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The Ultimate Guide to Babywearing

Babywearing is quite literally, wearing your baby. Since the dawn of time, mothers and fathers have required the use of both hands while caring for their new babies. Whether it’s to clean, brush your teeth, or attempt to eat a meal while still hot, baby carriers are a MUST for parents everywhere. In many countries, babies are even worn by their older siblings (maybe it’s time to add babywearing to big brother’s chores). Babies have been worn for years and years before it got to this part of the world, using anything from Chinese silks to animal skins and leaves.

This is a super in-depth guide on some babywearing safey tips, our favourite baby carriers, their pros and cons, and some FAQ’s.

Go ahead and read through (what seems like my life’s work) OR jump ahead to a section you need STAT.

Babywearing Safety
Wrap-Style Carrier | Our Pick: Solly Baby Wrap
Soft Structured Carrier | Our Pick: Soul Slings AseemA
Meh-Dai Style Carrier | Our Pick: Didymos Didy Meh-Dai
Ring Sling | Our Pick: Junior Foxes Ring Sling
Babywearing FAQ’s

Though many cultures have their own variations on the baby carrier, the one thing we know is there’s an endless amount of benefits to wearing your babe. Babywearing is great for cognitive and social development, prevents flat head syndrome (especially as babies are to sleep on their backs), may help battle colic, AND YOU GET YOUR HANDS BACK WHICH I THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT BENEFIT.

No matter the carrier, there are a few universal rules that keep your baby the safest. There are a lot of acronyms out there that can help you do a quick check every time you strap your baby in and my personal favourite is the “ABC’s of Babywearing”

A- Airway clear

  • Baby’s chin off their chest, you want their head parallel to the ground, not falling into their chest or they won’t be able to breathe
  • You should keep the baby’s face visible at all times
  • If your baby is unable to support their own head, ensure it is always supported in the carrier or with your hand guiding them

B – Baby positioning

  • Baby should be facing you (especially when they are still unable to control their neck and is still recommended afterwards) in a deep squat position, knees above their bum
  • You never want baby’s legs to be dangling in the carrier, their hips should always be supported in froggy position
  • In soft carriers/ring slings, leaving baby’s legs/feet out will allow you to easily check for circulation issues and ensure their weight isn’t resting on their feet
  • Their spine should be supported and form a soft curve. The carrier should be loose enough that this is possible and that their backs are not overarching.

C – Comfort

  • You and baby should feel supported and comfortable in whichever carrier you choose. Practice tying/buckling baby over a bed or with a support person, or try finding your local babywearing groups to help with a fit.

Trying to decide which baby carrier to choose when you’re a first-time baby wearer is no easy task, especially before the baby even gets here. There is a baby carrier for every occasion, comfort level, baby preference, and even wardrobe – so much so that we’ve accumulated quite the collection in the Haghighi-Seto household. New moms often ask me which carrier I recommend and I always say that asking for baby carrier recommendations is like asking someone what type of tea should they drink – IT DEPENDS is the short answer and this blog post is the long answer.

Scroll down to find my top tips to make the most of your babywearing time!

Wrap-Style Carrier

Baby’s First Carrier
Our Pick – Solly Baby Wrap

Our favourite wrap-style baby carrier is by Solly Baby – you’ve probably seen their gorgeous wraps that come in the best colours and patterns (often getting sold out as they roll out new styles). This was the first baby carrier I used and I think it was a great way to transition Etta out of the womb and welcome her earth-side. She would sleep for literally hours and it was perfect to wear around the house when wanting to do skin to skin with guests over – they all literally thought I was wearing a shirt that I tucked her into.

I learned how to tie the wrap watching Elle’s tutorials on the newborn carry and classic carry here – confession, I watched the videos a few times while pregnant and it didn’t make the most sense to me but what did was actually going through the tutorial with the solly wrap and a real live baby. Think of the wrap in 3 layers, one panel that goes around your midsection and an X that creates baby’s seat and gets pulled across her back.

Soft Wrap Pros

  • Easy-wearing for small/newborn babies
  • Can be very affordable
  • Looks like a shirt, super fashionable
  • It’s made of a super soft material you can throw in wash
  • Soft and stretchy mimicking the womb
  • Not bulky at all, easy to wear underneath jackets
  • The 3 layers keeps baby surprisingly warm, baby would often need just to wear one layer underneath the wrap
  • Travels easily in a pouch affixed to the end of the strap
  • One size fits the whole family
  • Can use the wrap as a nursing cover if privacy needed

Soft Wrap Cons

  • I could never master breastfeeding in the wrap and would need to fully take baby out
  • Must spend some time learning the wrapping technique and can take a few minutes to get tied before ready for baby – not ideal with a screaming baby in public
  • Would stretch out too much if baby wanted to go in and out a lot, would need to readjust
  • Best to wear high and tight, but baby hated being worn tightly
  • Difficult to wear longer than a few hours with a heavier baby
  • Use for babies up to 25 lbs (though the heavier the baby, the harder on your back the wrap becomes)
  • Front Carry only

It looks SO much more intense than it actually is, in fact once I figured out how to thread the wrap in and around my body I was obsessed. Etta was definitely spoiled by the super soft material (lenzing modal sourced from beechwood trees. All you need to know is it’s soft like butta) that stretched just enough to keep newborn baby in the perfect cocoon where she could sleep for hours. The Solly Baby Wrap was created by mama Elle as an answer to all of the uncomfortable carriers she was used to and boy did she do good.

Soft Structured Carrier – The everyday carrier
Our pick – Soul Slings AseemA

Soft Structured Carrier

The Everyday Carrier
Our pick – Soul Slings AseemA

My baby literally grew from her dainty 7 pound birth weight to 14 pounds almost overnight. Okay, maybe not overnight, but it was so fast that the soft wrap-style carrier didn’t feel as supportive on day-long adventures. To be fair, if you wear baby high and tight in the wrap and spread out the shoulder straps it should be comfortable. However, my 5+ hours of wearing her on adventures was way too much on my back and I never mastered the breast-feeding-in-the-wrap situation. Enter the soft structured carrier. Basically a backpack that can be worn in all sorts of ways and our pick is completely adjustable, from the removable lumbar support to shoulder straps, the entirety of the AseemA soft structured carrier is adjustable. It’s a very intuitive carrier that Bryce was able to pick up right away (I didn’t have the patience to go over the other carriers with him). I also found it really easy to nurse in.

Overall, this carrier is something that gets a lot of use in our house because of how easy it is for both Bryce and I to wear. You can use this carrier right from infancy all the way to toddlerhood. Soul Slings uses pure natural fibres like cotton and linen and baby-safe dyes in all their products while being ethically made and locally sourced (many of their factories use things like solar or wind power).  

Soft Structured Carrier Pros

  • Easily adjustable between multiple wearers
  • Completely adjusts
  • Suitable for front, back, or hip carrying
  • Intuitive, kind of like wearing a backpack
  • Easy to breastfeed in
  • Removable lumbar support (removable for when you back carry)
  • Can wear straps in an H or X depending on preference and comfort level
  • Panel fully adjustable (includes neck support for little ones)
  • 100% linen – good for all weather conditions
  • Removable hood can be used as additional neck support for younger babies
  • Padded straps for comfort
  • Easy to adjust while wearing for comfort

Soft Structured Carrier Cons

  • When wearing the hip band higher it can dig into the top of hip bones if too tight
  • Not super discrete, can look a bit bulky on a petite person (though I don’t feel this way and my body type is quite small)
  • Can pull on shoulders if you don’t have great posture
  • Can’t use for a forward facing front carry
  • Can be a bit more expensive, but it’s relative to the years of wear you can get from it

Meh-Dai Carrier

The Hybrid Carrier
Our pick – Didy Meh-Dai

The meh-dai is an Asian-based carrier (otherwise known as beh-dai) that is sort of a hybrid of the wrap and the soft structured carriers. In Cantonese, ‘mei’ means carried on the shoulders and tai means carrying strap. There’s a ton of variations on the original meh dai style carrier but they all have one thing in common – waist belt and shoulder straps attached to panel that forms the baby’s seat. The fabric can vary from super minimalist to crazy patterns.  This carrier has a few different variations when tying the straps, some that require a not-so-squirmy baby in order to get the carrier tied, but once done it’s comfortable and stylish.

Erika Hoffman was the first to introduce baby carriers to the German market in the 70’s and their business is still in the family – managed by her daughter (one of the inspirations behind the brand).

Meh-Dai Carrier Pros

  • No buckles or stiff waistband,
  • One size fits the whole family
  • Can be used for front, back, and hip carry
  • Comes in a variety of colours and patterns
  • Can fold and fit in a diaper bag
  • Comes with an adjustable hood for extra neck support or cover from the elements
  • Can do fancy tie offs with extra tail length
  • Use from birth to toddlerhood

Meh-Dai Carrier Cons

  • Takes some coordination when tightening and tightening straps as you have to support the baby at the same time
  • Not quick to untie
  • Long straps can drag on the floor
  • Difficult to nurse in
  • Lots of extra strap length on smaller builds

Ring Sling Carrier

The fashion-forward carrier
Our Pick – Junior Foxes Ring Sling

The ring sling is probably one of the most aesthetic baby carriers on the market. It’s available in a huge array of prints and colours to match anything in your wardrobe. Full disclosure, I could really never master this carrier. I think because I felt so not confident about carrying Etta in the sling, she could never get comfortable. I think that once she’s a bit bigger and can be more patient she’ll love this sling and its versatility. The ring sling is a favourite among kids who are always hopping in parents’ arms and hopping out to wander as it’s super easy to get them in and out quickly.

Ring Sling Pros

  • Enhances an outfit, definitely a statement piece
  • Easy to pop baby in and out once you get the hang of it
  • Easy to breastfeed in
  • Can use from newborn to toddlerhood
  • Allows for a front, hip, and back carry
  • Once you thread the tail through the rings, can keep it threaded for faster future uses
  • Super travel-friendly, can fit easily in your purse
  • Can use the tail for privacy when nursing

Ring Sling Cons

  • Lose mobility in one shoulder, difficult to use two arms fully
  • Found the weight to be a little unbalanced, would make my slight scoliosis/sciatic inflamed
  • The linen is more structured, is a bit rough the first few wears. You have to wash the sling a few times to soften it out (it took me 2 weeks to first wash mine because I had a newborn and I couldn’t even wash my hair)
  • My babe didn’t love it during newborn stages

Babywearing FAQ’s

How to keep baby warm in winter:

  1. Wear on the inside of your coat with an extender
  2. Use a cover you can easily pop on and off to prevent overheating like this favourite from Didymos
  3. For ease of taking off my coat, I never wear my baby over my coat (if you did, you’d need either a cover or baby to be in weather appropriate clothing)
  4. Wear layers that can be removed easily

What if my baby doesn’t like being worn?

  1. Try bouncing on a ball or walking around with a bit of bounce to ease baby into it
  2. Try a different style of carrier/different material.

My body is S O R E from wearing, should I give up?

  1. Look for a babywearing group in your area to ensure you’re wearing your carriers correctly
  2. Ease into it, start off by wearing baby around the house before you venture out for hours and hours
  3. Some carriers are better for different lengths of time, experiment with your favourites
  4. Get to a chiropractor, physiotherapist, or massage therapist appointment ASAP to ensure there aren’t any post-partum injuries lingering

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