece of baby gear.
I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I carry Avery around for many hours every day. The most I carry her at a time is probably 2 hours, and the Ergo allows me to do that easily and comfortably. I really enjoy it and Avery does, too. I highly recommend all moms try to wear their babies as much as possible and limit putting their babies in bouncy seats, high chairs, exersaucers and swings for the times when you need to take a shower, or just take a break. Cuz we all deserve one of those, too.